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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays (Plus A Mini Update)

As some of you may have noticed, I have been publishing very few articles across several of my blogs.

Due to the busy season I have been scaling back writing online, although I should be back to posting regularly after the holiday season comes to a close.

Until then, I would like to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas, a Happy Channukah or a solemn Festivus (for you Seinfeld fans), and feel free to email/Tweet/scrap me--and above all stay safe!

--Darnell

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, December 15, 2008

Video: Israel's MagShoe May Make Shoe Bombers Nervous

If there is anything people probably hate about flying, it's probably the long security lines.

While many people do not mind security agents scanning their bodies (or requiring that they walk through a metal detector), taking off one's shoe can be rather irritating (especially if you are running late for a flight).

In order to help speed up the process for most travelers, one company called IDO Security has developed a device that not only thoroughly scans the various sneakers, boots and shoes of travelers, but allows passengers to keep their beloved foot wear on their lower ten digits.






While MagShoe probably should have launched "yesteryear," its presence should help prevent another terrorist attempt at smuggling weapons via their sneakers.

MagShoe is not yet available at every airport (at least not in the US), but this device has the potential of helping airlines remove yet another excuse for people deciding not to fly out for the holidays (or even for business).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Belated: IsraTech Fountain Of Youth? (Video)

(via Israel 21st Century)

It looks like a new piece of technology may have the potential of taking years of ones face.




While the product may not appeal to guys like me (as the most we care about is how hairy our faces our), this device may become a big hit among the ladies (as it may be cheaper than having various surgeries--not to mention less painful).

Readers can find more information regarding this device over at STOP-AGE.com (who seems to be having a discount during this Christmas season).

Finally! European Union To Fully Embrace Israel

Despite some resistance from some regional neighbors, it looks as if the European Union will upgrade its ties with the Jewish state, potentially creating more allies across the Mediterranean "pond."

(Haaretz.com) The European Union's 27 foreign ministers unanimously approved upgrading relations with Israel on Monday, despite vigorous efforts by the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to thwart the move. [...]

As a result of the upgrade in relations, Israel's foreign minister will start meeting three times a year with all 27 EU foreign ministers. Other ministers will meet once a year with their European counterparts. Israel and the EU will also conduct a strategic dialogue on issues such as the peace process, the Iranian threat, counterterrorism and organized crime. In addition, the EU pledged to help Israel integrate into UN agencies and to include Israeli experts in EU peacekeeping forces.

Since Israel already has strong economic ties with Europe, I am not too surprised to see the EU reaching out to the Jewish state (who has, ironically been seeking to upgrade its status for quite some time).

Even though Israel already has great relations with several nations on the continent (like France, Germany, and the people of Norway), this new agreement should help expose the rest of Europe to Israel's true side (and hopefully dispel any rumors and myths about the Jewish state from the media).

iKosher App: Menorah For My iPhone

After creating a free iPhone app called Shofar, it looks as if RustyBrick has developed another iPhone app called Menorah which helps those who are a little behind on their Hebrew say the appropriate Chanukah prayer (as well as enlighten you as to which candles to light).


For those of you who prefer English, their is a screen for that as well.

Note: Readers can download the app free of charge by clicking on this link (which will redirect you and open up iTunes).

Belated: Vietnam To (Finally) Build An Embassy In Israel

Despite the fact that Israel already has established economic ties with Vietnam, the Asian nation has been extremely cautious about establishing an embassy within the Jewish state--even after Israel built an embassy in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

Now, after decades of waiting, it looks as if Vietnam is going to return the favor.

(Ynet News) During his visit, Abramovich met with his Vietnamese counterpart, as well as the chairperson of the local parliament's foreign affairs committee and senior committee members.

Abramovich later visited Tokyo and Bangkok, where he attended a conference of Israeli ambassadors in eastern Asia and announced Vietnam's plan to open an embassy in Tel Aviv after being wooed by Israel for nearly a decade.

Even though it would be nice if they built the embassy in Jerusalem (as it is Israel's official capital), its good to see Vietnam finally reaching back to the Israeli state after so many years of "playing it safe."

Image Credit: Israel Diplomatic Network

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

IsraMedTech: Carbon Lasers Sealing New Wounds

Often seen as a force of destruction in Hollywood, lasers are often used by the medical community in a range of fields from correcting eyesight to fixing teeth to even cosmetic plastic surgery.

Its no surprise then that doctors have even turned to using lasers (with "a dash" of carbon dioxide) to help seal up wounds as they could help minimize scarring around tissue.

Unfortunately for them, these CO2 lasers were a bit too wild as they either put out too much power (burning the victim) or too little (leaving the wound open for infection).

Fortunately for us, it looks as if Israeli researchers from the Tel Aviv University found a way to control the CO2 lasers, making this technology not only practical but potentially safe as well.

(Israel 21st Century) The scientists, from Tel Aviv University (TAU), have developed a new technique that maintains the heat of the laser at exactly the right temperature for optimal wound healing, allowing surgeons to seal cuts both on our skin and inside our bodies with less scarring, and less exposure to infection.

The new technique, developed by Prof. Abraham Katzir and a team from TAU's Applied Physics Group, is called laser-welding. When the laser begins to overheat and risks burning the tissue, the device reduces laser power, and if the temperature is too low to complete a closure, laser power in increased appropriately. [...]

Katzir is the first researcher to apply the carbon dioxide laser, coupled to optical fibers, for wound closure under a tight temperature control. His innovation is in the use of unique optical fibers made from silver halide developed at the university. The fibers deliver the laser's energy to heat the bonded cut and are used for controlling the temperature. They also make it possible to bond tissues inside the body.
Katzir's "little" invention could have a gigantic impact in the medical field, as Katzir's carbon lasers in a clinical trial proved to be better than the traditional suture as they not only left less scarring, but healed much more quickly.

According to the article the carbon laser is still awaiting approval from the US (via the FDA), although it may unfortunately be a few years before this innovative technology reaches America (not to mention Europe as well).

