‘Night of the Scientists’ spotlights computers

Events showcasing science to be free to the public at universities and research institutes next week.

Science 370 (photo credit: Ofira Shterenbeg/Tel Aviv University)
Science 370
(photo credit: Ofira Shterenbeg/Tel Aviv University)
The Night of the Scientists, free events open to the public at 12 universities, research institutes and science museums, will be held on Monday evening.
This year, the theme will be the computer sciences. The hands-on events are being organized with cooperation from the Science and Technology Ministry and in coordination with the European Union.
Who will win in a battle between man and machine? What did Israel’s first computer look like? And in our future, will computers replace machines in a wide variety of activities? These questions will be answered by scientists on Monday night, a full day before Yom Kippur begins.
Most events will begin at 5 p.m. and continue for hours after midnight.
Members of the public may have face-to-face meetings with scientists, tour laboratories, hear lectures, participate in experiential workshops and watch presentations.
The computer theme was chosen to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of British scientist Alan Turing, the “father of the computer era.”
The Haifa Israel Institute of Technology-Technion’s venerable science museum is coordinating the events. There, audiences will be able to watch humanoid robots; learn about the power of the computer in preventing the use of nuclear weapons, its role of the film industry and its functions in aircraft.
Tel Aviv University is offering a robot race and a robot that washes floors; a lecturer on computer hackers in the Middle East; a speedy chess tournament facing the computer Junior; and preparation of ice cream as physics and chemistry experiment.
At the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, visitors will be able to take part in an interactive game and astronomical observations, take a look at the institute’s first computer and converse with scientists in a cafe atmosphere.
At the ministry’s MIGAL center in Kiryat Shmona, one can view early computer equipment from the 1970s and 1980s, participate in virtual computer games, listen to a series of lectures and create “works of art” from old computer parts.
The Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus in Jerusalem offers robots and miniature helicopters, as well as the story of the evolution of the computer.
At the nearby Bloomfield Science museum, the public can take a tour on patents, take part in an encryption workshop and hear a computer’s lecture on understanding the brain. A “fringe” presentation on the influences of technology on our lives will also be shown.
The Open University campus in Ra’anana will explain to visitors how the Internet changes thinking. You can also have your absolute hearing checked, view the skies with telescopes, try to solve an encrypted riddle and view a real-time chess match between the captain of Israel’s national chess team and a computer.
Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Herschkowitz said that the computer influences everyone and every facet of daily life. The Night of Scientists is an opportunity to learn from close up the latest technological developments and get a sense of what will exist in the future and to perform experiments in scientific fields, he added.
The peak of the events will be a mass Turing test in which for the first time in Israel, the computer will vie with humans. Among those involved will be Intel-Israel CEO Maxine Fassberg, Israel Space Agency chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, TV host Avri Gilad and model Adi Neuman.
People on the dais will be asked questions, and the audience will vote on whether they faked their answers from the computer.
Other participating universities and institutions are Ben- Gurion University and the Sami Shamoon Academic Engineering College on its Beersheba and Ashdod campuses.