* Douglas, Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Israeli-based NSL Satellites Ltd., in partnership with NanoRacks LLC of the U.S., together launched a number of educational microgravity experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). Three of them are the outcomes of developments made by students from three Israeli high schools. In the past year, the students went through a unique class about space environment, life on the international space station and the legacy of the first Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who was killed while on board the Colombia space shuttle. The students pitched many suggestions for experiments in space to a special committee, and only three were elected to actually be performed. One experiment will look at how cancer cells develop in microgravity, another will determine the direction of the sprouts/roots growth of radish seeds under microgravity, and the third will examine the hardening of an epoxy resin sample to test the characteristics of the mix in microgravity conditions. Two experiments were already launched from Cape Canaveral. The third one is due to launch in January.
* One morning, two years ago, Rachel Held-Evans decided to live one year according to the rules of the bible. That decision resulted in one of today's best sellers: Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master . In this book, Held-Evans describes her biblical-style life, including living in a tent during the Time of the Month, no getting anywhere near a television or a computer, avoiding gossip and more. Before becoming a famous publishing author, Held-Evans was a blogger, living in the lap of the Evangelical Church. That lifestyle made her want to examine why people choose to educate their children, especially daughters, to live according to biblical rules.
* A surprise visitor in Israel! Tennis champion, Serena Williams landed in Israel last week, after visiting South Africa and Nigeria with her sister, Venus. The two stayed in Africa for several days, where they played some exhibition games, and inspired African women and emphasized the role of women in African development. On Monday, Williams landed in Eilat, Israel's most southern city, where she played some tennis, but mostly rested and took a short break from her hectic schedule.
* A.B. Yehoshua, one of Israel's most important authors, won the Prix Médicis étranger, a French literary award for a translated work for his novel The Retrospective. The novel explores the relationship between life and art through the eyes of a film director, his screenwriter, and their muse: "An aging film director named Yair Moses has been invited to the Spanish pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela for a retrospective of his early work. As he and Ruth, his leading actress and longtime muse, settle into their hotel, Moses notices the painting over his bed, Caritas Romana, depicting a classical legend of a starving old prisoner man nursing at the breast of his daughter. For the first time in decades, he recalls the infamous scene from one of his early films which led to his estrangement from his difficult but brilliant screenwriter, Trigano, Ruth’s former lover. Throughout the retrospective, Moses is unsettled, straddling the past and the present, and upon his return to Israel, he decides to travel to the south to find the elusive Trigano and propose a new collaboration. But the screenwriter demands a price for such a reconciliation, one that will have strange and lasting consequences". The book was published in Hebrew in 2011 and was translated to several languages, including French. It will be released in English in March of 2013.
* A collection of rare posters stolen by the Nazis in 1938, including advertisement and propaganda from the 19th century, is being sold by the owner's son. Hans Sachs was a holocaust survivor, who escaped to the U.S. after being held in a concentration camp. He is thought to have collected up to 12,500 posters. But only 4,529 have been identified, according to media reports. The German Historical Museum displayed a few posters at any one time, after they became part of its collection following the fall of the Berlin Wall. After years of legal battles in a German court, Sachs Jr. earned back the legal rights for the collection, and is now looking for a buyer. The collection's worth is estimated between 4.5 million to 16 million euros ($5.75 to $20.44 million).
* An innocent shipment of sunflower seeds turned to have not so much of an innocent content. A species of dangerous fire ants was found the shipment, during a routine inspection of the Agriculture Ministry. The infested shipment was detained and quarantined while a specimen was sent to Tel Aviv University for identification. As you probably know, a bite of a fire ant is very dangerous and can sometimes even kill. Thank God it was discovered soon enough…
* For a while now there are rumors that Israel and Turkey are giving their friendship another chance. After a row of diplomatic feuds, it seemed like it can't go any lower, but right in the middle of the peace-making, Turkey took a turn which will put the alliance between the two states yet to another test. Last week, a "show trial" started in Turkey, where four former IDF commanders, including former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, were accused of serious crimes in the 2010 killing of nine Turks on the Marmara ship. If you need a reminder, in May 2010, an IDF naval unit was sent to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists on board. The Turks later presented the case to the media and public, making it seem as if they were carrying humanitarian aid and was attacked for no reason. Of course, it was as far from the truth as Pluto is far from the sun. I guess it is almost pointless to say Israel took no part in this trial, and even condemned it. More on that story later this week...
* Until Israeli and Turkish officials will shake hands, first steps are being made in the cultural department. Turkey's best-known alternative rock band, Baba Zula, will play its first-ever concert in Israel at Tel Aviv's Barby Club on November 9. Baba Zula was established in Istanbul in 1996 and made it big in 2005. Baba Zula seeks to merge psychedelic and Turkish folk music. The band's rock is also influenced by reggae, dubbed electronic music, '60s rock, as well as gypsy and Turkish music.