Imagine being able to watch an embryo growing inside an egg, or examine the deep tissues in a sick patient without breaking the skin, or even see through fog and clouds directly into space.
The Ultra Fast Optics Group at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have taken a huge step towards doing just that. Yaron Silberberg, the principal investigator in the team, who have published their research in Nature, says, “The main implications are that imaging through scattering [opaque] layers can be done in real-time with standard light sources and standard cameras.”
Imaging the unknown
When light encounters a surface that appears opaque it is scattered in all directions, and we can see neither what is beyond that surface nor a mirrored reflection.
Until now, if scientists wanted to create an image of what was beyond such a layer they have used either monochromatic or short-pulsed lasers to gather data and then reconstructed the image with computerised raster (line-by-line) scanning afterwards.
The research team have changed that, “Our main novel finding is that standard incoherent light (such as white light lamps and fluorescent probes) can be used for imaging through scattering media.”
Silberberg said, “Our work has shown that it is possible to use the incoherent diffuse back-scattered light, such as regular white light scattered from a wall, for imaging.”
Reconstructing scattered light
Silberberg and his colleagues have found that using a computer controlled pixilated LCD screen they can shape the wavefront of scattered light and re-form it into the original image. This can be done by correcting the scattering effect of the rough surface using a spacial-light modulator, and hence turning the surface from a ‘wall’ into a ‘mirror’.
“In a preliminary demonstration we have been able to image a distant object just by recording the light reflected from a piece of regular white paper,” Silberberg explained. “This is analogous to seeing your own reflection from a piece of white sheet paper.”
He continued, “We have also demonstrated that the same technique can be used to see through thin scattering layers, such as the [frosted glass] found in shower windows.”
Shedding light on new areas
Using a white light source in the system and real-time imaging has simplified the process dramatically and made it far more suited to practical applications.
Silberberg said, “Our technique for imaging through scattering layers may allow that study of previously inaccessible biological samples by optical imaging, e.g. imaging through thin egg shells for studying embryonic development.”
The paper discusses how valuable this technology would be in advancing progress in a broad range of scientific fields. These range from minimizing problems caused by our turbulent atmosphere during astronomical observations to microscopic imaging of tissue samples.
Derryck Reid, Head of the Ultra-Fast Optics Group at Heriot- Watt University, Scotland, who was not involved in the study commented, “Certainly this is an interesting paper, with the main power of the technique being that it can work with incoherent light.”
Like “seeing your own reflection from a piece of white paper”
Reid continued, “To become a general technique the authors will need to find a way of implementing wide field correction, rather than just local correction in the vicinity of the point source as they do at present.”
Silberberg is already hoping to do just that, he said “A major step forward would be a scheme to quickly determine the scattering properties of the medium, for example, from a photo of it.” In their current set up a calibration step is required similar to those used in adaptive optics, which correct for known turbulence or scatter.
He concluded, “The perhaps counter-intuitive result of imaging using scattered light from diffuse surfaces (such as “walls”), surprised us and captured our imagination. For us, it is as surprising as seeing your own reflection from a piece of white paper.”
Worldwide, hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested in finding a solution to the water shortage; creating alternative energy sources; combating air pollution; and energy efficiency. The 16th annual CleanTech expo, held this month in Tel Aviv, was a mecca for anyone seeking to increase efficiency, save money, and “green up” his or her lifestyle, as well as providing a marketing edge.
The expo displayed a number of green solutions, including water technologies; gas and sewage infrastructures; options for green building, wastewater treatment, recycling, and gardening.
Among the technologies Ynet discovered at the show were two-sided solar kits and mobile solar units that provide electricity for home use.
CleanTech founder Haim Allush described it as an excellent opportunity to network and hold business meetings with senior decision-makers in the industrial sector and in local and national government, as well as with researchers and investors from Israel and abroad.
Antiquities Authority archeological excavations at the foothills of Akko’s southern wall have revealed apparatuses belonging to a port which was operational in the Hellenistic period (2-3 century BC) – and was the most important port in Israel at the time.
The findings were discovered during archeological excavations being carried out as part of an Old Akko Development Company wall conservation project, funded by the Israel Land Administration.
Initial evidence to the existence of the dock was first discovered in 2009, when a section of flooring made of large chiseled sandstone using what looks like the Phoenician construction style – typical of construction in maritime locations.
The floor, which was discovered beneath sea level, raised many questions among the archeologists; other than the possibility of a wharf floor, another option raised by the archeologists was that it was the floor of a large structure.
According to Kobi Sharvit, Director of the Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, “Among the findings we discovered were large mooring rocks (250-300 kilograms each) which were intermingled with the dock and used to tie watercrafts that docked in the port 2,300 years ago.
“This unique and important find answers our question over whether it was a port facility or structure floor.”
Dozens of meters of what looks like a landslide of large chiseled rocks that may have belonged to large structures or faculties. The findings also reveal a clear picture of systematic and intentional destruction that took place in ancient times at the port.
Sharvit adds that “In recent days we uncovered a finding that brought up the possibility that we are digging up parts of Akko’s military port.
