Social Awareness – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News http://nocamels.com NoCamels.com is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mini-Amphitheaters Clean Up Noise Pollution, Give Street Bands A Stage http://nocamels.com/2016/08/mini-amphitheatres-noise-pollution/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/mini-amphitheatres-noise-pollution/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47319

Related Posts

]]>

Life in the city can be wonderfully exciting – unless you happen to have an aversion to noise. Construction, honking cars stuck in traffic and airplanes flying overhead are just some of the contributors to the noise pollution which significantly harms the quality of life in otherwise beautiful urban landscapes.

SEE ALSO: Street Philharmonic Puts Street Musicians On Stage

Added to the mix are the sounds of street performers—musicians, actors, artists—all trying to ply their trade in the midst of the hustle and bustle of major cities worldwide.

To combat this problem, Aviv Even, a student at Israel’s Shenkar School of Engineering and Design , came up with an innovative solution called a “mini-amphitheater”. The structures are aesthetically pleasing, sidewalk-size-appropriate amphitheaters, which can be used not only to block out unpleasant street noises, but also to provide a venue for street musicians to perform, thereby enhancing the cultural landscape of a city.

NoisePollution3

Mini-amphitheater

A Tel Aviv native, Even had enough of the irritating sounds which accompany life in a big city. Seeking to make a positive impact by both reducing noise pollution and improving the quality of life for the city’s residents, she came up with the idea of mini-amphitheaters.

SEE ALSO: Stunning Hanging Garden Will Cover Israel’s Busiest Highway

NoisePollution

Sound map of Ben Gurion Blvd. in Tel Aviv. The blue represents sources of noise pollution.

“I sought to determine which sounds were more pleasant for people and which were more grating—what caused people to want to be in an area, and what caused them to want to leave. Something that I discovered is that noise pollution is just as effective at deterring people from being in an area as is physical pollution,” she told Ynet News.

Mapping city sounds

Aviv stood on the corner of a major downtown intersection in Tel Aviv and used a decibel reader to determine where the loudest sounds on the street were coming from and what was causing them. She mapped those areas out and used her maps to determine the best way to reduce the sounds.

The mini-amphitheater is able to direct the sounds of the people who are performing in it—whether they be street musicians performing musical instruments or street actors giving a performance—to an audience without disturbing the other people living or walking in the surrounding area.

“Sound naturally goes up, so by performing inside of these mini-amphitheaters, the sound is able to be directed towards an audience more fully. This also eliminates the need for speakers, as the sound is naturally amplified,” she explained.

To design the structure, Even spoke to street performers to determine their needs, thereby creating the ideal size and depth of the shell so that it would be not only comfortable for the street musicians to perform in, but also disrupt the surrounding foot traffic as little as possible.

Even has already sold one of her portable mini-amphitheaters, but she hopes that in the near future the city of Tel Aviv and other cities around the world will use her design not only to beautify their cities visually, but also provide a way to mitigate noise pollution and increase their good vibrations.

Tel Aviv: Skyline (night)

Tel Aviv night skyline

Photos: Aviv Even

image description
image description
]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/08/mini-amphitheatres-noise-pollution/feed/ 0
Israeli, Indian Entrepreneurs Join Forces To Tackle India’s Healthcare Challenges http://nocamels.com/2016/08/israeli-indian-entrepreneurs-tackle-healthcare-challenges/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/israeli-indian-entrepreneurs-tackle-healthcare-challenges/#respond Wed, 03 Aug 2016 11:40:44 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=47011

Related Posts

]]>
This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Amid Bollywood music and dancing, mouthwatering curries and masalas, more than 600 innovators, entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals in four cities, in Israel and India, took part in a hackathon aimed at resolving health challenges for India’s poor.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Water Crisis, Indian Minister Praises Israeli Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

Some 100 teams in Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore spent 36 hours together, face-to-face and online, and came up with ideas including a toothbrush that detects anemia, mobile phone applications to monitor the food intake of infants, and a smart pillbox to remind patients to take their tuberculosis medication.

The India Israel Affordable Healthcare Hackathon, which ran for three days in the four cities and ended recently, was organized by the Pears Program for Global Innovation, which is run by the Tel Aviv University. The program is a partner of OLAM, an organization promoting global Jewish service and international development.

The aim of the hackathon was to expose Israeli technology to the challenges of developing markets and turn the attention of Israeli entrepreneurs to the potential that Africa and India hold for their products. There are over 1,000 startups in the healthcare sector in Israel but most of them target the US and European markets.

“The best teams of the hackathon will be invited to join the Pears Challenge year-long fellowship program for outstanding Israeli innovators who want to develop technologies to address the health care needs of poor people in India,” Aliza Belman Inbal, director of the Pears Program, said by phone. “The hackathon was an amazing first step in this journey. We hope to create a pipeline of commercial ventures that deal with these problems.” The Indian winning teams will get placed at a parallel program in India.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Pesticide Company That Fights Pests With Bumble Bees Now Launches In India

The teams had to tackle pressing health problems by finding, among other challenges: an anemia diagnostic test for young girls; a technological solution to monitor food and milk intake among infants; screening and diagnosis solutions for hearing impairment; real-time monitoring devices for pregnant women in remote areas; a way to manage the side effects of chemotherapy in remote areas; improved access to funding for cancer treatments and a technology driven-solution to give psychological counseling for cancer patients by connecting them to doctors and counselors.

taj mahal

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Pears Program

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/08/israeli-indian-entrepreneurs-tackle-healthcare-challenges/feed/ 0
Baby On Board? Waze Reminds Parents Not To Leave Kids In Cars http://nocamels.com/2016/08/waze-new-notification-forget-kids-in-car/ http://nocamels.com/2016/08/waze-new-notification-forget-kids-in-car/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 08:34:48 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46995

Related Posts

]]>
You can hear every parent think it when they read someone else’s kid was left in a car: “I’d never forget my kid in the car!” That is, until they do.

The numbers paint a grim picture: Every year, an average of 37 children die in the US alone because they are left behind in burning hot vehicles.

And while cars now have features that remind drivers to buckle up, remember their keys in the ignition or turn their headlights off, no driver reminder chimes in to tell you your baby is snoozing in the back seat.

To fill this gap, the creators of the popular Israeli GPS app Waze decided to add a new feature to remind parents to check everyone has exited the vehicle.

Waze-Forget

SEE ALSO: GPS App Waze Announces New Alerts On Kidnappings, Hit-And-Runs

The feature, still in beta, provides a customizable notification when users arrive at their intended destination. Users can choose to enable or disable the warning and customize the message.

Numbers of incidents of kids left in cars rises

Without air conditioning, temperatures in cars can rapidly skyrocket. On a hot 32 degrees day (90 °F), the temperature inside a car can soar to a life-threatening 42 degrees (109 °F) degrees in just thirty minutes. Within an hour, a car can reach over 54 degrees (130 °F) and after that will surpass 65 (150 °F). And that doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave your child in the car on cooler days! Even then, cars can absorb sunlight very rapidly and heat up internally.

According to KidsAndCars.org – the only American nonprofit child safety organization dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around vehicles – since 1990 more than 775 children have died in these preventable tragedies. This year, four children died over the July 22-24 weekend in the states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas.

In Israel, where Waze was created, 400 incidents of children left in cars occurred between the years 2008-2016, with an actual total of 449 children involved, according to the Beterem-Safe Kids Israel organization. Of these incidents, 23 resulted in the death of the child. In the past two months alone, five toddlers died in Israel after being left in hot cars.
baby-toddler-car-seat
Could you last 10 minutes in a hot car?

In an experiment conducted this week in Israel, entertainers and politicians were asked to sit inside a locked parked car in 37 degree (98.6 °F) heat for 10 minutes. With paramedics standing by, the celebrities gained real appreciation for what children left unattended in parked cars experience.

Gathering user feedback

Waze, which was founded by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar in 2007 and was acquired by Google for $1.3 billion three years ago, has not said when they will be rolling out this new feature to non-beta users. However, they are currently asking users to leave feedback that they will gather to become a part of the standard version of the app that everyone has access to. Anyone can sign up to be a part of the Waze beta community, which gets them access to new features, like the child reminder app, while they are being tested.

SEE ALSO: Waze Acquired By Google For Over $1B

While the initiative by Waze is a welcome one, the danger, of course, is that if people are forgetting their kids in cars, nothing can fully ensure that they will be paying attention to their notifications. So the safest route is still the oldest: Keep your heads firmly strapped on!

waze community

Photos: Courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/08/waze-new-notification-forget-kids-in-car/feed/ 0
New Peres Center To Showcase Israeli Technology, Inspire Dreams http://nocamels.com/2016/07/innovation-center-showcases-israeli-technology/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/innovation-center-showcases-israeli-technology/#respond Sun, 24 Jul 2016 11:53:41 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46764

Related Posts

]]>
This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, together with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, laid the cornerstone Thursday for the Israeli Innovation Center, which aims to be a visitors center as well as a source of technological innovation.

SEE ALSO: Record Quarter For The Startup Nation

The new center, planned to open in 2018, will be located at The Peres Center for Peace on the Jaffa coast in the south of Tel Aviv. It aims to draw guests from around the world to learn about Israel’s achievements in the high tech sphere.

Peres Center for Peace

The Peres Center for Peace

At the event, attended by leading figures of the high tech industry, including Check Point Software Technologies founder Gil Shwed and Yossi Vardi, Peres unveiled his aspiration to use the center to close the gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations, and between rich and poor, and lead to regional innovation collaboration.

“We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians — to engage in science and technology equally. Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams,” Peres said, his 93-year old voice at times feeble, other times resounding. “We must open our doors to all the populations, ultra-Orthodox and Arabs, so they too can enjoy the fruits of this innovation. But together with technology, children must also be instilled with values, “because without values, technology threatens the world,” he said. “Technology must be used for both social and economic growth.”

SEE ALSO: BriefCam’s Instant Video Surveillance Helps To Quickly Catch Terrorists, Criminals

Peres, who was the orchestrator behind Israel’s air force and nuclear reactor, and an architect of Israel’s peace accords with Jordan and Egypt, called on Israel’s neighboring countries to join forces and to create a “startup region.” “Peace, innovation and science must be the realm of all. Not only Israel should benefit from the fruit of innovation, but the whole region,” he said. “Let us adopt the road to peace and innovation, which will always be better than war and terror,” Peres said.

The center will showcase the story of Israel as the Startup Nation; it will contain a kinetic exhibition of thousands of interactive screens planned to display the best of Israel’s technology; host a digital library where visitors can ask questions and get answers about the history of Israel’s innovation; and host an entrepreneurial hub to enable meetings, hackathons and courses in a multitude of languages for students, entrepreneurs and innovators.

futuristicgirl

To read the full article, click here

Photos courtesy of the Peres Center for Peace

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/07/innovation-center-showcases-israeli-technology/feed/ 0
Afterlife Messaging: SafeBeyond Allows You To Communicate With Loved Ones After You’re Gone http://nocamels.com/2016/07/afterlife-messaging-safebeyond/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/afterlife-messaging-safebeyond/#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 12:42:11 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46239

Related Posts

]]>
“The regret of my life,” artist/singer Yoko Ono once said, “is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.”

Tapping into that sentiment, a new Israeli app gives everyone an opportunity to communicate with their loved ones from the great beyond.

SEE ALSO: Vidoco: Turn Your Life Into A Documentary

With SafeBeyond, you can decide when you want those messages released to your loved ones. It could be on a specific date like a 21st birthday, or a special wedding anniversary. The recipient is then notified through a push notification on their smartphone that they have a message waiting for them.

A digital inheritance

Israeli entrepreneur Moran Zur created SafeBeyond, as a ‘digital inheritance’ after doctors diagnosed his wife with brain cancer.

“We had a three-year-old kid at the time,” Zur tells NoCamels. “We wanted to make sure that he would get the chance to know his mother for many years to come, no matter what happens.”

This turn of events prompted Zur to leave his job of five years as CEO at one of the leading and largest investment houses in Israel, and to found SafeBeyond in 2014. The startup has already raised $1.5 million from investors. To date, the company has some 20,000 users and expects to grow further as they begin to collaborate with family-oriented websites. Though the app is free, SafeBeyond charges $3.99 a month for extra storage space (for messages, videos and photos, etc.) over 1 GB.

SEE ALSO: Research: Doctors Should Be Trained To Talk About Death

According to Zur, “there are so many things we don’t plan for in life, and things we don’t think to discuss with our loved ones while we are with them – SafeBeyond will change that. SafeBeyond was established to ensure that users could be both in control of their digital legacies, and be there, in a virtual way, for the people they care about, at the times when they are needed the most.”

To be prepared

SafeBeyond’s unique technology and service “redesigns” the perception of death, empowering all people to better prepare for the eventualities of life. Users can assign a trustee, who will be responsible for their digital will, and heirs, who will receive the components of the digital time capsules.

The interface is user-friendly and messages are sent based on unique dates, events and geo-based triggers. This means the user can schedule birthday messages that are date-based or a wedding message which is event-based. Geo-based triggers will send a loved one a message when they are at a location. For instance, you can send your spouse a message every time they are at “your place” or send a video of a cherished memory.

Unsettling or comforting?

Some digital experts say people may be unsettled by receiving messages from loved ones years after their death. On the other hand, some may view SafeBeyond’s service as comforting, as if the dearly departed is reaching out to them on their special occasion.

No matter the situation, Yoko Ono was right. We don’t tell our loved ones we love them often enough.

Photos and videos: SafeBeyond, Leah Tardivel

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/07/afterlife-messaging-safebeyond/feed/ 0
Charity Begins On Your Phone: PocketCause Makes Mobile Donations Fun And Easy http://nocamels.com/2016/06/pocketcause-mobile-donations-charity/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/pocketcause-mobile-donations-charity/#respond Sun, 26 Jun 2016 11:08:31 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46037

Related Posts

]]>
Donating to a noble cause is always good, but it’s not always easy, especially on your mobile.

While communication between charities and supporters has become simpler thanks to email, social media and other technologies, the challenge of making donations from mobile devices has dissuaded many donors from giving. Filling out long online donation forms is time consuming enough from a desktop, but even more frustrating from a mobile device, causing many would-be mobile donors to simply give up.

SEE ALSOMoolta: Challenge Your Friends To Do Crazy Stunts For Charity

PocketCause, an Israeli start-up launched by the founders of IsraelGives.org, one of the main websites for charitable giving to Israel, has released what the company is calling “the first mobile network for social good”. Built by experts in both philanthropy and technology, PocketCause aims to meet the unique needs of both donors and non-profit organizations by making it easy to connect and donate to any nonprofit organization in the world through a smartphone by pushing just a few buttons – and without pushing your buttons!


Hassle-free mobile donation

“Although 50% of donation requests today are read on smartphones, donors are three times less likely to make a donation, simply because it’s too difficult and inconvenient to donate through a smartphone,” PocketCause CEO Yonatan Ben-Dor tells NoCamels. “In 2015, this hassle caused nonprofits to lose over $6.5 billion in donations.We developed PocketCause to help organizations stop losing so many donations, and to make it easier for mobile donors to give to an organization that they care about.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli To Cycle Across North America For Cancer Charity

Donor social network

PocketCause also provides updates from all social causes so users can follow, share and see the causes their friends are sharing and supporting.

The app allows users to safely store their payment method and donate to more than 2 million non-profit organizations in just a single click. It uses gamification and rewards to encourage users to support and promote the causes of their choice. By sharing a charity’s posts, users earn CauseCash—an app currency that can be redeemed or donated to any organization. Users also get 1 percent in CauseCash whenever they give to their TopCause, their favorite non-profit organization.

‘Startup nation’ donation

PocketCause has partnered with national foundations in the US, Canada, the UK and Israel in developing the application.

“Israeli start-ups have developed ideas and products that have changed the way that people throughout the world do things. What our startup scene has yet to do is to truly impact the social sector. PocketCause plans to revolutionize the way that people connect to their social causes and change the way that people give to charity,” Ben-Dor said.

how_it_work_image

 

Photos: Courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/06/pocketcause-mobile-donations-charity/feed/ 0
Robots Can Fill Humans’ Emotional Needs, Israeli Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/06/idc-humans-robots-relationship-feelings/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/idc-humans-robots-relationship-feelings/#respond Sun, 12 Jun 2016 07:58:24 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45754

Related Posts

]]>
In the movie “Her”, Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson portray a human being and a robot who develop an intimate, emotional relationship. But can intimacy between humans and robots actually happen? According to new Israeli research, some robots do in fact generate strong emotional responses in the people they interact with.

In a new study by IDC Herzliya researchers, participants told a personal event to a small desktop robot. For 50 percent of the participants, the robot was responsive and supportive of their emotional needs, using gestures and on-screen text. The other 50 percent were met with an unresponsive robot.

SEE ALSO: This Robot With ‘Soul’ Gets Frightened When You’re Angry

The people who interacted with a responsive robot had more desire to use the robot as a companion in stressful situations, like visiting the dentist, and their body language exhibited more emotion towards the robot, like leaning in, smiling, and having “eye contact.”

Moreover, when participants had to undergo a stress-generating task (introducing oneself to potential romantic partners) after interacting with the robot, the participants who interacted with the responsive robot had improved self-perception.

“Our study suggests that the way a robot responds to a person can evoke some of the same feelings and behaviors that occur when the response comes from another human,” IDC’s Dr. Guy Hoffman, a world-renowned robotics expert who co-authored the study, tells NoCamels.

robot idc, Guy Hoffman

Travis, the robot used in the experiments

This means that people can find robots compelling and respond to them in ways in which they typically respond to social partners, for example seeking the robot’s psychological proximity through their body language. In addition, people can leverage responsive social interactions with a robot to become more confident and appealing to romantic partners.

SEE ALSO: Robotics Star Guy Hoffman Talks To NoCamels About Robots With ‘Soul’, ‘Poor’ Career Choices And His TED Talk That Went Viral

Overall, the study indicates that a responsive robot could be reassuring and compelling enough to build a sense of security that then leads to better functioning under threatening circumstances.

“This can have outcomes on how robot developers will design a robot’s response to their users, in order to gain these kinds of social and emotional benefits,” Hoffman explained.

For example, when designing a robot that listens to a patient in a hospital, the robot’s behavior can be programmed to make the person feel more secure and confident.

However, films like “Her” and “Ex Machina” paint “a fictitious, distorted and exaggerated picture,” Hoffman says. “People are not, and will not be confused about the nature of the entity they are interacting with.”

robot

Since manufactured objects (including food, clothes and cars) are known to have emotional effects on some people, humans might also “get attached to their robots, enjoy their company, and feel less lonely while interacting with them,” IDC’s Prof. Gurit E. Birnbaum, the study’s co-author, tells NoCamels.

Still, “most people do not blur the line between their relationships with other humans and with objects,” Hoffman says. “Similarly, even when robots will respond in ways that affect people’s wellbeing, it will be clear to them that they are interacting with an object, and I sincerely doubt many will fall in love with a robot or artificial intelligence software.”

The research was conducted by Prof. Gurit E. Birnbaum, Dr. Guy Hoffman, and Dr. Moran Mizrahi of Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, along with Prof. Harry T. Reis of the University of Rochester, Dr. Eli JFinkel of Northwestern University, and Omri Sass of Cornell Tech. It was recently published in the scholarly journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Photos: IDC Herzliya, Her, Honda, Kobi Zholtack

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/06/idc-humans-robots-relationship-feelings/feed/ 0
Can Israel Lead The Way On Sharing Economy? http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-startups-lead-sharing-economy/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-startups-lead-sharing-economy/#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 12:49:26 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45563

Related Posts

]]>
The Israeli phenomenon of the Kibbutz – a collective community traditionally based on agriculture – taught Israelis how to share everything from food and clothes to sleeping quarters. Now, the Startup Nation is poised to become a major player in the sharing economy, which is based on sharing information and resources with one another for the benefit of everyone.

SEE ALSO: From Agriculture To High-Tech: Meet Five Kibbutzim That Became Global Powerhouses

Many companies offering shared-resources have popped up in recent years, and some are now worth billions of dollars. WeWork, for example, co-founded by Israeli Adam Neumann, provides shared working spaces around the world, and recently started offering shared living spaces in the US, through its subsidiary WeLive. Another giant in this sector is Airbnb, which allows people to share their houses with tourists for a fee. Ride-sharing services offered by Israeli firms Gett, Via, Juno and Get Around, as well as by their global rivals Uber and Lyft, have gained tremendous popularity in recent years thanks to their ease of use and relatively low fees.

gettaxi

The sharing economy is expected to be worth $20 billion a year by 2020, according to a recent report by Juniper Research, more than three times its worth in 2015 ($6.4 billion). According to Juniper, the following sectors are expected to drive the sharing economy in the next four years: Transportation, goods, services, music and video, space, and finance. These will in turn become the basis for the learning, municipal, health, logistics, and food sectors to grow.

Ride-sharing alone will account for $6.5 billion of the sharing economy by 2020, according to the research firm, and “space-sharing” firms such as Airbnb and WeWork could surpass that amount.