Image: Carbon laser. Credit: Wikipedia

Israelis Team Up With Palestinians Over Nanotech And Schistosomiasis?

Despite the on going violence between the two neighbors, it looks as if there are a few Israeli's and Palestinians who are willing to cooperate together in order to enhance each others lives--not to mention science as well.

(Globes Online) Two new projects have brought together scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Al-Quds University. Researchers from the two universities have succeeded in developing a method for checking the level of risk in bilharzia, which has been adopted by the World Health Organization and will soon be applied in Nigeria. At the same time, in the field of nanotechnology in which the two universities have been collaborating for a long time, an Israeli-Palestinian-Hungarian joint project has been established, sponsored and funded by the Hungarian Embassy in Israel. [...]

Laszlo Korani, the Economic Attache at the Hungarian Embassy in Tel Aviv, conceived the idea of bringing Hungary into the story. "One of the roles of the embassy is to encourage joint Hungarian-Israeli research. I read the autobiography of Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University, and I then knew that I also wanted to strengthen the connection to his university. It was only natural to build on cooperation that already existed and to add our sponsorship to it."

Bilharzia (also known as Schistosomiasis) is a parasitic disease that can not only damage internal organs but also cause bladder cancer.

The Israeli and Palestinian teams hope to come up with a simple way to test for the presence of this pest in the soil that goes beyond the current use of surveys and questionnaires (which may overlook areas still infected by the parasite).

Hopefully this trend of cooperation between Israel and Palestine continues, as it may help both sides see each other in a more favorable light.

Green Energy: Kenya Goes Geothermal (Thanks To Israel's Ormat)

(Hat Tip: Cleantech Investing in Israel, Image: Ormat Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Kenya)

After being in the news due to past political riots (and family ties to the President Elect), it looks like the nation of Kenya has yet another reason for being in the spotlight--this time for embracing green technology.

(Ormat Press Release) Ormat Technologies, Inc. [...] announced today at an American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) event the completion of phase two construction at the Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Kenya. The power plant has been synchronized to the grid, adding 35 MW of base load capacity to the existing 13 MW plant that has been in continuous operation since 2001 with availability between 97% and 99%.

The expanded power plant will save 120,000 tons of imported oil, mitigate approximately 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year and reduce the average production cost of electricity in Kenya while reducing its dependence on imports.

"Ormat is proud to have built up the plant capacity to the original target of 48 MW," said Lucien Bronicki, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Ormat. "This accomplishment was made possible by Ormat's belief in Kenya's economy combined with the hard work and dedication of our Kenyan employees and colleagues."

This is great news for Kenya, as the African nation already imports about half a million barrels of oil from Sudan a month (which is probably not a good thing due to the genocide happening in the region).

Hopefully Israel (through Ormat) can help build more of these geothermal power plants, as it could help spur the African continent to not only become more energy independent, but set an example for the rest of the continent (if not the world as well).

Kosher Science: Using Cow Protein To Heal Special Wounds

Often seen as an edible source of protein (at least in the form of steaks, hamburgers and Hebrew hotdogs), cows are usually the focus of local butchers, ranchers and grocery stores.

Although these tasty beasts may hold little value to society outside one's stomach, it looks as if some Israeli researches have found a way to use this animals blood protein to help us heal faster.

(Israel 21st Century) Researchers from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, have "spun" together something brand new. They've created a kind of fiber, which can be applied like a dressing, to help a body stitch together wounds.

Based on a protein found in cow's blood, it can be used like a second skin to heal the type of external wounds created after a C-section, and also internally on abdominal wounds and those created during heart operations, says its inventor Prof. Eyal Zussmann, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion. [...]

Zussmann's solution is closely related to the human protein, human serum albumin, an abundant protein in the body. The new material is such a close match that the human body cannot tell the difference between its own and the cow protein, he explains. This means that wounds will heal better, with less inflammation.

The new serum (called bovine serum albumin according to the article) was created by researchers from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology with the help of nanotechnology.

While wounds healing faster may not mean much for a lot of people, this technology could potentially help patients recover much more quickly--which in the end translates into more patients leaving the hospital earlier (not to mention having a less expensive bill).

Note: There is no word on when this will reach Europe or the US, although if anyone has any extra info, feel free to share with all of us in the comment section.

Image Credit: Getty Images, via Telegraph.co.uk

Monday, December 08, 2008

Belated: IsraGood Is Still Alive!

It looks like I took a longer break from IsraGood than expected! I'm in the process of starting up a few extra blogs, plus writing up posts for several current ones (that I love).

As far as personal news goes, my Hebrew classes have ended with Hebrew Online, and I will give some feedback on the good, bad, and great things that I experienced in the class (which will hopefully be posted later on this week).

Posting should resume by tomorrow morning, so stay tuned! :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Video: Nanosatellites To Open Up The Heavens? (Israel)

When it comes to space above us, one realizes two things: there is a large amount of sky to cover, and launching anything into orbit is very expensive.

While companies like SpaceX may be able to reduce the price tag overall, launching a satellite for a small business may still be too expensive--unless of course you a nanosatellite.






(Israel 21st Century) The Israel Nanosatellite Association (INSA) is planning a first launch of two small satellites sometime between July and September 2009, most likely from the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. "This will be a proof-of-concept for new Israeli satellite technologies," says Dr. Raz Tamir, head of INSA and of Israel Aerospace Industries-MBT's newly minted nanosatellite department.

It will also make the case for the nanosatellite as a cost-effective alternative to its larger cousins. As the name implies, nanosatellites are small satellites with a mass between one and 10 kg (2.2-22 lb), designed to work in formation. Cheap to build and to launch, a constellation of 60 low-earth orbit (LEO) nanosats can cover the earth.

Because a nanosatellite is significantly lighter, several can be launched at a time - at a cost of about $150,000 per satellite, as compared with $15 million per launch of a single regular LEO satellite.

Although there will be many companies (and governments) who will need large satellites built for various reasons, nanosatellites could provide the key to open up the satellite industry to third world countries and medium sized corporations.

