Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
I have always wondered who will be the next to land on the moon. My parents remember vividly when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969 and said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” As a student and now a teacher of science, I hope to inspire the next generation of engineers who will create rockets to take us to the places of our dreams.
It seems that a team from Israel may be the next to touch down next on the moon. (From the website http://www.spaceil.com/)
“Our mission is to become the first to successfully launch, fly and land a small robotic spacecraft on the Moon, operate it across the lunar surface and transmit video, images, and data back to Earth by the end of next year. By doing this Israel will become the third nation on the moon!” Learn more about SpaceIL on their site: http://www.spaceil.com/)
Not only is SpaceIL planning on getting to the moon soon, they will do it in miniature. “SpaceIL’s Spaceship is made to be the smallest possible, making it cost’s less to launch. To build a small spaceship, SpaceIL uses cutting edge nano satellite technologies. Team SpaceIL’s solution utilizes Israel’s unique experience and knowledge in miniaturized satellites, by planning the smallest spacecraft in the world and the first ever nano-spaceship to land on the moon.”
This team consists of a non-profit organization that recently was founded to compete for the Google Lunar X Prize of $30 million dollars and in the global race to explore the moon. The Israeli space enthusiasts will go head-to-head against privately-funded space teams to be the first to launch, fly, and land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon. They hope to carry the Israeli flag to the landing site.
As Daniel Freeman noted in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfreedman/2011/03/30/israel-the-third-nation-on-the-moon/2/) “The actual robot will be something the size of a Coca-Cola bottle…Think about it – a cell phone has most of the capabilities necessary for communication and imaging, and to that we need to add a hopper to move around the moon.” If these three scientists are able to create such an inexpensive and innovative approach to lunar exploration, what other issues can we solve if we all work together?
Bringing the world’s attention to Israel’s cutting edge science and technological capacity will ignite and inspire the youth of Israel and other nations to investigate SPACE, the final frontier!
Brainpop, an incredible online educational movie site, has gotten involved in the project with a movie: http://www.spaceil.com/e/brainpop/?lang=iw. I have often used their movies to introduce new topics in my science classes. I love that science and science fiction are coming together to create new realities.
I hope that scientists, educators, parents, students, teachers, and funders will join together in this and other large-scale projects to share their enthusiasm for science, education, and technology and to show children it is possible to make dreams come true.
Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. is an accomplished travel agent, blogger, speaker, science teacher and member of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries. She and George Rajna spent eleven months in 2008 wandering Southeast Asia from Indonesia to Mongolia where they fell in love, got engaged, and now as a married couple are leaving July 2012 for another year journey in SE Asia. Follow their journey at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/ or with their newsletter (http://forms.aweber.com/form/58/577760258.htm)
7.3.12 at 6:00 pm | I have always wondered who will be the next to. . .
5.31.12 at 12:01 pm | Researchers from Bar Ilan University in Israel. . .
5.16.12 at 10:26 am | Does Brain Research say that Pinterest will win. . .
3.8.11 at 2:32 pm | BGU study finds seniors drive more slowly to. . .
8.31.10 at 1:05 pm | Haifa IDC9 building is Israel's first. . .
8.17.10 at 7:16 pm | Conservative bloggers take aim at physicist's. . .
8.17.10 at 7:16 pm | Conservative bloggers take aim at physicist's. . . (4)
7.12.10 at 8:10 pm | Israeli start-up develops nearly transparent. . . (2)
8.10.10 at 10:36 am | USC professor uses imaging technology to find new. . . (1)
May 31, 2012 | 12:01 pm
Posted by Jared Baker
Researchers from Bar Ilan University in Israel are developing a system to monitor patients on ventilators, alerting doctors and nurses if something goes wrong.
The technology comes from research originally intended for the military, designed to monitor complex systems in Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) and assist operators in determining if sensors were malfunctioning. Haaretz reports (translation courtesy No Camels):
Lead researcher and head of the robotics lab at Bar Ilan, Professor Gal Kaminka, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “There are no simple malfunctions. There are many types of failures that require a human being present to look at the dashboard and see, for example, that the engine is strained or the speed and altitude are decreasing. The Ministry of Defense contacted us and asked if there is a way to create detectors that can automatically alert in case something is not functioning as it should.”
