Sunday, January 29, 2012

Technion Trinity in Space

Formation flying mini satellites under development at the Asher Space Research Institute.
Technion researchers are planning to launch three nano-satellites of up to 6kg each into
space. The project was unveiled to global space agency representatives and space
researchers on January 30, 2012 at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference of the
Israel Ministry of Science and Technology and the Fisher Institute.

"For the first time ever, an attempt will be made to launch three satellites that will fly
together in a controlled formation. To date, such a launch was not possible due to the size
and weight of the satellites, and because of the problems associated with the launch of
satellites in a uniform formation and their prolonged stay in space", says Prof. Pini Gurfil of
the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and the Asher Space Research Institute.

The Technion researchers aim the launch the experimental trio in 2015. The satellites will
attempt to receive signals from Earth at given frequencies, and to calculate the location of
the transmission's origin. The receiving of signals transmitted from Earth to space using
several nano-satellites flying in formation is an experiment that no man has ventured before.
If it succeeds, formation flying nano satellites can be developed further for applications such
as locating survivors in disaster zones.

Another aim of the experiment is to prove that a uniform, controlled formation of satellites
can be held for one year in a 600 km orbit above Earth. For this purpose, researchers are
planning to install on each of the satellites a propulsion system that will assist in maintaining
the formation in space longer.

The satellites are planned to be built based on a CubeSat standard structure, whose parts will
be assembled by the researchers with the assistance of students. The satellite formation
comprises of six cubes, each 10x10x10 cm, such that each satellite will have a 10x20x30 cm
box. These boxes will carry measuring instruments, antennae, computer systems, control
systems, and navigation instruments. The software and the algorithms that will manage the
flight are developed in the Distributed Space Systems Laboratory at the Technion's Asher
Space Research Institute and the UAV cluster of the Autonomous Systems Program at the
Technion. The nano-satellite formation will be launched as a supplementary payload on an
existing launch, through Europe, Russia or India.

The ambitious project is based on a prototype that was designed by Prof. Gurfil thanks to a
1.5 million euro grant he received from the European Union. The Technion hopes to get
additional support that will enable the actual development of the micro-satellites and their

"If we manage to prove in the experiment that the formation flight is possible, this will
provide a momentum to the development of small satellites and technologies related to the
miniaturization of electronic components, to efficient processing in space and to space
propulsion systems. These technologies could contribute to a variety of civil applications and
to the advancement of the Israeli space industry", says Prof. Gurfil and adds: "another goal
of the project is to contribute to the practical training of space engineers, which is why
undergraduate and graduate students will fill practical roles in the examination of various
aspects related to the mission and in the development of the system. The designated training
and practical experience of space engineers are essential to Israel's future in this field".

In July 1998, researchers and students of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the
Technion launched the satellite Gurwin TechSAT 2. The satellite, one of the smallest satellites
of its kind in the world, succeeded in remaining in space and completing all its tasks for
about 12 years.


National Stamp Marks 100 years of Technion

Israeli post gets smart with the Technion Centennial Stamp

The Israel Postal Company’s Philatelic Service is issuing a stamp celebrating the 100th anniversary of the cornerstone laying ceremony in Haifa of the Technion.

The new stamp will be unveiled as part of the Technion’s centennial activities, which will be launched on Tuesday President, Prof. Peretz Lavie, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and the postal authorities. 

The stamp shows a sketch of the old Technion building’s plans and the image of a nano parachute developed at the Technion at the lab of Prof. Eyal Zussman.  The Nanofiber technology recently led to the establishment of a prize-winning new company, NanoSpun through the T3 Technion Technology Transfer office. 

The Technion was Israel’s first academic institution and is today one of the most prominent in its field, Postal Company board chairman Sasii Shilo told the Jerusalem Post.

Ubiquitin gets ubiquitous through the post... Technion's first Nobel Laureates in Chemistry were also honored last year by a stamp released to celebrate their discovery. Read the full story here.

Ready for Day Zero - Pioneering Cyber Security

Hacker Inside Logo

December 20th, 2030. The world has made headway into healing some of its oldest diseases
- cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS. Driven by global communication through social media, the majority
of nations are at peace, as the problem of oil dependency was alleviated by energy pioneers
that created unlimited fuel from an infinite resource the sun.

But on that morning of hope and global stability, it all went wrong. A disparate doomsday
group from a remote rogue nation, managed to hack into the central control system of the US
nuclear missiles program. Nuclear warheads filled the skies like a plague of hornets, without
method in the madness - without a visible enemy to deter - without a whisper of hope for the
survival of the human race.