In a conference dedicated to Israel’s role in the global sharing economy trend, held in Tel Aviv yesterday by financial newspaper TheMarker, industry leaders said that despite regulatory and infrastructure challenges, Israeli startups are at the forefront of the sharing economy.

via suv

Via co-founder Oren Shoval said the hefty prices of cars in Israel made it a good country to test their platform, which books multiple passengers headed in the same direction and drops them off within a block or two of their requested destination.

Just recently, Via raised $100 million in a single financial round, “a huge achievement for the Israeli high tech,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Ride-Sharing Startup Via Raises $100M; Revs Up Competition Against Uber, Lyft

Founded in 2012 by Shoval and Daniel Ramot, Via enables tens of thousands of passengers each day to share their ride with others headed the same way. Via has so far provided more than four million rides, and is growing rapidly.

The eBay of hotel rooms 

In the fields of hospitality and dining, Israel is also on the forefront of the sharing economy: Israeli startup EatWith connects tourists to families who provide an authentic home cooked meal, replacing expensive, touristy restaurants; and Roomer, which connects tourists looking for hotel deals with other tourists who had to cancel their hotel reservation and cannot get a refund.

“We’re like the eBay of hotel rooms,” Ben Froumine, founder of Roomer, said at the conference. According to EatWith general manager Noam Klinger, “we provide gourmet meals at chefs’ houses starting at $15 a person; it’s a great way to personally meet chefs and local hosts.”

eatwithtable

“Israel serves as the proving ground”

Conference speakers said that the success of Israeli-developed ride-sharing platforms such as Gett, Get Around, Via and Juno, was in many cases built on the pilot tests they ran in Israel, which is a small, densely populated country that suffers from traffic jams around major metropolitan areas.

Chen Herzog, ‎Chief Economist and Partner at Israel’s BDO Consulting Group, said at the event that “Israel’s density helps its startups become world leaders in the sharing economy. Israel serves as the proving ground for startups in this sector to move forward.”

He added that Israel’s Mobileye, which is developing driverless car technologies, is poised to become a major force behind any shared-vehicle platform. Also, Internet of Things (IoT) and FinTech technologies – which are also developed locally by many startups – will become key components of the sharing economy.

share

Photos: WeWork, EatWith, Via, GotCredit

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-startups-lead-sharing-economy/feed/ 0
For Obese Airplane Passengers, Shaming Is Worse Than Tiny Seats, Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/05/obese-humiliated-airplane-seats-staring/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/obese-humiliated-airplane-seats-staring/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 09:49:40 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45471

Related Posts

]]>
The obesity epidemic is one of America’s greatest health concerns: Roughly 79 million American adults are obese – more than one-third of adults in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to related health issues obese people have to deal with, such as diabetes, they also have to deal with how society views them.

SEE ALSO: Study: Overweight Teens Are At Increased Risk For Life-Threatening Heart Disease In Adulthood

Now that the summer travel season is about to begin, overweight people must also consider small airplane seats and airlines’ policies towards the obese (some require to order and pay for two seats). But according to a new Israeli study, inconvenience is not their biggest problem; feelings of shame and humiliation bother obese travelers more than tight seat belts and tiny seats.

Airplane

Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University recently published An Exploratory Study About Obese People’s Flight Experience in the Journal of Travel Research, where participants recounted the typical challenges they encounter while boarding, in-flight and deplaning.

The researchers interviewed passengers deplaning direct and connecting flights in Virginia. The survey included 11 men and 13 women, ages 22 to 64, who had been on short (less than two hours) and long (more than two hours) flights. 16 of the 24 passengers self-identified as obese, with a body mass index of 30 or above. Eight considered themselves morbidly obese.

SEE ALSO: Dreaming To Lose Weight? Sleep Could Be The Answer!

“We assumed that the greatest difficulties obese people faced on planes were caused by tight, confined spaces,” BGU’s Prof. Yaniv Poria, who led the research, said in a statement. “We were surprised to find that the way other people reacted to them was so unpleasant and embarrassing, causing them to feel universally uncomfortable and uneasy.”

A ‘chosen’ disability?

He adds that “obese people think that others regard them as individuals who intentionally decided to be disabled. Moreover, obese people feel that they are perceived as thieves, since their ‘chosen’ disability increases costs for other people. Obesity is a social disability as it prevents obese people from feeling safe in public.”

Study participants agreed that the way people stare at them during boarding and deplaning is “humiliating, and at times even shameful,” Poria says, but at the same time indicated that African American female crew members seemed to be generally less judgmental and more helpful.

Board first, deplane last 

However, squeezing down aisles and into the seats remains troublesome, the participants said, because they are unable to avoid inadvertently touching other passengers. “Many attempted to be first in line to board, so they could easily find their seats and ‘disappear,’” Poria says.

scale

He suggests allowing obese people to board first and deplane last, and making design changes to restrooms and seat trays, which would make everyone more comfortable. Additionally, he argues for the need to offer different-sized seats.

The researchers note that crew members can respectfully and discreetly make everyone’s flight experience more comfortable by moving a passenger sitting next to an obese person to another seat.

The study was conducted by Poria in collaboration with Jeremy Beal of Virginia Tech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.

Health News: Study: Want To Lose Weight? Get Off Your Butt!

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/obese-humiliated-airplane-seats-staring/feed/ 0
Do We Choose To Erode Our Own Privacy? 73% Of Smartphone Users Willingly Share Their Location http://nocamels.com/2016/05/increased-smartphone-use-threatens-privacy/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/increased-smartphone-use-threatens-privacy/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 10:13:49 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45107

Related Posts

]]>
Among the many things people cherish is their privacy. “Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite,” actor Marlon Brando once said. Of course, he said it long before smartphones, GPS and social networks came into existence. These days, privacy is indeed a valuable commodity.

In our information-saturated technological world, it is often hard to separate the public from the personal. How, when, and where do we choose to share information about ourselves? How do we perceive public space and virtual space? And how do these perceptions influence our practices of seeing and being seen?

SEE ALSO: Can Hackers Stalk You On Google’s Popular Navigation App Waze?

A recent Tel Aviv University study published in the journal Urban Studies maintains that “dynamic visibility” – in which technological surveillance is combined with personal information volunteered by individuals online – has led to diminished overall privacy. In other words, your location-enabled smartphone erodes your personal privacy in more ways than you think.

Smartphones - Technology News - Israel

“Technology is not only used top-down but also bottom-up, with individuals using their own technological devices to share and enhance their visibility in space,” TAU’s Dr. Tali Hatuka, who led the study, said in a statement. “Whenever we use ‘location-aware’ devices, or tap on Waze or dating apps like Tinder, or check in on Facebook, we are really diminishing our own privacy. This combination of secret surveillance and voluntary sharing contributes to a sense of ‘being exposed’ in a public space that normalizes practices of sharing personal data by individuals. The result is diminished overall privacy.”

Overwhelming willingness to share location on social networks

A survey conducted in 2013 by Google and Ipsos MediaCT in dozens of countries found that the Israeli population had the world’s highest smartphone saturation (57 percent) and some of the highest rates of mobile internet usage and mobile email usage. The new TAU study found some differences among sharing preferences in different types of spaces, but these paled in comparison to the overwhelming willingness of participants to share their locations on social networks.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Tracks Your Online Behavior To Protect Your Privacy

The researchers developed an Android application called Smart-Spaces to collect information for the study. The app combines smartphone-based surveys with the online tracking of locations and phone application usage. The Smart-Spaces application was installed for 20 days on the phones of TAU students, who answered context-based surveys in the course of their daily routines. Each participant was interviewed before and after the installation of the app.

“More than 73 percent of the participants shared their locations as they answered the surveys,” Hatuka says. “Moreover, there was a correlation between the kind of space they were in — private home, library, street, square etc. — and their willingness to provide information, with a higher willingness to share location and other information when the subject was in public spaces.”

The results were analyzed according to different activities, locations and number of people present at the time.

man with smartphone

The researchers are continuing to study the link between smartphones, urban space and social behavior to develop a comprehensive picture of current practices and produce concrete suggestions on how to approach emerging challenges.

Hatuka co-authored the study with Dr. Eran Toch, co-director of the Interacting with Technology Lab of the Department of Industrial Engineering at TAU’s The Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/increased-smartphone-use-threatens-privacy/feed/ 0
Is Excessive Daydreaming A Psychological Disorder? http://nocamels.com/2016/05/excessive-daydreaming-psychological-disorder/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/excessive-daydreaming-psychological-disorder/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 06:21:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45142

Related Posts

]]>
Daydreaming can be a fun, momentary escape from reality and could also enhance brain performance, according to recent research. But excessive daydreaming could signal the onset of a psychological disorder, Israeli researchers warn.

SEE ALSO: Dreame: The Startup That Sketches Your Dreams Into A Beautiful Reality (Literally)

Researchers from Israel’s University of Haifa, Fordham University in New York, and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, have found that people who spend an average of 60 percent of their waking time in an imaginary world could have a disorder they call “Maladaptive Daydreaming.” The newly discovered disorder involves creating an imaginary world while realizing it is a fantasy, and without losing contact with the real world.

dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

“Daydreaming usually starts as a small fantasy that makes people feel good, but over time the process becomes addictive until it takes over their lives. At this stage, the disorder is accompanied by feelings of shame and a sense of lack of fulfillment, but because until now the disorder has been unknown, when they come to receive treatment, therapists usually dismiss their complaints,” according to Haifa University’s Prof. Eli Somer, who’s considered the first to identify the disorder and describe it in a series of studies.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Photographer Ronen Goldman’s Surreal Images Bring Dreams To Life

Wandering of thoughts, fantasies and daydreams are part of the inner world of almost everyone, and they are depicted in popular culture – in literature and film (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one example). However, until now science has not addressed the pathological aspects of this otherwise normal mental activity.

Now, a series of studies published recently in leading journals in psychology and psychiatry shed light on this psychological disorder.

In 2002, Somer was treating adults who had been sexually abused as children. He identified six survivors who used to escape regularly into a world of imagination, where they fantasized compensatory empowering stories in which they enjoyed traits and life experiences that were missing in their real lives.

Since then, Somer and his team conducted additional studies and interviewed dozens of individuals who claimed to be suffering from the phenomenon. The researchers discovered that although maladaptive daydreaming first started as a positive experience providing pleasure and relaxation, it quickly developed into an addictive habit that took over their lives and impaired their functioning.

“Maladaptive daydreaming naturally necessitates isolation from others and is almost always accompanied by repetitive body motions, such as pacing or rocking,” Somer said in a statement. “About a quarter of these individuals had endured childhood trauma and many suffered from social anxiety.”

One of his most recent studies reported the development and validation of a maladaptive daydreaming scale (MDS) using a large sample of 447 individuals. The MDS was shown to differentiate between normal and maladaptive daydreaming and offered diagnostic and research instruments for the newly discovered disorder.

An ability to feel fully present in a self-directed imaginary plot

In another study, 340 participants ages 13–78 from 45 countries were tested. The data showed that individuals affected by the disorder spent about 60 percent of their waking time daydreaming, and more than half said that the disorder disrupted their sleep and that the first thing they are aware of when they wake up in the morning is their urge to daydream.

Respondents reported having rich fantasy worlds with complex story lines. They tended to daydream significantly more about fictional tales and characters, in contrast to the daydreaming among the control group, whose members’ daydreams were anchored in reality (e.g., the desire to earn more money, to find an attractive partner, etc.). Of the participants with MD, 97 percent reported different levels of distress.

“People with this disorder have developed an extraordinary ability to become completely immersed in daydreaming, to such an extent that their daydreams can make them laugh or cry,” Somer explains. “This ability to feel fully present in a self-directed imaginary plot is not only a powerful source of the attraction, but it also makes it difficult to disengage from it, creating a mental addiction. When people spend about 60 percentof their waking time daydreaming, it’s no wonder that they feel frustrated that they can’t achieve their goals in life.”

The next step in his research will focus on developing an effective treatment for sufferers.

daydreaming

Somer conducted the studies with Jayne Bigelsen and Jonathan Lehrfeld of Fordham University in New York City, along with Prof. Daniela Jopp from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Liora Somer from the the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.

Photos: Zach BettenYanko PeyankovJaime Handley

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/excessive-daydreaming-psychological-disorder/feed/ 0
The Oscars Of The Culinary World: ‘Shaya’ Named America’s Best New Restaurant http://nocamels.com/2016/05/shaya-america-best-new-restaurant/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/shaya-america-best-new-restaurant/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 12:28:13 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45165

Related Posts

]]>
Israeli chef Alon Shaya continues to garner top awards: His New Orleans restaurant ‘Shaya’ has been named ‘Best New Restaurant’ by the prestigious culinary organization The James Beard Foundation.

SEE ALSO: Israeli-American Chef Alon Shaya Wins Top US Culinary Honor

He won the award – considered by many to be the Oscars of the culinary world – earlier this month, when some 2,000 industry leaders from across the US attended the 2016 James Beard Awards ceremony, which “honors the country’s top culinary talent,” according to the foundation.

Chef Alon Shaya

Opened in February 2015, Shaya serves sophisticated versions of Israeli dishes in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans, which is famous for its own cuisines: Cajun and Creole. Despite that, in recent years Shaya’s restaurants have taken The Big Easy by storm while serving dishes that are worlds apart from the traditional New Orleans cuisine.

More specifically, Shaya’s new restaurant serves such Israeli platters as hummus, falafel, pita bread, shakshuka and tahini. “Who would have thought: Hummus and New Orleans?” Shaya asked in his James Beard acceptance speech.

shaya restaurant

Last year, Shaya was named the best chef in the southern region of the US by the James Beard Foundation. He was also named one of the 50 people changing the South by Southern Living magazine; and Esquire recently named Shaya the best new restaurant in America.

SEE ALSO: Perfecting ‘Foodography’: Tel Aviv Restaurant Offers Instagram-Ready Dishes

Shaya discovered his passion for cooking at an early age, spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia, where he grew up. He later attended the Culinary Institute of America. In 2009, the former Tel Avivian founded Domenica, a popular rustic Italian restaurant located inside New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel, together with culinary personality and TV chef John Besh.

After Besh and Shaya opened up Pizza Domenica, a more casual take on their popular restaurant, Shaya finally ventured out on his own when he opened up his own contemporary Israeli restaurant fittingly named “Shaya,” which is “inspired by his Israeli upbringing and New Orleans’ local ingredients.”

baking pita bread at Shaya's

Baking Israeli pita bread at Shaya’s

Israelis win big at the Oscars of the food world

Shaya is not the only Israeli receiving the James Beard award this year. Israeli-American chef Michael Solomonov won the prize for best international cookbook with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, which is based on the food served at his critically acclaimed restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia. The book was co-authored by Steven Cook.

In addition, London-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi won the award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View for NOPI: The Cookbook, which he co-wrote with Ramael Scully.

shaya restaurant

Photos: Alon ShayaMDHawk, Shaya Restaurant

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/shaya-america-best-new-restaurant/feed/ 0
Only 50% Of Your Friends Actually Like You, Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/05/half-your-friends-dislike-you/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/half-your-friends-dislike-you/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 07:37:53 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45002

Related Posts

]]>
You may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but have you ever considered how many ‘real’ friends you have? A real friendship, outside of social networks, is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this joint study shows that only 50 percent of your buddies would actually consider you their own friend.

A friend indeed?

People have a very poor perception of friendship ties, and this limits their ability to influence their ‘friends,’ according to the research, recently published in PLoS One. If researchers can understand this limitation, companies and social groups that depend on social influence for collective action, information dissemination and product promotion, could improve their strategies and interventions.

SEE ALSO: Men With A Peer Support System Live Longer, Study Shows

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are,” TAU’s Dr. Erez Shmueli, who led the study, said in a statement. “And, our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements.”

Additionally, the research team claims that “we can’t rely on our instincts or intuition. There must be an objective way to measure these relationships and quantify their impact.”

friends

The researchers conducted social experiments and analyzed the data from other studies to determine the percentage of reciprocal friendships and their impact on human behavior. The team also examined six friendship surveys from some 600 students in Israel, Europe and the US to assess friendship levels and expectations of reciprocity.

They then developed an algorithm that examines several objective features of a perceived friendship (that is, the number of common friends or the total number of friends) and is able to distinguish between the two different kinds of friendship: Unidirectional or reciprocal.

SEE ALSO: Away From Friends And Family? ‘Rounds’ Provides Group Video Chats For Up To 12 Participants

“We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal,” Shmueli says. “If you think someone is your friend, you expect him or her to feel the same way. But in fact, that’s not the case — only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.”

A matter of influence

Why is this important? According to Dr. Shmueli, influence is the name of the game: “Reciprocal relationships are important because of social influence.” For example, friendship pressure far outweighs money in terms of motivation. “Those pressured by reciprocal friends exercised more and enjoyed greater progress than those with unilateral friendship ties.”

The researchers found that their “friendship algorithm” determined with a high level of accuracy the reciprocal or unidirectional nature of a friendship. Says Shmueli: “Our algorithm not only tells us whether a friendship is reciprocal or not. It also determines in which direction the friendship is ‘felt’ in unilateral friendships.”

friendship

Shmueli conducted the study with TAU‘s Dr. Laura Radaelli, in collaboration with Prof. Alex Pentland and Abdullah Almatouq of MIT.

Photos: Ben Duchac

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/half-your-friends-dislike-you/feed/ 0
Be My Guest: Photos Of Airbnb Hosts, Not Apartments, Affect Renters’ Decisions http://nocamels.com/2016/05/airbnb-hosts-photos-affect-renters-decisions/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/airbnb-hosts-photos-affect-renters-decisions/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 06:20:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44785

Related Posts

]]>
The popular expression “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is generally associated with job interviews, first dates, and business presentations, but it may even extend to your Airbnb profile.

SEE ALSO: Leave The Mess To ‘Guesty’: Israeli Startup Manages Your ‘Airbnb’ Property For You

The prominence of sellers’ photos on sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb – on which people offer short-term rentals – triggered a team of Israeli researchers to investigate whether and how consumers’ decisions are affected by personal photos of Airbnb hosts. As it turns out, profile pictures have a greater impact on potential renters than the images of the properties up for rent.

The Seashell House ~ Casa Caracol Isla Mujeres (Airbnb)

The Seashell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico (offered for rent on Airbnb.com)

“While the effect of product attributes such as apartment size and location is rather obvious, consumers’ responsiveness to seller attributes such as reputation and personal photos has yet to be studied,” Prof. Aliza Fleischer of Israel’s Hebrew University, who led the study, said in a statement.

The research, which was recently published in the journal Tourism Management, is comprised of two complementary studies. In the first study, researchers collected the public data of all Airbnb’s listings in Stockholm, Sweden, including property size and location, pictures of the property, price, and customer reviews.

They presented the personal photos of the Airbnb hosts to 600 research participants and evaluated their first impression of the photos. They performed a hedonic price analysis – a model that estimates the extent to which each of the factors comprising the selling good affects the price – combined with ratings of the hosts’ trustworthiness and attractiveness as perceived from their personal photos.

Renters are willing to pay more if the host looks trustworthy

The study found that hosts who are perceived from their photos as more trustworthy enjoy a price premium over their counterparts who are perceived as less trustworthy.

Surprisingly, the research also found that online review scores had no effect on listing prices or the likelihood of the consumer actually booking the property. The researchers suggested this may be the result of exaggerated reviews that neutralized their effect.

“Profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success”

“Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, the person is not the ‘selling product’ here,” Dr. Eyal Ert Of the Hebrew University said in a statement. “On Airbnb, the focus is on the property and its attributes, but even so — we found that the profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success.”

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups That Make Travel So Much Easier

In the second study, researchers conducted a controlled experiment, where participants were presented with a series of made-up Airbnb profiles, using photos of actors. The study found that the level of hosts’ perceived trustworthiness, mainly as inferred from their photos, directly affects consumers’ choices. Its effect is stronger than that of other visual attributes, and visual-based trust has a stronger impact on consumers’ choice than reputation (which is based on reviews).

Another interesting finding is that the participants were not aware of the important role the photos play in their choice. When asked what the important factors affecting their decision were, very few mentioned the profile photographs of the hosts.

The swimming pool of an Airbnb villa near Athens, Greece

The swimming pool of a villa near Athens, Greece (offered for rent on Airbnb.com)

A pictures is worth a thousand… Airbnb guests? 

With the rapid growth of the sharing economy, especially in tourism-related services, there is a need to further investigate the trust mechanisms upon which this economy is built, the researchers say.

“The results of our research imply a strong need for trust in sharing economy platforms,” Fleischer concludes. “Different rules and consumer decision-making are at play here, and a fuller examination of these is still needed to shed light on how this economy really operates.”

airbnb hostPhotos and video: Airbnb

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/05/airbnb-hosts-photos-affect-renters-decisions/feed/ 0
Expressions Can Make The Difference Between A Strike And A Home Run, Baseball Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/04/pitcher-expression-affects-batter-baseball/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/pitcher-expression-affects-batter-baseball/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 09:08:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44419

Related Posts

]]>
Spring is in the air. For many sports enthusiasts that means but one thing – baseball is back. With the recent opening of the Major League Baseball season, expectations of baseball fans are high, hoping that maybe this year will be the one their team wins it all.

