Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

A hummus cafe in Israel is giving a 50 percent discount to tables mixing Jewish and Arab diners, in a campaign the owner hopes will bring people together as dozens of people have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month.

Kobi Tzafrir, the owner of Humus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin, initially posted the offer on Facebook.

“With us we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews… With us we’ve got human beings! Real excellent Arab hummus! Excellent Jewish falafel!”, the post, which by Monday evening had been shared more than 1,000 times, read.

Tzafrir told Al Jazeera he wanted to show that there are a lot of Arabs and Jews who are not taking part in the violent events reported in the media.

“We want to show that we’re all human beings, just like each other, not so different,” he said over the phone.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/israeli-hummus-cafe-jews-arabs-discount-151019201935558.html

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By Elizabeth Norton

Cultures around the world have long assumed that women are hardwired to be mothers. But a new study suggests that caring for children awakens a parenting network in the brain—even turning on some of the same circuits in men as it does in women. The research implies that the neural underpinnings of the so-called maternal instinct aren’t unique to women, or activated solely by hormones, but can be developed by anyone who chooses to be a parent.

“This is the first study to look at the way dads’ brains change with child care experience,” says Kevin Pelphrey, a neuroscientist at Yale University who was not involved with the study. “What we thought of as a purely maternal circuit can also be turned on just by being a parent—which is neat, given the way our culture is changing with respect to shared responsibility and marriage equality.”

The findings come from an investigation of two types of households in Israel: traditional families consisting of a biological mother and father, in which the mother assumed most of the caregiving duties, though the fathers were very involved; and homosexual male couples, one of whom was the biological father, who’d had the child with the help of surrogate mothers. The two-father couples had taken the babies home shortly after birth and shared caregiving responsibilities equally. All participants in the study were first-time parents.

Researchers led by Ruth Feldman, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, visited with the families in their homes, videotaping each parent with the child and then the parents and children alone. The team, which included collaborators at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel, also took saliva samples from all parents before and after the videotaped sessions to measure oxytocin—a hormone that’s released at times of intimacy and affection and is widely considered the “trust hormone.” Within a week of the home visit, the participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning to determine how their brains reacted to the videotapes of themselves with their infants.

The mothers, their husbands, and the homosexual father-father couples all showed the activation of what the researchers term a “parenting network” that incorporated two linked but separate pathways in the brain. One circuit encompasses evolutionarily ancient structures such as the amygdala, insula, and nucleus accumbens, which handle strong emotions, attention, vigilance, and reward. The other pathway turns up in response to learning and experience and includes parts of the prefrontal cortex and an area called the superior temporal sulcus.

In the mothers, activation was stronger in the amygdala-centered network, whereas the heterosexual fathers showed more activity in the network that’s more experience-dependent. At first glance, Feldman says, the finding would seem to suggest that mothers are more wired up to nurture, protect, and possibly worry about their children. The fathers, in contrast, might have to develop these traits through tending, communicating, and learning from their babies what various sounds mean and what the child needs.

“It’s as if the father’s amygdala can shut off when there’s a woman around,” Feldman observes. It could be assumed, she says, that this circuitry is activated only by the rush of hormones during conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.

But the brains of the homosexual couples, in which each partner was a primary caregiver, told a different story. All of these men showed activity that mirrored that of the mothers, with much higher activation in the amygdala-based network, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This finding argues strongly that the experience of hands-on parenting, with no female mother anywhere in the picture, can configure a caregiver’s brain in the same way that pregnancy and childbirth do, Feldman says.

She adds that in the heterosexual fathers, the activation of the amygdala-based network was proportional to the amount of time they spent with the baby, though the activity wasn’t as high as in the mothers or in the two-father couples.

Feldman does not believe that the brain activity of the primary-caregiving fathers differed because they were gay. Previous imaging studies, she notes, show no difference in brain activation when homosexual and heterosexual participants viewed pictures of their loved ones.