Hopefully the Israel Nanosatellite Association can prove these tiny machines worth, as it could help jump start the satellite industry as a whole (not to mention help Israel regain its foot hold into space).

Israel: Turning Garbage Dumps Into Garden Parks



(Hat Tip: IsRealli, Image Credit: Ayalon Park)

When it comes to discussing the future of garbage dumps, many cities usually consider two options: how to expand it, or where to find a new location (as the current spot becomes full).

While some may always argue we will always have space to place more garbage, it looks as if a few citizens outside of Tel Aviv decided to change the outlook of their landfill from a stinky one to one that has more of a green perspective.

(Tree Hugger) For decades, Hiriya, a 2,000 acre garbage dump, has sat on the outskirts of Tel Aviv as an ecological and aesthetic blight. At its center was Hiriya Mountain—a massive 230 foot mound of waste. But after an intensive national revitalization effort the eyesore has reemerged as Ayalon Park, and the mountain is being transformed into an eco-tourism attraction replete with terraces, ridge groves and footpaths for hiking. When completed, it will rank as one of the largest metropolitan parks in the world.

Ayalon Park will serve as a 24 hour destination for recreation in Israel, as well as a learning center designed to educate visitors about recycling and other ecologically friendly practices.

It's great to see Ayalon Park being used to demonstrate how humans can change their environment for the better (not to mention providing an excellent example to kids on how to take care of our planet).

The city of Tel Aviv began this project last year, and while they probably still have a long ways to go, hopefully other cities in the country (as well as the world) will adopt their methods in order to make a greener future for all of us.

Michigan Seeks Out Israeli Tech

With the economic crisis severely affecting the auto industry, it looks as if the Governor of Michigan is seeking to add some job diversity to the region by attracting tech companies from the Jewish state.

(Israel National News) After meeting with Prime Minister Olmert, the governor signed a joint agreement with Indusry and Trade Minister Yishai. The partnership between Israel and Michigan will include a research team that will focus on innovative technology to increase energy efficiency, improve water quality and increase water reuse. [...]

Gov. Granholm also held meetings in Haifa with technology companies that she hopes will help create jobs in her home state. She visited Senso Optics, a homeland security and defense company that creates technology for lenses used for airport security and border control, and sensors for day and night vision.
While the governor expects the partnership to provide up to 1,000 extra jobs for Michigan, she might want to consider checking out what Israel is doing in the auto-tech field ranging from electric cars to hydrogen cars (unless a flying car suits her style).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alfabetic: Universal Translator For Blogs And Websites? (Israel)

For those of you who read TechCrunch, you may remember Alfabetic from the TechCrunch50 event two months ago.

Originating from Israel, Alfabetic's goal is to make it easier for blogs and websites to have their content published in other languages where the vast majority of users are not familiar with the English language.



(Israel 21st Century) If you are a content owner of a news website or blog monetizing your content through ads, millions of hits will never reach your site simply because potential readers can't read it. A new Israeli company Alfabetic, is taking a major leap towards changing the way the non-English world consumes content, creating new business opportunities for content owners, while making the Internet a truly democratic forum. [...]

Broshi explains that a new breakthrough in the academic world in statistical machine translations, has enabled superior machine learning of languages recently. These algorithms from the academic world paired with Alfabetic's own technology, and an international team of translators, creates top-notch translated content, as though it were produced by the world's best translators. But without the high costs, of course.
Even though the reception among the bigger blogs out there was not as warm (as many of them have international writers in various markets), Alfabetic's technology and services may suite smaller blogs who would probably be willing to pay a small fee to have a human review a post translation (hint: like IsraGood!!!).

The site is currently in beta right now, although users can sign up in order to be informed when the site launches towards the public.

Israel's M.I.L.B.A.T Partners With Toys 'R' Us

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

M.I.L.B.A.T., an organization that creates many accessories for disabled adults and children is partnering with Toys 'R' Us in order to help make toys more play friendly for kids with special needs.

(Ynet News) For the first time in Israel, the M.I.L.B.A.T. Center for Technology and Accessibility, which helps develop accessories for disabled children and adults, together with the Toys 'R' Us toy store chain, is launching a catalogue of products which will make games more accessible for children with special needs. The booklet includes about 100 different products suitable for the use of children with special needs. All products presented in the catalogue have been tested by M.I.L.B.A.T. professionals. [...]

"Through the catalogue, parents can pick toys which develop eyesight, hearing, thinking, feeling, social skills, self-esteem, language, frisky or gentle motors, and creativity. The association's volunteers can be found in the toy chain's various stores and will personally tailor the designated toy to each child."

According to Ynet News, M.I.L.B.A.T. is not charging parents for the labor and time for modifying the toys, although they may have to pay a minor fee for materials.

This service only only available in Israel (at least through M.I.L.B.A.T.) so unless you feel comfortable paying international shipping, Europe and the US may have to look elsewhere for inexpensive toys for kids with special needs.

(Image Credit: M.I.L.B.A.T catalog)

IsraTech: Medical Images From Doctors Via Your Cell Phone?

(Hat Tip: Israel Times, via Israel 21st Century)

After announcing his plan six months ago to enable doctors to transmit critical medical images to cell phones, it looks as if Professor Boris Rubinsky (from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) may finally see is innovative idea come to life.






Note: I have seen similar ideas for smart phones (such as the iPhone, which should be entering Israel in the hopefully near future).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Israel: Chicks With Sticks Plus IDF Equals Fuzzy Hats?

(Image Credit: Chicks With Sticks)

Even though Israel is located in a very hot neighborhood (politically as well as temperature wise), the country is also cold enough to receive snow (which is good news for those of you who enjoy snow ball fights).

While some people may enjoy the cold air (at least every once in a while), many soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may not enjoy it as much--especially if their heads are freezing.

In order to help soldiers stationed at freezing locations combat the cold, a group called Chicks With Sticks (via the A Package from Home organization) has knitted fuzzy hats in order to help keep the IDF heads warm.

