Thankfully Israel’s recent cold weather storm has subsided, leaving the country to get back to normal - whatever “normal” means. Because no amount of snow and ice can put a freeze on the latest deluge of the Jewish State’s medical, scientific and social achievements.
Scientists at Hadassah Medical Center can now perform lightning fast checks on women worried about the risk of genetic breast cancer. They have developed a simple blood test for the presence of gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 that involves gene expression profiling – far quicker, cheaper and more accurate than the previous method of full gene sequencing. Meanwhile, Israel Technion scientists have discovered that waves of low-power laser light produce a much faster analysis of an individual’s genome.
Israeli research into brain disease has the potential to rescue the world from an impending avalanche of dementia sufferers. This debilitating condition is set to treble globally by 2050, which is why Israeli scientists were invited to attend the G8 Dementia Summit in London. The G8 has also established a taskforce on Social Impact Investment, to which the Israeli organization Social Finance Israel presented an initiative for tackling type-2 diabetes. It comprises Social Impact Bonds that invest in companies tackling social or medical issues and then governments pay dividends based on results.
The Jewish State was rewarded for its flood of international scientific research contributions when Israel became the first and only non-Euro member to be elected to the prestigious CERN European nuclear physics council. Now, if they wish, Israeli scientists can conduct research into electrical storms using the longest subatomic particle accelerator in the world. In comparison, the Israeli-developed Objet30 OrthoDesk 3D printer is tiny, but the torrent of digital dentistry products that can flow from it is simply jaw dropping. Small dental labs can now produce stone models, orthodontic appliances, delivery and positioning trays, retainers and surgical guides, which previously could only be manufactured by large laboratories.
There is a constant ebb and flow in diplomatic contacts between Israel and the Arab world. There was a moderate thaw in relations when the Jordan-based SESAME scientific research project chose Professor Eliezer Rabinovici of Jerusalem's Hebrew University as its new vice president. The media then positively gushed with delight when Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority agreed to build a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The initiative will produce millions of cubic meters of drinking water for the region, replenish the critically dwindling Dead Sea and generate hydroelectric power. There was another upsurge in relations when Israel’s Technion received a cascade of applications from thousands of students from Arab countries, wanting to enroll in its new online nanotechnology course.
Predicting the weather is extremely difficult. Israel, however, has some unique knowledge about other high-pressure systems. Israeli start-up GreenSpense’s “no-gas” eco-friendly aerosol won 1st place in the Chemistry & Advanced Materials category at the International Cleantech Open Ideas Competition in San Francisco, the “Oscar” of clean-technology awards. Meanwhile, the UK Daily Mail’s travel editor praised El Al’s method of dealing with the pressure to get airline passengers checked quickly and securely onto flights. “Maybe it's time to ditch the security scanner and actually talk to people at airports...it works for El Al”, he wrote. The following video also sums it up cold and crisply.
The wind is certainly back in the sails of Israeli air travelers. Weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Beijing have just been increased from three to fourteen to cater for the surge in business demand. Tourists and commercial fliers will appreciate the news that UK low-cost airline easyJet is introducing three new routes to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. They are London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa and Berlin.
Now that the snowstorm has abated, Israel can offer a warm welcome to its winter visitors. The International Winter Soccer Tournament for Youths will be held at Netanya’s new 13,800-capacity stadium. Teams from Serbia, Germany, Moldova and (of course) Israel will participate and entrance is free of charge. And as the sun comes out again, Israelis can look forward to the return of Canada’s Cirque du Soleil to warm their hearts this August or maybe “blow them away” with its award-winning production "Quidam".
Finally, 11-year-old Uriel Wang from Jerusalem has been under the weather following two bone marrow transplants to try to cure his leukemia. The sun came out for him, however, thanks to the Jerusalem Big Blue Lions football team, who gave Uriel the opportunity of achieving his dream to play for the team. Just watch as he thunders in like a tornado to score a blizzard of a touchdown - with just a little help from both sides.
Hopefully only blue skies from now on.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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