An extreme and unrealistic scenario, yet with the advancement and popularity of IT, the
recent cyber squabble - apparently between teenage hackers from Saudi Arabia and Israel in
a battle to affirm who could dash the death-blow in a cyber confrontation - brought the issue
of cyber security again to the foreground of the international security agenda.

“This is not serious stuff,” said Prof. Erez Petrank, a Technion encryption expert interviewed
on the recent cyber punch-out by the National Cyber Security website in the US.

“These hackers are being presented as geniuses. Most of them are simply very patient. They
download a number of tools which they don’t even build themselves, and attack and attack
sites until they find one that isn’t secure.”

"Israel is exposed to cyber-attacks which can paralyze entire life systems on which the country runs."
PM Netanyahu.

In Israel, it turns out, great minds are contemplating possible Day Zero possibilities. Not
the teenage Saudi 'nightmare' - as the ambitious hacker called himself - but the real
NIGHTMARE. And at Technion's world-leading computer science faculty, plans are underway
to bring expert researchers from across the field into one Cyber Security Research and
Teaching Program at the Faculty of Computer Science.

For experts like Petrank, the kind of "Day Zero" scenario such as sabotage of power plants,
flight control systems, or army control networks are far more disturbing. “Al Qaeda are looking
for more spectacular ways to wage war. They are looking for something more dramatic than
9/11, and that can either be the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction or cyber terrorism
— real cyber terror,” an Israel cyber terror expert told reporters. “Events like these of the past
few weeks can pique their interest in true cyber warfare.”

Real cyber terror involves hitting control systems of airports or other infrastructure, power
plants, transportation systems, hospitals, everything that is controlled by computers. The
damage could be catastrophic - far more than a conventional war. “This could involve the
killing of thousands of people. Imagine someone breaking into Logan airport’s systems, and
instead of hijacking planes, now they are programmed to collide into one another or crash.”

Israel's enemies are probing the vulnerability of these sophisticated systems. Israeli PM
Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned that “Israel is exposed to cyber-attacks which can

paralyze entire life systems on which the country runs.” To face the constant threat of attacks
by terrorists and hostile countries, it is absolutely vital to Israel’s security and economic well-
being to develop the best, most robust systems and take all measures possible to protect
them. Therefore, Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently announced “the establishment of a
national cybernetic initiative to encourage and develop the field of cybernetics and turn the
State of Israel into a global center of [cybernetics] knowledge, in cooperation with academia,
industry, the security establishment and other public bodies.”

Technion is well known for various contributions in computer security and cryptography, such
as assessing the security of cellular phone networks and exposing their vulnerabilities and

For example, a Technion team studied the protocols of the ubiquitous GSM phone system
and identified several weaknesses that allowed for eavesdropping on a conversation, taking
over a call, and even impersonating a different phone owner. The researchers also examined
the security of other kinds of applications such as car remote controls, analysis of the strength
of cryptographic standards, and the design of new cryptographic systems.

In addition, Technion researchers working in other areas of computing constantly address
security issues such as cloud computing, where security is a critical enabling technology
without which the entire concept is rendered unusable.

Researchers in a variety of Technion faculties study security issues related to operating
systems (OS), the methodologies by which they defend underlying applications, and
requirements from supporting hardware and programming languages.

Technion graduates have become key players in Israel’s thriving computer security industry.
A good example is the startup, Imperva , which recently went public and works in the area
of data protection. One of its founders was also a founder of Checkpoint, a leading Israeli
company that revolutionized computer security in the early 1990s, making it possible for
enterprises to defend entire networks. Its magnitude of success has paved the way and
inspired many other Israeli companies and Technion graduates. In today’s Israeli high-tech
arena, an entire ecosystem of companies exists to seek out solutions for the next possible
cyber flaw. One would be hard-pressed to find such a company without a dominant presence
of Technion graduates.

File:Computer hacking.jpg
When a hacker becomes a WMD terrorist -
Technion Research blocks the way.

Atidim - Empowering Our Future.

“Someone is investing in me, and I will try my hardest to succeed.

Photo: Atidim.
Growing up in a family with four siblings in Beit Shean, a periphery town on Israel’s northeastern border  with  Jordan, Shir Paska could not take a place in Israel's top university for granted. She knew she wanted to do something in engineering or 
Shir was ecstatic when she was accepted. “There are only 41 people chosen for this program and I  so  much  wanted  to  be  one  of  them. Someone is investing so much in me, and I will try my hardest to do the maximum and succeed.”
This year, Shir becomes a freshman in mechanical engineering at the Technion. She will receive a scholarship, laptop computer and living expenses through Rosman Atidim’s Industry program, and intern in her field at a leading company. 
“I want to get my degree and live and work in the North,” says Shir. “The Galilee has too much wasted potential, and I want to change that. Rosman Atidim is giving me the chance.”
Founded with the support of Dr. Martin and Grace Rosman of Sarasota Florida and Edgewater Maryland, the Rosman Atidim program supports Atidim's PreAcademic Preparatory and Industry program at the Technion - Israel Institute of Techology. It provides the means to excel to talented young people from Israel's less privileged neighborhoods. Students from the program often have a stated agenda to take their new skills back home - to advance their native area and inspire others to do the same.