Future studies, Pelphrey says, might focus more closely on this question. “But it’s clear that we’re all born with the circuitry to help us be sensitive caregivers, and the network can be turned up through parenting.”

http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2014/05/parenting-rewires-male-brain

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Israel

Snake-Bites-Man-Penis-Toilet

A MAN was rushed to a hospital after a snake bit his penis while he was relieving himself in a toilet, according to hospital officials in Israel.
The man, 35, of northern Israel was bitten on Friday after the snake suddenly appeared from inside the toilet.

The man suffered minor injuries from the bite; fortunately the snake was not venomous.

Rescue workers responded to the scene and took the man to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he received medical treatment, reports Your Jewish News.

An examination revealed the snake was not poisonous.

The man told emergency workers it happened after he went to the toilet to relieve himself and suddenly felt a strong burning sensation in his penis.

One of the paramedics said the man told him he has seen the snake and it was very small.

According to the paramedic, despite the location of the injury, the man managed to stay calm and even had a laugh with workers at his own expense.

‘This is the first time I’ve seen a snake bite like this,’ the paramedic said.

‘Luckily, all tests seem fine and the man is feeling well,’ the paramedic added.

‘There will undoubtedly be bite marks on the area in question,’ the hospital said.

‘The snake was not poisonous. The man is currently under observation pending additional test results and as soon as we get the results, he will be able to go home,’ the hospital said.

The man was lucky the snake was not venomous since there are many deadly species commonly found in Israel. Snakes are very territorial and will strike out to protect their space, be it a rocky crevice or a domestic toilet.

It is ‘snake season’ currently in the Middle East and among the most dangerous are the black snake or desert cobra, the horned desert viper, the Palestinian viper which is the most common poisonous snake in Israel, the saw-scaled viper, or the false horned viper.

To prevent meeting a snake in the home, it is recommended to keep the house clear of rats, mice and other snake prey, fix leaky taps (snakes are drawn to water), and try to minimise plants and maximise grass in the garden since plants provide the perfect cover for snakes.

Fix windows on the house and windscreens on cars, to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Keeping a cat is also a great way to scare off snakes since they are one of their biggest enemies

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/weird-true-freaky/mans-penis-bitten-by-a-snake-as-he-went-to-the-toilet-to-relieve-himself/story-e6frflri-1226679390080#ixzz2ZE5Y74mV

e-skin-layers

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into “electronic skin” (e-skin) — a covering for prosthetic limbs that would allow patients to feel touch, humidity, and temperature.

Current kinds of e-skin detect only touch, but the Technion team’s invention “can simultaneously sense touch (pressure), humidity, and temperature, as real skin can do,” says research team leader Professor Hossam Haick.

Additionally, the new system “is at least 10 times more sensitive in touch than the currently existing touch-based e-skin systems.”

Researchers have long been interested in flexible sensors, but have had trouble adapting them for real-world use Haick says. A flexible sensor would have to run on low voltage (so it would be compatible with the batteries in today’s portable devices), measure a wide range of pressures, and make more than one measurement at a time, including humidity, temperature, pressure, and the presence of chemicals. These sensors would also have to be able to be manufactured quickly, easily, and cheaply.

The Technion team’s sensor has all of these qualities, Haick says. The secret: monolayer-capped gold nanoparticles that are only 5–8 nanometers in diameter, surrounded by connector molecules called ligands.

“Monolayer-capped nanoparticles can be thought of as flowers, where the center of the flower is the gold or metal nanoparticle and the petals are the monolayer of organic ligands that generally protect it,” says Haick.

The team discovered that when these nanoparticles are laid on top of a substrate — in this case, made of PET (flexible polyethylene terephthalate), the same plastic found in soda bottles — the resulting compound conducted electricity differently depending on how the substrate was bent.

The bending motion brings some particles closer to others, increasing how quickly electrons can pass between them. This electrical property means that the sensor can detect a large range of pressures, from tens of milligrams to tens of grams.

And by varying how thick the substrate is, as well as what it is made of, scientists can modify how sensitive the sensor is. Because these sensors can be customized, they could in the future perform a variety of other tasks, including monitoring strain on bridges and detecting cracks in engines.

