TEL AVIV (Press Release)― When the scientific and spiritual worlds collide, they do so in the most surprising ways. Classical meteorological and plant science has, in the last century, insisted that dew negatively affects plant life, leading to rot and fungus. But in the Judeo-Christian tradition, dew is most welcomed as an important source of vegetative and plant life, celebrated in poetry and prayer.
Now Prof. Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences has developed an explanation for the perplexing paradox with his colleagues. According to scientific literature, he says, dew that accumulates through the night has a negative effect on vegetation and fruits because it creates a “spongy” effect. But in a recent issue of the Water Resources Journal, Prof. Alpert demonstrates that dew is an important water source for plant life in climates such as those in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Judeo-Christian tradition originated, and parts of the U.S. Great Basin Desert.
TEL AVIV (Press Release) - About ten years ago, the discovery of microRNAs ― tiny cellular molecules that regulate our genetic code ― unlocked a world of scientific possibilities, including a deeper understanding of human disease.
One new analytical technology is “deep sequencing,” which gives scientists the ability to discover invaluable information about human diseases at a genetic level. Now, Tel Aviv University researchers have developed the cutting-edge technology to better analyze these results.
The software, called miRNAkey, was developed by Roy Ronen as part of a team of researchers headed by Dr. Noam Shomron of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Shomron says that miRNAkey searches for microRNA patterns in both healthy and diseased tissues, improving scientists’ understanding of the data collected from deep sequencing technology.
The software package was recently described in the journal Bioinformatics.
TEL AVIV (Press Release)–Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere ― ten times denser than the atmosphere of Earth. Five years ago, the Cassini–Huygens mission to Saturn, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA, sent a probe through Titan’s atmosphere, revealing that Titan is home to a landscape that includes hills, valleys and most notably lakes.
A researcher involved with the mission, Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, has now determined the composition of these lakes. Taking into account the chemical components of Titan’s atmosphere, he has demonstrated that the lakes are not composed of water but contain liquid hydrocarbons like ethane and methane, which are also found in oil and gas wells on Earth.
His in-depth analysis of the chemical composition of Titan’s atmosphere and lakes was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets. Read more…
TEL AVIV (Press Release) — Used in a variety of products from credit cards to satellite televisions, secure chips are designed to keep encoded data safe. But hackers continue to develop methods to crack the chips’ security codes and access the information within.
Thinking like hackers, Prof. Avishai Wool and his Ph.D. student Yossi Oren of Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering have developed an innovative way of extracting information from chip technology. By combining modern cryptology methods with constraint programming ― an area of computer science designed to solve a series of complex equations ― Prof. Wool and Oren were able to extract more information from secure chips. Their research, which could lead to important new advances in computer security, was recently presented at the 12th Workshop on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems (CHES) in Santa Barbara, CA. Read more…
“A piece of high-quality art such as this, doubtlessly created by a top-of-the-line artist, indicates that local elites developing a taste for fine art and the ability to afford it were also living in provincial towns, and not only in the capital cities of the Hellenistic kingdoms,” explains Dr. Ayelet Gilboa, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavations at Dor along with Dr. Ilan Sharon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
When the ring was recovered from a waste pit near Hellenistic structures, it was covered with layers of earth and corrosion, and the archaeologists had no indication whatsoever that it would reveal the shape of a legendary figure. Only after the ring was cleaned up at the Restoration and Conservation laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, was the profile of a beardless young male with long hair, clean-shaven and adorned with a laurel wreath, revealed. Read more…
BEER-SHEVA, Israel (Press Release) – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Professor Varda Shoshan-Barmatz has been awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to develop target-specific, anti-cancer drugs.
Professor Shoshan-Barmatz, the Hyman Kreitman Chair in Bioenergetics at BGU, has developed a peptide that targets and kills cancer cells while sparing normal cells. The drugs she will be developing target B-CLL (B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia), one of the most common and incurable hematological malignancies.
“Conventional chemotherapy is limited by its lack of specificity, multi-drug resistance of tumor cells, and toxicity to normal cells,” says Shoshan-Barmatz. “The benefits to be gained by this new drug are enormous. These therapeutic peptides have a great potential as ant-cancer agents due to their target specificity and potential for reduced side-effects.”
Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz is also the Director of the BGU National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. Only 10 per cent of The Leukemia & Lymphona Society grants have been awarded outside the U.S., and about one-third of the non-U.S. grants are awarded to Canada.
Preceding provided by American Associates of Ben Gurion University of the Negev
TEL AVIV (Press Release) ― Were our early mammalian ancestors vegetarians, vegans or omnivores? It’s difficult for anthropologists to determine the diet of early mammalians because current fossil analysis provides too little information. But a new method that measures the size of chips in tooth fossils can help determine the kinds of foods these early humans consumed.
Prof. Herzl Chai of Tel Aviv University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with scientists from George Washington University and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has developed an equation for determining how the size of a chip found in the enamel of a tooth relates to the bite force needed to produce the chip. With the aid of this information, researchers can better determine the type of food that animals, and early humans, could have consumed during their lifetimes.