“Then, Dr. Haim Berkenstadt who is an anesthesiologist from Sheba Hospital, approached us,” tells Dr. Kaminka. “Apparently one of the problems that anesthetists have is to monitor the patient during surgery, recovery room or intensive care and understand that something is unusual.”
May 16, 2012 | 10:26 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Does Brain Research say that Pinterest will win the battle for social media supremacy? The answer is Yes!
In the social media battle, Pinterest may have what it takes to knock out the others. Visual focus means it speaks to our brains in a way the others don’t. Photos, not words, are the focus. No rankings or numbers of friends although the number of likes and re-pins may remake the new currency.
Pinterest is the hottest growing trend in Social Media, remember those boards that looked like cardboard and you took a pushpin and put up your favorite photo of the hottest teen star or a reminder about your next dental appointment, now you can do it virtually! Pinterest is a way to share content and “allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard.” You can also like someone’s “pin” and re-pin it to one of your boards. There are boards for “trip I want to take,” “recipe I want to make,” and “House I want to have.”
Our brains learn best when they can remember and repeat or possible repin. We are visual creatures, over all other senses, but many of these photos invoke other senses and form the comments, which include our longings, feelings and dreams. The photos tap into the reptilian brain where we want to relax, be fed, our basic needs. We see it and we want to pin it. We can have it all, at least on our boards.
In John Medina’s Brain Rules, he discusses the rules for our brains. After reading this book, I am certain now that Pinterest will win the battle for social media dominance. Let me tell you why. First of all, our brains were built to adapt and survive; however we do not treat the brain with enough exercise or challenge. “Though we have been stuffing [our brains] into classrooms and cubicles for decades, our brains actually were built to survive in jungles and grasslands. We have not outgrown this.” We want to use symbols and fantasize and create alliances. I think there are more options for this development in Pinterest than in other social media giants. We all want to survive and thrive and social media sites are a way to share, be part of a group and belong. As Medina states, “We learned to cooperate which means creating a shared goal. Our ability to learn has deep roots in relationships.” Our bodies and brains cannot thrive without oxygen, but we also need to be nourished by other people. Creating visual boards, which can be shared, liked and added to our own matches our brain’s needs in a unique way.
Chapter 10 in Brain Rules is called “Vision” and it is true indeed that a picture is worth a thousand words. “Researchers have known for more that 100 years that picture and text follow very different rules…the more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized—and recalled.” Using the phenomenon known as “pictorial superiority effect, or PSE” Pinterest captures the users visual senses and brains and helps us remember and dream.
Pinterest will win the social media battle as it is by far the most visual social media tool currently available.
Lisa Niver Rajna is a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. She teaches science in Los Angeles and runs the travel site, We Said Go Travel: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/ Join her June 12 at their next travel event, Inspired by Caine. More details: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/los-angeles
March 8, 2011 | 2:32 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Elderly drivers (65 and older) might have more time behind the wheel, but they also have a limited field of view when it comes to driving, according to a study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers published Monday in an online edition of Accident Analysis and Prevention. The study found that elderly drivers are half as likely to see pedestrians on the sidewalk, and compensate in part by driving more slowly.
BGU researchers tested elderly and younger (28-45) drivers in a traffic simulator and in front of traffic videos, and found that elderly drivers took longer to respond to pedestrian hazards. Approximately half of the pedestrian-related events presented in the videos were difficult for elderly drivers to perceive when compared with the non-elderly drivers.
The simulator drive test also revealed that the elderly performed “braking actions” half as often as the non-elderly group in response to pedestrians on sidewalks and shoulders. However, the elderly group attempted to cope with hazards by reducing their driving speed by almost 20 percent, providing them more time to process the potential hazards and dangers, even if they couldn’t detect them.