(Israel National News) The "Chicks with Sticks" project has distributed more than 2,000 hats so far, each with a special label sewn inside assuring its wearer in Hebrew that it was "Knit for you with love and warmth." They're also knit with special care: each hat must be knit to rigorous specifications set by the IDF that include a certain pattern due to the strict uniform regulations. [...]

It's a tough job, but there are plenty of people out there who are willing to do it. In addition to Israeli knitters, participants have joined the project from as far away as the United States and Canada. Most are Jewish, but not all. Most are women – but not all. Any and all hats that follow the pattern are welcome, says Koppel.
Since knitting is not my greatest skill (as I can barely sew pillows, book bags, and patches onto clothes), I would encourage the pro's to visit A Package from Home for instructions on how to knit these hats together (not to mention donate as well if you have any spare change available).

Israel's Bojam Attempts The Impossible (Music Revolution)

A controversial woman once said "Music--makes the people--come together," and it looks as if one Israeli startup by the name of Bojam is aiming to do just that by allowing artists to collaborate together--even if they are physically separated by mountains, oceans and continents.




(Israel 21st Century) Covering the world of music, Bojam has created a platform that lets musicians anywhere in the world collaborate on their music. It means a guitar player in Seattle can record with a Chinese zither player in China, while simultaneously working on a recording with a singer in Germany.

Bojam, which was founded in May 2008 and launched in alpha stage at TechCrunch in September, follows a worldwide trend started by Wikipedia and other open-source content and software creators, to make music into a collaborative, community event. [...]

Advanced editing tools, and sound effect tools can be used to clean up the song, which can then be shared for the next musician to play a role in. The result is a mass collaboration of music - a wiki-style platform says the company - for adding song info, lyrics and instrument tabs.
Bojam announced its presence to the world a few months ago at the TechCrunch50 (which allows startups to announce their presence to not only the world, but to investors as well).

While their main goals is to help artists/bands create music together, regardless of their location, Bojam also is attempting to challenge distribution giants such as iTunes and Amazon (which are my favorite places to shop online).

The company is still in beta (as of this post) and it will be interesting to see how much impact this site has on the music industry a year from now (who may see Bojam as a potential threat).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Video: Israeli Doctors Helping Chinese Hearts

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

After previously helping out children from Iraq and Kenya, it looks as if Israeli doctors from the Save A Child's Heart foundation will be heading off towards the far east in order help out kids in China.

(Haaretz) The Save A Child's Heart medical team, comprising 15 members, said it would try to treat as many children as possible during its stay in China.

This is SACH's eighth mission to China, where Israeli medics working alongside Chinese colleagues have performed surgery on more than 100 children. During the mission, team surgeon Dr. Lior Sasson - who heads the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at the Wolfson Medical Center - will workd at the Hebei Children's hospital alongside Dr. Han Jiangang, a surgeon trained in Israel last year. [...]

Already in China, word has spread about the event, prompting hundreds to travel by foot, bicycle and train hoping to benefit from the surgical mission, according to SACH.
According to Haaretz, a camera crew will be tagging along in order to document everything that goes on.

Note: Here is a video from one of their earlier missions to China (with subtitles for those of us who have yet to speak Chinese).


Making New Friends: Israel And Indonesia Teaming Up For Emergency Services

If one were to measure how warm relations between Indonesia and Israel with just one word, "frosty" would probably be the perfect description.

Despite the fact that Muslim clerics in Indonesia have begun to warm up towards the Jewish state, the government has thus far kept its distance.

Regardless of the diplomatic feelings (or rather lack thereof), it looks as if medical teams from both countries will be teaming up in order to help the worlds largest Muslim nation meet the medical needs of its citizens.

(Israel 21st Century) Last week marked another milestone for MDA when Dr. Sudibyo Markus, the head of Indonesia's Muhammadiyah organization, arrived in Israel last week on an official visit to establish cooperation between his organization and Magen David Adom. Official visits between Indonesia and Israel are rare as the countries do not have diplomatic ties.

Markus was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony of a preliminary agreement of cooperation signed by the chairman of the Indonesian Rescue and Emergency Service, Prof. Aryono Pusponegoro, also of the Indonesian College of Surgeons; the chairman of MDA's Board of Directors, Dr. Noam Ifrach, and MDA director-general Eli Bin. Pusponegoro said: "I am 76 years old, and delighted that I have succeeded in fulfilling my childhood dream of coming to Israel." [...]

Muhammadiyah is the oldest and largest Islamic social welfare organization in the world, established in 1912. It is a moderate faith-based group with a mandate to improve civil society, serve the poor, and promote tolerance and pluralism. Muhammadiyah operates dozens of clinics, hospitals, orphanages, schools and universities in Indonesia. It has over 28 million members and has been recognized by the Indonesian government and by international organizations.

This is a good first step between both countries, as it gives the people of Indonesia a glimpse of Israel's medical expertise (not to mention display their more charitable side).

This is not the first time Israel has reached out towards diplomatic enemies, and it probably will not be the last time either. Hopefully this trend will continue, as Israel's medical advances could help heal the divide and open up the Muslim world towards cooperation with the Jewish state.

Image Credit: Rachel from Israel 21st Century

Monday, November 10, 2008

IsraScience: Using Hormones To Stop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD for short) is a condition that probably affects millions of people around the world who have survived life threatening events (such as war, natural disasters, etc.).

Although a range of treatments has been developed in to help patients overcome PTSD, a group of Israeli scientists from the Ben Gurion University may have found a unique way of thwarting PTSD by using hormones.

(Israel 21st Century) New research by Israeli scientists from Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University, suggests that a large dose of a stress hormone may reduce the risk of PTSD, and its associated symptoms. The researchers, who report successful results in an animal model, are hoping this therapy could one day restore life to people who have experienced trauma. [...]

Using mice, the researchers took a control group and a group of mice presented with a stress stimulus: litter soaked in cat urine. In about 25 percent of the cases, those presented with the cat urine litter exhibited symptoms of extreme stress, such as an increased startle response and behavioral freezing when exposed to reminders of the stress. [...]