“It seems that the floor between the walls slants in a southerly direction with a few collapsed stones in the center. We can assume that this is an apparatus used to lift ships to shore – most likely, warships.”
According to Sharvit “only continued archeological excavations can confirm or disqualify the claims.”
The ancient port floor was uncovered beneath the facilities. There, they found mooring rocks and thousands of pottery fragments including dozens of intact pieces and metal ware. Initial identification processes indicate that many of the pieces originated in islands on Aegean including: Rhodes, Kos and others as well as other port cities on the Mediterranean shores.
The discoveries are firm archeological evidence of the location of the Hellenistic port and may even prove the location of a military port.
Sharvit stressed that before these excavations, the location of the port was unclear. Remnants of the port were found in excavations held at the beginning of the 80s by the late Dr Elisha Linder and the late Professor Avner Raban near the new marina.
Now, for the first time, portions of the port that meet the ancient shoreline and Hellenistic city have been revealed. “Sadly portions of the dock continue beneath the Ottoman wall – portions which we will mot likely not be able to excavate in the future, Sharvit added.
Nonetheless, excavations will continue on portions of the port heading towards the sea and the port in attempts to try and discover the purpose of the port and whether there is any connection between the port’s destruction and the destruction carried out by Ptolemy in 312 BC, the destruction caused by the Hasmonean revolt in 167 BC or another event.
It has been quite a year for Alana Shipp.
Nine months ago, the 30-year-old transplanted American was, by her own definition, a bored Jerusalem housewife. The Barbados-born former U.S. Marine was spending her days tending to two small children while her husband worked for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.
She joined a local fitness club in a bid to shed some weight off of her five-foot-two-inch, 72-kilo (160 lb) frame, a move that would literally reshape her life.
Working out, she caught the eye of Meny Elbaz, a local trainer and bodybuilder.
“We saw that Alana had great potential to become a competitor,” said Elbaz, a French-born former Chabadnik and winner of last year’s Mr. Israel body-building competition. “She was strong in body and mind.”
These days, Elbaz trains Shipp at his newly-opened Sky Gym, a boutique workout facility in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood.
The pair started working together last October, with Shipp training three times a week for one hour. In addition to guiding her through her workouts, Elbaz also altered Shipp’s diet, and in one month she lost five kilos (11 lb). Three months later, she had dropped another 8 kilos (18 lb). By February, Shipp was 15 kilos (33 lb) lighter and weighing in at 57 kilos (156 lb). It was time to ramp things up.
In March, Shipp began working out five days a week, and in April, wanting to feel even more burn, she upped it to six days a week. Each daily workout averages a staggering three hours.
By May, she had a newly-chiseled body and a new wealth of confidence. She took the stage of the Miss Israel Fitness competition in Raanana and did her trainer proud, earning first prize and the title of Miss Israel Fitness.
Her win, however, is only the first set in a much longer-term goal. Shipp is now hoping to take her brawn global, training for an international body-building competition in Hamburg, Germany this November.
“I never thought that I would, in any way, compete in a body-building competition or anything fitness related,” Shipp told Haaretz during a workout this week. “I didn’t have a plan when I got to Israel. Actually I was a little bored, and I just wanted to lose some weight.”
But then again, Shipp also never expected to be in Israel. She says she was surprised and concerned when her husband was assigned to the Holy Land, but she soon warmed up to the idea. “It wasn’t until I came to visit that I really fell in love with the place and decided in a couple of days that I was going back to quit my job and pack up the house and move here,” she says.
Shipp has now been in Israel for nearly four years. She grew up in New York City and spent eight years in the U.S. Marines as a non-commissioned officer, working as a logistics procurement manager in Okinawa, Japan; Camp Pendleton, California; and in New Orleans. Before arriving in Israel, Shipp worked as a procurement manager for Coca-Cola in Dallas.
With so many hours spent in the gym, Shipp credits her husband for picking up the familial slack. While she is busy training, he helps out with the kids and buys the groceries so, she says with a smile, “I won’t have to look at the food.”
Today, Shipp’s weight stands at 58.5 kilos (129 lb). She says she doesn’t count calories, choosing instead to focus on balancing carbohydrate and protein intake. Shipp hasn’t yet decided which country she will be representing when she heads to Germany this November. But she does know that as the date draws closer, she will step up the intensity of her workouts.
Those who know Shipp say her success is a testament to mind over matter. “The biggest change I could see in Alana was not only the physical change but the psychological change,” said Lia Elbaz, Meny Elbaz’s Moscow-born wife. Lia knows what she is talking about: Last year she took second place at the NAC-Israel Miss Bikini competition. “It requires a lot of hard work and discipline, and Alana has it in her.”
Shipp says she will remain in Israel as long as her husband – a logistics manager – does. In the interim, she is taking in as much of Israel as she can.
“As an outsider, coming here, I am really able to appreciate it,” said Shipp. “A lot of times, maybe if you’ve grown up here you don’t see the value of the country. I try to take in as much as I can about the country because I don’t know how long I’ll be here and I don’t want to leave and say, ‘oh I should have done this and I should have done that.’”