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November 20th, 2007
Building a nano-future in the Negev
Ron Folman has spent a considerable part of his 45 years breaking barriers. As an Israel Air Force pilot it was the sound barrier, then educational barriers for himself and for young people from the neglected Negev town of Yeroham, and then emotional barriers between Israelis and Germans.
Now a professor at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, he is trying to tear down the invisible wall that restricts scientific research, and the high tech industry that goes with it, to a limited geographical area in the center of the country.
Folman has made several other stops along the way to becoming an internationally known physicist who has taught at prestigious scientific institutions in Europe and the Americas and head of BGU's Atom Chip Group. Those side trips include stints as an avid hiker and desert-lover, a lecturer in the philosophy of creativity at the Jerusalem-based Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Israel's leading art school, and a social activist who served as head of the Israeli branch of Amnesty International.
But though he still leaves time for other interests, his main focus now is building what he calls the Nano-Bio-Quantum Valley, an envelope of high tech industry around BGU's expertise in the related, futuristic disciplines of nanoscience, bioscience and his own specialty, quantum physics.
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