“The sensor is very stable and can be attached to any surface shape while keeping the function stable,” says Dr. Nir Peled, Head of the Thoracic Cancer Research and Detection Center at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, who was not involved in the research.

Meital Segev-Bar et al., Tunable Touch Sensor and Combined Sensing Platform: Toward Nanoparticle-based Electronic Skin, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2013, DOI: 10.1021/am400757q

http://www.kurzweilai.net/advanced-artificial-skin-senses-touch-humidity-and-temperature

Thanks to SRW for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

130419031135-sea-of-galilee-stone-structure-story-body130419031859-sea-of-galilee-stone-structure-2-story-top

A mysterious, circular structure, with a diameter greater than the length of a Boeing 747 jet, has been discovered submerged about 30 feet (9 meters) underneath the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

Scientists first made the discovery by accident in 2003 using sonar to survey the bottom of the lake but published their findings only recently.

“We just bumped into it,” recalls Shmuel Marco, a geophysicist from Tel Aviv University who worked on the project. “Usually the bottom of the lake is quite smooth. We were surprised to find a large mound. Initially we didn’t realize the importance of this but we consulted with a couple of archaeologists, and they said it looked like an unusually large Bronze Age statue.”

The structure is comprised of basalt rocks, arranged in the shape of a cone. It measures 230 feet (70 meters) at the base of the structure, is 32 feet (10 meters) tall, and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons. It is twice the size of the ancient stone circle at Stonehenge in England.

Its size and location, say Marco, who also took video of the structure during a scuba dive to examine it, indicated it could have been constructed underwater as a type of fish nursery. However archeologists think it more likely it was built on dry land and later submerged by the lake.

“From a geophysical perspective, it is also important to the history of the lake, because it means the water level was lower than it was today,” says Marco.

According to Yitzhak Paz, the archeologist who led the study, the fact that the structure is underwater has made it a particularly difficult study.

“If the site was inland, it would be much easier to investigate. By now we would have excavated, but because it’s submerged we haven’t yet been able to. It is a much harder process, both physically and financially. It is very expensive to raise support for such an enterprise.”

The exact age of the structure has been difficult to pinpoint, but calculations based on the six to ten feet (two to three meters) of sand that have accumulated over the bottom of the base — sand accumulates an average of one to four millimeters per year — as well as comparisons to other structures in the region, put the estimate anywhere between 2,000 and 12,000 years old.

The possible purpose of the structure is even more enigmatic.

Dani Nadel, an archeologist from the University of Haifa, who partnered on the site, and who has lead several prehistoric excavations in the region, notes it shares similarities with communal burial sites, though he’s quick to discourage anyone from drawing a definitive conclusion.

“This is such a huge structure that it truly is something unusual. It could have been a big ceremonial structure, or a ramp. There could have once been statues on top of people in certain rituals. I mean, I’m really going wild here. The truth is we don’t know how it was constructed, what its exact age is, how it was used, or how long ago it was used. We have several speculations, but we don’t know much except that it’s there and it’s huge.”

Despite the limitations of examining underwater ruins, Nadel says that once they do raise the funds to excavate, there is a good likelihood that their findings will be more complete than would be possible with a land-based structure.

“Above land, many organic remains are decomposed by worms, and other creatures needing oxygen. Underwater, you don’t have oxygen, so the process of decomposition is on a much smaller scale,” he says.

Nadel points to Ohalo II, a site he excavated near the Sea of Galilee that had been submerged for 23,000 years before a drop in water level made it easy to excavate. Ohalo II is significant because it was one of the best preserved prehistoric sites in the world.

“In most sites, you’re lucky to find five or ten seeds. At Ohalo, we found 150,000. We learned a lot about the diet (of the inhabitants), what fish they were eating, what animals they were hunting. When a site is underwater it gives us the opportunity to see history in much more detail.”

What archeologists are certain of is that the monument was likely of great importance to the people who built it. Marco notes that the nearest basalt outcrop was a few hundred meters from the site, and that the stones, which were three to six feet (one to two meters) in width, would have weighed over 200 pounds (90 kilograms) at times.