Of course, anything can happen over the course of a 162-game regular season. Although one cannot predict the outcome of a given game, a joint study by researchers from Israel’s University of Haifa and the Netherlands’ University of Amsterdam, found that the expression of emotions serves as a source of information and provides clues about what is likely to happen in social situations in general, and in baseball in particular.

baseball-player

“You can observe a lot by just watching”

“Other peoples’ emotions provide information,” Dr. Arik Cheshin of the University of Haifa , who led the study, said in a statement. “The expression of emotions can mark for us what the person is thinking and what they are about to do. If we read others’ emotions well, we will be better able to anticipate their behavior and to adapt our behavior to that of others.”

Or in simple terms, to quote the late great Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, “you can observe a lot by just watching.”

SEE ALSO: Replay Technologies ‘freeD’ To Deliver Real-Time 3D Sports Replays To Mobile Devices

Emotions influence the human environment. When people express emotions, others can identify how that person feels according to facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and so forth. Past studies have proven the interpersonal impacts of emotions. An emotion can be contagious, can pass from one person to another, and therefore can influence group performance. An expression of anger during negotiations, for example, may be strategic, symbolizing threat and implying that the other side should move toward the angry person.

In the current study, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology, the researchers sought to examine the interpersonal ramifications of emotions in the context of baseball. Do the gaze and body language of the batter influence the pitcher? “The players stand opposite each other in one of the most famous duels in all of sports. The two athletes look each other in the eye; one makes a move, and the other responds to it. We wanted to see whether the expression of emotion offers a clue about this move – and we found that it does,” Dr. Cheshin noted.

SEE ALSO: The Top 10 Israeli Startups Changing The World Of Sports

In the present study, three games that determined the identity of the World Series champion from two different seasons were chosen, 92 instances were selected from these games, in which it was possible to see the pitcher before the throw. The clips were edited so that it was only possible to see the pitcher’s preparations before the pitch, and the picture was frozen once the ball left the pitcher’s hand. The video clip did not show the outcome of the game nor provided any additional information about it. The length of each edited clip was approximately two seconds.

In the next stage, 213 study participants were asked to evaluate the pitcher’s emotions. The participants reached agreement regarding three key emotions shown in the clips: Anger, happiness, and worry. The 30 clips with the highest level of agreement regarding the expressed emotions were chosen, and another group of 34 respondents was then asked to predict the outcome of the pitch concerning speed, accuracy, level of difficulty, and whether or not the batter would attempt to hit the ball. None of the Dutch participants identified the baseball players shown in the clips, or the teams, so that the external influence on the participants was very limited.
softball-1321251_1280

The results of the study show that expression of emotions serves as a source of information and provides clues about what is about to happen in the baseball game, thus identifying an additional social situation in which emotions convey critical information that influences preparations and reactions.

“The participants predicted various properties of the pitches according to the pitcher’s emotion. When the pitcher showed anger, this led to the prediction of faster and more difficult pitches. The expression of happiness led to predictions of more precise pitches and a higher probability that the batter would attempt to hit the ball. The expression of worry led to predictions of imprecise pitches and fewer attempts to hit the ball,” according to Cheshin.

Will the batter hit or miss? 

The researchers found that the chances of the batter trying to attempt to hit the ball were greater when the pitcher was identified as happier. This is an important finding, since the expectation in baseball is that if the pitcher is happy just before and during pitching, he is liable to execute some kind of scheme or trick. “It is possible that the batter’s reaction is not conscious but evolutionary. There is a lot of pressure and tumult around the batter, and accordingly, the batter sees the pitcher’s expression of happiness as a positive sign that encourages him to try to hit the ball,” Cheshin says.

In summary, “whether this is an authentic emotion or a strategy, the expression of emotions has a social impact in sports as in other areas,” he says. “Controlling the expression of emotions and the ability to read emotions in order to predict behavior can make the difference between a strike and a home run.”

However, as far as predicting baseball outcomes go, Yogi said it best, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

baseball by Gary Shear

Photos: Gary Shear

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/04/pitcher-expression-affects-batter-baseball/feed/ 0
A New Kibbutz? WeWork’s Urban Community WeLive Could Revolutionize City Living http://nocamels.com/2016/04/residential-community-welive-wework-kibbutz/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/residential-community-welive-wework-kibbutz/#respond Mon, 11 Apr 2016 10:23:08 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44387

Related Posts

]]>
Six years after founding shared office space startup WeWork, now worth $16 billion, Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumann is launching WeLive, an urban co-living community. Neumann, who grew up on a kibbutz, and WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey recently opened two such residential buildings in New York City and in Arlington, Virginia, (near Washington, D.C.).

SEE ALSO: From Kibbutz To Empire: WeWork Building Global Startup Community

“Just as WeWork changed the way people work through its philosophy of shared space, services, community and social interaction, WeLive offers a disruptive alternative to the way people live,” according to a company statement.

welive communal area

Founded in 2010, WeWork is now the largest shared office space community in the world. With 40,000 members in 60 locations around the world (including Israel, the US, UK, Netherlands, and China), WeWork is home to hundreds of startups that share everything from business ideas to dining areas.

Early last year, it was reported that Neumann also plans to launch WeLive, presenting the concept of the collective community (the first kibbutz, an Israeli phenomenon, is now 107 years old) to the urban residential sector. Essentially, WeLive offers affordable housing of sorts, which might appeal to young people in sought-after, expensive cosmopolitan cities like New York and Tel Aviv.

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork and WeLive

WeLive challenges traditional living with flexible housing solutions, a dorm-style building, or an urban kibbutz, if you will, where members can share everything from beer to showers. This urban co-living enterprise is the brainchild of both Neumann and McKelvey, who also grew up in a commune-like environment. Implementing their WeWork model into a residential environment, they state that people should now have “more freedom and flexibility in how they live their lives.”

According to WeLive, “life is better when we are part of a community that believes in something larger than itself. From mailrooms and laundry rooms that double as bars and event spaces to communal kitchens, roof decks, and hot tubs, WeLive challenges traditional apartment living through physical spaces that foster meaningful relationships. Whether for a day, a week, a month, or a year, by joining WeLive – you’ll be psyched to be alive.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Architect Eran Chen Is Transforming The Face Of New York

Some claim that WeLive feels like a hotel. There are no long-term leases, no credit checks and no broker fees. Each unit has a kitchen and a bathroom and is fully furnished with linens, towels, cable, wifi, and utilities, all of which are included in the monthly fee. In addition to private units, one can also rent a bed (much like a desk at WeWork) and share his or her living space with other WeLive inhabitants. And, there are unlimited coffee, beer and yoga classes for everyone!

Why would adults want to share their life with strangers? “Connecting with people in ways formerly unattainable in apartment buildings, this ‘We’ community is finding friendships and more with the people they now call neighbors. WeLive replicates the security and comfort of a suburban neighborhood but with the energy and vigor of a major city,” the company states.

WeLive dining room

A dining room at WeLive. Reminiscent of the kibbutz?

Living in Manhattan for $1,375 a month

In the New York building, located on Wall Street, prices start at $1,375 a month per person in a two-bed, shared studio; studios in the same area of Manhattan rent for roughly $3,000, according to local real estate brokerage firm MNS. WeLive prices in the Arlington building, which is still in beta phase, are expected to be lower.

Neumann and McKelvey have stated that WeLive is an experiment whose results are expected to unfold in the coming months. But if this experiment proves to be as successful as WeWork – when the duo started renting out office space through Craigslist in 2008, they surely didn’t envision that by 2016 they would own a $16 billion empire – this urban kibbutz could prove that large metropolitan areas crave a sense of community.

welive

Photos courtesy of WeWork/WeLive

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/04/residential-community-welive-wework-kibbutz/feed/ 0
International Day Of Happiness: Five Israeli Startups That Aim To Make You Happier http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-startups-make-you-happier/ http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-startups-make-you-happier/#respond Sun, 20 Mar 2016 07:51:00 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=43918

Related Posts

]]>
Disneyland may proclaim itself as ‘the happiest place on earth’, but Israel is not that far behind. According to the most recent UN World Happiness Report, Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world, ranking behind Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, but ahead of the US, which ranked 15th. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the coolest apps that aim to make us happier, were created in Israel. 

SEE ALSO: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy

In honor of International Day of Happiness (also known as Happiness Day), which is celebrated on March 20, here are five Israeli startups that aim to bring more happiness into our daily lives:

Serenita: Don’t stress, relax

In our busy, fast-paced world, one of the biggest obstacles to happiness is stress. Serenita, a new relaxation app created by Israeli startup Eco-Fusion, aims to reduce stress. Available for free on both Android and iOS, Serenita assesses your stress level and provides you with personalized breathing instructions to reduce stress within minutes.

The mobile app acquires data from the user’s finger by turning the mobile phone’s camera lens into a sensor (where you place your finger), and uses it to peer into the user’s bloodstream. It then extracts biomedical markers regarding heart rate, heart rate variability and blood flow, and finally processes the data to assess the user’s stress and focus level. Based on the data, Serenita provides exercises to treat the stress, especially breathing exercises. 

“Yoga and meditation are both great for stress reduction, but most stressed people do not practice them,” Eco-Fusion founder Dr. Oren Fuerst tells NoCamels. “Serenita provides easy and effective ‘bite-size treatment’ for stress. As it is well documented that stress management is crucial to the path to happiness, using Serenita for just five minutes a day will certainly make you happier.”

Happify: Think positive, be happier

As its names suggests, Happify is another Israeli startup seeking to make our lives happier. After entering your basic information: Gender, age, occupation, as well as your ability to cope with hardships and your level of life satisfaction, the app creates a personalized “track” for you to follow, which it says will lead to a higher level of happiness.

Each track consists of a series of games, such as “Uplift,” where you get points for clicking on positive words, and lose points when selecting negative emotions. “Today’s Victories”, another Happify exercise, involves listing the highlights of your day and how they positively affected you.

SEE ALSO: To Be Healthy, All You Have To Do Is Be Happy

These activities are all aimed at boosting users’ optimism and helping them focus on positive emotions. According to Happify, happiness is something that can be taught – a habit that the brain can be trained to maintain. The founders also claim that 86 percent of the app’s users become happier within two months.

O’Daddy: Put down your phone, spend time with your kids

Most parents know the feeling of guilt when they come home late from work or answer emails on their smartphones when their kids are around. Work-life balance is already challenging enough and smartphones have made the line nearly disappear.

“My kids are an infinite source of happiness for me and spending quality time together fills us with joy,” Oded Israeli, co-founder and CEO of Israeli startup O’Daddy, tells NoCamels. “But working as a high-tech executive for many years, I saw how my work and smartphone were keeping me away from this happiness. That’s why I decided to create a solution that helps working parents become more effective in their parenthood and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.”

Enter O’Daddy, a new app that helps parents in four main ways: Making time for their kids, suggesting activities, helping them focus on the child, and tracking quality time. O’Daddy sends you intelligent notifications such as “leave work now so you can read Sarah a bedtime story,” or “how about playing checkers with Benjamin today?”

It also suggests ideas for quality-time activities based on your kids’ age, location, and preferences. Once you’ve found an activity, O’Daddy urges you to put your phone down, so you can enjoy more time with your kids. The app also provides suggestions to improve your family happiness.

TalkSpace: Unhappy? Talk to a professional online

If you’re unhappy, often the best course of action is to talk to a trained professional. Talkspace, founded by Israelis Roni and Oren Frank, provides on-demand help or advice from a licensed therapist via a live online chat feature. Simply type in your question and a Talkspace therapist will write back to you within minutes. The process is anonymous, so you’ll feel secure conversing with your counselor and participating in optional group chats. Round-the-clock access your shrink is also available. Weekly rates start at $25. 

Talkspace also provides couples therapy via its web and mobile platforms, eliminating “the powerful stigma that is still associated with therapy” through anonymity, according to the company. In addition, its members don’t need to wait for an appointment, and they can request to change therapists at any time.

talkspace therapy

Vitalitix: Volunteering gives a sense of meaning

One sector of the population that is often ignored is seniors. Vitalitix is a social responsibility platform that connects seniors, caregivers and social angels, following a new phenomenon called “crowd-caring.”  This app enables members to stay connected to their loved ones in times of crisis and also sources volunteers from an existing network to help out. Vitalix also acts as a record-keeping system and as a means for three-way communication between the senior and other parties. With Vitalitix, community members care for other people living near them with whom they have no connection.

Vitalitix enhances seniors’ quality of life by reducing their sense of loneliness, improving their safety and allowing them more freedom to stay independent both at home and out.

There are many ways to become happier. You can spend more time with your kids or connect with a senior. Or you can simply learn to relax – with or without an app. In short: Don’t worry, be happy.

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-startups-make-you-happier/feed/ 0
Prone To Stress? Soon, There Will Be A Blood Test For That http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-stress-blood-test/ http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-stress-blood-test/#respond Tue, 15 Mar 2016 12:23:18 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=43903

Related Posts

]]>
Is your life stressful? A breakthrough Israeli study could lead to the development of a blood test that would tell whether you’re prone to stress. The results could facilitate preventive or early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma, such as combat soldiers, firefighters and policemen.

SEE ALSO: Let’s Relax: Researchers Show Stress Leads To Increase In Autoimmune Diseases

Through genetic research and brain-imaging technologies, researchers from Tel Aviv University have determined that the brain function responsible for regulating our stress response intertwines with molecular regulatory elements to produce a personal profile of resilience to stress.

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry calls for rescue teams at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Our ability to cope with stress depends on how efficiently our body and mind regulate their response to it. Poor recovery from extremely stressful encounters can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or even chronic somatic dysfunction (such as pain and fatigue) in some people. Insight into the multi-level sequence of events — from cellular changes to brain function, emotional responses, and observed behavior — will help medical professionals make more informed decisions concerning interventions.

The biological complexity of stress

“We can’t look at one measurement at one point in time and think we have the whole picture of the stress response,” TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler, who led the study, said in a statement. “This is perhaps the first study to induce stress in the lab and look at resulting changes to three levels of the stress response — neural (seen in brain imaging), cellular (measured through genetics), and experience (assessed through behavioral report).”

Brain - Technology News - Israel

According to TAU’s Dr. Noam Shomron, “vulnerability to stress is not only related to a predisposition due to a certain gene. The relevant gene can be expressed or not expressed according to a person’s experience, environment, and many other context-related factors.”

This type of interaction between the environment and our genome has been conceptualized lately as the ‘epigenetic process.’ “It has become clear that these processes are of an utmost importance to our health and wellbeing, and are probably, in some cases, above and beyond our predispositions,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Mom’s Stress During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Levels

The research for this study was conducted on 49 healthy young male adults. Researchers integrated the analysis of fMRI images of brain function during an acute social stress task and also measured levels of microRNAs — small RNAs that exert potent regulatory effects — obtained in a blood test before and three hours after the induced stress.

According to TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser, “20 minutes after the stress drill ended, we had two groups: The sustainers, those still stressed, and the recovered, those no longer stressed. The sustainers either didn’t go back to baseline or took much longer to do so.”

The researchers found that a specific alteration in the expression of miR-29c, a certain microRNA, was greater among the stress sustainers, implying a marker of slow recovery. Intriguingly, this change corresponded with modified connectivity of a major stress regulation node in the brain, the vento-medial prefrontal cortex.

Brain-guided treatment based on a blood test

“We all need to react to stress; it’s healthy to react to something considered a challenge or a threat,” said Hendler. “The problem is when you don’t recover in a day, or a week, or more. This indicates your brain and/or body do not regulate properly and have a hard time returning to homeostasis (i.e., a balanced baseline). We found that this recovery involves both neural and epigenetic/cellular mechanisms, together contributing to our subjective experience of the stress.”

Health News - Genome Compiler: Designing Life On your Computer

According to Hendler, “knowing the brain metric that corresponds to such genetic vulnerability will make it possible to develop a personalized plan for brain-guided treatment based on a blood test.”

Added Shomron: “If you can identify through a simple blood test those likely to develop maladaptive responses to stress, you can offer a helpful prevention or early intervention.”

The study, recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, was led by TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler and Dr. Noam Shomron. Research for the study was conducted by TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser and Dr. Shira Modai.

Photos: Preston Keres

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/03/israeli-stress-blood-test/feed/ 0
Missbeez To Bring On-Demand Beauty Services To Your Home, Office http://nocamels.com/2016/03/missbeez-on-demand-beauty-services/ http://nocamels.com/2016/03/missbeez-on-demand-beauty-services/#respond Tue, 08 Mar 2016 14:07:37 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=43808

Related Posts

]]>
On average, American women spend seven hours a week on beauty. However, many businesswomen and working moms don’t have enough time to pamper themselves, and many other women simply cannot afford the luxury of beauty salons.

Enter Missbeez, an Israeli startup that allows the busy women of today to order beauty services to their offices or homes, so they don’t have to put their packed schedules on halt.

SEE ALSO: The Most Powerful Women Engineers In The World

foot

To start using Missbeez, simply download the free mobile app, choose the beauty service you need, as well as the time and location that fits your schedule. Instead of needing to schedule an appointment way in advance and then spending time to get to and from the salon, users are able to have the magic of a salon sent right to their door. Missbeez currently offers nail and hair treatments but is expecting to add makeup and hair design in the coming weeks.

But the benefits of Missbeez are not limited to career women – the cosmeticians gain something as well. “We have a community of busy women who are our customers and a community of independent women who are our suppliers,” CEO Maya Gura tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: International Women’s Day: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?
misbeez nail service in office

Turning female inmates into independent businesswomen 

After working for several startups, female entrepreneur Gura decided to take a break from the rat race and spend a few years working as a prison criminologist with female inmates who were looking to rebuild their lives and find stable jobs.

Gura tried to raise funds to help these women, but was unable to raise enough to truly make a difference and help them gain the independence they needed to make it on their own. She wanted to create a business that would allow women to have flexibility in their work schedule, while making a respectable living to care for themselves and their families. Shortly thereafter, in 2015, she started her on-demand beauty service, now known as Missbeez.

The cosmeticians who work for Missbeez not only have a flexible schedule but are also able to profit much more than if they worked in a salon, according to the company. Due to overhead expenses, the profit margin for a beauty salon owner is roughly 15 percent, whereas Missbeez cosmeticians earn 80 percent of the gross revenue, according to Missbeez.

What makes this new enterprise special is that it is “entirely focused on women,” Gura says, “unlike other startups, dominated by men.”

missbeez

Connecting women with no time to women with no resources

According to Gura and CTO Gil Bouhnick, their startup simplifies life for busy businesswomen but also helps women who struggle to make ends meet. “It connects people who have time but no resources to people who don’t have time but have lots of resources,” Gura says.

The budding startup has already received $1.3 million in funds from private investors, according to Gura; currently available in Israel, Missbeez will soon be available in major European cities starting with London and Barcelona.

Hope your city is next!

Photos and video: Missbeez, Norwalk Hospital

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/03/missbeez-on-demand-beauty-services/feed/ 0
Even On eBay, Women Earn Less Than Men, Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/02/ebay-israeli-study-gender-inequality/ http://nocamels.com/2016/02/ebay-israeli-study-gender-inequality/#respond Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:01:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=43631

Related Posts

]]>
Women earn less than men, and this sad fact of life – that undoubtedly needs to change – also applies to the earnings of women sellers on the popular e-commerce website eBay.

SEE ALSO: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?

A new Israeli study shows that even the newest, most democratic way to make money online is flawed when it comes to gender equality. The findings reveal that, on average, a female seller receives about 80 cents for every dollar a male seller receives when selling an identical new product through an eBay auction. When selling the same used product, women receive 97 cents on the dollar.

Ebay headquarters

eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California

Analyzing several product categories, the researchers also found that in some categories women earn even less than 80 cents on the dollar: Jewelry and watches; gift cards and coupons; and sports memorabilia, to name a few.

SEE ALSO: These 10 Female Israeli Tech Leaders Will Blow You Away

Conducted by Tel Aviv University‘s Dr. Tamar Kricheli-Katz and Dr. Tali Regev (also a lecturer at IDC Herzliya), the study examined transactions conducted on eBay from 2009 to 2012, in order to see whether male and female sellers on the site made the same amount of money when selling identical items. The researchers examined over 630,000 auction transactions.

In line with the general inequality

Although gender inequality is a well-documented, widespread phenomenon, little is known about gender disparities in product markets. This study is among the first to use actual market data to study the behavior of women and men as sellers and buyers and differences in market outcomes. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

The pay gap found in the TAU study is similar to the overall earnings ratio among men and women in the US; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, men earn 25 percent more than women.

Discerning the gender of the seller

It’s important to note that as a policy, eBay does not reveal the gender of its sellers. The researchers attribute the price differences to “the ability of buyers to discern the gender of the seller.”

