Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ingenuity within Olympic broadcasting

Image: LiveU Website 

Technion graduates are bringing pictures of the 2012 London Olympics live to your homes. Going live with the 2012 Olympic games, the innovative Israel-born company LiveU introduced an innovative technology that allows a small device to use conventional mobile network signals to broadcast live events, as they happen.

The Technion brain-powered start-up already has a powerful global track record: it delivered live broadcasts of events such as the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton; the 2011 Oscars and the Grammy Awards 2011; and the 2012 Super Bowl.
London 2012 is also hosting another new Israeli technology: Mobli - according to the Embassy of Israel in London. Mobli - a real-time visual media platform - is being employed by Serena Williams to update her followers on the action in London. Williams is an investor in the company, which is also populated by Technion graduates and was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg.
Mobli is the perfect platform for me for sharing my experiences, both the great and the not so great, during the Olympic Games," said Williams. "I hope that my fans will connect to the channel, to participate and share with me in this unique experience.” 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nobel Laureate links Science and Art

Prof. Dan Shechtman is a research professor in the Faculty of Materials Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In 2011, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals. But not a lot of people know that he is also a talented jewelry craftsman.

1972, Dayton, Ohio. It all began innocently enough. Zippi, Dan’s wife, was busy in the evenings studying for a Master’s Degree in Sociology, and Dan Shechtman, a postdoctoral fellow, found himself studying stone polishing in the arts center during his free time.   Before long, five pairs of polished stones accumulated. Each pair, a different color. What would he do with them? He found himself attending a silver jewelry making course, from that moment onwards, sensitively and delicately, Dan has been creating and designing jewelry. Jewelry for his wife: only for his wife.

An exhibition of handcrafted jewelry created by Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman was displayed on campus. The exhibition showcased 15 unique pieces ranging from earrings, necklaces and bracelets with a single item — an Aztec-inspired silver belt buckle— which Distinguished Prof. Shechtman made for himself.

The exhibition, curated by Anat Har-Gil, took place June 10 to June 14, 2012, on campus.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Creativity in Organic Synthesis

Professor Ilan Marek, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, has been awarded the Janssen Pharmaceutica Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis. The prize is awarded biannually to a chemist under the age of 50 who has made a significant contribution to the field of organic synthesis in the broadest sense.

The Prize consists of a trophy, a citation, and 20,000 Euros. It was presented at the Belgian Organic Synthesis Symposium (BOSS) in Leuven, Belgium, July 15–20, where Professor Marek will deliver a keynote lecture.

Ilan Marek was educated in France and received his Ph.D. from the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, in 1988 under the joint supervision of Jean F. Normant, Alexandre Alexakis, and Pierre Mangeney. After a postdoctoral period at Louvain, Belgium, with Leon Ghosez, he worked at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS, National Center for Scientific Research). He obtained his Habilitation in 1995 and joined the faculty at the Technion, Haifa, soon after. He was promoted to full professor at the Technion in 2004 and since 2005 he has held the Sir Michael and Lady Sobell Academic Chair.

Marek’s research include the design and development of new and efficient stereo- and enantioselective strategies for the synthesis of important complex molecular structures. In particular, his work focuses on developing carbon-carbon bond forming processes, which efficiently create multiple stereocenters.

Diabetes Research and Vascular Networks

Technion Researchers Construct a Polymeric Scaffold Array with Pancreatic Islets Surrounded by a Vascular Network. This heralds the potential for the fabrication of transplantable "islets"

The scientific journal PLoS ONE reports that Technion researchers have succeeded in constructing a three-dimensional polymeric scaffold array with pancreatic islets surrounded by a vascular network.

"We have shown that the three-dimensional environment and the engineered blood vessels support the islets – and this support is important for the survival of the islets and for their insulin secretion activity", says Prof. Shulamit Levenberg of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "We have shown that these laboratory-made polymeric scaffolds can be transplanted subcutaneously and can heal a diabetic mouse. The ability to increase the islets' vasculature and to support their post-transplant survival could allow the transplant of four times less islets than is customary in transplants in mice, while still achieving decreased blood sugar levels and diabetes relief". 

