Tag Archives: TV

Jew of the Week: Dean Kamen

Inventor of the Segway

Dean Kamen on a Segway

Dean Kamen on a Segway

Dean Kamen (b. 1951) was born in New York, the son of famous illustrator Jack Kamen. He dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute to focus on his career as an inventor and entrepreneur. His first big success was inventing a wearable drug infusion pump, after which he started his first company AutoSyringe. Following this, he worked on portable kidney dialysis machines, robotic arms, insulin pumps, the Stirling engine, water purification systems, as well as solar power and off-grid electricity in the hopes of raising the standard of life in developing countries. Among his more interesting inventions are an all-terrain wheelchair, and a device that launches people into the air, used by law enforcement agents and emergency workers to get to the top of tall or inaccessible rooftops and buildings. Above all though, his most well-known invention is undoubtedly the Segway – the cool, self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporter. Though it has yet to catch-on among the public, it was once thought to be an invention “more important than the internet”, and Steve Jobs said it was “as big a deal as the PC”. Meanwhile, Kamen founded an organization called FIRST, aimed at inspiring students to enter technology and engineering programs. The organization provides over $15 million in scholarships. It also runs the famous FIRST Robotics Competition, now held in some 60 locations around the world, with over one million students having participated over the years. All in all, Kamen holds over 440 patents. He has already been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and has won a great number of awards and honourary degrees, including the National Medal of Technology, and the UN’s Global Humanitarian Action Award. In 2010, he also starred in the TV show Dean of Invention. Kamen is a hobbyist pilot, and owns a collection of jet aircraft and helicopters, which he usually flies to work.

Words of the Week

He was this little guy David, and he had this really big problem, Goliath, and he took him out because he had a little piece of technology, and I thought, “Wow, technology is cool.”
Dean Kamen, on being inspired by the Biblical story of David and Goliath

Jew of the Week: Robert Adler

Robert Adler & the TV Remote

Robert Adler & the TV Remote

Robert Adler (1913-2007) was born in Vienna where he received a Ph.D in physics. At the start of World War II, Adler fled to Belgium, then England, and finally to the US. He soon found a job working at Zenith Electronics, developing military technologies to support the war effort. After the war, Adler turned his attention to television. His first major breakthrough was the gated-beam tube, a revolutionary new type of vacuum tube that significantly reduced both TV costs and signal interference. Meanwhile, a fellow worker at Zenith, Eugene Polley, developed the first (wireless) TV remote control. However, this remote used flashes of light, and could therefore be triggered by sunlight. The company searched for a better solution, and one that required no batteries. Adler came up with a remote that used sound instead of light, and this became the standard for remote controls for the next 25 years (until replaced by infrared remotes that are common today – and unfortunately require batteries). Aside from the remote, Adler owned roughly 180 patents, including early forms of videodiscs and novel laser technologies. He filed his last patent (for improved touch-screen technology) at age 93! Working at Zenith for 41 years (and an additional 15 years as an adviser), he became the company’s vice-president and director of research. For his work, Adler received the coveted Edison Medal, as well as an Emmy Award.

Words of the Week

The people of Israel did not believe in Moses because of the miracles he performed. So why did they believe in him? Because when we stood at Sinai, our own eyes saw and our own ears heard the fire, the sounds and the flames, and how Moses approached the cloud and God’s voice called to him…
Maimonides

Jew of the Week: David Blaine

David Blaine White (b. 1973) was born in Brooklyn to a Puerto Rican father, and a Russian-Jewish mother who raised him alone through tough times. He saw his first magic act on a subway at age 4 and was inspired. He loved drama, too, and would appear in several TV commercials and soap operas. By 21, he was already doing magic for wealthy private audiences and celebrity parties. Blaine recorded one of these performances and sent the tape to ABC, who were hooked immediately. At 24, Blaine’s first TV special, Street Magic, was aired and has since been hailed as revolutionizing the world of magic, with fellow magicians Penn & Teller even claiming it was the “biggest breakthrough done in our lifetime.” His subsequent amazing stunts included entombing himself in a 3-ton underground tank for 7 days, encasing himself in a block of ice for over 63 hours, standing atop a 100-foot high (and 22 inch wide) pillar for 35 hours straight, going 44 days without food while sealed in a case above London’s River Thames (losing 25% of his body weight!), freeing himself from a rotating gyroscope on which he spun for 52 hours straight, and holding his breath for over 17 minutes. Blaine uses his magic for good, too, performing at countless children’s hospitals and charity events, and fundraising for organizations like the Salvation Army (from whom he’d received clothing as a child). He also holds several world records. David Blaine joins other great Jewish magicians, including past Jews of the Week Harry Houdini and David Copperfield.

 

Words of the Week

The Jewish people, no matter where they are, they become the best in the world.
Joseph Mengele, Nazi Officer and Physician