The study presents results from an experiment that shows that people accurately identify the gender of sellers on the basis of typical information provided in postings, such as the name of the seller. The researchers supplement their analysis with an additional off-eBay experiment showing that, in a controlled setting, people are willing to pay less for money-value gift cards when they are sold by women rather than men.

An unconscious buying decision

Kricheli-Katz believes this bias doesn’t stem from any conscious decisions on the part of buyers. “We actually think that most of it is unconscious,” she said in a statement. “The fact is that most of us have biases. We hold them unconsciously, and it makes it difficult to change.”

Equality scales weigh gender justice and sex issues

 

As technology and e-commerce advance, we can only hope that democratization processes in the online marketplace will eventually help close the gender gap.

Photos: Coolcaesar

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/02/ebay-israeli-study-gender-inequality/feed/ 0
Why Do Successful People Become Corrupt? Winning Leads To Dishonesty, New Study Finds http://nocamels.com/2016/02/corruption-dishonesty-competition-winners-study/ http://nocamels.com/2016/02/corruption-dishonesty-competition-winners-study/#respond Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:30:33 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=43114

Related Posts

]]>
This week, US presidential candidates are battling out the last days before the New Hampshire primary. Ironically timed, a new Israeli study shows that winning a competition may encourage dishonest behavior, “stemming from an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners.” And they said you were a sore loser.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Study Busts The Myth: Male And Female Brains Are The Same

When researchers Dr. Amos Schurr and Prof. Ilana Ritov asked the question: “How could it be that successful and distinguished people turn corrupt?” they hypothesized that social comparison would be the influencing factor. “What does it mean to win a competition?” Dr. Schurr asks NoCamels. “If you win a competition, it’s because you came first; you were better than the person who came second.” This kind of social comparison — as opposed to achieving a goal for which there could be not one but many winners — is what the researchers believe leads to dishonesty.

8448086741_88d163febd_k copy

A game of craps

To test their hypothesis, Schurr and Ritov invited students into their lab to compete in games of dice. Players were randomly paired, and one person, the “thrower,” was told to take money from an envelope according to the sum of the numbers on the dice and leave the remainder for the “receiver.” However, only the thrower could see the dice, allowing them to cheat and claim more than they should have. In other words, if the thrower cheated, it was at the expense of the receiver. For full disclosure, the envelope contained one-shekel coins ($0.25) — not dollar bills — but the small amount was enough to create a morally compromising scenario, as the results show.

23831556516_9d7c3bb30e_h

In a separate trial, the researchers randomly mixed up the paired players so that the throwers did not know whether their new partners won or lost the first competition. The results of the second competition showed that “those who won [in the first round] over-claimed money, and those who lost did not over-claim,” Schurr explains.

SEE ALSO: Train Your Brain To Be Happy With New App Happify

To further investigate the social dynamics, the researchers set up another experiment, this one with Trivial Pursuit. Players who answered more than 10 “very hard” questions were given a pair of JVC earbuds (arguably a better incentive than a few shekels), and then paired randomly to play dice. The researchers found that players’ individual performance on the trivia task, in which there was more than one winner, was unrelated to their claims in the dice game.

Dishonesty unpacked

Schurr’s and Ritov’s conclusion, in no uncertain terms: “Winning a competition engenders subsequent unrelated unethical behavior.”

“Winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task… The effect holds only when winning means performing better than others, but not when success is determined by chance or in reference to a personal goal,” the authors of the study wrote.

What can explain the results? Schurr and Ritov suspect entitlement is at play. “When you think you’re better than others, you think you deserve more than others,” Schurr says. Their analysis shows that participants who recalled winning a match felt more entitled than participants who had recalled achieving a personal goal. So it’s not greed or ambition that engenders dishonest behavior; rather, it’s the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment — even above the law.

8114505737_f3f0d447a5_b

To mitigate the problem, Schurr suggests doing away with social comparison. If the 100 meter dash record is 9.58 seconds, then create a race in which the goal is to run it in 9.40 seconds. “When you achieve this goal, you think about the goal rather than being better than others.”

Ok, so we’ve reduced doping at the Olympics. Now, how about the presidential race?

Ben Gurion University’s Dr. Amos Schurr and Hebrew University’s Prof. Ilana Ritov recently published their study in the scientific journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Photos: National Archieves and Records AdministrationChris PotterDisney | ABC Television GroupSebastian David Tingkær

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/02/corruption-dishonesty-competition-winners-study/feed/ 0
Does Social Impact Investing Pay Off? Israeli Investors, Entrepreneurs Weigh In http://nocamels.com/2016/01/social-impact-investment-israel-startups/ http://nocamels.com/2016/01/social-impact-investment-israel-startups/#respond Mon, 18 Jan 2016 11:01:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=41031

Related Posts

]]>
Is impact investing more than just a buzzword? The term has been tossed around in the media as a hybrid between investment and public service — but this definition can be contested.

SEE ALSO: These Israeli Companies Fight World Hunger With Innovative Technologies

In his recent visit to Israel, veteran venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen explained at the inaugural Impact Investing Israel conference that social outcomes could be tied to financial returns. “If in the 19th century and before investors measured financial return, and if in the 20th century they measured risk and return, [then in] the 21st century, we’re already measuring risk, return, and impact.”

Sir Ronald Cohen

Sir Ronald Cohen

The jury is still out as to whether social impact necessarily correlates to net positive financial returns. However, Cohen seems to be aiming for a more basic point. If investors can consider their social impact alongside their profits, then they should – what in the economic literature has been termed the “double bottom line.”

Social impact champion

Cohen has championed the model of social impact bonds (SIBs), which like traditional bonds, are issued by governments and offer financial return to investors at a relatively low risk. Yet, unlike traditional bonds – the return of which depends on interest rates at the date of maturity – SIBs are correlated to the achievement of pre-agreed social outcomes.

In November 2014, Social Finance Israel (a branch of Cohen’s London-based advisory firm Social Finance) and the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation announced the creation of Israel’s first SIB, which will aim at reducing the dropout rates of computer science students from Israel’s University of Haifa and from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Although the rate of return was not yet disclosed, it is expected to range between five and 10 percent, similar to the 50 SIBs in the UK and the US.

More than one model

While Cohen continues to advocate the public-private partnership that social impact bonds foster, other venture capital funds have been crafting their own model of impact investing. “There is a huge leverage on every dollar you invest in technology,” according to Chemi Peres, founding partner in the Israeli venture capital fund Pitango. The return on investment (ROI) could be higher than other industries (if the startup succeeds), such as retail or healthcare (30 percent higher by some estimates), but more importantly, if the technology is adopted, it scales quickly.

The speed of change that technology facilitates is key to social impact, argues Eytan Stibbe, founder and board member of the Centre for African Studies at Ben Gurion University. “The biggest cost for housing is the speed,” he said at the conference. “If you succeed in building fast, you can save the majority of your costs.”

Kora Housing in Angola, funded by Vital Capital

Kora Housing in Angola, funded by Vital Capital

Also a founding partner in Vital Capital, a $350 million private equity fund that invests in Sub-Saharan Africa, Stibbe has led a $92 million dollar investment to build 40,000 affordable, high-quality housing units in urban areas in Angola. The sale of the first 15,000 houses has exceeded $2 billion, and the fund has already recouped over half of its initial investment.

Peres has championed a similar model of investment in Impact First, a social impact investment fund, which he leads with Yair Safrai. The fund has already invested in five companies, including Catalyst AgTech, an Israeli company that has developed a technology that minimizes the environmental impact of agrochemical products, without reducing crop yields.

“We’re acting like a venture capital fund,” Peres said at the conference. “We conduct due diligence at every company we’re looking at. We want to know that the impact comes first and that making money is just an ability, because if you cannot sustain that business maybe we shouldn’t really get involved.”

Peres’ point is not uncontentious, and begs the question: Are entrepreneurs and investors in it for profit or impact? Renowned economist and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has repeatedly argued that the government’s job of ensuring its citizens’ social welfare cannot be left at the doorstep of private companies. “To credit these corporations with being ‘socially responsible’ is to stretch the term to mean anything a company might do to increase profits if, in doing so, it also happens to have some beneficent impact on the rest of society,” he writes in his book Supercapitalism.

Community based savings bank in Cambodia

Grounded optimism

Entrepreneurs, however, have not been warded off by the unconventional paradigm of private investment for public good. Yossi Pollak is a case in point. When he set out to create a faster, more accurate malaria test, he not only had to engineer a superior test; the INSEAD graduate also had to ensure that the company he founded, Sight Diagnostics, would be profitable in Sub-Saharan Africa — a region most startups would not even consider when drafting their five-year growth plan.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s SightDx Detects Malaria In Blood In Only Three Minutes

However, Sight Diagnostics (SightDx) is one Israeli company that understands its value not only in terms of revenue and market share, but also in light of its impact on society. That is, they believe that their company should make profit and bring about a positive social change.

“A lot of Israelis are looking to work and to create a change,” says Ronny Faivelovitz, founder of Impact Investment Israel, an advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs and investors break into the field of impact investing. “Before, they would have had to stop working and go to the nonprofit sector. Now, there is a way that they can do things they like, earn money, and create a change.”

Most entrepreneurs don’t think of designing a product that has a social impact, but SightDx has been able to develop a sustainable, scalable business model for a malaria test kit. And so did Israeli startup Breezometer, which aims to raise awareness to and reduce air pollution around the globe.
SightDx

Sight Diagnostics’ computer vision blood test platform

However, these startups don’t pretend to be nonprofit organizations, says Revital Hendler, co-founder of Breezometer, which has developed an app that measures pollution. “In the end, you have to be like an ordinary startup.” Breezometer’s lead investors Entree Capital and Launchpad Digital Health are not charities, she stresses; rather, the founders won the investment by presenting a “sustainable and scalable” business model.

It seems that even if it’s the responsibility of the government to tackle social issues, it’s hard to ignore the work of companies like Sight Diagnostics, which in the footsteps of the Gates Foundation, is working to eradicate a disease that traditional charities and global health organizations have so far been able to slow, but not end.

Here’s to many more Israeli social startups!

Photos: Brett Matthews (via Wikipedia Commons), Sight Diagnostics, UK Cabinet Office, Crown Copyright, Shiri Paamony Eshel, Vital Capital

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2016/01/social-impact-investment-israel-startups/feed/ 0
Israeli Non-Profit Ofanim Turns Old Buses Into High-Tech Classrooms On Wheels http://nocamels.com/2015/12/ofanim-buses-high-tech-classrooms/ http://nocamels.com/2015/12/ofanim-buses-high-tech-classrooms/#respond Mon, 21 Dec 2015 11:17:00 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=42001

Related Posts

]]>
Quality education is one of the most important foundations upon which people build their futures. And yet, in Israel, like in many other countries, there is an educational gap between rural and metropolitan communities. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 83 percent of children who live in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area matriculate, compared to only 62 percent of children who live in the periphery.

Enter Ofanim, a non-profit organization established in 2004 to bring education to the places that need it the most. Using buses that have been retrofitted into mobile study labs, Ofanim runs educational enrichment programs for hundreds of children living in Israel’s northern and southern regions.

ofanim

In these classrooms on wheels, instructors are paired together and teach small groups of children ranging from third to sixth grade about science and technology. During the academic year 2014-2015, more than 1,200 children took part in the program covering a broad range of subjects, including medicine, comics, computerized animation and robotics.

SEE ALSO: Israeli High-Tech Method Revolutionizing US Education?

Funded by Israeli and US donors, including Friends of Ofanim, Bank Hapoalim, The Ted Arison Family Foundation, Applied Materials, and Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq, Ofanim maintains an annual budget of approximately $1.5 million to run six buses and a fleet of vans that transport the equipment from one town to another.

ofanim

Children who have participated in the program have described it as “a small place with big dreams,” and several independent evaluation reports show that the program positively affects children’s self-image, self-confidence and motivation to succeed. Their work has had such a wide-reaching impact that the Israeli Ministry of Welfare granted the organization its Excellence Award in 2009.

Most of the instructors are undergraduate and graduate students who “go through a strict and demanding process of simulations and preparations before being selected,” Adir Kan, CEO of Ofanim, tells NoCamels. “They are socially oriented and very dedicated to the children and our cause.”

Ofanim was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Haim Dahan, who grew up in Neighborhood D, a deprived neighborhood in the Southern city of Be’er Sheva. While raising him and his nine siblings, his mother was a cook at a local community center. There she met Madeline Bergman, the wife of Prof. Samuel Bergman, the founder of the first computer science department at Ben Gurion University. When Dahan’s mother invited the professor and his wife for lunch, Prof. Bergman asked Dahan if he knew anything about computers. Dahan, who was in his first year of high school, replied that he had no clue.

“A sense of direction”

Soon thereafter, the professor invited Dahan into the university and provided him with the tools needed to acquire a basic education in computers. This experience forever changed Dahan’s life; it opened up doors that may have been closed had he not met the professor. According to Dahan, Prof. Bergman is “a person who gave me a sense of direction, and who ignited my imagination and hope for a better future.” As a result of Bergman’s influence, Dahan wanted to give other children the opportunity that he was given.

SEE ALSO: Education Is The Name Of The Game

Now in its 11th year, Ofanim is experimenting with a new educational model recommended by Prof. Gad Yair, head of the education department at the Hebrew University. “There are three main changes we are going to implement into the organization: Accompanying children from third grade until high school, integrating children’s parents and teachers into the program, and including additional programs for building up personal development skills such as debate and ‘out of the box’ thinking,” says Kan.

… More like ‘out of the bus’ thinking in this case!

Photos: Courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/12/ofanim-buses-high-tech-classrooms/feed/ 0
Train Your Brain To Be Happy With New App Happify http://nocamels.com/2015/12/app-happify-makes-you-happier/ http://nocamels.com/2015/12/app-happify-makes-you-happier/#respond Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:29:22 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=41165

Related Posts

]]>
Does your everyday routine stress you out? Do you happen to feel frustrated, angry or depressed? In recent years, a slew of apps have sprung up to target the millions of users who feel their lives could be just that little bit more happy. Now an Israeli team has developed yet another cool app that trains your brain to think positively and become happier.

Following the STAGE model, which stands for Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize, the Happify app first asks you to insert basic information like gender, age, occupation, as well as your ability to cope with hardships and your level of life satisfaction. Then, the app creates a personalized “track” for you to follow, which it says will lead to a higher level happiness.

SEE ALSO: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy

The tracks range from “find more ‘me’ time”, to “cope better with stress,” and “mindfulness for beginners.” Each track consists of a series of games, such as “Uplift,” where you get points for clicking on positive words, and lose points when selecting negative emotions. Also available are exercises like “Today’s Victories,” where you list the highlights of your day and how they positively affected you.

SEE ALSO: To Be Healthy, All You Have To Do Is Be Happy

These activities are all aimed at boosting users’ optimism and helping them focus on positive emotions. The app’s creators claim that completing the different activities can help you release tension and relax, and allow you to just stop for a minute and think of the moments you spent with others, encouraging the development of compassion and kindness.

“What happens is, you develop these habits to become more aware, to become more grateful, to really focus on what drives you,” Happify co-founder Ofer Leidner recently told the New Yorker. He noted that every exercise proposed by the app includes a section dedicated to the scientific explanation of why such activity works.

happify app

According to Happify, these are all key steps in the educational process to become a happier individual who leads a more fulfilling, meaningful life. In their opinion, happiness is something that can be taught – a habit that our brain can be trained to maintain. The founders also claim that 86 percent of the app’s users become happier within two months.

100,000 users – and counting

The project was developed in New York by two Tel Aviv University alumni, Leidner and Tomer Ben-Kiki, together with entrepreneur Andy Parsons. The startup includes a team of six, assisted by an advisory board of four scientific advisers, three medical practitioners and five strategic advisers, mainly psychologists, neuroscientists, life coaches and business experts. Currently, Happify has 100,000 users.

The games and exercises proposed by the app were developed by experts in gaming with collaboration from experts in positive psychology, a discipline that focuses on personal growth and self-improvement with the aim of achieving a better quality of life. This branch of psychology has gained immense popularity thanks to Israeli researcher Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a former lecturer at Harvard and a professor at IDC Herzliya.

Entering a crowded arena 

Founded in 2011, Happify has so far raised nearly $12 million from Bridge Builders Collaborative, Mangrove Capital Partners and other investors. The hefty investment could possibly go toward competing with a growing number of applications in this arena: Happier, MoodKit and Happy Habits.

happiness

Can your smartphone become your shrink? 

Testing the app, NoCamels found that the track “overcome negative thoughts,” actually helped us focus on the positive aspects of life through exercises. However, a few minutes spent playing over a couple of days will not necessarily make you happier; only time will tell whether or not our positive thinking will increase in the long run. According to Happify, most users become happier after a couple of months.

Despite the buzz surrounding the app, some critics doubt that positive thinking and psychological wellbeing can actually be taught through smartphones. Still, you might want to give it a try – the app is free, fun to use and available both for iOS and Android. Plus, it’ll take you away from your Candy Crush addiction and force you to take a deeper look into yourself!

happify app

Photos: Courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/12/app-happify-makes-you-happier/feed/ 0
Grandparents Who Were Stressed As Adolescents Tend To Have Daring Grandchildren, Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2015/12/grandparents-stress-grandchildren-effect-adventurous/ http://nocamels.com/2015/12/grandparents-stress-grandchildren-effect-adventurous/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 12:37:47 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=41742

Related Posts

]]>
As we all know, children inherit physical traits from their parents. But a new Israeli study suggests that stress experienced by the parents may be passed down not only to their children, but also to their grandchildren, a surprising conclusion considering the fact that the stress experienced is not part of the parents’ or children’s DNA. Or is it?

A team of researchers led by University of Haifa’s Dr. Inna Gaisler-Salomon found that exposing female rats to stress during adolescence, before they ever become pregnant, causes behavioral changes among their direct offspring when the latter reach adulthood. The effects vary, and include a more daring, adventurous behavior in grandchildren.

climber, mountains

The researchers also found that stress-reactive hormone Corticosterone (corresponding to Cortisol in humans) expresses itself differently in those animals whose parents were exposed to stress.

In their latest study, the researchers examined whether the effects of stress could affect not only children but also grandchildren. The researchers exposed young female rats to changes in temperature and in their routine for a week, elevating their level of stress.

It’s important to note that their direct offspring grew up without any stress-inducing intervention, as did their grandchildren. The third generation of rats (the grandchildren) underwent tests that measured anxiety-like behavior and the acquisition of fear. In addition, the levels of Corticosterone were measured, as well as the expression of its gene, CRF1.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Help Create First 3D Map Of The Brain

Rotating_brain_colored gif

The findings indicate that the effects of stress on the first-generation mother rat continue to influence her grandchildren on all three levels: Behavioral, hormonal, and the manifestation of the CFR1 gene.

On the behavioral level, the third generation descendants (mainly females) were, perhaps surprisingly, more daring, spent more time in the frightening parts of their maze, and exhibited less anxious behavior in various tests when compared with the offspring of rats that were not exposed to stress. In addition, the offspring of the rats exposed to stress demonstrated a more rapid acquisition of fear relative to the descendants of the control group.

“The rats whose grandmothers were exposed to stress displayed more adaptive behavior to their surroundings,” Gaisler-Salomon said in a statement. “Wherever greater curiosity was needed to improve their chances of survival, they displayed curiosity, but the moment they were exposed to a frightening event, they learned quickly and reacted more extremely to this event.”

However, it is impossible to talk in a dichotomous fashion about the positive or negative impact of the stress their grandmother was exposed to. “This is a complex effect that depends on the context of the situation,” she says.

Each generation is affected differently 

The study also found that behavioral differences among the first generation of rats which were exposed to trauma were different from those found among the second generation. In other words, the effect of the trauma is transmitted between generations, but it affects each generation differently.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary: Israeli Researcher Says He Can ‘Erase’ Memory Of Addiction

stress cartoon man at desk

“Adolescence is a very sensitive period, and our studies show that exposure to stress at this stage of life affects not only the affected female, but also the behavior and stress hormone levels of her first and second-generation offspring,” Gaisler-Salomon says. “Our studies further suggest that there are processes unrelated to maternal care that can explain how information is transmitted from generation to generation. The exciting new field of epigenetics can explain some of the findings.”

Epigenetics is a sub-specialty of genetics that examines how genes and their expressions are affected by environmental factors. Initially studied by psychologists and developmental biologists in the first half of the 20th century, the field has garnered renewed attention now that scientists have genetic mapping capabilities and the computing power that enables researchers to analyze millions of genetic data points. Though the field is still relatively nascent, the growing body of research is beginning to shed light on how individual genes may be manipulated by environmental factors, thereby leading to depression, addiction and a host of other neurological disorders yet to be fully understood by scientists.