The mechanism which causes the failure of pancreatic islet transplants is as yet not entirely clear, but the prevailing opinion is that it has to do with ischemic damage – and a delay in the creation of new blood vessels.

The Technion researchers hypothesize that blood vessels also have an active role in inter-cellular communication that supports the survival and function of pancreatic islets. To test this hypothesis, the researchers developed a three-dimensional network of endothelial blood vessels in engineered pancreatic tissues produced from islets, fibroblasts and endothelial cells. This triple array, which was seeded on highly porous polymeric scaffolds, mimics the natural anatomical context of pancreatic vasculature.

"We have shown that the increase in islet survival is correlated with creation of surrounding endothelial tubes", says Prof. Levenberg. "Adding fibroblasts to pancreatic islet and endothelial cell cultures encouraged the creation of the vascular network, which supported islet survival as well as insulin secretion. Significant differences were seen in many variables – gene expressions, profiles of the growth factors of endothelial cells, ECM, morphogens and screening markers – between two-dimensional culture systems and three-dimensional culture systems that allow an endothelial network, and such differences were even greater after fibroblasts were added that support the creation of the engineered blood vessels."

Transplanting the vascularized engineered islet tissue has improved the survival and acceptance of such islets in diabetic mice, and has even improved their function in decreasing blood glucose. The Technion researchers hope that these findings herald potential strategies for the fabrication of transplantable islets with improved survivability.

The work was done by research student Keren Francis in Prof. Levenberg's laboratory and in cooperation with Yuval Dor from the Hebrew university, under a joint research grant provided by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

The laboratory is now researching the effect of the vascular network and the three-dimensional growth on human islets, under joint finance of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and the Israel Science Foundation.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The "God Particle" & Technion

A view of the center of the ATLAS

Technion researchers are playing important roles at the LHC project in CERN - the world's most powerful particle accelerator.  Recently, news reports say the greatest scientific experiment in history has had amazing results and that the Higgs Boson - alias the "God particle" - has been discovered.

During the sixties and seventies, a model was developed that explains phenomena observed in the world of particles that comprise the entire universe. The model, which is called the "Standard Model", explains brilliantly and accurately all experimental results and observations. But this model has originally had a problem: it could not be used to explain particles that have a mass. It is simply that mathematically, the equations did not hold if the mass of these particles was added to them. In the mid-sixties, several physicists, among them Peter Higgs, suggested what is currently known as the "Higgs mechanism", through which mass can be added to the Standard Model. But adding this mechanism meant that a new particle had to exist – the Higgs Boson. We have been searching for it ever since. Last night, the world was told of its discovery.

This is, without a doubt, a technological achievement, but the real achievement is not in the technological realm, but rather in the news that the model we have been following is likely the correct one. We have, in fact, completed our first puzzle. We can now safely proceed in search of the next puzzle, namely the "new physics" or "physics beyond the Standard Model", where we investigate phenomena that are not described by the Standard Model. Each such discovery, if made, will completely change our perception of the universe around us.

The Technion group has made a major contribution to the discovery, in that the construction and examination of the muon detectors, which are a critical part of the experiment's ability to measure the events, were done in Israel.  The muon detection software was developed by Prof. Tarem, and Prof. Rozen is responsible for the tremendous grid computing system. Students guided by Prof. Tarem developed the detector control system, and several students and researchers are now working under her guidance on one of the Higgs decay channels, as presented in the press conference last night.

About three years ago, only a moment before the huge tunnel in which the accelerator was built was sealed, Avi Blizovsky visited the place and we now bring his impressions once again.

