Israeli TED event hosts experts on altruism, bad breath and more

Israeli TED event hosts experts on altruism, bad breath and more

Celebs join little-known mavens for 'interactivity' conference in Holon, available through live feed

MK Yanki Margalit speaks at the 2013 TEDx Israel event, held in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Courtesy)
MK Yanki Margalit speaks at the 2013 TEDx Israel event, held in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel is hosting another edition of TEDx, the international version of the US-based Conference on Technology, Entertainment, Design, where attendees get to hear some of the world’s greatest thinkers share their ideas and experiences. This year’s Israeli TEDx event will be held Wednesday at the Holon Institute of Technology (HiT), with a live video feed available for those who can’t make it in person.

TED started out in 1984 as an annual conference in California, followed by European and Asian editions. Today, there are hundreds of TED-related events worldwide, many of them in the context of TEDx, a sort of “TED franchise” designed to help residents of countries around the world get in touch with great ideas and thinkers from their home countries, as well as from abroad.

One of the charms of TED (and, by association TEDx) is that the program introduces participants to speakers who are among the world’s most accomplished people in a wide range of disciplines, but are generally unknown to those who don’t specifically follow their work. The Holon TEDx event — whose theme is “interactivity” — follows that model, with speakers who have a lot to say about a lot of subjects that will be new to the ears of most of the audience.

Among the speakers, for example, is Dr. Ayelet Shavit, a senior lecturer at Tel Hai College, a former Fulbright scholar, and a Marie Curie IOF fellow, who does research on, among other things, where “altruism” — the assistance rendered by members of society to each other, often to their own detriment — comes from. In an evolutionary society, after all, humans should be expected to act in ways that advance their own interests, not those of others. Shavit’s research has been published in dozens of scientific journals worldwide, and her book, “One for All?” won Hebrew University’s prestigious Bloomfield prize in 2008.

Kinvestix’s Power Vest is an Israeli invention most people haven’t heard of, but the workout platform developed by Asaf Manor — which uses resistance pulleys to make Microsoft’s Kinect system workouts more effective — is being used not only to help people exercise, but to help individuals with debilitating neurological diseases, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and high-level gait disorder to improve muscle control. Manor, a former medical school candidate, will discuss his invention and how it is being used around the world.

Professor Mel Rosenberg of Tel Aviv University is a leading world expert on one of life’s “unmentionables” — bad breath. Rosenberg has been working on a cure for bad breath, and bad smells in general, since the 1980s. Among his inventions are two microbial inoculation tools — the Quadloop and the Diaslide — an effective spray solution for the elimination of shoe odor, a deodorant for use in the shower, and Breathanol, an anti-halitosis flavoring that keeps “bad breath bacteria” out of the mouth. Breathanol is currently used commercially in Israel, Japan, Norway, and several other countries.

TEDx HiT will also feature some more well-known speakers, including Israeli Arab singer Mira Awad, who will discuss what life is like under the spotlight of both communities, and Rona Ramon, wife of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle tragedy. Altogether, the 2.5 hour event will feature 13 speakers.

TEDx fits right in with HiT’s philosophy of reaching out to the community, said college president Professor Eduard Yakubov. “With collaboration comes mutual inspiration, as we promote and develop interactions with the community for the benefit of everyone involved,” he said. “Sponsoring TEDx is a direct direct result of our belief that higher education should not be isolated to ‘ivory towers,’ and that interacting with the community is our greatest strength.”

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