Teeth are the only relevant fossils with staying power, Prof. Chai explains. Made of hard, mineralized material, teeth from animals that are thousands of years old remain relatively intact. Teeth that display a greater number of large chips indicate that animals like our early ancestors were consuming harder foods such as nuts, seeds or items with bones. A lesser amount of small chips demonstrates that the animal’s diet more likely consisted of softer foods, such as vegetation. Dr. Chai’s findings were recently reported in the journal Biology Letters. Read more…
SUSSITA NATIONAL PARK, Israel (Press Release) – A wall painting (fresco) of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, was exposed during the 11th season of excavation at the Sussita site, on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was conducted by researchers of the University of Haifa. Another female figure was found during this season, of a maenad, one of the companions of the wine god Dionysus.
“It is interesting to see that although the private residence in which two goddesses were found was in existence during the Byzantine period, when Christianity negated and eradicated idolatrous cults, one can still find clear evidence of earlier beliefs,” said Prof. Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavation. The city of Sussita is located within the Sussita National Park under the management of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which has accompanied and assisted the excavation teams this season in enabling the continuation of excavation work and the conservation of the archaeological finds.
During the course of the excavations conducted by the team from the University of Concordia under the direction of Prof. Mark Schuler, in a residence that appeared, by the quality and complexity of its construction, to belong to one of the city notables, the excavators reached an inner courtyard with a small fountain at its center. Near the fountain they found a fresco of Tyche, who was apparently deified as the city’s goddess of fortune. Her head is crowned, her youthful gaze is focused, and she has abundant brown hair beneath her crown. According to the researchers, artistic analysis has indicated that the wall painting may be dated to the end of the Roman period or the beginning of the Byzantine period (3rd–4th centuries C.E.). Read more…
HAIFA (Press Release)–Employees with a high level of emotional intelligence are more dedicated and satisfied at work, compared to other employees. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa.
“This study has shown that employees with a higher level of emotional intelligence are assets to their organization. I believe it will not be long before emotional intelligence is incorporated in employee screening and training processes and in employee assessment and promotion decisions” stated Dr. Galit Meisler, who conducted the research.
The study, which Dr. Meisler carried out under the supervision of Prof. Eran Vigoda-Gadot, and which won the Outstanding Doctorate Award from the Israeli Political Science Association, surveyed 809 employees and managers in four organizations: two public sector organizations and two private companies. The study examined the effects of emotional intelligence on aspects of organizational politics, on employees’ work attitudes, on formal and informal behavior, feelings of justice, burnout and the like. Read more…
TEL AVIV (Press Release)― Though it was once believed that all asteroids are giant pieces of solid rock, later hypotheses have it that some are actually a collection of small gravel-sized rocks, held together by gravity. If one of these “rubble piles” spins fast enough, it’s speculated that pieces could separate from it through centrifugal force and form a second collection ― in effect, a second asteroid.
Now researchers at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with an international group of scientists, have proved the existence of these theoretical “separated asteroid” pairs.
Ph.D. student David Polishook of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences and his supervisor Dr. Noah Brosch of the university’s School of Physics and Astronomy say the research has not only verified a theory, but could have greater implications if an asteroid passes close to earth. Instead of a solid mountain colliding with earth’s surface, says Dr. Brosch, the planet would be pelted with the innumerable pebbles and rocks that comprise it, like a shotgun blast instead of a single cannonball. This knowledge could guide the defensive tactics to be taken if an asteroid were on track to collide with the Earth.
A large part of the research for the study, recently published in the journal Nature, was done at Tel Aviv University’s Wise Observatory, located deep in the Negev Desert ― the first and only modern astronomical observatory in the Middle East.
According to Dr. Brosch, separated asteroids are composed of small pebbles glued together by gravitational attraction. Their paths are affected by the gravitational pull of major planets, but the radiation of the sun, he says, can also have an immense impact. Once the sun’s light is absorbed by the asteroid, rotation speeds up. When it reaches a certain speed, a piece will break off to form a separate asteroid.
The phenomenon can be compared to a figure skater on the ice. “The faster they spin, the harder it is for them to keep their arms close to their bodies,” explains Dr. Brosch.
As a result, asteroid pairs are formed, characterized by the trajectory of their rotation around the sun. Though they may be millions of miles apart, the two asteroids share the same orbit. Dr. Brosch says this demonstrates that they come from the same original asteroid source.
During the course of the study, Polishook and an international group of astronomers studied 35 asteroid pairs. Traditionally, measuring bodies in the solar system involves studying photographic images. But the small size and extreme distance of the asteroids forced researchers to measure these pairs in an innovative way.
Instead, researchers measured the light reflected from each member of the asteroid pairs. The results proved that in each asteroid pair, one body was formed from the other. The smaller asteroid, he explains, was always less than forty percent of the size of the bigger asteroid. These findings fit precisely into a theory developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which concluded that no more than forty percent of the original asteroid can split off.
With this study, says Dr. Brosch, researchers have been able to prove the connection between two separate spinning asteroids and demonstrate the existence of asteroids that exist in paired relationships.
Preceding provided by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University