We visited "ATLAS" – one of the main detectors in the LHC project in CERN. In a modest office in building number 40 - one of the main buildings on the CERN campus - seats Prof. Shlomit Tarem, of the High Energy Group in the Technion's Department of Physics. Prof. Tarem is participating in the project together with her colleague in the group, Prof. Yoram Rozen, and their graduate students. The office houses also post-doctoral fellow Sofia Vallecorsa (originally of Rome) and doctoral student Sagi Ben-Ami. Among the Israeli group members are also researchers from the Weizmann Institute and Tel Aviv University. With them works Arwa Bannoura, a student from Birzeit who lives in Bethlehem,  and who is  currently in CERN for the summer semester.

The Israeli group is headed by Giora Mikenberg of the Weizmann Institute, who has held in the past formal positions in CERN. According to Mikenberg, the credit for Israel joining the project is due, first and foremost, to the late Prof. Paul Singer of the Technion's Department of Physics, who served as Chairman of the Israel Science Foundation.  

During its construction, Israeli engineers collaborated with engineers of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, and Israeli equipment allows fast and accurate optical communications between the facilities and the enormous server cluster. Many Israeli companies participated in building "ATLAS", the huge facility that comprises 2,700 detectors on eight "wheels" 20 meters in diameter. Once the tunnel was sealed in August it could no longer be entered, which emphasizes the importance of the examinations conducted toward this move, to avoid technicians having to enter the tunnel in order to make repairs once the experiment begins.

The different elements of the CERN project were indeed examined prior to the start of the experiment, but the operation of the project as a whole could not be tested at the time. As was announced, the project was shut down for two months shortly after it began, because of a helium leak, but Prof. Tarem cautions against any concern. "This experiment will last for at least a decade, so two months are not too significant a period. Besides, malfunctions cannot be avoided in such a big, complicated experiment."

Today, Profs. Tarem and Rozen and thousands of their colleagues worldwide can smile with pride and satisfaction.  They were part of the discovery of the "God particle".

A graphic diagram of the particle accelerator in Geneva
From right to left: Eli Hadash, Shikma Bressler, Silvia Behar, David Cohen, Yoram Gernitzky, Alon Hershenhorn and Yaniv Katan. In the second row: Sofia Vallecorsa, Dikla Oren, and Enrique Kachomovitz. Prof. Rozen (horizontal).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In a heartbeat: INTEL snaps up Technion graduate ingenuity.

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Intel buys heart beat biometrics company IDesia Biometrics, which provides technology through which heart beats can be used to recognize users on PCs and mobile devices
Idesia Biometrics  provides technology through which heart beats can be used to recognise users on PCs and mobile devices. The technology can also be used to provide health information.

With over 500 patents to his name, Technion graduate and co-founder of Idesia Biometrics Yossi Gross is one of Israel's most powerful pioneers at the vanguard of biotech innovation. Launching his technological career within the Lavi program of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Gross went on to initiate 27 medical device companies. Intel's recent acquisition could be energized by the search for more secure forms of identifying users, and/or even by its new ventures into mobile applications for health care. Idesia has 14 employees of which 10 are in Israel.

Co-founder and inventor Technion graduate of Electrical Engineering (1987) Dr. Danny Lange is also an ongoing source of biotech innovation.  "As an entrepreneur, the most important thing is that the technology will be brought to market, and it looks like Intel is the company that can ensure that," Lange told Globes , which first reported the story.

Dr. Danny Lange
Dr. Danny Lange,
Technion graduate in Electrical Engineering.

Lange is experienced in running both fledgling and well-established technology businesses. Prior to IDesia, he co-founded and held executive positions of two medical device companies in the field of patient monitoring (Algodyne Ltd. and Earlysense Ltd.), invented their core technologies and authored more than a dozen patents covering his inventions. Earlier still, Dr. Lange served as senior R&D engineer at Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, and as a Research Associate and Lecturer at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Dr. Lange holds a B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D., all in Electrical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

Intel has not yet commented on how much it paid for Idesia or how it will use the biometric technology. Fingerprint readers and face recognition have been used for some time to recognize users, but there are concerns that those technologies can be easily tricked. Monitoring heart beats could provide Intel a more advanced and secure way to recognize users.