“These findings strengthen the notion that elderly drivers, shown to have a narrower useful field of view, may also be limited in their ability to detect hazards, particularly when outside the center of their view,” saidTal Oron-Gilad, a researcher in the BGU Department of Industrial Engineering.
She recommends that while more research is needed, “authorities should be aware of these limitations and increase elderly drivers’ awareness of pedestrians by posting traffic signs or dedicated lane marks that inform them of potential upcoming hazards.”
August 31, 2010 | 1:05 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Intel Israel recently dedicated the country’s most environmentally friendly office building in Haifa. Dubbed IDC9, the 11-story, $110 million data center facility now has a double distinction—it is Israel’s first LEED-certified green building and it has been awarded Gold, the second-highest rating in the LEED certification system, Israel21c reports:
Standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the American LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The US Green Building Council initiated the LEED standard to encourage ecologically-sound construction in that country. There are barely a handful of LEED-certified buildings in Israel.
However, with the IDC9 Intel made a strategic decision to go full throttle in Israel after years of evaluating ‘green’ design standards and steadily incorporating green building concepts and practices into the construction of its buildings.
A slew of green elements
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer praised the move at a gala dedication ceremony held at the site earlier this summer, which was also attended by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
Ben-Eliezer stressed the “natural and necessary connection between business and environmental protection,” that Intel Israel was displaying in its investment in the building, which also conforms to the Standards Institution of Israel standard 5281 for ‘Outstanding Green Building,’ which addresses four main areas: Energy, water savings, land, and various ecological issues.
The complex LEED system rates buildings according to their environmental properties, including water and energy consumption, interior conditions and more. It takes into account everything from construction materials, energy management and natural light to bike racks and showers.
The facility incorporates a slew of green elements, beginning at the construction level. Construction waste was separated at source into its component parts and recycled. About 13 percent of the construction materials came from recycled sources. The structure was constructed on a previous parking site to prevent damage to natural assets. These measures are expected to result in a reduction of 17% in total energy consumption.
In addition, an energy-saving technique has been used in the facility’s server room. Spread over 7,535 square feet, the space will house up to 15,000 computers. The heat generated from these computers will be recycled for hot water and winter heating. The room uses energy-efficient lighting and is equipped with motion detectors that turn off the lights when it’s not in use. The building’s data center has also been designed to save energy. It features Intel Xeon processors, which reduce power consumption.
The building boasts wide and double glazed windows, patios and reflective shelves, which allow natural light to filter inside. More than 75% of its high-use areas are exposed to natural light with the help of automatic control systems that regulate the flow. Automatic sensors control the levels of artificial lighting according to the natural light, and employees can control lighting and temperatures in their offices via their personal computers. Fresh air is monitored by CO2 sensors that track the number of people on each floor.
The roof of the facility is covered with vegetation and heat-reflecting materials to lower interior temperatures. The roof garden provides enough thermal insulation to lower the heat load by 17 cooling tons. A special control system installed in the facility reduces water consumption for gardening needs by 55%, compared with average summer consumption. Water condensed by air conditioners is collected and used for gardening. The facility has also installed standard water-saving sanitary systems such as faucets, showers, toilets and urinals to achieve 30% reduction in water usage.
Economic benefits, minimal environmental impact
According to Intel’s principle engineer, Ted Reichelt, it was a long process to convince everyone at the company to invest in the LEED certification, especially since in an environment where construction costs are increasing and every dollar is carefully scrutinized, spending money on ‘certification’ can easily plummet to the bottom of the construction priority list.
“Our construction managers started hearing more about other projects being LEED-certified, and this created greater internal acceptance of the idea; additionally, the costs associated with the LEED certification started to fall,” says Reichelt.
Intel hopes that the experience with the Haifa building will lead to other office buildings being LEED-certified and eventually to Intel’s first LEED certified fabrication plant.
August 17, 2010 | 7:16 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Conservative bloggers are taking aim at Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and its iconic formula, E=mc2, saying they’re part of a liberal conspiracy, Joel N. Shurkin reports for JTA. Holocaust revisionists have taken up the anti-Einstein cause, started more than half a century ago by Nazis, who dismissed his theories as “Jewish science.”
