Israeli Sheldon Cooper Says IDF Cyber ​​Unit Is More Challenging Than MIT

Dr. Ido Kaminer is currently the biggest star of the Israel Institute of Technology, known as the Technion, one of the best public research universities in the country, despite being only 35 years old.

I have been told that this nerdy-looking, boy-faced scientist, who is a highly articulate speaker but also has a propensity for slurring words at the same time, is a know-it-all with a goofy laugh reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper. from the television series “The Big Bang Theory”.

What is unusual about this Haifa Sheldon Cooper is that he has been able to observe how light and matter interact with each other, for the first time in history.

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D"R. Edo Kaminer

Dr. Ido Kaminer

(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Kaminer managed to take a single electron and, using a unique microscope system that he had built himself, observe how it connects with a trapped photon. In other words, he was able to see the convergence of light and free electrons, and how light, trapped in the form of a crystal, creates a quantum interaction with an electron.

Thanks to this observation, in just one year Kaminer published 10 research articles in leading journals. He also won the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, the prestigious Wolf Foundation Scholarship, and was elected to The Israel Young Academy.

Kaminer has earned a few other honors, which are generally not given to people his age, even if he has three Technion degrees and a postdoc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is highly respected at the Technion and appears on the cover of this month’s issue of the institute’s official magazine. He has also appeared in various promotional videos aimed at attracting wealthy donors to pledge large sums of money to the university.

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Dr. Ido Kaminer Dr. Ido Kaminer

Dr. Ido Kaminer

(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

As I wandered through the gray hallways of the university on my way to Kaminer’s lab, I heard loud screams coming from one of the offices. As I approached the source of the commotion, it turned out to be Kaminer arguing with one of his students, both waving their hands at each other like two bargainers in a street market.

I finally managed to separate them with an offer to “continue this later.” The student had agreed to leave the office before returning half an hour later only to tell Kaminer, “One, I was wrong. Two, I’m not giving up yet,” and back out dramatically.

What was that, you ask? I don’t know, but Kaminer knows, which is why he returned to Israel after years of studying in the United States. Just as he was about to get a job at the prestigious university, he realized that his Ph.D. was inferior to the knowledge he had received while working in Unit 8200.

“I came after 8200, and I finally realized that there is no better place, and that was disappointing. The quality of the people was not the same. At 8200 I felt like part of something big, but at MIT, I felt like a lab rat, and I was missing the Israeli dynamic of collaborations, “says Kaminer.

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Study ImagesStudy Images

A simulation of Kaminer’s research

(Photo: SimplySci Animations)

Although he got used to MIT and made a name for himself there, he decided to return to the Jewish state after completing his studies.

“The main thing that brought me back was that I wanted to build a very ambitious and expensive laboratory. I wanted to build a microscopic system that could explore quantum in a different way, because we have been studying quantum for a hundred years and there are still questions for which we have no answer, “he says.

The Technion allowed Kaminer to build his precious laboratory. “The fact that I had a team from the beginning was so significant and extraordinary, and it helped a lot to build a laboratory so quickly, and it is already paying off.”

Kaminer’s grand plan was to build a microscope stronger than any other currently in existence. In your microscope, not only will the electron wave go through it and be absorbed by the other side, while the interruption of its movement will be used to decode what is happening inside the model, but the electrons themselves will be used as the subject. of The study.

So an electron would create a laser beam and encounter a photon locked in the system, and the result would not only give an unequivocal answer to the perennial question of whether an electron is a wave or a particle (spoiler alert: a wave). But it will also show, for the first time, how it moves. “I want to see not only the frozen atoms or the electron that flows from one atom to another, but also the light that flows through it,” explains Kaminer.

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The innovative microscopeThe innovative microscope

The state-of-the-art microscope

(Photo: Nitzan Zohar, Technion spokesperson)

For the construction of his new microscope, a reasonable initial investment of around $ 4 million was needed.

“If today, electron microscopes can see frozen things, but cannot show the dynamics or the processes and how they are progressing, we wanted to build a microscope that would see the process in motion.

“Now, we can already make videos that show the movement of the particles. It is a complex process: we insert a wave of light on one side and we carry the electron at a very precise moment to obtain an image at a certain moment.” . It is repeated many times and finally you can see the processes in the material. “

When Kaminer and his team began to develop the microscope, similar systems were already available around the world, and few governments invested their money in such machines; however, no results were achieved.

“The Canadian government invested $ 15 million in an attempt to build two of these types of microscopes. We started a few years after them, and in six months, we made more progress because that’s how long it took, from the moment the microscope it landed in Israel until we could get a first successful experiment with it, “he says.

“The first movement we saw was when we brought in an electron to capture how light was captured in a glass plate with holes, how long it spent there, how it vibrates and flows through the material,” says Kaminer.

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D"R. Ido KaminerD"R. Ido Kaminer

Dr. Ido Kaminer

(Photo: Blavatnik for Young Scientists)

When asked where he sees himself in ten years and if he will remain in academia, Kaminer says he will never stop researching, even if he moves to the private sector.

“I really like the opportunities that are given to me, to explore all the fields I want. It is not necessarily financially lucrative, and if an interesting opportunity arises from start-ups, maybe I will do both, but I will not give up research for nothing. .

“Basic science is something I like, it’s fun for me, I want to discover something that would be part of human knowledge after I’m gone, and that’s why I work a lot.”

He says he is more bothered by the mundane things in life, like looking for an apartment in Haifa, where the Technion is located. “It takes a long time. All these things that are part of normal life, I hate wasting time with them because they bore me.”

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