Technion graduates at Intel's R&D center in Israel developed the architecture behind the popular Core and Core 2 microprocessors, and the country's operations are headed by Technion graduate Mooly Eden, who previously managed the PC client group at Intel.

Intel has a big interest in the health care industry and is in a joint venture with General Electric to provide in-home heath care products. The joint venture, called Care Innovations, provides products like tablets targeted at the health care industry. Intel is also conducting research on health care for senior citizens.

Technion Alumn Yossi Gross 
Gross received an MSc degree in 1976 in aeronautical engineering. 

Technion graduate Yossi Gross (born February 5, 1947) is an Israeli medical device innovator and entrepreneur. He is a founding partner of Rainbow Medical, an operational investment company, established to launch companies based on the technological ideas and inventions of Gross. Gross first started his professional career as a project manager of the Lavi (IAI Lavi ) program for the Israel Air Force. 

Since the 1990, Gross initiated 27 medical device companies based on his various inventions in electronics, signal processing, nanotechnology, drug delivery and neurostimulation. Gross’s companies have developed or are currently developing treatments for diabetes, gastroenterology, stroke, ophthalmology, asthma, congestive heart failure, and urology. In total, Gross has 567 filed patents.

See also: The Creative Mind of Yossi Gross [PDF]

Also on the IDeasia Biometrics Team:

Dikla Horesh

Technion graduate Dikla Horesh: 
Over 5 years experience as Biomedical engineer in IDesia Biometrics and Healthcare.
ECG signal processing as part of the Algorithm team for 3 years.
Managed the consumer Healthcare department in IDesia for 2 years.

Technion graduate Mooly Eden

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Technion graduate Mooly Eden named as among CNN's top 10 Technological visionaries in June 2012. 

Shmuel (Mooly) Eden is vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group (PCCG). In this capacity, he is responsible for the platform planning, architecture, enabling and marketing of Intel's PC solutions for the desktop and mobile computing segments. 

Eden joined Intel in 1982. He held numerous technical and management positions in microprocessor design for several Intel microprocessors, including the Intel® Pentium® processor with MMX™ technology. From 1999 – 2003 Eden was director and general manager of the Israel Development Center. He was responsible for the development of the mobile microprocessors and chipsets, including Intel® Centrino® Processor Technology and the Intel® Pentium® M processor, formerly codenamed Banias. 

In 2004 he served as vice president and director of marketing for the Mobile Platforms Group, responsible for driving growth in the notebook computing segment. In 2005 he was promoted to vice president and general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group, where he was responsible for ramping the notebook and later on the netbook categories. In 2009 he was promoted to the current position as the vice president and general manager of the PC client group. 

Prior to joining Intel in 1982, Eden was an engineer for Tadiran Communication, Ltd. Eden received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel in 1973 and a senior business management degree from Jerusalem University. He taught as an adjunct senior lecturer at the MBA program of the Technion Institute of Technology from 1999 – 2002.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Together: the Story of the Century.

100 years of Technion history was celebrated at the 2012 Board of Governors meeting at Technion City with the festive dedication of the 234-page history book: Together: the Story of the Century on June 10th. The book was made possible by a gift of the Canadian Technion Society.

Featured on the cover is the legendary, Italian-born Prof. Luisa Bonfiglioli, who taught descriptive geometry to generation of Technion student, including 2011 Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.

For information about how to acquire a copy, contact Technion PARD.

Sustainable Engineering - Technion

Newly Created UNESCO Chair at Technion for Sustainable Engineering
Date: 13/06/2012
Prof. Mark Talesnick of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering is the incumbent of the newly established UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Engineering in Developing Communities.

The specific objectives of this Chair are to develop undergraduate and graduate teaching programs in engineering for developing communities, in cooperation with partners;  carry out research on engineering for developing communities and disseminate results widely;  design, test and apply, jointly with partners, ground-level projects to test and further refine the concept of sustainable engineering; and,  provide short-term theoretical and practical training, as well as facilitate visiting professorships.

