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May 26, 2015 / 8 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv University’

Israeli Foundation Awards $1 Million Prize to Wikipedia Founder

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The Israel-based Dan David Foundation has awarded this year’s Dan David Prize for scientific, technological, and cultural accomplishments to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, among other prominent honorees.

The three annual $1 million prizes are administered by Tel Aviv University and named for late philanthropist Dan David. In the past, it has been awarded to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.

In addition to Wales, who is being honored for founding the world’s largest online encyclopedia, the foundation is spreading this year’s prizes among historians Peter R. Brown and Alessandro Portelli as well as scientists Cyrus Chothia, David Haussler, and Michael Waterman.

The award ceremony will take place in May.

Israeli Start-Up May Charge Your Smartphone in 30 Seconds (Video)

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

An Israeli startup company called StoreDot has unveiled a prototype charger that can re-energize a phone battery in 30 seconds.

The new technology was based on research for Alzheimer’s disease at the nanotechnology department of Tel Aviv University, but the prototype still needs to be developed into a smaller batter to be of commercial use. The amino acids identified in the research are used for the new charger.

The StoreDot is optimistic it will succeed and projects that the new charger will be on the market by the end of 2016.

One of the rumored investors who have plunked down more than $6 million so far is Samsung.

“We are about one year from a functional prototype that will be inside the device,” StoreDot’s CEO and founder Dr. Doron Myersdorf told TechCrunch. “Right now we show a battery that extends beyond the form factor of the smartphone. So in one year we’ll have reached the size, and in two years we’ll reach the required energy density for the entire day.

“So we are talking about three years for a commercial ready device. So I assume it will be three years before you can actually purchase it on the market.

“We’ve demonstrated an iPhone display that the active material which emits light is a bio-organic material that is created by our compounds. This will be the first ever bio-organic display. We already demonstrated all the colors… we can bring the entire RGB spectrum for the display so now it’s all a matter of being able to reach the lifetime and the efficiency similar to cadmium.”

StoreDot needs approximately an additional $20 million to further develop the prototype and set up a manufacturing facility.

Tel Aviv U. Cancels Talk by Former Arab Prisoner for Land Day

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Tel Aviv University has cancelled the appearance at a campus event of a former Arab prisoner jailed by Israel for his activities on behalf of the terrorist Hezbollah organization.

Mohammed Kana’ane, an Arab-Israeli who spent four-and-a-half years in prison, was invited to speak Monday by the left-wing Hadash and Balad student groups at a conference for Land Day, which marks the deaths of six Galilee Arabs in 1976 during riots over a government decision to expropriate land for what it called security purposes.

Land Day took place on March 30.

“In light of concern for public order in the Land Day events scheduled to be held tomorrow, and since the request to approve Kana’neh’s participation was only received recently, leaving no time for preparations, the University does not approve his participation in the event,” the university said in a statement released late Sunday. The statement said that other Land Day events would go forward as planned.

A Sunday protest on campus by Jewish student groups called for the speech to be canceled.

The university last week had issued a statement saying it would allow the event to go forward in an effort to respect students’ right to freedom of speech, which it apparently thought includes screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

JTA contributed most of the material for this report.

Israeli Researcher: Chewing Gum Cause of Migraines in Teens

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Teenagers who love chewing, smacking and bubble-popping gum may be giving themselves a headache, according to research by Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center. His findings, published in Pediatric Neurology, could help treat countless cases of migraine and tension headaches in adolescents without the need for additional testing or medication.

Dr. Watemberg noticed at Meir’s Child Neurology Unit and clinics that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers. Teenage girl patients were particularly avid chewers — a finding supported by previous dental studies.

He asked 30 patients between six and 19 years old who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily to quit chewing gum for one month. After a month without gum, 19 of the 30 patients reported that their headaches went away entirely and seven reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. To test the results, 26 of them agreed to resume gum chewing for two weeks. All of them reported a return of their symptoms within days.

“Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution,” said Dr. Watemberg. “Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms.”

Aspartame, a common ingredient found in sugarless gum, has long been suspected of causing neurological damage. Prior to the European Food Safety Authority recently declaring the artificial sweetener as safe, studies have suggested it may provoke headaches in susceptible individuals. However, the Israeli researchers believe that the amount of aspartame released in gum is likely to be low because the flavor of gum is typically lost after the first few minutes of chewing. Rather, they believe the likely reason for the link between gum-chewing and headaches is the stress on the TMJ.

“Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches,” Dr. Watemberg said in a statement. “I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

A possible explanation for the association that exists between chewing gum and headaches is the stress placed on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), where the skull and jaw meet. Chewing gum causes unnecessary wear and tear of the cartilage that acts as a shock absorbent in the jaw joints, which can lead to pain and discomfort, Dr. Ben Kim, who is not not involved in the study. told the website Medical Daily.

Gum chewers use eight different facial expression when they chew. If used excessively, this can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles that are located near an individual’s temples. Therefore, the nerves that are on this area of the head feel extreme pressure, which can lead to chronic, reoccurring headaches.

Dramatic Kinneret Discovery: Climate Crisis Ruined Ancient Empires

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

A study of fossil pollen particles in sediments extracted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee has revealed evidence of a climate crisis that traumatized the Near East from the middle of the 13th to the late 12th century BCE. The crisis brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age.

“In a short period of time, the entire world of the Bronze Age crumbled,” explains Tel Aviv University archaeologist Prof. Finkelstein. “The Hittite empire, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Mycenaean culture in Greece, the copper producing kingdom located on the island of Cyprus, the great trade emporium of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and the Canaanite city-states under Egyptian hegemony – all disappeared and only after a while were replaced by the territorial kingdoms of the Iron Age, including Israel and Judah.”

The researchers drilled through 300 meters of water in the heart of the Sea of Galilee and retrieved a core of sediments 20 meters long from the bottom of the lake. The goal was to extract from the sediments fossil pollen grains.

“Pollen is the most enduring organic material in nature,” explains Finkelstein’s colleague Dr. Dafna Langgut, who carried out the actual work of sampling. “Pollen was driven to the Sea of Galilee by wind and river-streams, was deposited in the lake and was embedded in the under-water sediments. New sediments that are added annually create anaerobic conditions which help preserve the pollen particles. These particles tell us about the vegetation that grew in the vicinity of the lake in the past and therefore testify to the climatic conditions in the region.”

The chronological framework of the sediment core was established by radiocarbon dating organic materials that were preserved in the sediments. The counting and the identification of the pollen grains revealed a period of severe droughts between ca. 1250 and 1100 BCE. A core of sediments from the western shore of the Dead Sea – also studied by the research group – provided similar results.

“The advantage of our study, compared to pollen investigations carried out at other locations in the Near East, is in the unprecedented resolution of a sample about every 40 years,” says Prof. Finkelstein. “Pollen is usually sampled in a resolution of several hundreds of years, and this is indeed logical when one is interested in prehistoric matters and glacial and inter-glacial cycles. Since we were interested in historical periods, we had to sample in denser resolution; otherwise a crisis such as the one at the end of the Bronze Age would have escaped our attention.”

Another novelty in the current research is in the chronological correlation between the pollen results and two other records of the past. At the end of the Bronze Age many Eastern Mediterranean cities were assaulted and destroyed by fire. The dates of these events indeed fall between ca. 1250-1100 BCE. The same holds true for ancient Near Eastern written documents that testify to severe droughts and famine in exactly the same period. Such documents are known from across the entire region – from the Hittite capital in Anatolia in the north, via Ugarit on the Syrian coast and Aphek in Israel to Egypt in the south.

Reduction in precipitation in the “green” areas of the Near East should not be expected to cause the collapse of great empires.

So what had happened?

Prof. Ronny Ellenblum of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem studied written documents that describe similar conditions – of severe droughts and famine – in the 10th‒11th centuries CE. He showed that in the northern parts of the Near East, such as northern Iran and Anatolia, shrinkage in precipitation was accompanied by devastating cold spells that destroyed crops. Langgut, Finkelstein and Litt propose a similar process for the end of the Bronze Age: Severe cold spells destroyed the crops in the northern parts of the ancient Near East and shrinkage in precipitation damaged agricultural output in the eastern steppe parts of the region.

This brought about the droughts and famine so well-described in the ancient texts, and motivated “large groups of people to start moving to the south in search of food,” says Egyptologist Shirly Ben-Dor Evian of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University.

Israeli Doctor Can Help Make You into a Real Man

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Tel Aviv University researchers didn’t have an immediate diagnosis for the under-masculinized young man, a former soldier, who walked into their clinic one day.