“We see a society that was capable of organizing the construction of such a large structure. It’s unique to transport these stones and unique to arrange them. You need to plan and to mobilize people, because they’re too heavy to be carried by a single person.”

Nadel points out that given the harsh environment such a structure was a particularly impressive accomplishment.

“You have to imagine,” says Nadel, “these people were building something that was more durable than their brush huts.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/19/world/meast/israel-ancient-structure-mystery/index.html?hpt=hp_t5

An Israeli TV company has launched a channel just for dogs.

Programs on Dog TV are developed by trainers to comfort canines left home alone, with special colours dogs can see, and soothing music.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21724814

 

Scientists have discovered a new smell, but you may have to go to a laboratory to experience it yourself.

The smell is dubbed “olfactory white,” because it is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers reported Nov. 19 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Just as white noise is a mixture of many different sound frequencies and white light is a mixture of many different wavelengths, olfactory white is a mixture of many different smelly compounds.

In fact, the key to olfactory white is not the compounds themselves, researchers found, but the fact that there are a lot of them. 

“[T]he more components there were in each of two mixtures, the more similar the smell of those two mixtures became, even though the mixtures had no components in common,” they wrote.

Almost any given smell in the real world comes from a mixture of compounds. Humans are good at telling these mixtures apart (it’s hard to mix up the smell of coffee with the smell of roses, for example), but we’re bad at picking individual components out of those mixtures. (Quick, sniff your coffee mug and report back all the individual compounds that make that roasted smell. Not so easy, huh?)

Mixing multiple wavelegths that span the human visual range equally makes white light; mixing multiple frequencies that span the range of human hearing equally makes the whooshing hum of white noise. Neurobiologist Noam Sobel from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues wanted to find out whether a similar phenomenon happens with smelling. [7 New Flavors Your Tongue May Taste]

In a series of experiments, they exposed participants to hundreds of equally mixed smells, some containing as few as one compound and others containing up to 43 components. They first had 56 participants compare mixtures of the same number of compounds with one another. For example, a person might compare a 40-compound mixture with a 40-compound mixture, neither of which had any components in common.

This experiment revealed that the more components in a mixture, the worse participants were at telling them apart. A four-component mixture smells less similar to other four-component mixtures than a 43-component mixture smells to other 43-component mixtures.

The researchers seemed on track to finding the olfactory version of white noise. They set up a new experiment to confirm the find. In this experiment, they first created four 40-component mixtures. Twelve participants were then given one of the mixtures to sniff and told that it was called “Laurax,” a made-up word. Three of the participants were told compound 1 was Laurax, three were told it was compound 2, three were told it was compound 3, and the rest were told it was compound 4. 

After three days of sniffing their version of Laurax in the lab, the participants were given four new scents and four scent labels, one of which was Laurax. They were asked to label each scent with the most appropriate label.

The researchers found that the label “Laurax” was most popular for scents with more compounds. In fact, the more compounds in a mixture, the more likely participants were to call it Laurax. The label went to mixtures with more than 40 compounds 57.1 percent of the time.

Another experiment replicated the first, except that it allowed for participants to label one of the scents “other,” a way to ensure “Laurax” wasn’t just a catch-all. Again, scents with more compounds were more likely to get the Laurax label.

The meaning of these results, the researchers wrote, is that olfactory white is a distinct smell, caused not by specific compounds but by certain mixes of compounds. The key is that the compounds are all of equal intensity and that they span the full range of human smells. That’s why roses and coffee, both of which have many smell compounds, don’t smell anything alike: Their compounds are unequally mixed and don’t span a large range of smells.

In other words, our brains treat smells as a single unit, not as a mixture of compounds to break down, analyze and put back together again. If they didn’t, they’d never see mixtures of completely different compounds as smelling the same.

Perhaps the next burning question is: What does olfactory white smell like? Unfortunately, the scent is so bland as to defy description. Participants rated it right in the middle of the scale for both pleasantness and edibility.

“The best way to appreciate the qualities of olfactory white is to smell it,” the researchers wrote.

http://www.livescience.com/24890-new-white-smell-discovered.html