HTS 2041: The Modern Middle East

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Israel is not just about The Conflict

We started talking about Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel this week. I wanted to take advantage of this and write something interesting about Israel. I was going to write about the debated relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but given that it is an extensive debate I preferred to write about something concise and fascinating. Since we are all at Georgia Tech and we are all nerds (don’t try to deny it), I considered that writing about several of the technological advances Israelis engineers have come up with would be cool.

For those of you who are Environmental Engineers or are just into the ‘make the World Greener’ stuff, agriculture in Israel (~60% desert) is one of the most developed in the world. The modern day drip technology irrigation method was invented over there. Basically the old drip irrigation method released water through tiny holes but these were easily blocked by tiny particles. This video decently summarizes Israeli’s technologies in the water field, and explains the new irrigation method (skip the first minute of the video, it’s annoying propaganda)

For those of you that are into computers, hardware and software, the first flash drive was invented by the Israeli company “M-Systems” (1998). Also, Mirabilis (another Israeli company) developed the first instant messaging service over the Internet. This was back in 1996. Its name was ICQ (believe me, I never got to use it either). “Checkpoint” developed the first commercial Internet firewall and its technology is now installed at more than 250,000 sites around the world. Big global companies have opened R&D centers in Israel – Intel, IBM, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Autodesk and even Apple. They call it the “Silicon Wadi” (mocking the way it sounds like when an Israeli tries to say “Silicon Valley”. It’s pretty funny actually). Two major innovations came out of Intel’s Israeli labs: the dual-core processors (probably a descendent of it is included in the computer you are using right now) and the Centrino chip.

For those of you who are Biomedical Engineers or enjoy anything medicine related, the capsule endoscopy method was developed over there as well by “Given Imaging”. Basically, you swallow a pill-shaped camera and doctors get to see what’s going on inside of you. It was actually developed in 2001 but approved by the US Food and Drug Administration ten years later. Here’s a brief video that shows how it works:

If you dig disgusting medical videos, you can watch this one as well (don’t do it):

One of the Israeli innovations I find fascinating is Babysense (1992). It’s a movement monitor for babies designed to prevent crib death. It screens the baby’s movement and breathing through the mattress. If breathing ceases for more than 20 seconds, an auditory and visual alarm is activated.

A couple of months ago actually, orthopedic surgery was revolutionized in Israel. The doctors at Hadassah University Medical Center (Jerusalem) started using gyroscopes and Wi-Fi in knee surgeries. Here’s the entire story:

For those of you who are Mechanical Engineers or are into sustainable energy stuff, solar power is HUGE in Israel. And let me tell you, if there is something in Israel that is not naturally scarce, is sunlight. It gets annoyingly hot. This is one of the innovations Israeli Engineers with the help of American Engineers came up with (skip to 1:30). It’s amazing!!

For those of you who are Aerospace Engineers, or wanted to be astronauts when you were a kid, check this out: the Iron Dome. Probably some of you have heard about it. Its mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 to 70 kilometers away and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area. It was vastly used last year during the Operation “Pillar of Defense”, to counter some of the 1500 rockets that were fired into Israel. During the operation, Iron Dome made 421 interceptions. CNN relayed an estimate that Iron Dome’s success rate in Pillar of Defense was about 85%. Here’s an impressive video where you can see some of the interceptions (I can translate what they’re saying in the video on Friday).

How it works:

The last innovation that I want to show you guys is a very random one I came up with while researching for this blog: Dog TV. “A new Israeli production being test-marketed on pets in San Diego, ahead of a US rollout by Time Warner and Cox Communications. The new channel is scientifically programmed to keep dogs happy, stimulated and comforted when they’re home alone.” Here’s a sample episode:

 Yes, it’s an actual thing.

Well, these are just some of the technological advances I thought were interesting to share. The fact that impresses me the most is that even though Israel has been constantly under terror attacks, involved in wars every decade and under constant threat, its society keeps going forward. They don’t just stop and wait to see these problems getting solved. People are motivated, and they get out of their way to solve complications in unimaginable ways. And it’s a state that is only 65 years old, in the middle of the desert.

Hope you enjoyed!

Shai Msn





  1. Very cool! I had no idea that Israel had all of these advances in technology. It’s pretty amazing how such a young state could be up-to-date with technology when most countries of the middle east are incredibly behind in this aspect. I guess it’s a blessing in disguise that Israel is under constant terror attacks, because perhaps having this pressure is what motivates the people of Israel.