But they and the soldier didn’t know that they were beginning a years-long medical journey that would lead the researchers to discover a new genetic mutation, bolster the case for a counterintuitive medical treatment, and push the limits of male fertility.

Dr. Karen Tordjman, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine didn’t have an immediate diagnosis for the under-masculinized young man who walked into her office.

A 25-year-old university student who had served in an elite commando unit in the Israeli navy, he was handsome in a fashion-model kind of way – rail thin, with a smooth face and delicate, feminine features. Closer inspection revealed no body hair other than sparse patches in his armpits and groin. His genitals were small and heavily scarred.

The young man had reluctantly agreed to visit the medical clinic at the insistence of his girlfriend, who wanted an explanation for his condition. He couldn’t have known he was initiating a years-long medical journey that would lead Dr. Tordjman and a team of physicians to discover a new genetic mutation, bolster the case for a counterintuitive medical treatment, and push the limits of male fertility.

“We offered treatment not for his future reproductive capabilities but for his appearance,” says Dr. Tordjman. “We didn’t guarantee him anything, but we said we’d try.”

Her research, published in the journal Andrologia, will allow future genetic screening for the mutation.

Dr. Tordjman and her colleague Dr. Amnon Botchan, also a Sackler lecturer, began by obtaining the patient’s medical records. The records showed that two of his uncles had been diagnosed with androgen receptor insensitivity — a rare condition that results in the body under-responding to the androgen hormones that drive male sexual development. Usually caused by a mutation in the androgen receptor gene, the condition impairs the development of male genitalia in the womb and of secondary male sexual characteristics during puberty.

In cases of complete androgen insensitivity, no male sexual development takes place. The result is men who look like women on the outside but have testes rather than female genitalia inside their bodies. Such cases are often diagnosed only during puberty, when the individuals develop breasts and other female sexual characteristics but do not start menstruating.

Dr. Tordjman’s patient, who reported a consistent heterosexual orientation, had not had sex reassignment surgery or been given androgen treatments to try to enhance his sexual development at birth. But he had been diagnosed with the same condition as his uncles and undergone operations to correct genital malformations at age three and to remove breast tissue during puberty. Genetic testing, performed with the help of French researchers Dr. Serge Lumbroso and Prof. Charles Sultan, confirmed that he had a mutation of his androgen receptor gene — one that had not previously been reported.

Hoping to masculinize the patient per his wishes, Dr. Tordjman started him on high-dose testosterone therapy. Theoretically, this type of therapy makes little sense for patients with androgen receptor insensitivity, because their bodies create plenty of testosterone — it’s just that they are unable to put it to use. But Tordjman had read about a case in which the therapy had worked and decided to give it a try.

After several months of weekly injections, the patient appeared dramatically more masculine. He gained 18 pounds — mostly of muscle — and grew hair on his face and body, leading him to shave for the first time in his life. His voice, which had always been high-pitched, did not change. The voice, says Tordjman, is stubbornly resistant to hormone therapy.

The treatments continued for four years, during which the patient and his girlfriend got married and eventually began talking about having a baby.

Infertility in men with androgen receptor insensitivity is nearly universal, even in mild cases; and no one with a case as severe as the patient’s was known to have successfully fathered a child. But having seen a significant improvement in his sperm count, Tordjman took another long shot and referred the couple for fertility treatment. When Tordjman next saw the patient several years later, he was pushing a baby girl into her office in a stroller.

Belgian Holocaust Survivor Wins Nobel Prize for Physics

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Francois Englert, a Belgian Jewish professor at Tel Aviv University and a Holocaust survivor, shared the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday, the third Jew in two days to win the esteemed award.

The prize for Englert and Peter Higgs of Britain for their discovery of the Higgs particle was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Higgs particle, known as the “God particle,” is said to have caused the Big Bang. Scientists confirmed the discovery of the Higgs particle, or Higgs boson, which Higgs first theorized in 1964, while working with the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

Englert, 80, has had “close research ties” with Tel Aviv University for 30 years, the university said. He is a Sackler professor by special appointment at its School of Physics and Astronomy.

On Monday,  Jewish Americans James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, joined German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof of Stanford University in winning  the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/belgian-holocaust-survivor-wins-nobel-prize-for-physics/2013/10/08/

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