Rosmans with Apeloig
Marty and Grace Rosman with Distinguished Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig.

The Rosman’s have been supporting Atidim students at the Technion for the past four years. All of the 20 students from the first graduating class are working in their respective professions in industry. In 2011/12, the Rosman Atidim Industry program is supporting 53 freshman students, of which 28 are graduates of the Pre-Academic Preparatory Program, and 47 sophomores. An additional 40 students will begin the Pre-Academic Preparatory program in January 2012.  

Atidim students receive assistance in every aspect of university life. From financial scholarships to academic tutoring, personal coaching to integration into the work force and even a laptop computer, these students know that someone believes in them and is willing to invest in their success. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nobel Quasicrystal Tie Competition Results



Yes, we put you through it - before, during and after Stockholm 2011, in which Technion's Prof. Dan Shechtman brought home Israel's 10th Nobel Prize. We racked your brains, and you had the patience, time and energy to contribute your quasicrystal thoughts and musings. Having reviewed all the entries, the panel of judges has decided to think out of the box, and opt for an "and-and" situation. We are so delighted with your engagement, we unanimously decided to award a quasicrystal tie or scarf to all of our entrants. Each one of you will be contacted individually, but if you don't hear from us, let us know. We need your names and addresses to send the quasi fashion package!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

NANO Nutraceuticals - pioneering health.

Nanocapsules developed by Technion researchers from natural materials can also be used by the pharmaceutical industry – in the protection of medicines in the stomach and their release in the intestine, as well as for targeting cancerous tumors

Image Detail

Technion researchers have created nanocapsules that are based on natural food components, and trapped in them vitamins and nutraceuticals (health-enhancing micronutrients) that do not dissolve well in water. The nanocapsules can be added to clear beverages, thus increasing their health benefits without clouding them.

Dr. Yoav Livney and his team in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering used the Maillard reaction to create nanocapsules based on the protein–polysaccharide conjugates. This natural reaction, which is the cause of the browning of food during baking and cooking, was used in the past in the creation of emulsions and microcapsules for nutrients that do not dissolve in water, but the problem with the existing methods is that the capsules obtained were large, so that they clouded the liquid they were added to.

To overcome this problem, Dr. Livney and his team conjugated maltodextrin, a product of the breakdown of starch into Casein, milk protein, in a controlled process. The conjugated molecules (conjugates) underwent spontaneous self-assembly into capsules of nanometric dimensions. These nanocapsules are so small, that the beverages they were added to remained clear.

In the next stage, the researchers trapped in the nanocapsules vitamin D (large parts of the population suffer from vitamin D deficiency, which could cause rickets in children and many other health disorders in adults). The research team found that the nanocapsules protect the vitamins "packed" in them. "They protected the vitamin D from degrading in an acidic environment, and during its refrigerated shelf-life", says Dr. Livney. 

Another important material called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), that is found in green tea and that is considered to inhibit many diseases, among them are neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, was also significantly protected by the conjugates throughout its shelf-life.

The researchers also followed the release of the nutrients from the nanocapsules under simulated digestion conditions. They discovered that the nanocapsules succeeded in keeping the nutrients trapped in them, and in protecting them under stomach conditions. Livney believes that the enzymes in the small intestine will break the polysaccharide-protein envelope down easily, allowing the absorption of the nutritional nano-cargo at the desired location, in the small intestine.

In the future, Dr. Livney plans to "research the overall release profile of nutraceuticals through simulated digestion, and later to examine their bioavailability in vivo in clinical trials". He adds that "we also intend to investigate the encapsulation by this method of other bio-active components, such as anti-cancer medicines.
Another team headed by Dr. Livney is currently developing the next generation of polysaccharide-protein conjugate-based nanocapsules, which are aimed at target-oriented delivery of medicines in the body, marking the location of cancerous tumors and destroying them.

Prior to becoming a faculty member in the Technion's Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Yoav Livney was involved in the development of "Gamadim", "Ski" and "Symphony", as part of his work as the product development manager of the cheese business unit at "Strauss".