The latest debate erupted when a Web site, Conservapedia—founded three years ago by Andrew Schlafly, the 49-year-old lawyer son of anti-abortion activist Phyllis Schlafly—posted a definition of relativity making the charge that it was part of an ideological plot, and then added a list of counter examples it says disprove Einstein’s theories. The postings were picked up by the liberal blog TPMMuckracker and then went viral.
From JTA: Schlafly’s argument against Einstein appears to conflate relativity, a theory in physics about time, space and gravity, with relativism, a philosophical argument about morality and human experience having nothing to do with physics. He points to a 1989 article by liberal law professor Lawrence Tribe in the Harvard Law Review. Now widely disseminated on the Internet, Tribe’s article uses relativity as a metaphor for understanding constitutional law. In the footnotes, Tribe thanks the man who was then the editor of the review: a law student named Barack Obama.
Hence, a liberal conspiracy.
Schlafly goes further, claiming that “virtually no one who is taught and believes relativity continues to read the Bible,” but he doesn’t say how he knows that. He also cites passages in the Christian Bible in an effort to disprove Einstein’s theories.
Attacks on relativity have a long and sleazy history. After much of the physics community came to accept the theories, attacks continued from less admirable sources, including anti-Semites who apparently were upset that a Jew was being credited with producing something that important. They called it “Jewish science.” Nazis, believing that Germans should do better, came up with an alternative concept, totally incoherent. Deutsche Physik, it was called, and set back physics in Germany until after World War II.
Now a new generation of Einstein deniers, including some Holocaust revisionists, are launching attacks, simultaneously rejecting Einstein’s science and accusing him of stealing his ideas from others.
They point to the published work of French physicist Jules Henri Poincare and Dutch physicist Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, which preceded Einstein’s publication by several years. These men were superb physicists (Lorentz won a Nobel Prize) and they had thought about relativity, but neither made the huge leap in imagination Einstein did, although Poincare came close and probably did influence him.
Another claim is that the theories originated with Einstein’s first wife, the Serbian physics student Mileva Maric. She may well have served as a sounding board, but respected physicists and historians say no serious evidence exists that she made any substantive contribution.
While there is no overt anti-Semitism in the Conservapedia entries on Einstein, the ones on relativity are redolent with the old arguments. For instance, Schlafly writes: “The theory ... is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.”
Greg Gbur, assistant professor of physics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, argued in his blog, Skulls in the Stars, that if you “replace ‘liberals’ with ‘Jews’ in [that] sentence,” the words might as well have been written by a Nazi circa 1930s-era Germany.
In an effort to discredit Einstein’s theories, Schlafly provides a list of about two dozen “counterexamples.” Scientists looking at the list say many are irrelevant, some misinterpret the science and many are flat wrong. The latter category, they say, includes Schlafly’s claim that no useful devices have been “developed based on any insights provided by the theory; no lives have been saved or helped, and the theory has not led to other useful theories and may have interfered with scientific progress.”
Almost everyone who has had a PET (positron emission tomography) scan in a hospital, or who has undergone radiation therapy for cancer or who has turned on a particle accelerator has used the theory of special relativity, says historian and physicist Michael Riordan, adjunct professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. If you have a GPS navigation system in your car, Einstein is guiding you, Riordan said.
That E=mc2 is wrong surely would have surprised the physicists at the Manhattan Project who used it to develop the atomic bombs that destroyed two Japanese cities.
“There is no controversy,” Riordan said. “The theory isn’t wrong; it’s incomplete and has refinements that might or might not be true.”
Gbur says that Schlafly uses a technique known in rhetoric as the “Gish Gallop” (named for biochemist Duane Tolbert Gish, a creationist debater who employed it), which Gbur defines as “throw as many claims out there as possible, regardless of the validity, with the realization that most people will be swayed by the amount of evidence and not look too closely at the details.” Schlafly piles on statement after statement, footnote after footnote, and even stacks impressive mathematical formulas and jargon to support his claims. Some of the references are simply self-references, and some have nothing to do with the argument.
