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August 5, 2018 by Michael Kuttner
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Tourist numbers have been setting records with visitors arriving in Israel from all parts of the world…writes Michael Kuttner.

Both first timers and those returning after some years have expressed amazement at the rapid pace of development with new housing projects, road and rail infrastructure and industrial parks springing up everywhere.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET

 

Most people have heard of the healthy Mediterranean diet which Israelis consume especially at breakfast time. It now transpires that this diet is not so new and has been around for quite a while.

Roots of the popular Mediterranean diet go back 7,500-years, according to new archaeological evidence found at the prehistoric settlement of Tel Tsaf, in Israel’s Jordan Valley. Archaeologists have recently discovered remains of foodstuffs, consisting mainly of beans, olives, wheat, barley and domesticated meat.

The researchers found almost no remains of meat obtained from hunting, but did find botanical evidence, including olive seeds, wheat, barley and other legumes.

 

SIDE EFFECTS OF MEDICATION

 

How often does one hear that the treatment is worse than the cure? Severe side effects from medication or other forms of therapy for various conditions are now more common.

Israeli scientists have developed a method to reduce side effects of drugs, as published Sunday by the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The new method is based on separating molecules according to their geometric property called “chirality”. Chiral molecules are a pair of molecules with same structure, but the arrangement of the atoms in their space is different.

Opposite chiral molecules, with mirror images of each other, may play quite different roles. For example, a molecule with a particular chiral may act as a drug, and its opposite may cause unwanted side effects.

When producing medications, the molecules must be sorted according to their chirality. Compared to the expensive methods used today, the researchers found an inexpensive simple one for sorting chiral molecules of any material.

The scientists took advantage of the fact that chirality influences the properties of electrons called “spin”, including two states: up and down.

They inserted a magnetic surface, where the spins of all electrons turn in the same direction, into a solution with left and right molecules.

As the molecules neared the magnetic surface, they became polarized, and the spins of the electrons at each pole were arranged according to the chirality of the molecule.

This method makes it possible to purify drugs by chiral, leaving only the molecules that promote healing, and removing the harmful ones.

 

CALCULATING WORMS

 

Animals often rely on their sense of smell to locate food. It’s a law of nature: the first one to reach a food source has a better chance of surviving than those who do not. But how exactly do their brains translate scent and then navigate towards it?

In new research published this week in Nature Communications, Hebrew University of Jerusalem neurogeneticist Dr. Alon Zaslaver and his team reveal the complex mathematical calculations that animals – even those as simple as worms – do to find their next meal.

Turns out, worms employ this “Hot or Cold” computation in their search for food, but with an added twist. First, a neural cell picks up the scent of food and sets the worm on a course. As long as the scent intensity keeps getting stronger, this neural cell will remain active and direct the worm to keep moving forward. Otherwise, it will instruct the worm to stop and look for a better path.

But how does it calculate that better path? Enter a second neural cell which acts like Waze’s “recalculating route” function. This second cell senses “derivatives,” meaning it calculates whether the odor intensity is positive, and getting “hotter,” or negative, and getting “colder.”

A worm uses only two neural cells to perform this critical calculation. Imagine what we humans should be able to do with our 100 billion neural cells.

 

NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT SET TO OPEN SOON

 

Israel’s second international airport is scheduled to open for business early in 2019. Watch this video and learn about the exciting development which is hoped will boost visitor numbers to even more record highs.

 

 

 

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