The researchers found that those mice that were given high doses of a cortisol-related substance, corticosterone, immediately after exposure to a stressor could be spared from the negative consequences of the stress.
While people may be nervous about using drugs (of any type) to deal with a psychological problem, this drug could work as a "last resort" if other means of treating PTSD fail.

Even though more research has to be done before humans are involved (as their is a lot of "red tape" whenever one deals with the government--unless its paying your taxes), this drug may help soldiers returning from the front lines deal with the trauma that they have encountered (not to mention survivors of floods and tsunami's as well).

iSkoot: The Coolest Android App In Town? (IsraTech)



(Hat Tip: TechCrunch)

Despite the fact that I do not own a G1 Phone (as I can only have one love in my life), I am thrilled with the fact that iSkoot (a San Fransisco/Israel based company) has developed a program connecting Skype lovers with phones powered by Android (a mobile OS developed by Google).

Here is a brief video below.




While I am not sure whether or not iSkoot will be able to dethrone TuneWiki, it does give users one more incentive to "jump ship" from their carrier over to T-Mobile's network.

Note: Since the iPhone is "rumored" to be entering the Israeli market (thanks in part to iDigital's Apple store), does anyone know of any carriers planning of launching Android powered phones in Israel?

Investers Heart Israeli Cleantech

With news of the global meltdown, upcoming worldwide recession and the massive layoffs affecting plans for the holidays, one would figure that most companies would be a little hesitant about investing their money into startups.

While most companies would probably find it impossible (or at least very hard) to find wealthy individuals willing to finance a project, it looks as if Israeli startups within the cleantech (or green technology) industry are still attracting investors in New York and Boston.

(Globes Online) Investors in New York and Boston participated in two meeting of the Israel Cleantech Investor Conference last week for Israeli water and alternative energy technology start-ups and venture capital funds. The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and the Israeli economic attaché in New York organized the conferences. Participants said that the conferences were great successes, belying earlier worries that the global financial crisis would keep away potential investors. [...]

Oren added that the economic difficulties currently facing many countries are an opportunity, not an obstacle, for companies offering advanced technologies aimed at solving global problems. "One of the results of the financial crisis will be a significant rise in unemployment in many countries, probably including in the US. One of the usual solutions for dealing with unemployment is government spending on infrastructures. This creates opportunities for cleantech, and the proof is the great interest shown by investors in Israeli technologies."
Most of the startups represented were "water-tech" companies, which included:

  • Aquatal: a company who creates water treatment and water dispenser systems.
  • Cequesta Water: a startup in the business for wastewater treatment (as well as sludge dewatering).
  • AquaPure: Another wastewater treatment company.
  • CheckLight: This innovative startup uses glowing bacteria to determine water safety.
  • En Gibton: Yet another water treatment company (note: are you noticing a trend here *smiles*).
  • E.P.C.: This company provides onsite water waste treatment (which may separate them from the rest).
The second group included energy and geek tech startups such as:
  • Coriolis Wind: These guys (and/or gals) have an innovative approach when it comes to wind power (note: hopefully I will be able to do a future post regarding this company).
  • CQM: This company has found a way to clean heating and cooling towers (with a green twist).
  • Leviathan Energy: Uses both wind and water power (hydro and oceanic) to produce green energy.
  • RealiteQ: According to them, they are "a platform that facilitates the monitoring and controlling of remote distribute devices over public or private networks."
  • Engineuity: They are focused on alternative energy sources (although they do not disclose what "field" they are operating in).
Hopefully this is just the beginning for Israeli corporations, as the tiny Jewish state has a lot to offer the world (at least as far as green technology goes).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Israel: Water From Aether, Powered By Green Energy

Water, water everywhere--but what about pulling it from the air?

Even though there are many ways to pull water from the air (as anyone with a dehumidifier or an air conditioner would inform you), one company from Israel called EWA (or Extraction of Water from Air) has created a way to not only pull and filter water from aether, but power their device via green energy.

(Israel 21st Century) Essentially EWA (which stands for Extraction of Water from Air), has developed a clean technology that extracts water from the air, while using little energy in the process. The key is in its unique water adsorption technology - which employs a solid desiccant to trap the water - and a special energy saving condenser that reuses more than 85 percent of the energy input to the system.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar power, biofuel, waste heat or even the heat from organic matter are compatible with the system. [...]

The technology, Bar tells ISRAEL21c, works in three steps: first is the absorption of air's humidity, then the removal of water from a solid desiccant (silica based gel granules) which holds the water, and third, condensation. The absorption of the humidity is an exothermic process (involving heat release), humidity absorption occurs spontaneously, and only minimal energy is used as the air is pumped through the unit. Heat recovery techniques are integrated as part of the condenser, reducing the cost for producing water to a reasonable price, similar to other processes, such as desalination.
Demand for EWA devices is already heating up, with the company predicting sales of $5 million by the end of this year (and a $100 million by 2009!).

EWA's various products (which produce anywhere from 10 liters to 1,000 cubic meters of water daily) may spell the difference between life and death for many regions--many who lack the means to pump water due to lack of electricity or clean streams (or even both).

EWA could also be used for disaster areas (whether they are caused by nature or by war), as power and water can be scarce for regions affected by the trauma (at least in the east).

Note: EWA and other water tech companies (such as Nirosoft and Water Sheer) may help the Jewish state abroad, as the government could heavily promote these technologies in order to help build bridges between "rowdy" countries.

Video: A New Way To Watch Television? (Israel)

(Hat Tip: IsRealli and USA Today)

As anyone who has ever watched baseball or football game, it is usually not until after the game (and your favorite team has lost) that most of the key stats, analysis, etc. are revealed.

While hindsight 20/20 may benefit the announcers (who often annoy you with their "he should have done this/that rhetoric), SportVu has created an innovative way to benefit coaches (and fans) in the present.