Talesnick reports that the University of Colorado and Kathmandu Universities are also involved and that he will be travelling to Ghana, Ethiopia and Batswana soon to enlist their collaboration as well.

Talesnick also spearheads Engineers Without Borders - Technion (EWB).

Currently, 739 UNESCO Chairs and 70 UNITWIN Networks in 134 countries provide an innovative modality for international academic cooperation. They act as think-tanks and bridge- builders between research and policy-making, and between academia, civil society, local communities and the productive sector.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Centennial Technion Board of Governors

Among the International Board of Governors June 2012 events in this cornerstone centennial year were dedications of new facilities, prizes for research and academic excellence, book launches celebrating Technion’s contributions to Israel and the world, and honorary awards to public figures.

Opening the week, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie described the Technion in 2012, as it is poised to meet the challenged of the next century. Read more.

100 years of Technion history was celebrated at the 2012 Board of Governors meeting at Technion City with the festive dedication of the 234-page history book: Together: the Story of the Century on June 10th.

An exhibition of handcrafted jewelry created by Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman was opened at Technion City. Designed for his wife, Prof. Zipora Shechtman, the exhibition showcases 15 unique pieces ranging from earrings to bracelets with a single item - an Aztec-inspired silver belt buckle - which he made for himself.

In this year's Dr. Bob's TechnoBrain competition, supported by Dr. Robert Shillman in memory of Neev-Ya Durban, students met the challenge to recreate the laying of Technion's cornerstone in new and original ways. As part of Technion's 100th anniversary since the cornerstone was laid in 1912, TechnoBrain 2012 took place on June 13, 2012 - the last day of Technion's annual International Board of Governors meeting.

Quantum Fields Forever

ISCS Quantum Device Award to David Gershoni
Date: 01/07/2012
Prof. David Gershoni from the Faculty of Physics will receive the 2012 ISCS Quantum Device Award for "pioneering research  in quantum optics of semiconductor nanostructures including the first demonstrations of single and entangled photons emissions and coherent access of the dark exciton".

Gershoni is the incumbent of the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Academic Chair and heads the Solid State Institute. He will receive this prestigious award at The International Symposium for Compound Semiconductors, to be held in Santa Barbara at the end of August 2012.

The Quantum Device Award was initiated by Fujitsu Quantum Devices Ltd. in 2000 and is now sponsored by the Japanese Section of the ISCS Steering Committee.  The award honors pioneering contributions to the field of compound semiconductor and quantum/nanostructure devices which have made a major impact in the past two decades.  New device concepts and structures, device physics and modeling as well as device realization and characterization are areas included in the award.

Technion at 100.

You might also like: Together: the story of the century.

Speech for the Opening of the 2012 Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie.

One hundred years ago we started from scratch: no foundations, no buildings, no funding for salaries or equipment, no faculty members, almost no engineers, and no reason to believe that this grandiose vision would ever materialize. Stone by stone, the historical building of the Technion started to arise. A well was dug on site – a source of water to be used not only by the Technion’s laboratories and visitors, but by the local community of Haifa as well.

The Technion’s slow and torturous development took place during the era of the two world wars and the establishment of the State of Israel. During the decades since – and in the face of so many wars – the Technion stuck to its vision: striving for peace through scientific activities and collaborations, as well as caring for the advancement, health and security of the State of Israel and the whole of humanity.

What is the Technion today, one hundred years later? Those who look for the answer to this question would have to go around campus wearing a magic gown that would make them invisible, allowing them to enter classrooms, labs, offices and even hospital rooms, without disturbing the usual course of events.  

A good starting point would be the heart of campus, where you could join young students sitting on the grass and enjoying a sunny afternoon, holding laptops and talking, drinking coffee, and discussing the latest lecture on computer science, physics or mathematics. If you listen closely, you will hear a mixture of languages – Hebrew (as well as Hebrew with a Russian accent!), Arabic, English (as well as English with a Canadian accent!) – and see couples bent over their computers, speaking Chinese as though they were the only people in the world.
Sitting on the benches at the edges of the lawn, you could see a Frisbee flying from one end of the lawn to another in a skillful Californian style.