Photos: Eric Wienke; Jean Pierre Gallot

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/12/grandparents-stress-grandchildren-effect-adventurous/feed/ 0
Israeli Study Busts The Myth: Male And Female Brains Are The Same http://nocamels.com/2015/12/study-male-female-brains-same/ http://nocamels.com/2015/12/study-male-female-brains-same/#respond Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:19:39 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=41693

Related Posts

]]>
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, how come their brains aren’t different? A new Israeli study shatters the myth, showing that there’s no difference between the brain of a guy to that of a girl.

Historically, men and women have served different societal roles, but the question of how far these categories extend into human biology has not been resolved. Now, a team of researchers led by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Daphna Joel has shown that if you look at the overall structure of the brain, there’s no such thing as a “male” brain and a “female” brain. Simply put, brains cannot be divided into gender-based categories.

SEE ALSO: Study Highlights Difference In Social Perception Between The Sexes

brain

Granted, some features of the brain are more common in women, some more common in men, and some are common in both. But while specific parts of the brain reveal differences based on gender, an individual brain only rarely has exclusively “male” or “female” traits, the study finds.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Help Create First 3D Map Of The Brain

Joel and her team of researchers used MRI scans of more than 1,400 brains, focusing on anatomical traits like tissue thickness or weight in different parts of the brain. They focused on those traits that showed the most obvious gender differences, dividing the scores into a predominantly male zone, a predominantly female zone, and an intermediate range.

The researchers found that individual brains rarely ended up exclusively in one of the three categories. The researchers also analyzed psychological and behavioral scores from two prior studies covering more than 5,000 participants. The results were similar.

“Gender differences in the brain are of high social interest”

Overall, the results show that “human brains do not belong to one of the two distinct categories” of male and female, the researchers concluded. The study was recently published in the scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Gender differences in the brain are of high social interest because their presence is typically assumed to prove that humans belong to two distinct categories, not only in terms of their genitalia, and thus justify differential treatment of males and females,” according to the study. “Here, we show that, although there are gender differences in brain and behavior, humans and human brains are comprised of unique ‘mosaics’ of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males.”

Prof. Daphna Joel, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Daphna Joel, Tel Aviv University

Photos: Tel Aviv University

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/12/study-male-female-brains-same/feed/ 0
Passion Is More Important For Professional Success Than Talent, Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2015/11/passion-important-for-career/ http://nocamels.com/2015/11/passion-important-for-career/#respond Wed, 04 Nov 2015 14:39:39 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=40996

Related Posts

]]>
If you think your talent is the key to advancing your career, think again. A new Israeli study finds that talent is actually less important than sheer passion when it comes to professional success.

The study, led by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Daniel Heller, has found that young people with strong callings are more likely to take risks, persist, and ultimately get jobs in their chosen fields, satisfying both their personal and professional career needs. The researchers also found that those who exhibit a passion for these interests in their teens are more likely to be successful later on, regardless of their inherent talent.

SEE ALSO: Employees Most Honest At The Beginning Of Week

business woman working

The heart vs. the head

“Given the economic reality today, people commonly face trade-offs as they make decisions that pit the two sides of careers — the ‘heart,’ or intrinsic side, and the ‘head,’ or extrinsic side — against one another,” Heller said in a statement. “We wanted to examine people who chose to follow more challenging career paths, such as those in the arts, and assess their chances of ‘making it.'”

The researchers surveyed 450 high-school music students at two elite US summer music programs over the course of 11 years (2001-2012).

“We found that participants with stronger callings toward music in adolescence were likely to assess their musical abilities more favorably and were more likely to pursue music professionally as adults regardless of actual musical ability,” Heller said in a statement.

Even so, difficulties in pursuing their dreams were still evident. According to the study, participants who were involved in music professionally, even at a minimum, earned considerably less (a gap of $12,000 per year on average) than freelancers or amateurs who pursued their musical interests outside of work. But they also reported similar or greater satisfaction with their jobs and lives.

For those with strong callings, personal rewards such as satisfaction may matter more than professional rewards such as income.

musician playing guitar

“If you experience a strong calling, you need to be cognizant of your relative preferences for intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards and potential trade-offs between the two, then decide accordingly,” according to Heller. “However, we found that, in certain fields, one’s drive or passion afforded a competitive advantage over others, even when unrelated to objective ability or talent.”

SEE ALSO: Predicting A Student’s Grade According To Their Social Ties

“In general, society benefits from an excess of talented people competing for a limited number of positions in winner-take-all labor markets,” he continued. “Individuals who ‘win’ in this market are exemplary. Although individuals entering this type of market eventually ‘lose’ in extrinsic terms by definition, they still benefit from intrinsic rewards and garner subjective value and well-being, such as the satisfaction derived from attempting to fulfill their calling, even for a short time.”

The study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Shoshana Dobrow Riza of the London School of Economics, was recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The researchers are currently examining the implications of career choices on overall well-being.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/11/passion-important-for-career/feed/ 0
Israeli Study: New Technology Can Protect Schools, Colleges By Identifying Potential Shooters http://nocamels.com/2015/10/israeli-technologies-identify-school-shooters/ http://nocamels.com/2015/10/israeli-technologies-identify-school-shooters/#respond Mon, 12 Oct 2015 06:44:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=40411

Related Posts

]]>
Over the past three years, there have been more than one hundred school, college and university shootings in the US. Just last week, two college shootings, in Arizona and in Texas, left scores dead.

While parents and politicians are working towards increased gun control – so far with little or no success at the federal level – some Israeli researchers are perfecting their possibly controversial technique to identify potential school shooters before they actually commit a heinous crime, thus preventing future tragedies.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company X-Test Trains Mice To Detect Explosives At Airports

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University recently presented an automated technique that scans students’ social media texts to determine if they could become dangerous. The technique, which profiles school shooters, was recently published in the academic journal Frontiers in Forensic Psychiatry. In the study, BGU researchers selected writings by six shooters involved in a number of high-profile scenarios worldwide, including the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. They then analyzed and compared these with writings by 6,000 young bloggers and tasked a computer to identify the shooters.

Virginia Tech candlelight vigil in 2007

Candlelight vigil at Virginia Tech in 2007

The tool developed at BGU was able to significantly narrow down the pool of suspects (to 3 percent of bloggers), which included the writings of all six shooters. This method could reduce the effort needed to identify shooters or solo terrorists. Since it’s automatic, it enables screening a massive number of texts in a short time, which could aid in the detection efforts.

SEE ALSO: BriefCam Helps To Quickly Catch Terrorists

But scanning and analyzing students’ blog posts using advanced technology to prevent crime could be a step too far for some privacy proponents.

“While ethical considerations are inevitable, we can definitely imagine a situation in which parents give the school permission to scan their teenagers’ social media pages under certain limitations,” BGU’s Prof. Yair Neuman, said in a statement. “In this context, using our automatic screening procedure, a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist may automatically get red flag warnings for students whose texts express a high level of potential danger.”

Neuman emphasizes that his technique should be used in combination with other forensic methods: “The proposed methodology does not pretend to solve the enormous difficulties in profiling and identifying school shooters, but modestly adds another tool to the tool kit of forensic psychiatry and law enforcement agencies.”

kid in school library

Photos: Ben Townsendwww.audio-luci-store.it

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/10/israeli-technologies-identify-school-shooters/feed/ 0
Forbes Names Two Israelis In Hollywood’s ‘Most Powerful Powerbrokers’ http://nocamels.com/2015/08/israeli-hollywood-powerbrokers/ http://nocamels.com/2015/08/israeli-hollywood-powerbrokers/#respond Sun, 23 Aug 2015 10:55:37 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=40057

Related Posts

]]>
In a major feat for the Israeli entertainment industry, two Israeli billionaires made Forbes list of the fifteen richest Hollywood powerbrokers. Well-known Israeli billionaire and entertainment mogul Haim Saban was ranked sixth on the list of Hollywood’s string-pullers, only to be topped in fourth place by the Israeli-American businessman and CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. International media influencer Rupert Murdoch led the list, including other big movie business names like Sumner Redstone and the creator of the legendary Star Wars epic, George Lucas.

haimsaban

Haim Saban

From power rangers to power producer

The ranking of two Israelis on the list makes it clear that a country the size of New Jersey has more influence on what you see on the big screen than you may think. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, Haim Saban, the 143rd richest man in the world, made his money as a television producer, creating the wildly popular children’s TV show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”. An Egyptian immigrant to Israel, Saban started off as a music producer, only to move into the movie and television business. In fact, Saban composed the infamous musical theme to “Power Rangers” movie himself, under the pseudonym ‘Kussa Mahchi’. After moving to the United States, Saban and Israeli Shuki Levi composed some of the top children’s tunes on television, including the theme to “Inspector Gadget” and “MASH”, among others.

SEE ALSO: Find Out Which Hollywood Celebs Are Betting Their Money On The Startup Nation

powerrangers

“Go, go Power Rangers”

Saban’s biggest payday came when he sold Fox Family Worldwide to The Walt Disney Company for $5.3 billion. Soon, the network was renamed ABC Family, now a popular television station in the United States, a deal from which Saban reportedly profited a whopping $1.6 billion. In addition, Saban is the former owner of a controlling stake in Germany’s largest telecommunications company ProSiebenSat.1, and is the current owner of the largest Spanish-language media company, Univision Communications. He also owns an Indonesian media company, as well as the successful marketing firm, Saban Brands.

Saban has spent a large portion of his money on philanthropic causes, many to do with Israel. He established the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in 2002, a think tank that is part of the Brookings Institute, and he sponsors a training seminar on Middle East affairs.

isaacperlmutter

Isaac Perlmutter

An Israeli marvel

If you think that Saban’s Hollywood miracle story is impressive, wait until you hear Isaac Perlmutter’s. With a net worth higher than Saban’s, valued at $4 billion, Perlmutter is a lesser-known, but highly important figure behind the scenes in Hollywood. The CEO of Marvel Entertainment and the owner of Marvel Toys, Perlmutter is responsible for releasing superhero movies like “The Avengers” that the box offices go crazy over.

His own story of success is truly remarkable. Perlmutter moved to the United States after completing his military service with just $250 in his pocket. He soon began to make a living in New York by standing outside of Jewish cemeteries, asking if bereaved families would like him to lead funeral services in Hebrew for a small fee. Eventually, he got into the toy and beauty product business, making his fortune as a wholesaler of toys and other goods.

SEE ALSO: 6 TV Shows You Probably Didn’t Know Were Made In Israel

His involvement in a number of toy and special goods companies like Revco and Remington helped him build his name and in 1993, Perlmutter was appointed to Marvel Comics’ Board of Directors. When Marvel entered into financial difficulties, Perlmutter and his Israeli business partner Avi Arad fought for control of the company from Carl Icahn and Ron Perelman. By 2005, Perlmutter was already the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, and remains so today, though the company has been a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company since 2009.

avengers2

Marvel’s highly popular series, “The Avengers”.

Beacons for Israeli entertainment

Israelis Saban and Perlmutter are a source of national pride for their determination and success in entering the cut-throat American entertainment industry, but as exemplified in the Forbes list, their influence is far grander. It is highly possible that their can-do attitude has helped Israel’s imports to Hollywood soar into third place, with Israeli television directors, writers, producers and even actors gaining increasing international attention, and praise.

Photos: Jackie SabzevarHaim Saban

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/08/israeli-hollywood-powerbrokers/feed/ 0
Study Shows Know-It-Alls Are More Likely To Accept Falsehoods As Fact http://nocamels.com/2015/08/know-it-alls-more-likely-to-accept-falsehoods/ http://nocamels.com/2015/08/know-it-alls-more-likely-to-accept-falsehoods/#respond Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:03:40 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=39754

Related Posts

]]>
You know those people who claim to know everything, commonly known as “know-it-alls”? Well next time you encounter one you can rest assured that most of what they claim to know is actually false. A new study from Cornell University finds that those who “overclaim”, or think they know everything about a particular topic, are more likely to pretent knowledge of completely false information.

According to the Israeli psychological scientist Stav Atir, who conducted the study, “Our work suggests that the seemingly straightforward task of judging one’s knowledge may not be so simple, particularly for individuals who believe they have a relatively high level of knowledge to begin with,” he said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Study Decodes Viral Content, Finds ‘Memes’ Act Just Like Genes

knowitallimage

For know-it-alls, false facts are hard to spot

The claim seems to be a logical one, but how do you go about testing one’s purported knowledge against their actual knowledge and expertise?

To find out why people make these spurious claims, Atir and colleagues from Cornell and Tulane Universities designed a series of experiments to test out people’s self-perceived knowledge, compared to their actual expertise.

One hundred participants were asked to rate their general knowledge of personal finance, as well as their knowledge of 15 specific financial terms. Most of the terms on the list were real (for example, Roth IRA, inflation, home equity), but the researchers also included three made-up terms (pre-rated stocks, fixed-rate deduction, annualized credit).

As expected, people who saw themselves as financial wizards were most likely to claim expertise of the bogus financial terms that were added into the mix.

“The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms,” Atir said. “The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography.”

“For instance,” Atir explains “people’s assessment of how much they know about a particular biological term will depend in part on how much they think they know about biology in general.”

Catching overclaimers off guard

In another experiment, the researchers warned one set of 49 participants ahead of time that some of the terms on a list would be made up. However, even after receiving the warning, the self-proclaimed experts were more likely to confidently claim familiarity with fake biological terms, such as “meta toxins” and “bio-sexual.”

To confirm that people’s self-perceived expertise was driving their overclaiming, the research team manipulated participants’ sense of knowledge mastery through a geography quiz. Participants were randomly assigned to complete either an easy quiz on iconic US cities, a difficult quiz on very obscure places, or no quiz. Those participants who had completed the easy quiz felt like experts, and reported that they were more knowledgeable about geography in general than those individuals in the other two groups.

SEE ALSO: Children Feel Pleasure At Friends’ Misfortune As Early As Age Two

The participants then rated their familiarity with a list of real—and a few completely fake—US cities.

knowitallwoman

In all three conditions people recognized the real locations, such as Philadelphia and the National Mall. Ironically, those people who had taken the easy quiz, and concluded they were more knowledgeable about US geography, were more likely than the other two groups to claim they were knowledgeable about non-existent locations, such as Cashmere, Oregon.

Know-it-alls risk the danger of knowing less

The research team warns that a tendency to overclaim, especially in self-perceived experts, may actually discourage individuals from educating themselves in precisely those areas in which they consider themselves knowledgeable—leading to potentially disastrous outcomes.

For example, failure to recognize or admit one’s knowledge gaps in the realm of finance or medicine could easily lead to uninformed decisions with devastating consequences for individuals.

“Continuing to explore when and why individuals overclaim may prove important in battling that great menace—not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge,” the research team concludes.

The research, conducted by lead researcher Stav Atir of Cornell University, together with David Dunning and Emily Rosenzweig of Tulane University, was published in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal “Psychological Science”.

Photos:

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/08/know-it-alls-more-likely-to-accept-falsehoods/feed/ 0
Age Dramatically Increases Our Fear Of Everything, Study Reveals http://nocamels.com/2015/06/age-influences-perception-of-fear/ http://nocamels.com/2015/06/age-influences-perception-of-fear/#respond Thu, 04 Jun 2015 13:20:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=38660

Related Posts

]]>
Young people’s brains cope with stress and fear in a completely different way to adults, challenging the assumption that brains of humans of all ages react similarly to fear. Whether it’s hesitancy to ride a roller coaster or the tendency to drive in the slow lane, the study’s findings may finally explain why people tend to become more cautious as they age.

A University of Haifa study conducted on rats found that young rats were able to eliminate fear in the brain more rapidly than adult rats. Adults, on the other hand, continue to feel fear, even after the fearful event has passed.

Until now, conventional wisdom in the field has been that these mechanisms operate in a similar way in young people and adults. However, Prof. Maroun, Prof. Mouna Maroun, head of the Sagol Department of Neurobiology, who conducted the study, explains that she instinctively felt that this assumption was problematic.

     SEE ALSO: Virtual Reality Therapy To Treat Fear Of Flying

oldmanonbike

“It all began when I was knocked my head while I was in a swimming pool – a mild form of trauma, but enough to persuade me not to go back into a swimming pool for a long time. But children who were in the pool and who knocked themselves much more badly than I did didn’t think twice about jumping straight back into the water. When I saw this, I realized that this was something I needed to examine in the laboratory.”

According to the study, this increased fear with age is related to the plasticity or flexibility of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the area responsible for complex cognitive behavior. “Childhood is a period when the brain and the prefrontal cortex are still developing. So the mechanism of action in adults and young people [is not] the same,” emphasizes Prof. Maroun.

Decoding the mechanism of fear extinction

During exposure to a scary or stressful experience, two cerebral mechanisms enable us to respond efficiently to fear, on the one hand, but also to return to normality once the event ends. During the event, a mechanism located in the amygdale, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, effectively tells us that we are in a frightening situation and must act (fight or flight). After the event, a fear extinction process begins in the prefrontal cortex and effectively returns the body to its routine state.

When the latter mechanism fails to function properly, we continue to experience reactions of fear while we no longer need it, leading to symptoms of anxiety and post-trauma. According to the study, this explains why adults are usually more cautious in comparison to children regarding extreme or challenging activities, because their brains delay the fear extinction mechanism.

The young and the fearless

In the study, young (postweanling) and adult rats were exposed to a mild traumatic event. Some of them were then placed on an elevated platform, creating exposure to stress, while the control groups were not exposed to stress.

The findings showed that the adult animals reacted as expected: strong fear responses were seen by comparison to the rats that were not exposed to trauma. The group that was not exposed to stress extinguished fear more rapidly than the group that was exposed to stress. But among the young rats the picture was completely reversed. The fear reactions of the rats exposed to trauma were much lower, and the fear extinction time was much shorter, than among the adult rats. Moreover, the young rats exposed to stress actually extinguished fear more rapidly than their peers that were not exposed to stress. In other words, exposure to stress among the young rats actually accelerated the return to routine and significantly reduced fear reactions.

kidskateboarding

Exposing the need for age-tailored trauma treatments

Following this behavioral examination, the investigators also examined physiological changes to the brain and found a similar pattern. Prefrontal cortex plasticity – the strength of the connection between the synapses which correlates with the success of extinction – in the area responsible for fear extinction was extremely high among the young rats exposed to stress. Among the adult rats exposed to stress, by contrast, the plasticity level was extremely low, showing damage to plasticity by comparison to the control group, thus further confirming the behavioral observations on enhanced extinction.

     SEE ALSO: Fear Needles? New Hebrew University Study May Make That A Thing Of The Past

According to Professor Maroun, however, the differences were even more significant. In the final stage of the study, the investigators sought to examine the impact of the NMDA receptor. This receptor controls the changes in prefrontal cortex plasticity and is responsible for the successful acquisition of fear extinction. It is known that blockage of this receptor in adult rats during exposure to stress helps restore fear extinction to the level in the control group. The current study also found that a receptor blocker increased plasticity and accelerated fear extinction in adult rats exposed to stress. However, the drug that blocked the receptor had no impact at all on the young rats – neither in terms of plasticity nor behavior.

“This implies that it’s wrong to claim that the mechanism in adults and young people is identical, and simply operates a little differently. The mechanism is actually completely different. We can therefore state that we are familiar with the fear extinction among adults, but that we still need to work out how the brain works to extinguish fear in young people. The immediate significance of this finding is that we really cannot continue treating child trauma victims with the same methods and drugs we use to treat adult victims,” Prof. Maroun concluded.

Photos: Bec/ Thijs Bos/ Keenan Turner

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/06/age-influences-perception-of-fear/feed/ 0
SMS-Based Therapy Talkspace, Already Popular In NYC, Raises $9.5 Million http://nocamels.com/2015/05/talkspace-counseling-therapy-sms/ http://nocamels.com/2015/05/talkspace-counseling-therapy-sms/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 09:20:42 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=38406

Related Posts

]]>
So long couch, hello cellphone. Instead of undergoing psychotherapy, some people find it easier and more discreet to text-message their therapist. Enter Talkspace, a provider of online and SMS counseling, which this week raised $9.5 million, an impressive amount for a company outside investors’ usual areas of interest.

     SEE ALSO: Israelis Create Therapy ‘Bubbles’ In The Heart Of New York City With ‘Talkspace’

It seems that financiers like the idea of tech-era therapy: Spark Capital, SoftBank, Metamorphic Ventures and TheTime were all behind the latest funding round. That brings investment in Talkspace, founded in 2012, to a total of $13 million.

“Since mental illness affects one out of four people every year, access to proper mental health care should be made available for everyone,” Alex Finkelstein, General Partner at Spark Capital, said in a statement.

All-you-can-talk plans for $12 a week

Founded by Israelis Roni and Oren Frank, Talkspace offers affordable plans similar, if you will, to those offered by mobile phone operators: $49 per week for “unlimited messaging therapy” if you pay on a weekly basis, or $12 a week if you commit to one year. Talkspace doesn’t accept traditional medical insurance, and therapy is provided by licensed counselors, who typically hold a master’s degree. It was recently reported that IBM provides Talkspace with a technology that matches therapists to patients.