(SportVu) Broadcasters are able to show live tactical ("radar") views of the players' deployment on the playing field as well as instantly display statistical performance data through automatic analysis and semantic extraction. In addition to delivering dramatic viewing enhancements, an attractive new platform for sponsors, new interactive advertising opportunities, and other revenue generation options to broadcasters, the system also enables rights' owners to leverage their properties by offering live graphical presentation of the event over the web, on a gaming console, or to a mobile handset. SportVU addresses the major action-oriented, spectator sports: American football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer.

With sports being a major commercial industry in the world (note: as it gives people something positive to focus on--provided your team wins), I would not be surprised to see SportVu's technology (or something similar) being used within every major sporting event within half a decade.

Hopefully SportVu will consider expanding beyond television, as there are plenty of iPhone lovers who would dream of this software within the palm of their hands.

Israel To Construct Joint Airport With Palestine?

First they were cleaning rivers together, then creating operating systems (note: watch out Microsoft!) and last their was that whole industrial park story posted earlier.

Am I sensing a trend?

(Haaretz.com) The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) is considering building a joint Israeli-Palestinian airport on the Poleg beach south of Netanya, authority chairman Ovadia Eli said this weekend.

Addressing an economic conference at Ben-Gurion Airport, Eli said that the airport would be jointly managed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To facilitate Palestinian access, it would be connected to the West Bank via a tunnel. "This would be a confidence-building measure that would enable international fund-raising," he said. "There are high-level talks [about the proposal] on both sides. Former British prime minister Tony Blair is also involved in the matter."
Even though this news may not be as entertaining as the West Bank Story, its intention (and overall purpose) is similar--to help bring Israeli's and Palestinians together in peace (as opposed to war).

While there is no word on whether this airport would be international or merely serve the middle east region, its construction could help ease the tensions between both sides (not to mention help bring about peace in the region for at least a season).

Monday, November 03, 2008

CorAssist: Helping Weak Hearts Become Strong (Israel)



Of all the muscles in your body, your heart is probably the most valuable. Without this muscle, it would be nearly impossible for your body to pump the 10 pints (or 1 1/4 gallons) of blood that circulate throughout your veins.

But what happens after your heart weakens through disease or from a heart attack? While there are some "natural ways " for patients to help strengthen their favorite muscle, CorAssist has developed a unique method for treating heart failure by targeting a certain muscle that other technologies may overlook.

(Israel 21st Century) While some devices to treat systolic heart failure (SHF) are already in clinical trials, no devices to treat diastolic heart failure (DHF) are available. CorAssist's solution presents the first device-based approach to treat DHF, being a one-of-its-kind product in the market.

After a heart attack, or with heart muscle disease due to obesity and other conditions such as genetic defects, the heart muscles have a difficult time squeezing blood to the body (the systolic phase), and then back again into the heart (the diastolic phase). CorAssist is focusing on the second condition - DHF - where a person's heart inadequately relaxes, and is impaired in its capability to return blood from the body back to the heart. [...]

CorAssist's main product is the ImCardia, which works from outside the heart. It's a self-expanding device that attaches to the external surface of the left ventricle. When the heart muscle squeezes, energy is loaded into the device, which absorbs this energy, and releases it to the left ventricle in the diastolic phase. This keeps the muscles elastic, giving it a small "work out" to improve heart health.

While this new med-tech is promising, ImCardia is still in the early experimental stages, as it only has been tested on three people (all which have been successful according to Israel 21st Century).

CorAssist is currently seeking to conduct a much larger trial, and while they have not mentioned any plans of reaching across the Mediterranean (towards Europe), they do seem eager to enter within the US market.

(Image Credit: Yale University)

BioJerusalem: All Your Bio-Med Companies Should Migrate Towards Us

(Hat Tip: Globes Online)

It looks like the Jerusalem Development Authority has started a program called BioJerusalem, who is currently seeking out bio-med companies (which is med-speak for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device/tech businesses) to migrate towards Israel's eternal capital (which just happens to be Jerusalem).

(BioJerusalem) A half an hour drive from Ben Gurion International Airport and a 45 minute drive from Tel Aviv, the financial hub of Israel, Jerusalem is the only centrally located city in Israel to enjoy national development zone A status. This status entitles technology-based companies and investors to the best grants and tax incentives available in Israel today.

Life sciences companies choosing to launch operations in Jerusalem are eligible for prime financial support incentives and are given special preference. In addition, companies with a presence in Jerusalem can also benefit from a series of municipal incentives offered by the Jerusalem Development Authority which provides support to companies doing business in Jerusalem.
While often seen as a religious/historic city, Jerusalem is home to a thriving biomed community, and it seems as if the local officials want to ensure that the city stays that way (as it could help reshape the cities image globally).

Jerusalem is offering NIS 30,000 (or about $8,000) in grant money per employee, with even more benefits to help convince a few companies (and startups) to consider moving towards the nation's capital (note: can you say tax exempt for ten years).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skybot: All Your High Rise Windows Should Be Washed By Us (Israel)

One job I probably would not enjoy is that of a window washer cleaning the glass of skyscrapers. While the view may be impressive, the potential of falling off would not be (making this job very dangerous).

Fortunately it looks like a new mechanical beast may not only help eliminate the need for workers to risk their lives for cleaner sky scrappers, but it may also help reduce the cost as well.

(Israel 21st Century) [S]ince window-washers - and hopefully their employers - want the work done in as safe a manner as possible, cleaning must take place during daylight hours, preferably in fair or good weather. If it's too windy or stormy, the work just won't get done - meaning an extra expense for building management, who have to pay staff, and schedule delays in getting important maintenance work done.

According to Skybot's Yoram Barmohay, it's far more efficient to use robotics. Skybot's system, "combines the most advanced artificial intelligence technology and plain low-tech common sense," Barmohay tells ISRAEL21c. "The robots allow a fully automatic and consistent cleaning process, much more efficiently and better than any human team can accomplish." [...]