Later, you are welcome to tiptoe into the classrooms of the Ullmann building. There you can see hundreds of glittering eyes staring at the young lecturer in front of them, who is writing a complicated equation on the blackboard while students are trying to absorb each and every word. Not a long way from there are the smaller classrooms, where students are absorbed in heated discussions about the right design for an engineering model, or about the right location for a green belt in a new community.  

Now you’d be ready for a visit to the research labs, where you could immediately feel the excitement in the air, when a professor and his or her students are waiting anxiously for the results of an important experiment they had been planning for months. Their joyful calls echo throughout the building when the laser beam hits the target, just as they had predicted. You are welcome to join them when they celebrate the successful experiment at the Junta Bar, located in the new Zielony Student Union Building.

If no one is sitting in front of the gigantic Titan, and nobody is working in the cleanrooms at the Zisapel nanotechnology building, you could sneak a peak into the enormous microscope, and even pretend to be Nobel Prize winner Distinguished Professor Danny Shechtman and call out “Eureka”, when you see the atoms twirl and form into a scientific creation never seen before.  
But this is not all. If you could sneak into the workshops or the offices of the Technion’s faculties, or the offices at the Senate Building, you could meet our excellent technical and administrative staff members, whose contribution to the Technion’s everyday operation is priceless. On the eastern slopes of the campus hill, at the Center for Pre-University Education, hundreds of youngsters are getting a second chance to become Technion students. On the western slopes of the hill, in the late afternoons, you could join groups of toddlers playing in the sandboxes of the Zielony Graduate Student Village, while their mothers are sitting on a nearby bench, studying for tomorrow’s physics or chemistry test. Later, you could visit patients lying in their beds in Haifa’s hospitals and in other hospitals across the country, where students of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine are taking their first cautious steps in medical diagnosis and treatment, or you could explore the Sohnis Family Research Laboratory for Cardiac Electrophysiology and Regenerative Medicine, where you could admire a process that re-programs a patient’s skin cells into heart cells, thus paving the way to a completely new field of medicine.
These are the many aspects of the Technion’s everyday life, its multifaceted reality.

Seventy thousand graduates and millions of scientists, students, entrepreneurs and civilians around the world  have been inspired by the Technion’s work. Since the engineering of that first well in Haifa, the minds of Technion graduates and faculty members have given forth a flow of inventions, new products and innovative services: portable memory devices; the Lempel-Ziv algorithm for information compression; Azilect – a medicine for treating early stages of Parkinson's and other diseases; the deciphering of the ubiquitin mechanism, which is responsible for protein decomposition in cells; the fascinating world of quasiperiodic crystals; and more.

This year was one of the most wondrous years in the Technion’s history: The Technion has reached its hundredth anniversary with a new Nobel Prize winner – the third Technion scientist in seven years to receive this greatest of honors. At the end of 2011 we received the dramatic announcement that Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose the Technion and Cornell University to establish the new innovation institute in New York City. We could not have wished for better gifts for our 100th anniversary.  

All these wonderful achievements could not have been possible without the support of our dedicated and committed friends in Israel and abroad. This group of remarkable individuals, who we honor today with Honorary Fellowships, is a wonderful example of the worldwide Technion family of supporters. They come from Israel, the United States, Germany, Brazil and Britain. Each and every one of them deserves our deepest gratitude, for their long-lasting love and unwavering support of the Technion.

This year, I joined a group of Israeli students who visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It was a touching experience that affected me more deeply. Together with those talented youngsters – brilliant minds of the future – we stood in that remote place, where thousands of other brilliant minds were annihilated, and we feel and say, “It’s all right. In the end, we won.. We triumphed by the power of justice.”

We, at the Technion, have had a significant role in that triumph.