  2. kledbetter6 says:

    I agree that it’s impressive that such a young state could make all these developments, particularly one that’s been wracked by war. Scientific advances usually require a strong infrastructure, something that it usually takes nations a while to create. It’s also impressive that a country with such a small population (about 3% the size of the United States, according to a quick Google search) has contributed so much to scientific knowledge.

    As an aside, the capsule endoscopy videos were my favorite (yes, I watched both) – anything medicine-related absolutely fascinated me. I liked the dog TV as well – my dog’s never been to place that looks like that, so I suppose this would be an equivalent of the Travel Channel for her?

    Thanks for the interesting post!

  3. mjuren3 says:

    I think this is the most original and fun blog post I’ve read yet! I had no clue that an Israeli company created with the first flash drive or dual core processors. That’s pretty awesome. I think that this blog demonstrates how much a society can contribute to the world no matter the size of their population, political circumstances, or what type of landscape/natural resources they have.

  4. kolson23 says:

    This blog was very informative and interesting. It was interesting to see some of the technology that Israel had been able to create given the constant tension it must feel. Israel’s “Silicon Wadi” (that’s a good one), I did not realize that the area was accountable for such substantial computer innovation, such as the flash drive. I found the information and videos on the Iron Dome very interesting, I could see where technology such as that would be very helpful not just to Israel, but many other people.

  5. akranc3 says:

    It’s nice to see that Israel is churning out things that I use everyday. I had no idea that they were actually the source of many of today’s essential technologies. Being a mechanical engineer, I took particular interest to the Iron Dome. I wonder why the people who created it decided to split the 3 essential parts into 3 different systems instead of maybe just 1 or 2? Inefficiencies abound, but I’m sure there was a good reason.

  6. phillipscheng says:

    Just to make it clear, ICQ is actually still very much alive and kicking. It was last sold for $186 million from AOL in 2010. There are over 100 million users.

    Also for those who are interested. According to Wiki: Sandybridge (and subsequently Ivybridge) are based on technologies developed in Israel.

    According to this article: Intel’s Israel labs also developed the Centrino M and the Core architecture.

  7. jdowling6 says:

    What an exciting post about technology! The dual-core processor was definitely an astonishing advancement. Missile defense systems that work that make the nations defense stronger is remarkable. Doggy Tv? That made me wonder when will they develop the technology that lets people communicate with their pets? Before reading this, I hadn’t the smallest notion that such a smaller nation as Israel could develop the most innovative technology that is use around the world. I can deeply respect that they are a nation who only looks forward even from suffering the effects of war. Definitely a great post that relates topics interesting to us GT students to the current events in Israel.

  8. ojanus3 says:

    Hahaha the Dog TV is cracking me up! This was an interesting article, it is always cool to find out which inventions come from where- a lot of the times if catches me off guard. I also think it was smart of you to include all of the different youtube clips to enhance the blog.

  9. nholdaway3 says:

    When I read this article, I kept thinking “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Israel has developed many of the advances due to the environment it is in, from agriculture to the missile defense system. I’m still trying to figure out the dog one but maybe Israel has a large sad dog population.

  10. jkipp3 says:

    Very cool stuff, it is such a shame that so much of the talent in the middle-east is swallowed up by drama due to holy land obsession.

  11. tnatoli3 says:

    Interesting blog, I liked the layout with a lot of embedded videos. Makes it feel more interactive. When thinking of this area I usually imagine everything related to oil, but stagnant in other forms of technology. Based on your blog, I was very wrong and as a CS major I use a flash drive almost everyday!

  12. mcharles6 says:

    This was very interesting and informative; I enjoy Israeli history, so I already was familiar with most of this, but the dog thing definitely made me laugh. Most people have absolutely no idea how technologically innovative Israel really is! It’s typically clumped together with all of the other Middle Eastern countries who import the majority of their machinery and technology.

  13. Jeffrey Lester says:

    I really like the different direction chosen for this blog. It is cool to see that these places we learn about have more than just conflict history. I think this greatly humanizes the situation in Israel. I especially enjoyed the sustainable practices such as solar power use and smart irrigation systems that have been employed. It is hard to believe that a country who is so caught up in conflict and political endeavors can still produce meaningful technologies for the world.

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