A Technion Book of Faces
In 2012, Technion celebrates 100 years since the laying of its 1st cornerstone.
This century has seen many miracles - the miraculous birth of Israel as a nation; the awesome transformation of our world into a global village where technology and science bring the keys to the future of health, communication, the environment, energy, security and global communion.
From 1912, until today, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, has been part of this miracle.
Within every nation, there are citizens that have lived the story of its suffering and its success. Behind every scientific and high-tech innovation there is a scientist with a story. Within the mind of each scientist there are sparks of curiosity and inspiration - the inspiration behind the Start-up Nation.
Here are just some of the living stories of innovation, human integrity and achievement from Technion ~ Israel Institute of Technology.
Technion founding father Prof. Albert Einstein at Technion.
“What is important are the many e-mails I receive from grateful patients helped by Rasagiline.” Prof. Moussa Youdim
It was his father’s struggle with deep depression over business troubles in 1957 that changed the course of Prof. Moussa Youdim’s life, from studying medicine to going into pharmacology. He sought a more refined, and merciful understanding of brain chemistry that would help bring treatment and relief to millions.
Prof. Youdim is today internationally renowned for his brain research and drug development in depressive illness and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. He has established the importance of monoamine oxidase and brain iron metabolism for brain function that can lead to cognitive impairments and neurodegenerative diseases.
Where internet began.
"They unequivocally bear the stamp of the present century." BBVA Foundation President, Francisco Gonzále, at the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, 2009.
The Lempel-Ziv algorithm - the mathematical formula for compressing vast amounts of information - is the thought power that enabled the high-tech communications revolution of our generation.
From the birth of the internet, through to the global broadcasting of live images from Mars, we are indebted to the science behind compression and decompression made possible by the legendary Technion algorithm in 1983.
Tiberius-born Prof. Jacob Ziv and Poland-born Prof. Abraham Lempel changed the direction of mankind by bringing the best compression ratio ever. This became the standard utility in unix systems, the gif image format, tiff, pdf and adobe acrobat software.
Generations of Technion graduates mentored by the two pioneering professors, adopted not only the knowledge, but also the spirit of innovation, empowering the high-tech revolution, in Israel and across the globe.
Light Man 2020
“Technion is the place I chose to do this research.” Distinguished Prof. Moti Segev
What is light? How is it composed? How to unravel the secrets of a soliton - a single wave packet of light? What wonders of technology and science can be achieved when we master its power?
Distinguished Prof.Mordechai (Moti) Segev was raised in Haifa to a poor immigrant family of shoemakers. But little Moti had a secret - the secret of what happens when you excel beyond all frontiers.
Years later - as the first Israeli to be offered a tenured position in Princeton in 1998 - Segev chose to return to Technion and to create there a focus of optics research alluring excellent students and faculty from across the world. Some proofs of his global success include the world’s first observation of 2D lattice solitons, and the first experimental demonstration of Anderson localization in a disordered periodic system.
A Matter of Class
“If you believe in your research then fight for it. Fight for the truth.” Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman.
Since 1912, matter - the miracle of everything in our world - was defined by scientists with a strict paradigm: crystals are ordered and periodic - with no exception. That was before Israeli-born Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman reached for the electron microsope in 1982 - the year humanity’s perception of matter was changed forever.
Shechtman broke all the rules when he revealed a new class of matter - “Shechtmanite” - crystals with 5-fold rotation symmetry. “I was alone. I was ridiculed by my colleagues and my peers,” tells Shechtman, who stood by his revolutionary research into quasi-periodic crystals despite the disgrace it brought him among international scientists.
The new strength of material made available through quasi-periodic crystals has today converted the world, opening a range of applications in super-strong steel - especially where it contacts the human body, such as in surgical equipment.
Multi-tasking Stem Cells
“Everyone knows about the Technion...” Prof. Shulamit Levenberg
One of seven sisters in a religious family, no-one could foresee that Prof. Shulamit Levenberg would change the course of global science. Yet, when she revealed a breakthrough process to create living human tissue in the lab - she opened a new dimension of promise in medical research - that could eventually culminate in a medical ability to cultivate and replace damaged organs in the body.
Prof. Levenberg conducts interdisciplinary research in the subjects of tissue engineering from human embryonic stem cells using biodegradable polymers. She is recognized as a world leader in the field. Her research proved that it is possible to create complex muscle tissue including blood vessels (as well as beating heart muscle) in a laboratory. She has been named among the world’s top 50 science leaders by the prestigious magazine Scientific American.
