Good News Friday

After yesterday’s depressing post I feel an urgent need to post a Good News Friday installment to put us in a better mood for Shabbat.

TULIP hybrid solar energy day/night system

My first item concerns Israel’s burgeoning solar energy sector, but this time its use is being applied in a developing country. Ethiopia is adopting an Israeli day/night solar power system:

Solar energy is an ideal solution for the power needs of the developing world – except for one problem: It stops working when the sun goes down, at precisely the time power is needed to turn the lights on. The solution, according to Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of Israeli energy technology company AORA, is a hybrid system – one that utilizes solar to the fullest, and supplements it with a “backup” system to keep the power flowing when the sun is not high in the sky, using scant resources, with an operating cost of next to nothing.

It’s perfect for developing countries, said Rosenzweig – and after six years of research and pilot projects, and an investment of $40 million, AORA is ready for prime time, he said.

The company announced Tuesday that it had signed a deal to build one of its Tulip solar-hybrid power plants in Ethiopia. “We are transforming our Green Economy Strategy into action and are pleased to partner with AORA to help achieve our vision,” said Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy for Ethiopia. “AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is impressive and well-suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in off-grid rural locations in Ethiopia.”

Enhancing the sunlight are a series of mirrors to heat compressed air to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and drive a turbine. When the sun goes down, the system moves seamlessly from solar to biogas in order to power the turbines, with the biogas derived from animal waste, biodiesel, natural gas – just about any material that can be burned for fuel.

For villages in places like Ethiopia, the best part of the system, said Rosenzweig, is that it doesn’t even need water to operate. In essence, Tulips are like perpetual energy machines; when the sun is out, solar power is converted into power to run the turbines and create electricity; and when the sun is in, the system turns to biogas, created by an AORA conversion system.

There are Tulips in Israel, Spain, and the US, but those are test programs; Ethiopia will be the first country to deploy the system commercially. Construction of the first plant is expected to begin by mid-2015. Following a trial, the Ethiopian ministry intends to expand deployment of AORA installations for rural economic development to off-grid communities in selected areas of the country.

What an ingenious system! Kol hakavod to Zev Rosenzweig and AORA for developing this technology and kudos to Ethiopia for adopting the system. The implications for this technology are enormous and could be of huge benefit to the entire world.

Newly developed “early warning” MRI

My next item comes from Israel’s renowned biomedical field. An Israeli-developed MRI can detect brain damage earlier than before, thus possibly enabling the reversal of such damage (h/t Reality):

Now, a team of researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU) Brain Imaging Research Center has developed a method that can detect damage to the brain much earlier than previously thought.

After nearly a decade of research, Dr. Alon Friedman and his team of researchers at BGU developed a contrast-enhanced MRI that is able to identify significant damage to the blood vessels of the brain much earlier than was previously possible.

The new method of MRI detects and localizes pathologies in the brain’s blood vessels caused by even mild brain injuries. The Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced MRI generates more detailed brain maps that are able to show brain regions with vascular abnormalities.

“We tested it in football players from a local team and used athletes in non-contact sports as a control group,” Friedman said. “The big difference is that 40 percent of the football players showed significant pathology (in the blood vessels and blood barrier) before any other pathology can be seen,” he said.

The damage only showed up in the MRI Friedman and his team developed. The same players who showed brain damage in the contrast-enhanced MRI showed completely normal brain scans in previous MRI exams.

Although the study focused on football players, brain injuries are also common among soldiers which contributes to many neurological and psychological symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Hadar Shalev, a psychiatrist in charge of the trauma clinic at Soroka Medical Center, told The Media Line that even though the vast majority of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are considered mild or moderate, the disabilities that accompany them can be quite serious.

This new detection method is also applicable to other types of diseases, unrelated to brain injuries sustained in contact sports. A certain percentage of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia also suffer from the same brain pathologies the new MRI detects, which can lead to earlier detection and treatment of these degenerative diseases.

This possibilities for this new MRI are huge and can benefit millions of people. Kol hakavod to Dr. Alon Friedman and the other developers from Ben Gurion University. Let’s hope these new MRIs can be be produced in great numbers in order to help people everywhere.

The next item also comes from Israel’s biomedical field. Israelis have invented a new wound-closure method instead of sutures: (h/t MP):

When it comes to treating large, open wounds, not much has changed in the past five thousand years. Just as the ancient Egyptians used needles and thread to patch up their wounded, doctors employ the same stitching ‘technology’ today to prevent infection and facilitate healing. Nonetheless, when a wound is too big, too complex, or when the patient is subject to a higher mortality rate, the average suture procedure just doesn’t do it.

While treating numerous casualties in his capacity as chief of plastic surgery at Israel’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Dr. Moris Topaz realized that sutures could not effectively seal cuts and fasten the skin together for proper healing. According to him, in the majority of cases, surgery was the only viable solution to treat and close complex wounds, which led Dr. Topaz to develop a unique method to secure wound closure, called TopClosure.