In comparison to Talkspace therapists, a one-hour session with a licensed clinical psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in their clinic costs $20-$30 in copayment for insured patients; the uninsured typically pay $100-$150 per session.

     SEE ALSO: Turn That Frown Upside-down: Weizmann Researchers Make Major Breakthrough In Depression Detection and Treatment

Roni and Oren Frank

Roni and Oren Frank

Citing shame and stigma as barriers to getting psychotherapy, Talkspace has so far been able to attract 100,000 American patients suffering from depression, anxiety, stress and PTSD. “Mental illness is a worldwide epidemic and that’s the problem we’re here to solve,” Roni Frank, co-founder and Head of Clinical Services at Talkspace, said in a statement. “By removing the barriers to entry for millions of people, we’re making it easy for people to be proactive about their mental health.”

Eliminating the stigma still associated with therapy

Talkspace also provides couples therapy via its web and mobile platforms, eliminating “the powerful stigma that is still associated with therapy” through anonymity, according to the company. In addition, its members don’t need to wait for an appointment or go through a reimbursement process, and they can request to change therapists at any time, free of charge.

To market its service last November, Talkspace installed a #PopUpTherapy installation on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan, where passersby were able to pop into a therapy “bubble” to receive a quick, free 15-minute consultation with a therapist, and find out about the startup’s psychology solutions for the modern age.

talkspace

Over the past couple of years, a number of online therapy services have popped up, like Blah Therapy, 7 Cups of Tea. But for some, the idea of texting their therapist is unsettling, impersonal and aloof, so this type of remote therapy is obviously not for everyone. Since success rates of Talkspace cases are not available, it remains to be seen whether patients report positive experiences after undergoing SMS therapy.

Photos and video courtesy of Talkspace

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/05/talkspace-counseling-therapy-sms/feed/ 0
Amazing Moms: Mother Who Invented Harness To Allow Disabled Kids To Walk Tells Of International Success http://nocamels.com/2015/05/upsee-firefly-harness-handicapped-kids-walk/ http://nocamels.com/2015/05/upsee-firefly-harness-handicapped-kids-walk/#respond Sun, 10 May 2015 10:19:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=38316

Related Posts

]]>
Mother’s Day is a good time to reflect on the amazing lengths some moms go to to ensure the well being of their children. One such “supermom” is Debby Elnatan, a former Israeli stay-at-home mom who became a press sensation when she invented the “Upsee”, a harness that allowed her young disabled son, and other handicapped children around the world, to walk in tandem with their parents.

When we first wrote about the Upsee harness a little over a year ago, the device was just gaining worldwide attention. A year later, NoCamels speaks to the inventor of the Upsee to hear about how her life-changing device is reaching more children and parents around the world.

A low-tech device with high impact

Debby came up with the idea for the harness, which allows handicapped children and parents to walk in unison, when she found out that her son Rotem had cerebral palsy and would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Armed only with a mother’s love and a relentless drive to make her son’s life as normal as possible, Debby spent years creating the Upsee.

debbyelnatan

Debby Elnatan, inventor of the Upsee harness

The special harness is fastened on to the guiding adult at the waist, enabling them to pull the child up to a standing position using another harness attached to the child’s shoulders and legs. Then, the child and adult fasten the shoe bindings which help the two take steps in unison.

upsee-invention3What Debby didn’t expect was that her invention would become such an overnight success. “On the day we started selling the Upsee,” she tells NoCamels, “parents all over the world were waiting on the phone to order it. There were about 1,300 orders placed within the first 24 hours and 2,000 orders placed within the first 48 hours.” Since the international launch, which was conducted by British medical equipment manufacturer Leckey, over 6,000 Upsee harnesses have been sold in over 120 countries around the world.

     SEE ALSO: Mom Of Disabled Son Creates Harness That Allows Him And Other Children To Walk For The First Time

Just the ability to stand tall, says Debby, has not only helped children emotionally; there are already reports of positive physical effects stemming from use of the harness. “We’ve gotten amazing reports of the therapeutic value. There was one child who had his hip operation cancelled because through the opportunity to stand and walk, his hip joint was normalized. Other children have seen improvement in their walking abilities and head control, because finally they have something to see and a way to hold their weight.”

The best part of their kids’ day

“Parents upload pictures of their kids using the harness in ways that I never imagined,” says Debby of the wave of positive responses she has received, “They send in pictures of their kids in the harness while they are fishing, washing cars and even skateboarding. We are always interacting with our customers through the amazing photos and videos they share of their child wearing the harness.”

     SEE ALSO: First Touch-Free ‘Sesame’ Smartphone Allows Disabled To Control Phones With A Nod

Access to the harness is now easier than before, with an elaborate website that allows parents and caregivers around the world to purchase the harness, accessories that go along with it, and to interact with other parents to get pointers on how to best use the harness. Being able to reach out to a larger audience, Debby has worked hard to develop an expansive line of products built around the Upsee.

But the most popular section of the website may be the heartwarming stories of children with disabilities enjoying every minute of life with their Firefly devices. Debby tells me of one Israeli mother who sent her a picture of her child in the Upsee harness that included the message, “My boy cries bitterly when I have to take him out of the Upsee.”

upseeharness

‘The most famous mother in the world’

Despite the viral success (there were 500,000 shares on the first pictures of the Upsee on The Daily Mail’s Facebook), Debby admits that there are still some challenges in getting her products to the children who need them most. “The company is setting up distributors where online sales aren’t working. And now Leckey’s contacting therapists and caregivers to give them more information on the line of products.”

Currently, the Upsee has been approved by the Food & Drug Administration in the United States, as well as medical device authorities in Israel and Sweden. However, in her home country of Israel, Debby admits she felt for a long time, “like a shoemaker going barefoot,” until the Upsee was picked up by Chemitech in Israel, where it is now available for sale.

In addition to wide-spread international press and support from organizations like AIPAC and the European Union, Debby tells me that she has been selected as a winner of the International Patient Innovation Awards, an annual honor bestowed by a panel of Nobel Prize winners (including Technion professor Aaron Ciechanover) for innovations created by patients and their caregivers.

Debby believes that the success of the past year, which led one radio station in Italy to declare her “the most famous mother in the world,” is only the beginning. “I have been working like crazy to ride this wave of success and to launch the rest of my line of equipment. So much of today’s equipment supports children vertically, but much of it is disabling in some form. The approach is to be behind your child, but to make them feel like they are the mover – it’s an approach, not just a product.”

Photos: Firefly

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/05/upsee-firefly-harness-handicapped-kids-walk/feed/ 0
Israeli-American Chef Alon Shaya Wins Top US Culinary Honor http://nocamels.com/2015/05/alon-shaya-wins-culinary-honor/ http://nocamels.com/2015/05/alon-shaya-wins-culinary-honor/#respond Thu, 07 May 2015 14:12:10 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=38299

Related Posts

]]>
Israeli-born chef and owner of the popular New Orleans restaurant Domenica, Alon Shaya was named the “Best Chef in the southern region” of the US by the James Beard Foundation. Shaya was named the best chef in the southern region this year after being nominated for the award – commonly known in the culinary world as “The Oscars of Food” – for three consecutive years.

     SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv’s Pastel Brasserie Is Voted World’s Most Beautiful Restaurant

Domenica-dining

Shaya, who is a former Tel Avivian, attended the Culinary Institute of America and founded Domenica, a highly-popular rustic Italian restaurant located inside New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel, together with culinary personality and TV chef John Besh in 2009. Domenica is often featured as the “Best Hotel Restaurant” by Gambit Weekly and Shaya has been named “Chef of the Year” by Eater New Orleans and New Orleans Magazine. Recently, Besh and Shaya opened up Pizza Domenica, a more casual take on their popular restaurant, and very recently, Shaya opened up his own contemporary Israeli restaurant fittingly named “Shaya”.

     SEE ALSO: A Foodie Feat: ‘Saveur’ Magazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’

According to the restaurant’s website, Shaya spent over a year traveling to Italy to learn the ins and outs of Italian cuisine, though he admits that Israeli food also has a strong influence on his cooking, “spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother.” At Domenica, Shaya serves up Italian dishes with an Israeli twist, like roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped feta and red snapper with parsnips, breadcrumbs and dates.

domenicafood

Though the James Beard award is the height of culinary honors, bestowed annually on America’s best chefs at an extravagant black-tie event, other Israeli chefs are turning eyes and stomachs internationally. Just last week The Veuve Clicquot GQ Food and Drink Awards named the Israeli restaurant Palomar as the best in Britain. Located in the hip Soho district of London, Palomar is an international take on Jerusalem’s popular Machne Yehuda restaurant led by Chefs Assaf Granit, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon. Located in the heart of Jerusalem’s open-air market, Machne Yehuda prides itself on eclectically fresh Israeli-Arab cuisine and a spirited, colorful atmosphere.

domenicapizzaPhotos: Will Blunt/ New Orleans/ Facebook

 

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/05/alon-shaya-wins-culinary-honor/feed/ 0
How Israeli Life-Saving Tech Is Leading Rescue Efforts In Nepal http://nocamels.com/2015/04/israel-largest-rescue-mission-nepal/ http://nocamels.com/2015/04/israel-largest-rescue-mission-nepal/#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2015 11:04:13 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=38155

Related Posts

]]>
Five days after one of history’s most devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, countries near and far are pouring in funds and personnel to address the state of emergency. Leading the pack in terms of medical and rescue personnel on the ground is Israel, with an aid convoy of 260 personnel, including about forty doctors. While this isn’t the first time that Israel has stepped in to following a major international weather event, the Israeli team is using innovative and ingenious technology to rescue more people from the areas of destruction and to provide first-class medical care to those who need it most.

Israelis set up state-of-the-art field hospital

Mere hours after the 7.8 scale earthquake rumbled Nepal, Israeli rescue teams were already prepping their gear for the flight to Kathmandu. The aid convoy organized by Israel is the largest ever sent by the Israeli Defense Forces overseas, and according to a CNN report, it has the most personnel on the ground of any other country. Constructing one of the largest field hospitals in Kathmandu with the ability to treat up to 200 patients a day, the Israeli station is also one of the most technologically advanced in the disaster zone.

cnnnepalinfographic“The team brought the most recent technology possible,” says IDF Medical Corps doctor Lt. Col. Asi Hempel. “The field hospital will be equipped with everything: x-rays, operating rooms that will work 24/7, laboratories and more.”

The Israeli field hospital has also set up a novel system to provide each patient with their own digital medical file, “Each patient who arrives at the field hospital is greeted by a medical assistant who takes his picture and gives him a unique barcode,” Lt. Col. Hempel explained in a statement. “This barcode is scanned at every station the patient goes through, allowing the doctor to access any and all medical information and treatments the patient receives. This system allows us to ensure that no station in the hospital is overwhelmed with patients. Quality treatment is priority,” he continued.

     SEE ALSO: 10 Israeli Companies At The Cutting-Edge Of Life Saving Tech

The Israeli medical teams plan to treat hundreds if not thousands of patients at their state-of-the-art field hospital, but Israeli medical innovations in Nepal don’t stop there. The IDF medical crew brought what is considered a breakthrough medical technology called powered plasma to the hospital, an Israeli invention that allows for infinite supplies of blood that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The field hospital staff just needs to add water to activate the plasma.

Making good use of Israeli live-saving tech

Aside from the advanced field hospital, Israeli medical and emergency response apps and technologies are going to good use in Nepal. One particular smartphone application called NowForce Life Compass is being used as a major communications platform between the central rescue command in Israel and the field commanders on the ground.

Bringing new life into the world in Kathmandu

Bringing new life into the world in Kathmandu

“All of the response teams have a NowForce application on their phones, providing them with full situation awareness in the palm of their hand,” NowForce CEO Assaf Shafran tells NoCamels. “The application allows for coordination between what the command center sees at home in Israel and what the field commanders are doing on the ground. In addition, field commanders are able to update personal safety components all the time and they are able to tag certain locations where they see that additional attention is needed and to identify dangerous areas.”

NowForce’s technology is based on satellites, so despite the widespread damage to communications infrastructure, including Internet access, field commanders are able to map-out potential rescue sites – invaluable on-the-ground information that will be used by Israeli units to carry out targeted rescue missions.

     SEE ALSO: After Thousands Of Years Of Stitching, Israelis Invent New Wound-Closure Method

Emergency Bandage, colloquially known in the American military as the “Israeli bandage”, is another medical technology being used to stop and control bleeding in serious hemorrhagic wounds. The bandage was invented by Israeli military medic Bernard Bar-Natan in the 1980s and was applied by NATO troops in the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as by the US military in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The bandage is now a mainstay for many emergency responders, and was used to save the life of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords following a head-shot wound in 2011.

israeliaidnepal

The Israeli-invented Viber messaging service is also being used to save lives according to the Economic Times, allowing users to make calls from Nepal free of charge in the two days following the earthquake. The service allows those who need to, and have Internet access, to make calls to mobile and land-line numbers.

Other Israeli tech coming to the rescue includes the PocketBVM, or emergency masks and breathing devices that can be used to prevent shortage of breath in the wounded until they receive medical care. Though it wasn’t applied in the Nepal earthquake, in other international disasters Israeli-created platform eVigilio has been used to send out mass alerts to millions of people regarding imminent natural disasters and security threats. Another piece of Israeli life-saving tech that could be used to locate the hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals still trapped under the rubble is the Technion’s “Snake Robot”. The flexible and easily maneuverable robot can reach the locations that are too dangerous or hidden for rescue workers to reach, currently a very serious challenge for rescue workers in crowded areas of Kathmandu.

Though Israel certainly has the most active and innovative rescue team currently on the scene in Nepal (the CNN survey doesn’t include India), the Startup Nation has donated minor to no relief funds, while bigger countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have donated $10 million and $5 million, respectively. However, based on the breadth of Israeli involvement in past aid missions to disaster zones in Japan, Haiti and the Philippines, and with Nepalese and other foreign aid workers referring the wounded to the advanced Israeli field hospital, it seems that the international community may owe Israel a hearty pat on the back.

Photos: MFA

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/04/israel-largest-rescue-mission-nepal/feed/ 0
Teachers’ Gender Bias Discourages Girls From Pursuing Math, Science http://nocamels.com/2015/04/gender-bias-discourages-girls-from-math-science/ http://nocamels.com/2015/04/gender-bias-discourages-girls-from-math-science/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2015 08:35:11 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37210

Related Posts

]]>
It’s a fact: Women are vastly underrepresented in the fields of computer science, engineering, and mathematics. But less clear are the trajectories — academic and otherwise — that lead young women toward other professions. Higher education has already opened the door to equal opportunities for women and minorities in the US — so is it possible that elementary school, as a new Tel Aviv University study suggests, is the critical juncture at which girls are discouraged from pursuing science and mathematics?

New research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that elementary school teachers’ unconscious biases significantly influence female students’ academic choices later on. According to researchers Dr. Edith Sand and Prof. Victor Lavy, the classroom teacher’s unwitting prejudice is a key factor explaining the divergence of boys’ and girls’ academic preferences.

“It isn’t an issue of discrimination but of unconscious discouragement,” said Dr. Sand. “This discouragement, however, has implications. The track to computer science and engineering fields, which report some of the highest salaries, tapers off in elementary school.”

Taking the gender test

The research was carried out on three groups of students in Israel from sixth grade through the end of high school. The students were given two exams, the first graded by objective scorers who did not know their names and the second by instructors who did know them. In math, the girls outscored the boys in the test that was scored anonymously, but when graded by teachers who were familiar with their names, the boys outscored the girls. The effect was not the same for tests in non-math or science-related subjects.

      SEE ALSO: International Women’s Day: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?

girlchalkboard

The researchers concluded that, in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ skills and underestimated the girls’ abilities, and that this had long-term implications for students’ attitudes toward these subjects.

Opting out

“When the same students reached junior high and high school, we examined their performances in matriculation exams (‘Bagrut’ in Hebrew),” said Dr. Sand. “The boys who had been encouraged when they were younger performed significantly better than their female counterparts, though the latter had objectively scored higher at a younger age.”

     SEE ALSO: These 10 Female Israeli Tech Leaders Will Blow You Away

The researchers also monitored the advanced math and science courses that students chose to take in high school, concluding that the girls who had been discouraged by their elementary school teachers were much less likely than the boys to opt for advanced courses.

“If teachers take into account these effects, it could lead to a reduction of the gender gap in achievement, especially in science and math,” said Dr. Sand. “It is clear how important encouragement is for both boys and girls in all their subjects. Teachers play a critical role in lowering and raising the confidence levels of their students, which has serious implications for their futures.”

The research was conducted by Dr. Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel and an instructor at TAU’s Berglas School of Economics, and Prof. Victor Lavy, a professor at Hebrew University and University of Warwick in England.

Photos: BigStock

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/04/gender-bias-discourages-girls-from-math-science/feed/ 0
International Day of Happiness: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-day-of-happiness-top-israeli-studies-what-makes-us-happy/ http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-day-of-happiness-top-israeli-studies-what-makes-us-happy/#respond Fri, 20 Mar 2015 11:08:09 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37387

Related Posts

]]>
How can we be happier? How can happiness contribute to our success and health? Over the past century, researchers in the fields of psychology and sociology have tried to answer these fundamental questions in order to improve our well-being. But it was only in 2011 that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.” March 20 was then established as the annual International Day of Happiness.

Despite the UN’s good intentions, many people around the globe are far from being happy, especially those who live under autocratic rule, suffer from violence and wars, and their freedom of expression is limited. On the flip side, the citizens of countries that enjoy lasting peace, freedom and good healthcare, are the happiest. According to the 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index, Norway is the happiest country in the world, followed by Switzerland and New Zealand; the saddest country in the world is the Central African Republic (CAR).

So, take note: These four groundbreaking Israeli studies on the links between happiness, success and health could transform the way we live.

     SEE ALSO: To Be Healty, All You Have To Do Is Be Happy, Say Doctors

happy toddler

Power is the secret to happiness

A Tel Aviv University study by Prof. Yona Kifer suggests that people who feel more powerful and in control of their actions tend to be more content in life than those who feel powerless. The study surveyed 350 participants to determine if feelings of autonomy or power are related to career, friendships and romantic relationships. The results indicated that people who felt the most powerful were 16 percent more satisfied then their less powerful counterparts. The strongest correlation to power and contentment was in the workplace, where employees in positions of power were 26 percent more satisfied with their jobs than their less powerful counterparts.

Moral of the story? When you can act autonomously, you feel more authentic and true to yourself. Having authenticity in what you are doing, and knowing your actions closely align to your beliefs and desires, incite satisfaction and contentment.

Powerful businesswoman

Happiness can fight breast cancer

Women who are happy and optimistic are less likely to develop breast cancer, according to a study by Ben Gurion University’s Prof. Ronit Peled. Peled and a team of researchers interviewed 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 — 255 of whom had breast cancer. The scientists asked the women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis.

     SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Promising Therapy For ‘Treatment-Resistant’ Breast Cancer

The results showed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists being 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. Conversely, women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent greater risk. Peled urges further research into these findings: “The mechanism in which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behavior and external events modulate these three systems is not fully understood,” she said in a statement. “The relationship between happiness and health should be examined in future studies and relevant preventative initiatives should be developed.”

Whatever makes you happy: Schadenfreude develops in early childhood 

They say there is no joy like the joy at another’s misfortune, but at what age do we already know how to feel and express it? What was once thought of as a sophisticated emotion, “schadenfreude,” or feeling pleasure at another’s pain or misfortune, is apparently prevalent in children as young as two years old. Prof. Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory of The University of Haifa led a social experiment to test the development of more sophisticated emotions in young people, including different forms of happiness.

Schadenfreude

After being divided into 35 groups comprised of a mother, her child, and a friend of the child, each group was subjected to two situations. The first was an “equal” situation, in which the mother encouraged the children to play together, ignored them for two minutes, and then began to read a book aloud to herself for two minutes. After those two minutes, the mother was told to take a glass of water that was on the table and pour it by “accident” on the book. In the second, “unequal” situation, after the first two minutes, the mother took the child that wasn’t hers on her lap and began reading the book aloud to him or her. Here, too, after two minutes, the mother spilled the cup of water on the book.

The researchers found that when the unequal situation was brought to an end, the mother’s own child showed visible signs of happiness, as expressed by jumping up and down, clapping his hands, or rolling on the floor. By contrast, when the water was spilled while the mother was reading the book to herself, there were no similar reactions. According to the researchers, the misfortune that made the children happy was the fact that their peer had stopped hearing the story, which strengthens the theory that schadenfreude is a social development that is a reaction to inequality.

The key to well-being: Having a sense of meaning 

In recent years, several positive psychology studies have been conducted, looking into the what makes us happy – and happier. Established by the renowned Dr. Tal Ban-Shahar at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, the much-hyped positive psychology movement focuses on how to improve quality of life and optimal individual functioning, in order to create personal and social change. Whereas traditional psychology typically focuses on people’s social-emotional difficulties and seeks to alleviate their psychological symptoms and suffering, positive psychology goes beyond alleviation of symptoms by promoting self realization, human happiness, fulfillment and a sense of meaning.