“Technion is a holistic experience.” Technion Alum Shai Agassi
Proud Technion alum Shai Agassi wants to put you behind the wheel of an electric car -- but he doesn't want you to sacrifice convenience (or cash) to do it.
When horrific climate-change scenarios elicit little but endless chatter from governments and entrenched special interests, the difference between talk and action represent an embarrassing gulf. Meet exemplary Technion alum Shai Agassi, who has stepped fearlessly into that gap. His approach to solving the puzzle of electric automobiles could spark nothing short of an automotive revolution.
Agassi stunned the software industry in 2007 by resigning from SAP to focus on his vision for breaking the world's fossil-fuel habit, through his global start-up Project Better Place. Recently he signed up to make San Francisco the EV capital of the US - with a revolutionary switchable battery electric taxi program.
The Kiss of Life
“Mentorship is as important as science.” Nobel Laureate Avram Hershko
Ubiquitin: so called, because it is a protein present in all living cells. No-one knew why it was there, and no-one dared to wonder: it was just boring - “ubiquitous”.
But no living secrets are untouched by Technion scientists. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Distinguished Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover unveiled the mysteries of the ubiquitin system, revealing the masterkeys of human health. The ubiquitous protein ubiquitin, they showed, is the key factor in deciding when and how a cell should regenerate. Imbalance in ubiquitin reveals itself in some of the world’s most incurable afflictions - such as cancer and neuro-degenerative disorders.
By 2004, the Technion research was already revolutionizing medical understanding and opening the way to innovative cures and treatments. No wonder that, in that year, the two Technion Professors became Israel’s first Nobel Laureates in science.
Sniffing Out Cancer
"I am where I feel that I contribute the most.” Dr. Hossam Haick
When Dr. Hossam Haick was studying for his doctorate, a friend of his was diagnosed with leukemia. "It was very painful for me. I saw his suffering. That was the first time I began to think about diagnosing cancer by means of oxygenating substances that are excreted in a photocatalytic procedure (accelerated by light ) and come into contact with cancer cells. Nazareth-born Haick has since amazed the world with an ingenious system for detecting cancer via breath tests.
Haick’s patented "electronic nose" promises to detect several types of cancer in their early stages. His goal is to detect cancer early enough to give the human body a better chance of beating the disease.
9/11 Never again
“At critical moments in an emergency, there is no time.” Security expert Prof. Avi Kirschenbaum.
A decate later and the trauma is fresh. And the global threat is still there. Post 9/11, everyone wants to know they are safe on a plane.
High-tech security innovation has always been quietly high on the scientific agenda of Israel’s top institute of technology, but recently world headlines showed another aspect of Technion expertise - people management in a crisis.
“At critical moments in an emergency, there is no time to consult a supervisor or read the manual,” says Prof. Avi Kirschenbaum, whose decades of expertise in home-front security recently won his team a $5 million grant by the European Union to ensure airport against hostile threats. “In order to prevent disasters and deal with them properly, we have to ensure that all the teams, and not just security teams, will be trained and highly motivated.”
"For interdisciplinary science, Technion is an excellent place." Prof. Kinneret Keren
Named one of the 100 top young innovators by MIT's Technology Review Magazine, Dr. Kinneret Keren is researching nature's genius in self-assembly. On one hand this can be used in the creation of nano-scale electronics; on the other, it brings a wealth of understanding to medical science - understanding a cell’s motility - or how it moves through space and time can provide the master-keys for healing such diseases as cancer or heart disease.
Keren integrates physics and cell biology in her research, moving between real and artificial cells. "The biophysical aspects of cell biology have been neglected in many areas," she explains: "Basic cellular processes are highly relevant to understanding normal processes and diseases, for example, understanding how and why cells move faster brings a chance to better understand how cancer spreads."
“Israel can win the battle for survival only by developing expert knowledge in technology."
Prof. Albert Einstein (President of the first Technion Society)
"Technion has a great contribution to make to Israel's future prosperity, and Israel's prosperity cannot but be of great benefit to other countries, as well."
Winston Churchill (The late Prime Minister of Great Britain)
"You – the people of the Technion – have led the way in technology, science and engineering."
Yitzhak Rabin (The late Prime Minister of Israel)
"The Technion has been a beacon of learning in our region."
The late King Hussein of Jordan
And no-one should ignore the most amazing part of Technion....