Israel Will Re-enact Space-Age Experiment

Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon

Israel will be trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records next week. Of course, Israel is often seen as a place of extremes, but this attempt at record-breaking has nothing to do with the usual political headlines or social disagreements.

As a nice distraction to what many fear will be a rough few days next week as the Palestinians seek statehood recognition at the United Nations, hundreds of Israelis will gather at various universities, science institutions and museums around the country September 22 to simultaneously conduct a science experiment that the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon did in space. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center is located, is spearheading the project.

Organizers of the Science and Technology Ministry’s “Scientists’ Evening” hope that more than 562 people will come out the program, which is free of charge. Belgium currently holds the record for the highest number of people (562) simultaneously conducting a chemistry experiment, and the Israeli organizers are confident that they can break it. Guinness has officially approved the attempt and is waiting to see what happens.

The experiment, one of many science activities that will be offered that evening, can be easily done by children and adults alike. No prior chemistry experience is necessary. Ramon did this experiment six hours after take-off in the ill-fated Shuttle Columbia, testing the chemical reaction involved in growing crystals in a solution under gravity conditions. If the amateur chemists do it right, they will produce within just a few minutes a blue-and-white Israeli flag design on a gold-colored background.

The following participant institutions will join BGU in hosting the public for the event on the evening of September 22: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the University of Haifa, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering, Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum, Haifa’s Madatech — Israel’s national science museum, the Kiryat Yam Science Park, the ORT Braude College and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institution in Eilat.