As the system cleans an area of the building, it can also dry a previously treated area - making Skybot quicker than human alternatives. "Our system can clean a surface of 500 square meters in an hour, compared to 250 square meters a human team can cover on a workday," says Barmohay.

According to the article, Skybot can operate in any type of weather condition, as well as handle wind speeds up to 45 mph (which is a little over 72 kilometers).

The company has tested their robot in Tel Aviv as well as Europe, although there is no word on when their window cleaning machine will hit the US.

(Image Credit: Skybot Gallery)

Kosher iPhone App: Did Somebody Say Shofar?

While their are many kosher iPhone apps (such as iBlessing and ParveOMeter), readers may find this one to be a true delight (although I can not say the same of your boss/professor/rabbi when they are giving a speach).

Simply called Shofar, this iPhone app was developed by Rusty Brick who is (at least for the time being) giving this app away for free for shofar lovers everywhere.



Note: Be sure to check out Rusty Brick's other creations, especially the Shabbat Shalom app (which Rabbi's living abroad may really enjoy).

Israel: Turning Animal Waste Into Fuel?


(Image Credit: Henrico County, VA)

This is not the first time someone has used animal waste to keep the lights on (and it probably will not be the last either).

But what makes this situation unique is that Dr. Sobhi Basheer of SB Biotechnologies is using enzymes instead of relying entirely on our silicon friends (aka machines).

(Israel 21st Century) With his latest project, SB Biotechnologies, Basheer is working to transform "waste" animal and vegetable oil into diesel fuel, using genetically engineered enzymes that produce diesel in a clean, environmentally friendly manner - unlike the current popular production methods that spew out many pollutant by-products. Considering that many countries, including all members of the European Union, have mandated that all diesel fuel sold contain as much as 25 percent biodiesel, the company has already begun lining up clients.

Using Basheer's methods, they save money by avoiding the need to dispose of the pollutants, and polish their reputation for being environmentally-friendly too. "It's a revolutionary idea, so much so that we were included in this year's Israel President's Conference on new technologies," Basheer tells ISRAEL21c.
Depending on the price tag, Basheer's technology could go a long way on easing the cost of energy throughout the European continent (whose prices for fuel are usually higher than America's), as well as potentially providing a new source of energy for developing nations (who can not afford to import gas and oil).

Belated: Israeli's Heart Africa (Again)

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

Whether its turning Nigerian deserts into gardens, shipping medical supplies to Kenya or simply building schools in Ethiopia, Israel continues to display an active role in African continent.

Now, it looks as if an organization called Jewish Heart for Africa seeks to improve life conditions for the continent by providing electricity to rural villages via solar power.

(Jerusalem Post) Borowich, 30, founded Jewish Heart for Africa about 10 months ago and today she has projects running in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. [...]

"Four months ago, we installed solar panels in a village in Tanzania to provide electricity for the clinic. Seven thousand people rely on that clinic. We installed 14 lights, 10 inside and four outside. The panels also produce enough electricity to run a 66-liter refrigerator.

"We returned there two weeks ago and the doctor showed us how many kids have now been vaccinated [vaccines have to be kept chilled]. The villagers can find the clinic in the middle of the night because it is lit and the doctor no longer has to work at night by candlelight.

While one of the purposes of Jewish Heart for Africa is to improve the lives of residents within Africa, their secondary goal is to also improve the Jewish states image in the world (especially in less than fortunate countries).

Note: The organization is currently seeking volunteers (not to mention donations), so if you have some spare time, skills or pocket change, feel free to contribute in anyway that you can.

Update: Satellite image of continent added.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Cities: If You Build It, Will They Come? (Israel)

(Hat Tip: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Image Credit: Gal "beivushtang" Forenberg)

Mount Gilboa seems to be attracting more attention these days--and no I am not referring to the Jewish state's attempts at constructing an Israeli-Palestinian industrial park or the cool green kibbutz that resides in the area.

It looks as if Israel is seriously considering constructing an ecologically friendly town and is looking for a few hundred green men (and women) who would not mind living within it.

(Israel 21st Century) If you're planning on living in Nurit, says Danny Atar, chairman of the Gilboa Regional Council, you're by definition willing to go out of your way to save water, avoid excess waste, and in general reduce your carbon footprint. "Otherwise, Nurit is not for you," he says. [...]

And, after intense study and consultations with environmental experts around the world, the town is ready for prime time; work has begun on infrastructure, and the first 100 homes will be ready next year. By 2012, there will be 400 families living in Nurit, Atar says.

Located on Mt. Gilboa itself, Nurit will take advantage of the mountain's wind and sun to generate power, and will install dozens of wind turbines and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, enough to provide electricity for all the public buildings in Nurit - and then some. [...]

"Together with turbines to generate electricity from wind, we expect that the electricity we generate will be enough to light most of the schools, offices, streetlights, and park lights in Nurit - as well as save homeowners money on their energy bill, since they can get credits for the power their roof PV systems generate that they don't use, selling it back to the IEC." Atar says.
Hopefully this green initiative will not stop with houses and offices, and will extend extend its way towards cars (whether through Project Better Place or biofuel  from algae)--not to mention converting garbage dumps into energy as well.

While Nurit may not be the first city to embrace green energy on a massive scale (Eilat previously announced that they were courting solar power), it is good to see the government work with businesses (and the community) in order to make green living a reality.

Video: Modern Day Miracle? Israeli Astronaut's Diary Survives Columbia Tragedy

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

Ilan Ramon, an Israeli astronaut who was blessed to see the stars above Earth's atmosphere before tragically perishing in the Columbia Shuttle disaster was somehow survived--without scientific explanation--by his thoughts on paper which his family is now displaying towards the world.




(New York Times) A little over two months after the shuttle explosion, NASA searchers found 37 pages from Ramon's diary, wet and crumpled, in a field just outside the U.S. town of Palestine, Texas. The diary survived extreme heat in the explosion, extreme atmospheric cold, and then ''was attacked by microorganisms and insects'' in the field where it fell, said museum curator Yigal Zalmona.