Meanwhile, physicists are expressing mixed feelings about how to react. Several refused to comment for this story because they did not want to give Schlafly credibility. But Clifford Will, professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, did weigh in.
“The Internet world is full of kooks and crackpots who put out all kinds of drivel. It is pointless to attempt to refute these people with evidence, because they don’t believe in evidence,” Will wrote in an e-mail from Paris.
“…People may not like relativity,” he wrote, “but the experimental and observational evidence that supports it is so overwhelming that it is now a fact of the universe.”
August 17, 2010 | 6:37 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
The Saul & Joyce Brandman Foundation has donated $8 million to name a new teaching laboratory building at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Edmond J. Safra campus in Givat Ram, Israel, American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU) recently announced. The Saul (z”l) and Joyce Brandman Science Laboratories will provide cutting-edge research facilities for chemistry, biology, physics and pharmacology programs at the university.
“Joyce Brandman takes a remarkable, hands-on approach to philanthropic leadership, helping people as close by as Los Angeles and as far away as South America and Israel. Whether the cause is healthcare, education or the well-being of the Jewish people, Joyce works to improve and save lives, encouraging us all to deepen our commitment to others,” said Richard Ziman, AFHU Western Region board chair.
The foundation lends support to hundreds of charities in the United States and Israel, including Hebrew University, Chapman University, Brandman University, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Our House, Jewish Free Loan and the L.A. Jewish Home, where it funded a loan program for new nurses and recently provided initial funding for the Home’s new Brandman Pace program for all-inclusive senior day care.
L.A. philanthropist Joyce Brandman, who became president of The Saul & Joyce Brandman Foundation in 2009 following the death of her husband, says her mission is to run the foundation doing what Saul would have wanted and carrying on the legacy of tzedakah that they forged together.
The Brandmans have donated more than $10 million to the university in the past 25 years, providing scholarships for dozens of students and helping to build the new Scopus Student Village.
August 16, 2010 | 7:48 am
Posted by Adam Wills
UCLA professor and Journal columnist Judea Pearl has won the Rumelhart Prize from the Cognitive Science Society for his research in artificial intelligence and systems that reason plausibly from uncertain evidence. The prize, which carries a $100,000 monetary award, is given to researchers who have made the greatest contributions to determining how our minds work. The announcement was made during the group’s annual meeting, CogSci 2010, in Portland, Ore., Aug. 12-14.
Pearl’s work on graphical models addresses the dynamics of beliefs and the analysis of causality. Graphical models have had a transformative impact across many disciplines—including statistics, machine learning, epidemiology and psychology—and they are the foundation of the recent emergence of a branch of cognitive science representing probabilistic relationships, such as those between symptoms and diseases, and skills and earnings. Pearl has pioneered the development of graphical models, including a class of graphical models known as Bayesian networks, which can be used to represent and draw inferences from probabilistic knowledge in a highly transparent and computationally efficient way.
“Dr. Pearl’s path-breaking work has been enormously influential. He provides one of the most prominent hypotheses about the workings of the human mind, and has helped reinvigorate causality research,” William Bechtel, Rumelhart Prize committee member and philosophy professor at the University of California at San Diego, said in a statement. “People often say, ‘You can’t derive causation from correlation.’ But Dr. Pearl’s research shows that you can logically determine causal relations from correlations if you have many interrelated variables and you make some minimal assumptions about how causal processes operate. The Cognitive Science Society is proud to recognize our esteemed colleague and the very high bar he has set with his research achievements.”
“Given that our knowledge of the world is important primarily because it serves as the basis for action, building a theory of causality is, I believe, of central importance to understanding human cognition,” Pearl said. “The inspiration for my works came from cognitive science and from the 1970s papers of David Rumelhart, while the applicability of my research is in part thanks to collaboration I’ve received within the robotics, statistical and epidemiology communities. I’m honored to receive the Rumelhart Prize and accept this recognition in the spirit of continued collaboration with other facets of science that are helping solve the ever-fascinating mysteries of how the mind works.”