The State of Israel was formally declared on May 14 of 1948, yet within one day, it sustained an invasion by the armies of no fewer than five Arab lands. As a result, Israel had no choice but to fight back and protect its reclaimed sovereignty as the ancestral home of the Jewish people. There were roughly 650,000 living in Israel in 1948, with countless more European Jews who had survived the Holocaust as well as those residing in Arab countries across the Mid-East and North Africa wishing to move to the new nation. At this time, Israel was in survival mode in terms of meeting the necessities of a rapidly growing population. Thus few anticipated great strides in the realms of technology or economics.
However, more than 50 years later, Israel has emerged as a true power in these realms, its per-capita GDP ranking 21st in the entire world. Data from the United Nations suggest that Israel’s standard of living is 23rd worldwide, as measured by life expectancy, educational opportunities, and per capita income.
A large number of these achievements can be attributed to innovation and expertise in technology and applied science. The innate lack of natural resources in Israel has prompted aggressive exploration and action in the realm of scientific education and research.
The urgent dilemmas faced by Israel and the impressive level of scientific and scholarly infrastructure combined to prompt an unusual process which resulted in groundbreaking development. This can be seen both in Israel’s agricultural realm as well as its military structure, two elements that have proven vital to the very survival of the state. Confronted by the reality of hostile, well-stocked Arab armies nearby, Israel’s leaders needed to learn how to procure its weaponry, even in the face of difficulties obtaining supplies from abroad.
1951 saw the launch of the Israel Aircraft Industries, a government enterprise, and also the creation of Technion’s aeronautical engineering arm. These investments have shown themselves to be invaluable over time. Developments in the world of agriculture designed to provide bountiful harvests for an expanding citizenry have yielded innovations in agro-mechanical devices, drip irrigation techniques and even the use of genetic engineering to grow disease-resistant, high-producing crop varieties.
Nowadays, Israel is witnessing a boom in high-tech entrepreneurial activity in league with that seen in highly developed nations worldwide. As evidence of this, foreign investors have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into these initiatives. Israel’s roster of more than 1,800 high-tech firms is set to produce exports valued at roughly $9 billion this year alone, a figure which represents massive growth over prior years.
BDI-COFACE conducted a study in 2014 of college students in Israel, finding that a majority of those surveyed had hopes of entering the technology realm. 31 percent of those studying at Israeli universities intended to pursue employment at high-tech giants including Google and Intel following graduation, including those not focusing on tech-related subjects. 15 percent of respondents asserted that they hoped to be employed in service-related industries following graduation. 13 percent had aspirations in the finance sector and 4 percent cited education as their desired career path. Among the most coveted firms for recent Israeli college graduates are Teva Pharmaceuticals, Intel, and Google.
At the start of each year, Bloomberg publishes its Global Innovation Index which explores the 50 most influential global technology hot spots. The 2015 list put Israel in 4th position, surpassing the rankings achieved by China and the United States. Israel was ranked 2nd in research and development functions, 4th in research talent, 4th in education, 21st in manufacturing capabilities and 11th in high-technology firms.
The high-tech sector in Israel was able to bring in a whopping $4.43 billion over the course of 2015, as explained by the Venture Capital Research Center. The figure is an impressive 30 percent jump over the prior year. The same report also revealed that for the 708 high-tech deals involving Israeli firms, there was an average value of $6.3 million, a staggering tally for certain.
Many people have a smartphone, and most of us have heard of smart homes. But the average person isn’t aware that studies are being done with material to produce smart clothes. The future may mean that certain material used for clothing can light up or collect energy. Some types of fiber may be able to detect pollution and even give information over the internet. The biggest problem currently facing these materials is the fact that because they have been treated with chemicals, they currently wear out very quickly. The good news is that it has now been found how to grow cotton fibers that have these functions growing into them. If the science holds up, then eventually it will mean that cloths will be lighter while also being stronger and brighter and they won’t wear out.
A science paper was set to go to press when the editor’s found some mistakes in its supplemental material that led to their expressing some concern, and they wanted to get clarification from the original authors. The author, who is a chemist at The Weizmann Institute in Israel responded saying that the eras were a mistake in the names of the pigments. He went on to say that he was working with the editors of the journal to fix the problem.
Fortunately, that mistake has not reduced the amount of enthusiasm over this work, and even one of the chemical engineers at MIT said that he liked the paper a lot. If this study proves itself out, it will mean that useful functions can be put in the plants without any genetic engineering. None the less, they will require substantial regulatory hurdles before they can get approved for consumer or commercial use.
The way they intend to modify the cotton is very straightforward. The scientist in Israel and Germany link molecules together with functionality such as magnetism and fluorescent lighting. The cotton plants can absorb these things through a vasculature and use it to build their cells.
To begin, the scientist started with cotton plants that were growing hydroponically instead of those growing in a field. They then took the cotton fibers and cultured them separately which allowed a bypass of the normal process the plant uses for photosynthesis which makes sugar that it needs to grow. They gave the plants what they needed by feeding it with water that had glucose molecules along with the functional molecules they wanted it to absorb that then passed it all to the cells that build cotton fibers.
Fluorescent molecules were linked to the sugars in one example. In the first trial, only a few percent of the fluorescent material was able to successfully get into the fibers which look yellow in normal light, but when ultraviolet light is shined on the plants, they look bright green. At this point, no one knows how long the fluorescent fibers will last. The head scientist Natalia, says that because the compounds are linked directly to the sugars in the fiber, they can’t be washed away.
The scientists were able to insert magnetic compounds to sugars, and the test demonstrated that those could also be incorporated into the fibers. This may mean that clothes made in the future will have the ability to store data. For this to happen, however, it will mean that more of the functional molecules need to get into the fibers.
The fact that plants and organisms can be grown from cultures might mean that this type of approach can be used to modify any living plant. It would mean that there would be some possibilities and functionalities that could be built into clothing. This is an exciting possibility.