Man on top of mountain

The positive psychology approach developed by happiness guru Ben-Shahar, who taught one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history, emphasizes optimal human functioning. It focuses on human growth, and the importance of having a sense of meaning and satisfaction in life. It is based on the belief that people naturally aspire to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Or, as Ben-Shahar put it in his bestseller Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, “Happy people live secure in the knowledge that the activities that bring them enjoyment in the present will also lead to a fulfilling future.”

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-day-of-happiness-top-israeli-studies-what-makes-us-happy/feed/ 0
Israeli Election: Meet The Top 5 Israeli Apps Revolutionizing Civic Engagement http://nocamels.com/2015/03/top-israeli-apps-revolutionizing-civic-engagement/ http://nocamels.com/2015/03/top-israeli-apps-revolutionizing-civic-engagement/#respond Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:54:26 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37304

Related Posts

]]>
How can we become better citizens, more aware and involved? How can we exercise our right to vote in the most meaningful way? Over the past few months leading up to the Israeli elections, there has been no shortage of hotly contested issues that have been fiercely debated among candidates and the media. But citizens also want to have a say!

Elections always raise questions about citizenship and civic duty, so as the March 17 election nears, NoCamels is profiling five leading Israeli tech platforms that give citizens a voice, help people give back to their communities, and sometimes shift political activism from street rallies – to smartphones.

     SEE ALSO: Israelis Launch Striking Instagram Campaign Against Violence

Israel_Housing_Protests_Tel_Aviv_August_6_2011

Elections 2015 App

The Israeli E-Gov Unit, a branch of government designed to improve the online interaction between the government and citizens, has developed a smartphone application in order to provide the public with up-to-date information on the upcoming elections.

The application, available only in Hebrew, which at its core is a basic information hub, provides background on each party and the names of candidates, their ideological platforms and general information. In addition, the app provides citizens with voting locations and on March 17 will generate real-time updates on the percentages of voters. By the end of voting, the public will be able to track real-time results and analysis by geographic distribution and by political party.

     SEE ALSO: True Leaders Emerge From Life-Threatening Situations, Study Finds

While the app doesn’t include much of an option for social interaction among users, it is an important step for the government to address the need for citizens to be connected to government through new media and receive accurate political information.

knesset

iVote App

iVote is a non-profit mobile application that aims to capture public sentiment about political issues, combined with accurate voting information in order to spur Israeli participation in politics.

iVote allows you to anonymously indicate who you’ll vote for, watch election poll results based on your circle of friends (linked with Facebook), and influence your social circle by creating open discussions in a moderated, respectful online environment. By enabling the public to start open discussions and invite their friends to chime in, iVote is getting people to talk about the issues that matter to all citizens, allowing for different perspectives and opinions.

WePowerApp

WePowerApp, which claims to be the world’s first citizens’ network, is taking political upheaval off the streets – and into the palm of your hand. The app is expected to launch within the next week, right after the Israeli elections, but its main purpose – allowing citizens to protest online – is hoping to create rich public discourse all over the world.

wepowerapp

The platform is dedicated to both giving citizens a voice through mobile polling and to capturing public discourse in one place. WePower facilitates mobile polling on a plethora of political issues and moderates user-generated proposals to solve community problems. The goal is to enhance civic engagement through anonymous voting and unite individuals to come together to influence political leaders in a positive way.

In the short term, WePower might help influence political decisions at the community level, such as what a city should do with a vacant parking lot, or whether the speed limit in a school zone should be reduced. In the long term, WePower aims to have a farther-reaching influence on tackling macro issues, such as economic policies or civil rights legislation.

Goodnet

In addition to political involvement, volunteering is another way to become involved in your society. Israeli web portal Goodnet – Gateway to Doing Good is an example of an online hub that connects people, organizations, and businesses to inspirational opportunities for “doing good.”

It’s similar to a news portal that showcases many forms of charity and volunteering activities. Founded by The Ted Arison Family Foundation, Goodnet features daily updated content, directories of the best organizations for volunteering, wellness, education, as well as videos and images of “good-doing” from around the world. Goodnet seems to be a powerful tool for connecting people looking for opportunities to volunteer in a specific field or for a specific cause.

volunteers

Give2gether

One of the main challenges charitable organizations are facing is increasing donations. By streamlining online fundraising, Israel’s Give2gether improves donor participation rates and substantially helps to increase the total amount of money raised for charitable causes.

     SEE ALSO: Justin Bieber Uses Israeli Platform ‘give2gether’ For Fundraising Campaign

Developed in 2007, this platform is based on a decade of behavioral economics research and experiments on what makes people give, why people give online and what makes them inspire others. Give2gether’s software specifically bolsters online fundraising capabilities by providing the tools to launch customized campaigns, and use social media analytics to grow donor communities.

When technology meets politics 

It’s still unclear how these platforms will compete with larger social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, or how they will moderate discussions in a respectful way. But it’s evident that technological advancements and the growing use of smartphones enable individuals from all over the world to join together and propel real change. Now that technology meets public engagement and philanthropy, many more people can become involved in their communities in a meaningful way.

Social media on smartphone

Photos: Elizabeth Merriam/U.S. Navy, Beny Shlevich, avivi 

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/03/top-israeli-apps-revolutionizing-civic-engagement/feed/ 0
True Leaders Emerge From Life-Threatening Situations, Study Finds http://nocamels.com/2015/03/leaders-emerge-from-life-threatening-situations/ http://nocamels.com/2015/03/leaders-emerge-from-life-threatening-situations/#respond Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:55:13 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37251

Related Posts

]]>
As Israeli elections next Tuesday are nearing, Israelis are asking themselves what qualities they want to see in their next leader. Both Isaac Herzog, the current front runner according to the most recent polls, and Benjamin Netanyahu, are pointing to their calm and assertive demeanor when faced with tough situations. Now, a new study confirms what we’ve suspected all along: In life-threatening situations, few are able to overcome their fear, compose themselves and become the leaders of the pack.

A research team led by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. David Eilam recently simulated a hostile environment of predatory owls hovering over voles (small rodents resembling mice) in a cage. It turned out that the voles organized themselves into social structures from which leaders emerged. The study, which examined group behavior and qualities that leaders must possess in order to influence it, could very well inspire human society. Human leaders might be able to learn from their more primitive companions and make leaps forward into better facing the challenges ahead.

voles

Voles are prayed on by owls

At this point in time, however, our understanding of leaders and their contribution to collective behavior is somewhat superficial. “There are always certain individuals who simply contribute more than others, but who they are and what traits make them leaders are questions we’ve managed to answer in a limited realm,” Eilam said in a statement.

Leaders don’t arise spontaneously

During the experiment, the voles, albeit in a secure cage, were under the impression that they were in a life-threatening situation because of the hovering predators. Some voles, however, emerged as leaders of the group thanks to exhibiting certain traits. “Less affected by the owl attacks, the experienced, larger male voles set the behavioral code, leading the other voles to imitate their behavior,” Eilam says. The larger, older male voles were competent not only because of their strength and size, but also thanks to their ability to remain calm and set a behavioral pattern for the smaller, highly anxious voles.

     SEE ALSO: Putin Is A ‘Romantic Loner’ And Obama ‘Mistrustful’ According To Israeli Personality Algorithm

Flying Owl

The organized behavior of a group rests on its ability to establish a structure of followers and leaders; however, the leader was found to emerge specifically out of an emergency situation. “Our study bucks against the notion that leaders arise spontaneously,” Eilam says.

The dominant voles remained calm and were able to assert themselves as leaders. This enabled the smaller, female voles to go from a frightened state of panic to a calmer mindset. This ripple effect was supported by tests that established a clear difference of corticosterone (the hormone in charge of the regulation of stress responses) levels before and after the owl attacks. The result: smaller voles displayed elevated levels of this hormone, while the larger voles showed stable results.

Right after 9/11 local leaders emerged in New York 

“These leaders have a dual role, not just to protect but also to stabilize the behavior of the group,” Eilam says. “You can also see such leaders emerge in human societies that are in distress — take post-9/11 New York City, for example. All differences are set aside and a typical behavioral code under threat emerges, with a few dominant figures at the head.” Other examples include Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement, and Winston Churchill, who led the UK during World War II.

     SEE ALSO:  HA! Study Shows Comedy Shows Have Greater Political Influence Than The News

But further research into this phenomenon is needed. Says Eilam: “We are also trying to uncover what the leaders benefit from their role in the group, and how information is passed on from one group to the next.”

Group leader

Photos: Sudosurootdev, Joel Olives, Preston Keres, Tony Smith,

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/03/leaders-emerge-from-life-threatening-situations/feed/ 0
Daydreaming Can Actually Help You Get Stuff Done, Study Finds http://nocamels.com/2015/03/daydreaming-effectiveness-study/ http://nocamels.com/2015/03/daydreaming-effectiveness-study/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:28:46 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37167

Related Posts

]]>
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Teachers may now need to reconsider reprimanding daydreaming students in class, as a new Israeli study found that mind-wandering actually enhances brain performance and prepares the mind for complex tasks.

In a study published in February in American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Bar-Ilan University were able to show that, contrary to common belief, a wandering mind does not hamper the ability to accomplish a task, but actually improves it.\

     SEE ALSO: Dreame: The Startup That Sketches Your Dreams Into A Beautiful Reality (Literally)

This surprising result may occur due to the convergence of both “thought-freeing” activity and “thought-controlling” mechanisms in a single region of the brain, according to Professor Moshe Bar, director of the University’s Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center.

daydreaming

“Over the last 15 or 20 years, scientists have shown that – unlike the localized neural activity associated with specific tasks – mind wandering involves the activation of a gigantic default network [of] many parts of the brain,” said Bar. “This cross-brain involvement may be involved in behavioral outcomes such as creativity and mood, and may also contribute to the ability to stay successfully on-task while the mind goes off on its merry mental way.”

The Israeli researchers were also able to show that an external stimulus can substantially increase the rate at which daydreaming occurs, which in turn offers a positive effect on task performance.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Photos: Sheldon NalosNoah Sydnor

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/03/daydreaming-effectiveness-study/feed/ 0
International Women’s Day: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation? http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-womens-day-startup-nation-israel-equality/ http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-womens-day-startup-nation-israel-equality/#respond Sun, 08 Mar 2015 16:01:06 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=37179

Related Posts

]]>
“When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today on International Women’s Day. Naturally, Israeli women are actively involved in the Startup Nation, but while many headlines point to female success stories in the Israeli high tech industry, the numbers tell a different story. Which begs the question: Is the fairer sex getting a fair share of the  Startup Nation pie?

According to a report issued last week by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, only 35.5 percent of high tech workers in the country are women. In 2014, nearly 183,000 men were employed in the Israeli high tech, compared to 100,500 women. Still, Israel is closer to equality than Silicon Valley, where only 20 percent of the developers and 11 percent of executives are women. However, Israeli women earn a staggering 32 percent less than men.

     SEE ALSO: Women Entrepreneurs Are More Successful Than Men In Crowdfunding Campaigns

 

Equality scales weigh gender justice and sex issues

NoCamels spoke to female high tech entrepreneurs to understand the phenomenon. According to Yael Lador, co-founder of customer-loyalty startup AppFront, the problem starts at an early age. “Girls are viewed differently,” she tells NoCamels. “They hardly participate in competitive sports, they’re made to think that boys are more computer-savvy, and they end up not studying computer science in college.”

“Society paints us pink”

Liat Mordechay Hertanu, another female startup entrepreneur and the founder of personal assistant app 24Me, agrees. “It’s not fair to say there aren’t enough women in high tech, without looking at the roots of the phenomenon,” she tells NoCamels. “Very few girls take physics in high school, and girls hardly enroll into computer science and engineering in college. The process should start early on: a girl can help her father build a cabinet or fix the car.”

     SEE ALSO: Dr. Michal Tsur, The ‘Iron Lady’ Of Israeli Startups, Tells NoCamels About Success Sans Coding And Women In High-Tech

Hertanu says she was the only girl majoring in physics in her high school class. “Society paints us pink,” she says. “Technology has tremendously progressed in recent years, but labor equality in high tech didn’t catch on. Many young women still believe they’re not capable of learning technological professions.”

Will Israel breed the next Marissa Mayer?

But are they incapable? “On the contrary,” says Dr. Michal Sela, CEO of civil organization Israel Women’s Network. “The few female students who major in engineering and computer science actually get better grades than their male counterparts.”

But the lack of role models, such as female engineers, makes high tech intimidating for many women. “With not enough female mentors, getting into the high tech sector seems very scary to women,” Sela tells NoCamels. “You see many physics high school students enroll into law school.”

Liat Mordechay Hertanu

Liat Mordechay Hertanu

According to Sela, Israel will be able to have its own female role models like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer or Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, though it would be a long process. “Discrimination still exists; though it’s illegal, there’s a lot of hidden discrimination,” she says. “All women deserve the opportunity, all women deserve to be equal, but there’s more work to be done.”

In the meantime, women need to work twice as hard, Sela says, and quotes Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass: “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Photos: Courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/03/international-womens-day-startup-nation-israel-equality/feed/ 0
Study Decodes Viral Online Content, Finds ‘Memes’ Act Just Like Genes http://nocamels.com/2015/02/viral-content-memes-research-study/ http://nocamels.com/2015/02/viral-content-memes-research-study/#respond Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:48:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=36014

Related Posts

]]>
Catchy melodies, funny images, new fashion trends, quirky ideas, unique rituals and memorable dances float around the web each day, some spreading more quickly then others, grabbing our attention and inspiring us to click ‘share’. These “memes” as many of them are called are shared elements of culture that spread from one individual to another over the Internet. In order to better understand cultural “virality” Professor David Eilam of Tel Aviv University conducted a study to shed light on the building blocks of viral content and the different ways it’s used to preserve traditional rituals and practices.

grumpycatmeme

The term “meme,” first coined in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, explains the way cultural information spreads. In his book, ‘The Selfish Gene,’ Dawkins suggests that just as genes transfer genetic properties from one individual to another, “memes” have a unique way of transferring cultural information by replicating and spreading from one mind to another. However, Dawkins’ research remained incomplete. Now Prof. Eilam and a team of researchers have found a way to offer both qualitative and quantitative methods to track memes, reinforcing Dawkins’ original theory that both genes and memes evolve in similar ways.

A viral meme is what you make it

According to Eilam’s research, memes appear and catch on somewhat randomly. “In culture, unlike in biology, there is really no reason why certain styles of music, architecture, or fashion prevail. As long as the acts are brief, short, simple, and used repeatedly, they have the potential to become a meme,” Eilam explains. In their study, the researchers also discovered that idiosyncratic acts, or distinctive expressions, which often occur before or after a ritual, are actually essential to how, and if, the meme catches on.

     SEE ALSO: Say Yo! Why This Ridiculously Simple Israeli App Is Going Viral

“The variability that we have in rituals has the same importance that variation has in biology. The basis of evolution is variability, and in a sense the same rules that apply to evolution in biology can also be applied to culture,” says Prof. Eilam. The idiosyncratic acts of individuals may eventually be repeated by others, becoming an integral part of a ritual, or essentially a new meme. “Now we have found a way to use the same tools that we use in biology to create a more solid understanding of cultural information,” explains Prof. Eilam.

Keeping with tradition means staying true to yourself

To conduct their research, the team observed and examined a traditional wedding dance called the “Umsindo,” performed by the Zulu tribe in South Africa. In this dance the high kick, the only standard meme of the dance, was performed by all 19 participants. However all of the dancers engaged in additional idiosyncratic movements resembling free-style dance before and after executing the high kick. The researchers found that having the freedom to add unique movements made it easier to inherit the one main act because it allowed for self-expression and creativity.

traditionalafricandance

The traditional “Umsindo” dance high kick.

The team also studied the traditional Jewish “tefillin” ceremony, in which Jewish men wrap a leather band around their arm as part of their morning prayers. Prof Eilam posits, “When we started to analyze this tradition, we didn’t see many differences. But after careful observation, we noticed that 70 percent of people actually did something different. There were only 11 acts out of 67 that all of the men actually did.” The fact that the men practicing this centuries-old ritual are able to express a degree of flexibility accounts for the preservation of the meme over so many years. It’s hard to adhere to 10 or 20 acts, and much easier to inherit just a few.

     SEE ALSO: Beyond The Ice Bucket Challenge: Israel’s ‘NurOwn’ May Become The First Real Treatment For ALS

To bring things into a more modern context, this year the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge “broke the Internet” by challenging people to dump a bucket of ice on their heads to raise money and awareness. Everyone from Bill Gates to Justin Timberlake took on the freeze, but it wasn’t the fact that they poured a bucket of ice on their heads that made their videos go viral—it was their creative approach to this universal challenge.

So, the next time, you are giggling to a funny video, watching a viral dance, or passing around a hilarious photo on Facebook, you’ll know that in some way you are contributing to a wider sense of cultural replication and evolution. That should make you think twice before clicking ‘share’!

The research was conducted by Prof. David Eilam and Dr. Michal Fux of the Department of Zoology at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, together with Dr. Joel Mort, and Dr. Tom Lawson of Queens University Belfast.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/02/viral-content-memes-research-study/feed/ 0
Tel Aviv Engineering Students Bring Clean Water Solution To Tanzania http://nocamels.com/2015/01/tau-engineering-tanzanian-school/ http://nocamels.com/2015/01/tau-engineering-tanzanian-school/#respond Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:19:56 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=36246

Related Posts

]]>
Like many good stories, this one began with food. A group of students at TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering organized a campus beer and bratwurst sale to kickstart fundraising for a volunteering project in Africa. Many sausages later, and with a lead donation from Arison Group’s Shikun & Binui construction company, a TAU team arrived in Tanzania to build a system that would provide hundreds of students at a local high school with clean drinking water.

Leading the TAU delegation was electrical engineering student Eran Roll, the director of TAU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), which initiated and supervised the project. EWB is an international organization dedicated to bringing engineering solutions to disadvantaged communities.

tanzanianschool

Roll explained that the project’s genesis went back to 2007, when engineering alumnus Itai Perry saw the hardship caused by contaminated water during a TAU-affiliated volunteer trip to the northern Tanzanian village of Minjingu. The residents’ drinking water was saturated with exceptionally high levels of fluoride, causing skeletal deformities and severe dental problems among the local children. Seven years later, Roll and four others came to Minjingu to build and install a 48,000-liter rainwater harvesting and advanced filtration system that would allow the 400 students and staff members at Nkaiti Secondary School – the only high school in the region – to drink and cook with clean, safe water. They also trained school officials and volunteers on how to operate and maintain the system, and they kept in touch with local residents to ensure that any bugs would be worked out. The team created the system with the help of Israeli rainwater harvesting expert Amir Yechieli.

      SEE ALSO: Award-Winning NGO Brings Israeli Innovation To Africa

Once the project was complete, the school’s principal, Mr. Tango, wrote the TAU team a letter of gratitude. “Thanks to this project, we are now one family with you. Let us maintain our relationship more and more,” he wrote. “We hope that you will bring more projects for the development of our school.”

studentstanzania

(From left) Maayan, Tomer, Eran, Roey and Meital

 

The learning process

Before Roll and his team – electrical engineering student Maayan Raviv, MBA student Meital Shamia, neuroscience student Roey Ravits and industrial engineering graduate Tomer Avitzur – were able to build the water system, they needed to determine how best to help the people of Minjingu. “Without going there and seeing the problems with our own eyes, we wouldn’t know what to do,” said Roll. He, Raviv and water engineer Idit Zarchi traveled to Tanzania a year before the full delegation to assess the community’s specific needs, speak to local leaders and villagers and to set a goal that was within reach.

“When the people in Minjingu saw us return after a year, they said, ‘the first time you came here you were boys, now you are men,’” Roll recalled, explaining that the Tanzanians were used to being promised humanitarian projects that never came to fruition. “We came through with our promise, and it meant a lot to me,” he said.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Technology Turns Air Into Drinking Water For Troops

As he continues to plan for the upcoming projects and to recruit volunteers, Roll is proud of the success the small delegation has achieved so far. “It felt like we really made a difference,” he said. “When the project was done, my friends and I just stood there after everyone had left. We felt like we had accomplished something – something big.”

When funding permits, the team plans to return to Tanzania to expand the existing rainwater harvesting system to 160,000 liters and to create a similar one for the village’s medical center, for which they will also install solar panels.

Photos: courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/01/tau-engineering-tanzanian-school/feed/ 0
Parents Should Teach Children How To Write Before Kindergarten, New Research Finds http://nocamels.com/2015/01/childhood-literacy-writing-parenting-research/ http://nocamels.com/2015/01/childhood-literacy-writing-parenting-research/#respond Sun, 11 Jan 2015 12:45:39 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=35440

Related Posts

]]>
Children of the Information Age are inundated everyday with written words streaming across smartphones, tablets, and laptop screens. Yet the constant exposure doesn’t mean a necessary improvement in their literary capacities. A new study from Tel Aviv University finds that preschoolers should be encouraged to write from a young age — even before they take their first step into a classroom.

