from the April 2010 issue

National Science Day

What were Einstein's breakthroughs? Who developed cherry tomatoes? Physics experiments on the train!

To mark National Science Day (and Einstein's Birthday) on March 14, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel Railways are organizing a 'Science Train' traversing Israel from Beer Sheva to Haifa, as part of the monthly 'Scientists on the Trains' lecture series.

Commuters on the train will be treated to lectures on the contribution of Albert Einstein to humanity; will meet one of the scientists who developed cherry tomatoes and learn how a scientist develops an invention; and will witness physics experiments during their train journey.

Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, physicist and former president of the Hebrew University, will talk about Albert Einstein's contribution to science, whose birthday on March 14 is marked by National Science Day. "In Einstein's life, there were two years during which he made scientific breakthroughs that changed our outlook on the world forever and influenced not only modern physics but also our daily lives," says Prof. Gutfreund. "Thanks to his understanding of the essence of light and its interaction with matter, many technologies have been developed - from the elevator door to ballistic missiles."

Prof. Haim Rabinowitch, former rector of the Hebrew University, will talk about the development process of cherry tomatoes, which he developed with Prof. Nachum Kedar. "We were looking for a way to slow down the quick ripening of regular tomatoes, a phenomenon that is typical for large tomatoes in hot countries. After a great deal of work over many months, in 1973 we succeeded in identifying the appropriate genetic combination to slow down maturation, and developed a way to exploit the genes to enhance the tomatoes," explains Prof. Rabinowitch.

Cherry tomatoes will be distributed to passengers on the train during the lecture.

Yehonadav Bekenstein, physicist and instructor in the Hebrew University's youth science courses, will be demonstrating experiments to passengers that deal with the questions: What do mountain trains, nuclear submarines and riding bikes have in common? Why doesn't a car turn over when it takes a sharp turn? And how is this related to planetary orbits around the sun? Can a spinning top rotate in the air? Newton's law, angular momentum, centripetal force, centripetal acceleration, coriolis affect, inertia principal and movement without friction.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report April 2010

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