City Notes: The zipper approach

Technion professor receives mega-grant from EU.

Churchill Auditorium at Technion. (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Churchill Auditorium at Technion.
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
The European Union last week selected Prof. Ilan Marek of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as the beneficiary of a 2.4 million euro grant, for developing a new method in the field of synthetic chemistry.
Marek and his team developed a new method, called the “zipper approach,” for selective synthesis of complex molecules. The EU said they were awarding the grant for Marek’s “innovative and alternative way of thinking about synthetic chemistry, which went against the mainstream.”
A statement from the Technion explained that since the 19th century, the conventional approach to syntheses of organic materials was through the building of new bonds, mainly carbon-carbon (C-C), while controlling their spatial structure, but Marek decided to explore whether there were other ways to create complex organic molecules.
Citing an article published by the scientific journal Nature, the statement said Marek and his research team from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry demonstrated, for the first time, “a novel approach through selective bond activation, which combines the simultaneous activation and fragmentation of otherwise difficult transformations: allylic C-H (H=Hydrogen) and selective C-C bond activations.”
The term “zipper approach” was prescribed due to the team’s use of a molecule that has some strain on one of its sides, because of the presence of a three-membered ring, and a double bond on its other side.
They said that by adding zirconium complexes, they were able to initiate a double bond migration, similar to the zipping action of a zipper, up towards the three-membered ring, causing a selective cleavage of one carbon-carbon bond of the strained ring.
“It’s much like zipping up your jacket, joining both sides of the zipper from the bottom end and zipping it upwards,” Marek explained.
“Sometimes the link between the two sides disconnects when you move the zipper up. We were able to conceive this detachment and fragment it in a premeditative manner to achieve our target.”
This latest development is linked to work done by Marek and his team last year, also reported on in Nature, in which the researchers announced a “breakthrough” that could lead to the speedy synthesis of new medications through a new approach to “molecular architecture.”
Marek is now recruiting additional researchers to assist him in his research.
Night lines to run across country for late-night revelers to safely celebrate New Year
Public transportation night lines will operate across the country next week, enabling partygoers to safely celebrate New Year’s Eve without having to drive, the Local website reported. Stewards will be setting up coffee bars in several major centers, which will be open until the early hours of the morning. After a night of partying, stewards will offer revelers cups of coffee and direct them to the night buses to take them home.
According to Transportation Minister Israel Katz, the night lines are in response to the fact that large amounts of alcohol are consumed when youngsters go out partying. He called on young people to take the night lines, rather than risk drinking and driving. “The night lines are a public service and a top priority, and we will continue to provide this service to passengers so that they can continue to enjoy themselves safely.”
The night lines will operate across some 26 cities and towns, and the coffee stands will be set up in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Rishon Lezion and Haifa. In addition to handing out coffee, the stewards will distribute information pages with routes and schedules of the night lines.
CENTER TA Municipality, KKL-JNF lay cornerstone for new bird center
The Tel Aviv Municipality and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund last week laid the cornerstone for a new bird center in the city. The bird center will be located in the Rosh Tzipor (Bird’s Head) complex in Ganei Yehoshua, thanks to a donation by KKL-JNF Australia.
Present at the ceremony were KKLJNF chairman Efi Stenzler, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma. Rosh Tzipor is located where the Yarkon and the Ayalon rivers meet, and was given this name due to the view of the place from above. Marc and Eva Besen are the key donors in the NIS 8 million project, which is expected to be completed in 2014.
The center will be managed by KKLJNF and will be incorporated into the green urban park, which already includes bicycle lanes, play facilities and picnic tables, managed by the municipality.
KKL-JNF stated that the new center will encourage educational activity close to nature. The bird center will be open and accessible to the general public, and will offer educational activities for children as well as regulated public tours.
Project initiators explained that they have been rejuvenating the habitat over the past few years, including rehabilitating streams. They said that their success in developing the area “returns Tel Aviv to the first Yarkon days.”
Stenzler said the new project fits well with the organization’s environmental activities and that it would add a gem to the Yarkon and the greater Tel Aviv area, with “six hectares (14.8 acres) of lakes, pools, riverbanks and chirping birds.”
Huldai said that over the past decade, the municipality in cooperation with the Yarkon River Authority has worked to revive the Yarkon and the surrounding area, resulting in a clean river filled with fish, blooming banks and a promenade that has become one of the country’s most popular sites.
He said he was pleased to now add a new element to the landscape, in the form of the new birding center.
Car blast moderately injures 2 in Rehovot
An explosion in a car Monday morning moderately injured two people in Rehovot. Magen David Adom paramedics provided medical assistance at the scene.
Sdot Negev launches mobile library
The Sdot Negev Regional Council last week launched its first mobile library, in cooperation with Bank Hapoalim and the Sifrei Mafteah (Key Books) association, the Local website reported.
Preschool children attended the launch and browsed the mobile library’s books, got to know the staff and watched a play, Friends on a Bridge, by the Orna Porat Theater for Children and Youth.
The launch was also attended by Bank Hapoalim representatives, including board chairman Yair Seroussi and representatives from Sefer Mafteah. The representatives spoke to the children about the importance of reading books from a young age, and the literary experiences that this mobile library brings them – children’s activities based on books, meeting with authors and plays.
Regional council head Tamir Idan said at the launch that the library placed “great importance on children, both big and small, reading books, and the mobile library project will bring with it a change for Sdot Negev in this area. Soon, all Sdot Negev residents will be able to enjoy a wide variety of books and literary activities.” He encouraged all residents to visit the library and to borrow and read books: “for us and for the future generation.”
Eilat to hold ‘Rally Sprint’ car race
Forty vehicles are set to take part in a rally next week in Eilat, including family vehicles, jeeps, buggies and Razors. The racetrack is 3.2 km.
long, located at the North Lagoon next to the Herod Hotel. Vehicles participating in the event, named Rally Sprint, are adjusted for this kind of race, in terms of safety and for use on a variety of different surfaces.
During the race, each vehicle will compete against the clock for the shortest time to cross the track.