The study explains why early writing, preceding any formal education, plays an instrumental role in improving a child’s literacy level, vocabulary, and fine motor skills. The research, conducted by Prof. Dorit Aram and colleagues, assessed the merits of early parental mediation of children’s literacy and language in English, and recommended useful techniques to that end.childwriting

“Parents in the US are obsessed with teaching their kids the ABCs,” said Prof. Aram. “Probably because English is an ‘opaque’ language. Words do not sound the way they are spelled, unlike ‘transparent’ Spanish or Italian. Parents are using letters as their main resource of teaching early literacy, but what they should be doing is ‘scaffolding’ their children’s writing, helping their children relate sounds to letters on the page even though the letters are not transparent.”

     SEE ALSO: TinyTap: Create And Play Personalized iPad Games With Your Kids

“Grapho-phonemic mediation”

Prof. Aram has spent the last 15 years studying adult support of young children’s writing. A major component of this support is what she calls “grapho-phonemic mediation.” Through this method, a caregiver is actively involved in helping a child break down a word into segments to connect sounds to corresponding letters. For example, parents using a high level of grapho-phonemic mediation will assist their children by asking them to “sound out” a word as they put it to paper. This contradicts the traditional model of telling children precisely which letters to print on a page, spelling it out for them as they go.

“Early writing is an important but understudied skill set,” said Prof. Aram. “Adults tend to view writing as associated with school, as ‘torture.’ My experience in the field indicates that it’s quite the opposite — children are very interested in written language. Writing, unlike reading, is a real activity. Children watch their parents writing and typing, and they want to imitate them. It is my goal to assist adults in helping their children enter the world of writing by showing them all the lovely things they can communicate through writing, whether it’s ‘Mommy, I love you’ or even just ‘I want chocolate.'”

momchildreading

Building a scaffold

In the study, recently published in “Early Childhood Research Quarterly,” 135 preschool children (72 girls and 63 boys) and their parents (primarily mothers) in an ethnically-diverse, middle-income US community were observed writing a semi-structured invitation for a birthday party. The researchers analyzed the degree of parental support and assessed the children’s phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, word decoding, vocabulary, and fine motor skills. Overall grapho-phonemic support was most positively linked to children’s decoding and fine motor skills.

     SEE ALSO: Children Feel Pleasure At Friends’ Misfortune As Early As Age Two

Prof. Aram and her counterparts found that “scaffolding,” or parental support, was most useful in developing early literacy skills. “The thing is to encourage children to write, but to remember that in writing, there is a right and a wrong,” said Prof. Aram. “We have found that scaffolding is a particularly beneficial activity, because the parent guides the child. And, if that parent guides the child and also demands precision in a sensitive and thoughtful way — i.e. ‘what did you mean to write here? Let me help you’ — this definitely develops the child’s literary skill set.”

Prof. Aram is currently researching interventions to promote the early writing of children from low socio-economic backgrounds, parental writing mediation for a digital world, and different schools of thought on parental writing mediation. She is a professor TAU’s Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education. The study was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Samantha W. Bindman of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other colleagues in the US.

Photos: Nuri KAYA/ phil wood photo/ Thinkstock

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2015/01/childhood-literacy-writing-parenting-research/feed/ 0
‘Tech For Good’: Meet Israel’s Hub For Social Startups http://nocamels.com/2014/12/social-tech-startups-israel/ http://nocamels.com/2014/12/social-tech-startups-israel/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 15:28:29 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=35311

Related Posts

]]>
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

There’s high-tech – and then there’s “Tech for Good,” an Israeli organization that promotes technology development to solve social problems. To actualize its goals, the group last week inaugurated The Rally, Israel’s first “social tech” accelerator that, said director Larry Akerman, aims to turn solving social issues like obesity, cyber-bullying, teen pregnancy, and much more from a niche effort by conscientious do-gooders to a mainstream business activity “that can have a widespread impact on society, while providing a good return on investment (ROI) for investors, just like a successful mobile app would.”

“We have a lot of great technology in Israel, but it has not really been applied specifically to addressing social issues,” said Akerman, even if many of the technologies and products developed in Israel – like drip irrigation – have had a major social impact. Many of those technologies have indeed contributed to making life better for billions around the world, but The Rally has something else in mind. “Our accelerator program focuses specifically on technologies to solve social problems, the vast majority of which will probably not be addressed by developers working on their own.”

The Rally wants entrepreneurs to concentrate on solving problems – and the program will show them how to make it worth their while, said Akerman.

The Hub-TLV

The Hub-TLV

     SEE ALSOHow The Technology Brings Energy And Hope To The Third World

Located at Hub-TLV, a well-known Tel Aviv accelerator space, The Rally will accept 15 start-ups (applications accepted through December 15) that “imaginatively use technology to tackle social issues,” Akerman said. The program will include lectures and discussions on marketing, presentation skills, how to approach investors, and “selling themselves” – perhaps the most important skill of all – as well as mentoring sessions with industry professionals on how to fine-tune their projects to meet the needs of both those in need, and of investors. Participants will not get a stipend, but they will get introductions to some of the top people in the Israeli business and investment world – and, in addition, said Akerman, The Rally will not be taking equity from participants, at least for this first round of training.

The Rally’s social-tech approach is new in Israel, but similar accelerators have been around for several years in the US and Britain. It’s about time, said Akerman, that Israel had one too, considering the level of innovation here. There are a number of Israeli organizations that have sponsored hackathons or even more extended programs where participants have built apps and products to help those in need, but The Rally is the first social-tech entity to be integrated in the Israeli tech community.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/12/social-tech-startups-israel/feed/ 0
Chocolate Champ: Ika Cohen Wins Gold At World Chocolate Awards For Za’atar-Flavored Truffle http://nocamels.com/2014/12/zaatar-flavored-truffle-ika-cohen/ http://nocamels.com/2014/12/zaatar-flavored-truffle-ika-cohen/#respond Sat, 06 Dec 2014 15:43:54 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=35293

Related Posts

]]>
Za’atar, that typically Middle Eastern spice sprinkled on everything from pita bread to white cheese, is not what comes to mind when you think of a chocolate competition. Yet at this year’s International Chocolate Awards in London, Tel Aviv chocolatier Ika Cohen took a joint gold medal for her za’atar flavored truffle. Ika’s unexpected chocolate innovation shared first place in the “flavored dark ganaches and truffles” section with wild blueberry chocolates from Denmark.

ikachocolatebox

Usually prepared out of ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac; Za’atar is a bright green powder that smells and tastes like the last thing you would want to combine with chocolate. However, the za’atar truffle Cohen submitted to the competition impressed the judges enough to stand out among the other 950 contest submissions and was awarded a rare joint first place prize in the truffles category.

     SEE ALSO: A Foodie Feat: ‘Saveur’ Magazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’

Za'atar

Za’atar

Cohen herself may have a knack for creating interesting chocolate because she’s actually quite new to the art. Before she founded her popular Tel Aviv chocolate shop, Ika Chocolate in 2011 (whose stock is totally out for anyone interested in buying), she completed her degree at Hebrew University in marine biology. Following a trip in the South Pacific, Cohen fell in love with sweets, and chocolate in particular, deciding to ditch the fish and follow her heart to Paris, where she studied the art of chocolate making under Michel Chaudun and Jacques Genins. After trying her hand at some of Israel’s finest confectionaries, Cohen opened up shop and since has never looked back.

Ika Cohen

Ika Cohen

This isn’t the first time that Cohen has submitted and won at the prestigious International Chocolate Awards; she took a gold medal at the semifinals in May, her lemon praline bonbon was a semifinalist at the 2012 competition, and her Earl-Grey tea-infused chocolate receiving silver at the semifinals that year.

Evidently a woman of many talents, Cohen’s international win proves that even when it comes to chocolate, sweet isn’t always the way to go.

Photos: Ika Chocolate/ brainHQ

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/12/zaatar-flavored-truffle-ika-cohen/feed/ 0
Israelis Create Therapy ‘Bubbles’ In The Heart Of New York City With ‘Talkspace’ http://nocamels.com/2014/11/israelis-create-therapy-bubbles-in-the-heart-of-new-york-city-with-talkspace/ http://nocamels.com/2014/11/israelis-create-therapy-bubbles-in-the-heart-of-new-york-city-with-talkspace/#respond Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:33:05 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=34998

Related Posts

]]>
A city of 8.4 million residents and endless possibilities, it would be an understatement to call living in New York City ‘overwhelming.’ That’s one of the reasons why the Israeli-founded startup Talkspace created a convenient solution for New Yorkers to consult with a psychologist in the heart of the city. At Talkspace’s #PopUpTherapy installation on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, passersby are able to receive a quick, free 15-minute consultation with a therapist, and find out about the startup’s psychology solutions for the modern age.popuptherapy5

Raising awareness, and treatment levels

Roni and Oren Frank

Roni and Oren Frank

Talkspace was founded in 2012 by Israelis Roni and Oren Frank after one of Roni’s friends committed suicide as a result of years of untreated depression. Armed with a master’s degree in psychology, Roni set out to “democratize psychotherapy,” aware that nearly 60 percent of individuals with a diagnosable mental health disorder never seek treatment. This, Roni points out, is due to the fact that physically showing up at a therapist’s office takes a good deal of emotional strength, something that individuals suffering from depression and other mental conditions may be lacking.

SEE ALSO: Back To The Future: Researchers Create Virtual Time Travel To Treat Memory-Based Trauma

The Talkspace application and therapy platform allows users to receive mental health support from licensed therapists online and via text, in real time. The installation in the heart of New York, #PopUpTherapy, began last Wednesday in order to raise awareness about Talkspace’s services and to make the needs of mental health patients more transparent. That’s why the Talkspace therapist is housed in a transparent bubble, designed by Alon Seifert, in the middle of the urban jungle—to assure New Yorkers and the international viewing public that someone, somewhere is there to hear their problems out.

It all begins with a text

Unlike the run-of-the-mill blood test or psych evaluation you may get as a new patient at a conventional therapist, Talkspace begins with texting. The new user receives a free texting consultation that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an entire day, according to Roni. Then one of the 100 licensed therapists employed at Talkspace will assess the new patient’s status and pair him or her with a specialist for their disorder, or just a friendly therapist for them to reach out to. When it comes time to pay for the services, the options are just as flexible. For $49 a month, the user can engage in weekly text or video sessions with their therapist, $25 for monthly and $19 for four times a year. Though Talkspace doesn’t accept traditional medical insurance, it is a lot cheaper than in-person therapy sessions.

And while the idea of texting your therapist may seem unsettling, the accessibility and informality of the digital relationship is already answering the needs of many Talkspace users. According to one, “It’s really like texting. It’s easier to write out my feelings, rather than when you’re sitting in a room with someone and it’s hard to explain things. This gives you time to think about what you want to say, and really think about what they’re saying.”

     SEE ALSO: Abandoned Dogs Help Human Sufferers Overcome Abuse, Grief

popuptherapy4With so many traditionally in-person services going online, it was only a matter of time before the Internet got Freudian. A number of online therapy services are popping up, like Blah Therapy, 7 Cups of Tea and more, but Talkspace is the only platform to offer the texting option, and to go out of their way to raise awareness about untreated mental conditions with the #PopUpTherapy installation. This past May, the startup raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Spark Capital and SoftBank and has already begun expansion of its services outside of the US to locations like Turkey, Iran, England, Canada and more.

Photos: courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/11/israelis-create-therapy-bubbles-in-the-heart-of-new-york-city-with-talkspace/feed/ 0
A Foodie Feat: ‘Saveur’ Magazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’ http://nocamels.com/2014/11/a-foodie-feat-saveur-magazine-votes-tel-aviv-outstanding-culinary-destination/ http://nocamels.com/2014/11/a-foodie-feat-saveur-magazine-votes-tel-aviv-outstanding-culinary-destination/#respond Wed, 05 Nov 2014 10:44:12 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=34761

Related Posts

]]>
The readers and contributors at the respected international culinary magazine “Saveur” voted Tel Aviv as an ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’ in the category of small international cities for 2014. Together with other cities like Copenhagen in Denmark and San Sebastian in Spain, Tel Aviv shares second place with the cities of Lyon, France and Florence, Italy, among Europe’s culture stars.

catit food restaurant

A dish at famed Tel-Aviv restaurant Catit


It’s no wonder that the White City was voted on to the list because, as anyone who has visited Tel Aviv knows, there is much more to this foodie Metropolis than falafel and hummus. Tel Aviv has over 4,500 eating establishments, which amounts to about one restaurant per 1,000 residents, an outstanding number for any country. With top-level restaurants of international standing like RafaelCatit, Herbert SamuelMul Yam and Yaffo Tel Aviv, (to name just a few), the vote of confidence from “Saveur” provides Tel Aviv with well-deserved culinary credit.

     SEE ALSO: Cook Like The Chef Of Your Dreams With Popular App ‘Look & Cook’

Legendary deserts at Mul Yam

Legendary deserts at Mul Yam

But Jerusalem wasn’t left out of the magazine’s culinary survey either; the city’s Mahne Yehuda market made the ‘recommended’ section of the list, together with the ancient markets of Istanbul and the night markets in Bangkok. Another surprise winner was Israeli airline El-Al for the best in-flight wine selection including top Israeli vineyards like “Ramat HaGolan,” “Recanti,” “Castel and more.

Speaking of alcohol, Tel Aviv’s Imperial Bar was recently rated as one of the ‘Best Bars in the World,’ by “Restaurant & Bar Design,” winning first place on the Asian continent.

Another dish at Catit

Another dish at Catit

These nods just go to show that whether it be with high-tech or culinary delights, Israelis sure know how to make their way to the top of notable international lists.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/11/a-foodie-feat-saveur-magazine-votes-tel-aviv-outstanding-culinary-destination/feed/ 0
Kippur App ‘Taslich’ Allows You To Virtually Repent Your Sins http://nocamels.com/2014/09/kippur-app-taslich-allows-you-to-virtually-repent-your-sins/ http://nocamels.com/2014/09/kippur-app-taslich-allows-you-to-virtually-repent-your-sins/#respond Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:28:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=34321

Related Posts

]]>
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Even the Jewish High Holy Days with their soul-searching don’t escape the grasp of high tech. While millions of Jews will be turning their heads and hearts upwards towards heaven, some will also be stealing downward glances, checking out their smartphones for some repentance-inspiring apps. And not surprisingly, they’re out there to be found. A group called G-dcast help users learn more about their Jewish heritage. The eScapegoat app lets them admit their failures to live up to that heritage.

No worries, though — the newly educated sinners will be able to virtually repent by throwing their sins away, via the iPhone Tashlich app.

The eScapegoat app

The G-dcast folks, G-d bless them, have made it their goal “to give every Jewish child and adult the chance to learn the basics with zero barriers to entry. No matter where you live or what you know, we have meaningful, intelligent and fun Jewish learning for you.”

     SEE ALSO: Truth Or Myth? Everything You Need To Know About Honey For Rosh Hashanah

Emphasis on the “fun,” based on the apps on the G-dcast site, includes selections such as “Wake Up World,” (iOS/Android; free) a Rosh Hashanah tale for little kids narrated by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of of Facebook CEO and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg. Arkscape (iOS only; free) is a card matching game that “shares some teachings about the story of Noah in creative ways” (you have to help Noah match up the animals before their ‘poop’ takes over the ark). And the The Five eBooks of Moses (iOS only; free) is an app that could be helpful to any newcomer to traditional Judaism, regardless of age — with 55 short animated videos that bring to life the words on the pages of the Bible.

Beyond the apps, G-dcast produces curriculum material being used by more than 4,000 teachers and educators, and its videos on all sorts of Jewish-related topics have garnered 1.5 million views on YouTube. Led by Sarah Lefton, a pioneer in the digital Jewish world, G-dcast started its work in 2008 and includes top staff from companies such as Apple, Pixar, the New York Times, SF Bay Guardian, Village Voice, and a variety of Hollywood production companies.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/09/kippur-app-taslich-allows-you-to-virtually-repent-your-sins/feed/ 0
As Microbreweries Take Off In Israel, Alexander’s Eco-Friendly Ale Tastes International Success http://nocamels.com/2014/09/as-microbreweries-take-off-in-israel-alexanders-eco-friendly-ale-tastes-international-success/ http://nocamels.com/2014/09/as-microbreweries-take-off-in-israel-alexanders-eco-friendly-ale-tastes-international-success/#respond Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:14:16 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=34247

Related Posts

]]>
The popularity of craft beer and microbreweries has exploded in recent years, and Israel is not missing out on the craze. Craft breweries, a trend which actually began in the 1980s, are marked by their independence, local character, smaller scale and brewing capacity. With beer aficionados acquiring increasingly refined tastes for craft beer, more and more of these boutique breweries are gaining market share from an industry once dominated by big commercial brands.

Yet when most Israelis think of beer, big industry names come to mind like Goldstar or Carlsberg, and until about five years ago, these were the only options available. But today, Israel is joining the craft beer movement, with Alexander Brewery, the largest craft beer producer in the country, at the forefront of industry innovation. By combining eco-friendly processing techniques with top-of-the-line production, Alexander is quickly becoming the go-to brand for Israelis seeking craft beer.

alexanderbeerFounder and CEO of Alexander Brewery, Ori Sagy, a former fighter pilot in the IDF with a degree in beer-making (yes, that exists) tells NoCamels, “95 percent of the beer in the world is produced by industrial brands like Heineken and Budweiser. The goal of these industry beer producers is to make as much beer as they can at the lowest cost possible.” Sagy remarked that there is an upside to this, because it makes the beverage accessible to more people at a low cost, but he insists that craft beer will always be the preferred choice of real beer enthusiasts.

The difference is in every sip

The industrial process for producing craft beer differs from that of commercial brands, right down to the basic ingredients. “There are four main ingredients in beer,” Sagy explains. “Hops, malt, yeast, and water. Industrial beers use substitutes such as extracts, rice, cornstarch, and cane sugar to cut their ingredients. It’s cheaper and more stable, but a lot less flavorful.” Sagy points out that Alexander distinguishes itself by sticking to the four basic ingredients in their purest form, without resorting to extracts or additives.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Is Making Beer (Yes, Beer) Smarter

Alexander Brewery also rejects the industry practice of using tap water, and instead produces its own water on site using reverse osmosis. After purifying the water, they then “rebuild” the water with natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium. According to Sagy, “No industry beer does this, and very few craft beer breweries actually use this process, since it’s very complicated.”

alexanderprocessAnd the difference is clearly evident in the taste. Where other beers may have a slight metal or chemical aftertaste, Alexander beer has a smooth, rounded flavor, which Sagy attributes to Alexander’s water purification process and unadulterated, all natural ingredients.

Brewing beer with the environment in mind

These days, the hipster fans of craft beer also have a passion for local, organic, and environmentally friendly companies. That being the case, Alexander Brewery is definitely the answer for the Israeli scene as it prides itself on its relationship to the environment. The brewery’s water is heated using solar power and it donates spent grains to local farmers free of charge to use as livestock feed. In addition, the company saves all of its process residuals from its beers and (this is a big hipster TA-DA) all its beers are 100 percent vegan. In fact, the company just launched and released the first certified organic beer in Israel this summer, in its popular “Blonde” flavor.

     SEE ALSO: Alcohoot: The World’s First Smartphone Breathalyzer

Sagy explains that another unique aspect of Alexander is its invention and production of completely original beer flavors – all designed and perfected by Sagy himself. Alexander specializes in ale-type beers: Alexander Black, a seasonal beer for the winter with aromas of dark chocolate and espresso; Alexander Ambree, a reddish French-style ale; Alexander Blonde, a low-alcohol Belgian-style ale with a floral and fruity aroma; and Alexander Green, a hoppy IPA with an Israeli twist — a fruity aroma of grapefruit, guava and mango. For the premium craft beer, customers can expect to pay about $5.00 a beer, about 60 percent more than your run-of-the-mill industrial beer in Israel.


From local startup to world champion

Counting just three years on the market in Israel so far, this company has seen impressive growth, doubling sales in the past year alone. And the international beer community is taking note. Some accomplishments include winning the World Beer Cup this year in Denver, Colorado and the Gold European Beer Award last year.

Now Alexander is setting its sights on international distribution, with hopes to expand to the United States and China. However, the biggest obstacle to making Alexander Beer a globally recognized craft beer name is the considerable Israeli excise tax for beer, which is ten times higher than that of the United States and other Western countries. In fact, more than half the cost of a bottle of Alexander Beer goes to taxes.

Sagy says that this, along with educating people about the benefits of drinking craft beer is the largest challenge to growth. “Most people don’t realize the value of drinking craft beer, which is fresher, all natural, and of course tastier. The best form of education is getting people to try the beer. Then they realize the difference.”

Photos: courtesy

]]>
http://nocamels.com/2014/09/as-microbreweries-take-off-in-israel-alexanders-eco-friendly-ale-tastes-international-success/feed/ 0