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Visit of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany

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Published on Dec 15, 2010

German President Christian Wulff praised the extensive scientific ties between Germany and Israel and in particular with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem during a visit to the university on Nov. 28.

During remarks at an assembly of Hebrew University staff and guests, President Wulff, who was on a brief visit to Israel, said that the scientific ties between the two countries exceeded those even of the diplomatic ties. "These ties are very special," he emphasized, reinforcing a point made at the ceremony by Hebrew University Isaiah (Shy) Arkin, who noted the leading role that the Hebrew University has in research grants from Germany.

In emphasizing the importance of German-Israel scientific research, Wulff quoted Albert Einstein, who said. "Progress originates from the exchange of knowledge."

Wulff, who stopped briefly at the memorial site for the terrorist attack on the Hebrew University in 2002 in which nine people were killed, also noted that "the security of Israel is very important to us."

During the president's visit, two senior Hebrew University researchers presented brief descriptions of their groundbreaking research.

Dr. Noam Shoval of the Department of Geography presented his project, conducted jointly by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Heidelberg, that applies the use of GPS technology to trace the movements of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and related cognitive disorders.

The field research was carried out among elderly in the Tel Aviv metropolitan region and the Rhine Neckar metropolitan region in Germany. The research looked at how people move through space, what types of transportation they use, where they spend their time, and how much of their time is spent at home.

Prof. Eilon Vaadia, acting director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University, presented the results of joint Israel-German scientific work aimed at development of a mechanism which learns to "read" brain electrical activity and control behavior. Two groups from Germany and two groups from Israel participated in the project.

The team's major achievements were in developing a highly adaptive computer algorithm (KARMA) that interacts with the brain and dynamically learns to understand the brain's intention. The interface learns very fast (in 1-2 minutes) to generate new behavior in real time, and continuously improves as learning continues.

In concluding the ceremony with the German president, Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson presented to Wulff a copy of an English-language edition of a book about Albert Einstein, who was one of the founders of the Hebrew University. Ben-Sasson noted that the Hebrew University will be presenting four honorary doctorates to German scientists during the annual convocation of the university in June

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