An invaluable medical tool already being applied in Israeli hospitals, TopClosure works by first stretching out the skin around the wound to avoid the need for skin grafts, and second by ensuring that the wound scars in an aesthetic and healthy fashion. According to Dr. Topaz, it’s time to bid farewell to skin grafts, surgery and stitches for complex wounds, and to welcome a new method that he hopes will soon become the standard in severe wound treatment.

The method sounds quite futuristic, but we know that we can rely on Israeli biomedical developers and doctors to invent the best methods for treating patients. Having seen my father just recently recover from an operation which was closed with staples (that look like they were nicked from the stationery cupboard 🙂 ), this method looks quite fantastic.  Watch the video at the link to see how it works.

Kol hakavod to Dr. Topaz for his inventiveness and initiative. May TopClosure go on to save many lives.

Blind, Dumb, Stupid

From the sublime to the slightly ridiculous, here is some excellent #BDSFail news: Earlier this year the British Architects Association RIBA voted to boycott Israel. Well, the boycott has just been overturned!

 The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has reversed its call for the exclusion of Israel Association of United Architects (IAUA) from world bodies for its failure to condemn the building of “illegal” settlements.

The U-turn, nine months after the original motion passed, came in Thursday’s meeting of the RIBA Council and follows RIBA president Stephen Hodder’s admission that “we got it wrong”.

They original motion, pushed by former presidents Sunand Prasad and Angela Brady, called for Israel’s suspension from the international body on the grounds that it ignored a resolution passed by it in 2009 condemning building on “ethnically purified or illegally appropriated” land.

The move is estimated to have cost the organisation up to £100,000 in lost contracts, as Jewish and Israeli firms reconsidered their positions. Others sought to positively influence change at the organisation, leading to Jewish property professional Daniel Leon elected a RIBA National Council Member this summer.

Aha. So it wasn’t just out of the goodness of their hearts or seeing the justice of our cause that they recanted from the boycott. But still, if Jews are accused of using Jewish power and money to achieve their aims, then it’s great that at least this time this ostensible “Jewish power” really did bring us justice.

Kol hakavod to all the Jewish architects and Israeli firms who applied pressure and kept it up until this racist boycott was aborted. I hope other organizations will take note and follow suit.  And I wish Daniel Leon much hatzlacha (success) in his new job as a RIBA member. I’m sure he will help to bring a much more positive attitude towards Israel to the organization.

Ika Chocolates win Gold Prize at the International Chocolate Awards in London.

And now to conclude this week’s installment, here is some great sweet news: An Israeli chocolatier has won the gold prize at the International Chocolate Awards in London. for her … wait for it… zaatar truffle!

You sprinkle it on pizza, pita and humous, but would you ever try zaatar with your chocolate? One Israeli company has taken that unlikely combination all the way to victory at the world final of this year’s International Chocolate Awards in London.

Ika Chocolate, a three-year-old boutique confectionery headquartered in Tel Aviv, took a rare joint gold medal with Denmark’s wild blueberry chocolate in the “flavored dark ganaches and truffles” section of the competition.

The win, announced Sunday evening, couldn’t have been too much of a surprise for Israeli-born and French-trained chocolatier Ika Cohen, since the zaatar truffle also took gold at the European semifinals in May. Cohen’s lemon praline bonbon was also a semi-finalist at the competition in 2012, and her Earl Grey-infused chocolate got a silver in the semifinals.

Despite her big wins, Cohen is certainly not resting on her laurels, as she launched a new line of pralines several months ago in collaboration with the well-known French chocolatier Gilles Marchal.

The new and exotic (and kosher) flavors include passion fruit and black pepper; salty caramel; pistachio marzipan; and honey with praline waffle chips.

Hmm. I’m not sure how much I fancy zaatar-flavoured truffles, but the caramel and marzipan flavours sound absolutely delicious! Kol hakavod to Ika Cohen for winning the gold medal for her  unusual chocolates, and for coming up with so many unusual taste combinations. May she go from strength to strength and win many more awards.

And on that sweet note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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4 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. With reference to the RIBA item, it’s amazing what a quiet word from those known in the UK (and especially by Private Eye) as “m’learned friends” (that is, one’s friendly neighbourhood lawyers) can do!

    • anneinpt says:

      True. A similar thing happened with the attempted NUT academic boycott – they were informed it was illegal. It’s good that the boycott was overturned but how ridiculous that it was ever imposed in the first place.

      why do all these organizations feel they have to butt in on the Middle East conflict? It’s none of their business, they know nothing about it, and they don’t interfere in any other conflict.

      /rhetorical question.

  2. Reality says:

    what a great post! Cheered me up immensely,reading about important stuff instead of elections for a change. I lurvve that last bit about chocolate! (although zaatar flavoured choclate? The whole family went UGH!!) As far as the medical & bio medical articles are concerned I thank G-d every day I live here & not in some backward poxy Arab state.!They have none of these amazing developments. It was very interesting reading about the the solar energy systems. My nephew is working at one of Israels companies so I hope its his company that won the Ethiopian deal!!
    Looking forward to a better week, (there is always hope !)
    Thank You

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