Sometimes, a computer can mean a connection to life. That is the name of a voluntary project at the geriatric hospital in Pardes Hanna, which introduces elderly patients to PCs for word processing, Internet surfing and e-mail. The Sarel company, a publicly owned firm that purchases hospital equipment for state-owned medical centers, chose to carry out the project. The computers are equipped with special touch screens to make it easier for the elderly to use. Hospital director Dr. Yehoshua Ben Yisrael notes that the institution for the chronically ill and aged has a variety of patients, from those in various stages of dementia who need moderate nursing help to those who are nearly helpless. Some of them have also undergone physical or mental trauma and need to be rehabilitated. The computer project, he added, is aimed at preserving their mental powers and preventing depression. Patients learn how to communicate with family members via e-mail, enabling them to feel close to them even when they are not being visited. The touch screen makes it possible for patients to operate the computer or even draw a picture with just a touch of the palm or a finger. Sarel provided two specially equipped PCs and suitable software for each hospital department. Every Monday afternoon, Sarel employees arrive at the hospital to teach computing, and on Tuesdays girls from the Kfar Pines religious high school come to do it as well. Teenage boys from the ORT School in Binyamina and others are due to join the project soon. Sarel manager Avi Buskila said his staff were enthusiastic about participating, and view it as an important project. Both the volunteers and the patients have benefited, he said. Eighty-two-year-old Rahel, who at first was nervous about an encounter with a computer, said she quickly realized she had been wrong. "Thanks to the wonderful Sarel volunteers and their patience, I have learned the secrets of the computer, andam now able to operate it and write text in Word. I have even started to write my memoirs. Now I look forward to a lesson on e-mail so I can communicate with my 15- and 18-year-old grandchildren." "It opens a new world for old people," added Ben Yisrael. CLIMATE CHANGE IS CHANGING FASHION You take an umbrella when rain is forecast. But actual change in climate will have a profound effect on clothes and fashion, changing styles, fabrics and laundering, according to a University of Maryland expert. "Remember Jimmy Carter's sweaters from the 1970s energy crisis? With Seventh Avenue proclaiming that 'green is the new black,' we can expect a surge in fashion innovations in response to climate change," says Jo Paoletti, an American studies professor at the University of Maryland, and an expert in apparel design and the history of textile and clothing. "As the impact of global warming is felt, we can anticipate debates over cotton versus polyester and increasing concern about the water and energy needed to launder clothing," adds Paoletti, who has spent more than 25 years researching and writing about clothing in America. "In the future, smart clothing that monitors and adjusts to body temperature may help us reduce our need for air conditioning and heating." Climate change could also affect the frequency of buying new clothes and the size of our wardrobes, says Paoletti. "North Americans buy more clothing than they need, and thrift shops and charities are swamped with our leftovers." HU JOINS ACADEMIC CONSORTIUM The Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem (IAS) at the Hebrew University has been accepted to a prestigious consortium of the world's leading advanced academic institutes. Membership for the Hebrew University's IAS was voted by the consortium's existing members - considered the Ivy League of advanced institutes. These include the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford; Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard; the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study; and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. The IAS is the only one of its kind in the Middle East, and was the fifth in the world to be established in 1975 - the first one being at Princeton. Twelve Nobel Laureates are associated with the institute in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and economics. The Hebrew University is the tenth member to join the consortium. The IAS in Jerusalem was accepted for its unique approach in hosting collaborative research groups and its academic achievements. It hopes that membership will open doors to further academic exchange and collaborative projects. "We are looking forward to sharing experiences with these distinguished institutes for the benefit of all," said director of the IAS in Jerusalem, Prof. Eliezer Rabinovici. "Science should move forward by the tradition of openness and sharing, and not by the ill winds of exclusion. Membership status in the SIAS consortium is a testament to the high caliber, innovative and collaborative research Israel engages in." An independent institution based at HU's Givat Ram campus, the IAS is committed to advanced research and promoting excellence in wide-ranging scientific areas and scholastic fields by facilitating intense intellectual exchange between scholars of diverse experience and knowledge to produce innovative thinking and groundbreaking research. As distinct from universities, scholars come for a year to work on their research with eight colleagues - four from Israel and four from abroad. The institute also sponsors workshops and conferences, as well as an advanced school for educating the next generation. BUMP ON THE ROAD Road bumps are very effective in getting cars to slow down in neighborhoods where children and others may be crossing, but if you don't know they're there and don't slow down in time, you - and your car - will really feel the bump. The experience can shake up drivers and passengers, and may also cause damage to the vehicle's underbody. Now GISrael, a company that operates a databank transmitted by satellite, has a list of all the road bumps in the country, along with the location of 30,000 streets and road, 19,000 public buildings and 613,000 house numbers. Its staff collected the information, including the exact locations, by visiting each bump and updating the data bank on a regular basis. GISrael can supply data to all global positioning devices, so that users will get a warning when a bump is near. More information can be obtained from its Web site at www.gisrael.co.il.