The Shmooze

Pretty Women Can’t Get Jobs?

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

Beautiful women don’t really get all the breaks, new Israeli research suggests.

Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Center found that if you’re female and searching for a job, good looks could actually be a liability.

They applied for 2,500 jobs using fake identities. For each job, they sent an application with a photograph — as is the norm in much of Europe and Asia — and one without.

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Israeli Scientists Isolate Nearsightedness Gene

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Most people take nearsightedness, or myopia, for what it is — and deal with it by donning a pair of fashionable glasses, getting fitted for contact lenses or getting Lasik surgery.

Dr. Ohad Birk and his team of genetics researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, on the other hand, have wanted to know exactly why so many of us cannot see things that are far away. It is well known that myopia, the most common eye disorder, is caused by light being focused in front of the retina instead of on it. Scientists and lay observers have also long observed that there is a hereditary component to nearsightedness. Now, the BGU researchers are the first to have determined the exact gene responsible for the disorder.

The discovery, made during a study led by Shikma Levin and Dr. Libe Gradstein from Birk’s team, was published on September 1 in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The scientists studied severe early-onset myopia among members of a certain Bedouin tribe living in the Negev. Genetic research results from this endogamous sample, together with related research on insect cells done in collaboration with a Finnish research group, led to the discovery that a mutation in the LEPREL 1 gene is responsible for the disorder.

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Important-to-Know Nose News

By Nathan Burstein

You’d think a Jewish scientist would avoid making racial generalizations about noses, but that hasn’t stopped an Israeli professor from doing just that.

Wikimedia Commons
Barbra Streisand’s famous nose with character

Abraham Tamir, a chemical engineering professor at Ben-Gurion University, has published the results of his study of nearly 1,800 noses, based on both photos of living people and works of art. (Although Tamir’s primary work focuses on other topics, he teaches a class on the relationship between science and art.)

Tamir’s proboscis probe proves (supposedly) the existence of 14 types of Caucasian noses, which include the turned-up or “celestial” nose, the Roman and the hawk varieties. MSNBC’s “Body Odd” blog notes the prevalance of “the fleshy nose, which is large and prominent,” in Israel. (In some households The Shmooze can think of, this is referred to affectionately as a “nose with character.”)

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Israelis Do Not Fear Terrorism in Sinai, New Study Suggests

By Nathan Jeffay

Here’s one of the biggest curiosities of modern Israeli identity. On Passover, when Jews celebrate leaving Egypt in ancient times, thousands of Israelis return there. Sinai, a popular holiday destination year-round, is an especially big hit with Israelis. This is despite the repeated travel warnings from the Israeli government, which suggest that Israeli tourists in Sinai are potential terror targets. This is, after all, the territory though which arms are smuggled to Gaza.

But researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have concluded in a new paper that terrorism comes surprisingly low on Israelis’ list of concerns when going to Sinai. They found that tourists there are first concerned about their “relations with their local hosts — Egyptians and Bedouins.” Second up was “standard and quality of hospitality — food quality, sanitation and hygiene standards.” Only after these two considerations were people concerned with “the risk of terrorism.”

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Bob Geldof Awarded Honorary Degree from Ben Gurion University

By Nathan Jeffay

Wikicommons
If there’s one thing that most people know about British singer Bob Geldof, it’s that he doesn’t like Mondays. “Tell me why I don’t like Mondays / I wanna shoot the whole day down,” he famously sang in 1979. Well he might have just changed his mind.

Ben Gurion University of the Negev chose today to announce that Geldof is to receive an honorary doctorate at its Annual Board of Governors Meeting in May.

Geldof, former lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, is a well-known campaigner and activist against poverty. In 1985 he staged the Live Aid concert. In 2005 he organized the Live 8 rock concerts to raise awareness of world poverty and raise money to alleviate poverty in Africa. These concerts took place simultaneously in London, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome and Berlin, with the participation of top musicians from around the world.

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Wishing You an Automated Hanukkah

By Nathan Jeffay

The Robotics Laboratory at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has dreamed up eight Hanukkah robots. They include the Lat-K, which harnesses solar energy to cook latkes; Menoroctopod, an eight-armed robot, and Mecha-B which defends the People of Israel. See all eight robots in this fun video.

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