New Worlds: BGU, Beduin make modern olive press

Smart cars to prevent accidents; world's first 'true blue' roses on display in Tokyo.

olives 88 (photo credit: )
olives 88
(photo credit: )
Ben-Gurion University researchers have launched a unique collaboration with Beduin entrepreneurs to develop a modern olive press in the Negev- just in time for the olive harvest. For the past two years, the Beersheba researchers have had professional ties with Negev Beduin in the production of olive oil. The multi-disciplinary BGU team focused on the characterization, branding and improvement of the olive oil produced in the Negev. They worked with Ahmed Zabraga, an entrepreneur in Rahat. These efforts have begun to bear fruit, and the first modern olive press was established recently in Rahat by Zabraga and his family. BGU researchers provided technological solutions concerning the pressing of olives and the treatment of the waste, which is environmentally damaging. The researchers are also examining the possibility of producing energy from the waste. This project is part of the effort being made to upgrade Israel's olive oil industry, specifically in the Negev. The BGU multi-disciplinary research team includes people from the plant oil biotechnology lab headed by Prof. Ze'ev Wiesman, and other BGU labs headed by Prof. Yael Edan from the industrial engineering and management department, Prof. Asher Brenner from the environmental engineering unit and Dr. Jack Gilron from the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Sde Boker. "The Negev has the potential to be a major area for the cultivation of olives," said Wiesman. "Preparation of the technological infrastructure will enable producers from the Beduin sector to enjoy the rewards of an industry that is close to their heritage and hearts." The project integrates well with the new initiative of the Abu Basma Regional Council to promote an effective solution for some of the problems faced by the population in the council settlements. "The university calls for more educated young Beduin to join the project. We hope to channel their abilities and talents to provide better opportunities for the younger generation in these communities," concluded Wiesman. SMART CARS TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS A software program that will help several cars coordinate their movements to avoid an accident is being developed by German engineers. The software, according to a UPI report, allows vehicles to form a network via car-to-car communication. "In dangerous situations, cars can perform coordinated maneuvers without their drivers having to intervene," said Thomas Batz, who developed the software with colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing and Karlsruhe University. The so-called cognitive automobiles are equipped with integrated sensors such as cameras, GPS and radar systems, and continuously transmit current position and driving information to a car designated as group coordinator. Sudden dangers such as a child running onto the road are recognized not only by the car directly affected, but also by the group coordinator. If the car in question can neither brake nor swerve because there's another car in the lane to the right, the group coordinator orders both vehicles to swerve in a coordinated maneuver to avoid hitting the child or each other. ROSES AND VIOLETS ARE BLUE Roses come in a myriad of colors and shapes - but have you ever seen a blue one? Now "the world's first true blue roses" have been put on display at the International Flower Expo in Tokyo after the developers spent two decades and $30 million. The blue flowers, which traditionally signify mystery or attaining the impossible, go on sale next fall, the company that developed them told The Daily Telegraph and UPI. The roses were implanted with a gene that simulates the synthesis of blue-pigment pansies. Long thought impossible, the creation of blue roses was carried out by Florigene, a Melbourne biotech subsidiary of Suntory, a Japanese brewing and distilling company. They estimate the market for the blue roses at more than $300 million. In 1991, the team won an intense global race to isolate the gene responsible for blue flowers, and has since developed a range of genetically modified flowers in the blue spectrum, as well as breakthroughs extending the vase life of cut flowers. Previous "blue roses" have been created by dyeing white roses, since roses lack a gene to produce delphinidin - the primary plant pigment that produces true blue flowers.