"It's almost a miracle that it survived -- it's incredible," Zalmona said. There is "no rational explanation" for how it was recovered when most of the shuttle was not, he said. [...]

The U.S. space agency returned the diary to Ramon's wife, Rona, who brought it to forensics experts at the Israel Museum and from the Israeli police. The diary took about a year to restore, Zalmona said, and it took police scientists about four more years to decipher the pages. About 80 percent of the text has been deciphered, and the rest remains unreadable, he said.

Even though only a few pages will be displayed, it is good for the public to remember Ramon's thoughts while he was alive, and to celebrate the holy land's first Israeli astronaut into space.

Note: Hopefully his legacy will inspire others to follow in his foot steps, as it would be good to see Israel develop its own manned space program.

Video: Iranian Boy Treated In Israel

(Hat Tip: Stand for Israel)

For those of you who have not been following this story, Israel has allowed a 12-year old boy from Iran suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (aka GBM)--a common form of brain cancer--despite the fact that the child is a citizen of a nation whose leader has not been making unkosher speeches regarding his (falsely assumed) future plans about the Jewish state.

(Jerusalem Post) The boy, whose family speaks only a few words of English and who received special permission for entry from the Shin Bet security service, is being treated by Sheba as a "charity case." The hospital has not made payment a precondition for care and does not have information about the parents' professions or financial condition. [...]

Toren told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that tests the unit had conducted since Guy's arrival showed the cancer was in both sides of his brain and had spread to the spinal cord, which did not mean a good prognosis.

"But you never know. Sometimes therapy can suddenly improve the quality of life," he said.

This is not the first time Israel has reached out to help out kids from unfriendly nations (although it is a first for Iran).

Whether or not this helps bring a about a new relationship between Israel and Iran only time will tell.

Either way, be sure to keep this kid in your prayers, as well as the family and the doctors treating him. You can click on the image below in order to watch the video.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sarah Palin Supports Moving US Embassy To Jerusalem

With the US elections "all the rage," it looks as if both parties are once again promoting themselves as Israel's best friend.

During the Vice Presidential debate between Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden, the former briefly mentioned her desire to move the US embassy currently located in Tel Aviv to Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem.

(Israel National News) Republican vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin, in a televised debate Thursday night with Democratic nominee Senator Joe Biden, called for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, echoing Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain's policy. [...]

Gov. Palin opened up the foreign policy part of the debate with support for the two-state solution and a statement that "Israel is our strongest ally." She added, "We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel…. We will support Israel [and] a two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem--those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements."
While her "two-state" solution may not exactly come off as kosher for Israel lovers, her desire to finally move the embassy is good to hear (as both President Clinton and President Bush have delayed moving it, citing security concerns).

US To Israel: Lets Drop That Visa Requirement, Okay?

Their is nothing more annoying rewarding than contacting a foreign government in order to haggle for a Visa so that you can visit that country in the near future (provided the government does not make you wait for several months).

Joking aside, it looks as if US is seriously thinking about removing the Visa requirement (after briefly considering it last year).

(Haaretz.com) The U.S. may waive its visa requirement for Israelis, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit during their meeting in Washington Thursday.

"I received a positive readiness from Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff, and also from Under Secretary of State William Burns. Their agreement is necessary for the initiative to advance, and both of them support the idea," said Sheetrit. "All that remains is approval to bring Israel into the track that the U.S. has opened in the past for a few other countries [under visa waiver agreements]," he added.

Sheetrit spoke to Haaretz while in the U.S for talks aimed at achieving a visa-waiver agreement for Israelis.

Other countries (like Russia) have already removed Visa requirements for Israeli's, and it is good to see the US government pursuing a similar path as Israel does not require American's to request a Visa in order to visit the holy land.

Hopefully this process is sped up, as it would allow many Israeli businessmen (and women) in the medical, green energy and software technology fields to visit the land of opportunity in order to benefit both countries (and their economies as well).

Will Israel's MCS Replace Anticoagulants? (Med Tech)

Anyone who has ever suffered a severe stroke (or have friends or family who have or may have in the future) may have heard of a type of substance called anticoagulants which basically prevents the blood from clotting within blood vessels (a very bad thing if one is not cut or bruised).

While anticoagulants can help prevent random clots from forming (especially during surgery), they also have the side effect of "keeping the blood flowing," which could increase the overall risk of bleeding complications.

In order to get around this problem, Medical Compression Systems (or MCS) from Or Akiva, Israel has developed a device called ActiveCare Synchronized Flow Technology that may help prevent random blood clots from forming (minus the potential side effects of "non-stop bleeding").

(Israel 21st Century) The device, called ActiveCare+SFT (Synchronized Flow Technology), combines a mobile unit with calf and foot compression sleeves that can be easily wrapped around the patient's leg or foot during and after surgery. [...]

The unit identifies a patient's venous blood flow pulses and synchronizes itself to these natural rhythms. It compresses the limb sleeves, automatically applying the correct pressure and inflation rate.

According to Dr. Jacob Barak, the company co-founder and chief scientist, this gentle pressure delivers an optimal hemodynamic profile tailored to the patient's specific physiology. "Its higher blood flow speed, compact size, and the fact that it can be worn 24/7 give it a definite advantage over comparable products," he tells ISRAEL21c. [...]

Barak says the device's unprecedented mobility has resulted in a dramatic 50 percent increase in patient compliance compared to standard IPC (intermittent pneumatic compression) systems, which have poor compliance rates among patients, particularly those who start to walk, but are not yet fully mobile. Using MCS's device, patient compliance is actually monitored on the LCD screen, providing feedback for caregivers, physicians and patients themselves.

MCS's ActiveCare device is already attracting the attention of some medical clinics in the US, with a few according to Israel 21st Century deciding to replace anticoagulants with ActiveCare+SFT entirely!

MCS's device has already received FDA approval which means that American doctors can contact the company directly for immediate use of ActiveCare+SFT (instead of having to wait many moons or ask their European friends for information regarding this medical device).

(Image Credit: Medical Compression Systems)