Science
Bringing Light to the Holy Land: Israel’s Electrical System

Like every other nation, Israel is a country that is always growing – demographically, technologically and economically. As a result, Israel has an ever-growing need for a reliable and efficient supply of electrical energy.

Fuels

As a country with few natural resources, Israel imports most of its fuel for electrical energy. Currently, Israel’s main fuel supplies are coal and natural gas. Egypt provides most of Israel’s natural gas through a pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, while Israel buys most of its coal on the open market from countries such as Australia and the United States.

Due to the high cost of foreign imports, Israel made many efforts to reduce its dependence on imported sources of fuel for electricity. For decades, Israel unsuccessfully attempted to discover oil or other fossil fuels within its borders. However, recent exploration efforts off the northern coast of Israel led to the discovery of a large pool of natural gas in a site called Tamar. Furthermore, Israel recently cooperated with Cyprus assisting with their undersea natural gas exploration.

War & Peace – Talk Delivered by Nobel Laureate, Robert Aumann

The talk was presented at SIGNAL’s China-Israel Symposium Sept. 9, 2011

Thus begins the Advanced Information announcement of the 2005 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, awarded for Game Theory Analysis of Conflict and Cooperation. So it is appropriate to devote this lecture to one of the most pressing and profound issues that confront humanity: that of War and Peace.

Robert Aumann at SIGNAL's Symposium

Robert Aumann at SIGNAL’s Symposium

I would like to suggest that we should perhaps change direction in our efforts to bring about world peace. Up to now all the effort has been put into resolving specific conflicts: India–Pakistan, North–South Ireland, various African wars, Balkan wars, Russia–Chechnya, Israel–Arab, etc., etc. I’d like to suggest that we should shift emphasis and study war in general.

Let me make a comparison. There are two approaches to cancer. One is clinical. You have, say, breast cancer. What should you do? Surgery? Radiation? Chemotherapy? Which chemotherapy? How much radiation? Do you cut out the lymph nodes? The answers are based on clinical tests, simply on what works best. You treat each case on its own, using your best information. And your aim is to cure the disease, or to ameliorate it, in the specific patient before you.

An Introduction to Scientific Research and Development in Israel

Israel excels as a world-class competitor in scientific and technological research in many important fields including computer technology, alternative energy, water treatment, agriculture and communications. Indeed, the degree of creativity in Israel has led many to consider Israel to be second only to Silicon Valley in terms of high-tech productivity.

Government Encouragement

Much of Israel’s success in science and technological research can be attributed to government policies that encourage investment in research and development, or R&D, as well as many individual high-tech companies. These policies include lower tax rates on investments, as well as conditional government grants.

The Chief Scientist, a governmental office attached to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, is responsible for encouraging scientific research in Israel. With a budget of 400 million dollars, the Chief Scientist provides conditional research grants, which cover up to 50% of R&D expenditure in Israel. It is partly due to these governmental policies such as this that Israel is ranked #1 among OECD countries when it comes to investment in R&D.

Many of Israel’s unique achievements in technological innovation can also be attributed to the influence of the Israeli Defense Forces, or the IDF. The IDF invests significant resources towards the facilitation of scientific innovation and research with the aim of modernizing and improving all areas of performance. To encourage young, bright soldiers to make long term commitments to the Army beyond the basic three years, Israel’s military has a special program called “Atuda“, or “reserve” in which the army funds university tuition for eligible candidates who wish to study applied or theoretical science. In exchange, candidates agree to serve a minimum of five years in the IDF.

Once they are finished with their studies, these candidates are allowed to enter research and intelligence units, whose aim is to progress and modernize such areas in the army as computer management of specific units. These units include the Air Force, electronic surveillance, and the maintenance of an internal Israeli Army computer network (known as Tzahal-net, after the Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Army).

In addition to receiving university education paid for by the military, members of technological units learn a number of important skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, risk taking and risk management as well as innovative experimentation. Students in these units, having already learned their craft both on a theoretical and practical level, are thus well-equipped to enter and succeed in the field of high-tech development.

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