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The science of what Doom bug spray does to humans

You writhe in pain, your limbs twitch uncontrollably, you get convulsions all over your body, your heart stops, you stop moving, you die. This is what happens to you when you are sprayed with Doom insecticide. Also, this only happens if you happen to be a pesky insect who has upset a human overlord. This…

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Smart solution for smart dust

Our lives have been taken over by smart things – smart phones, smart televisions, even smart homes. And now research has shown that smart dirt is on the increase too, writes Dr Nonjabulo Gule of Stellenbosch University.  Smart dirt consists of germs that cling to surfaces and that have become resistant to the chemicals we…

Neethlingshof Wine Estate, in Stellenbosch. Image credit: David Harrison, M&G.

Drink a toast to the wine boffins

Every bottle of wine has a story to tell: of the ground it grew on, the varietal of grape that went into it, the wood of the barrel that held it. In the case of South African wines, it is also the story of how the fall of apartheid revitalised the industry and the science…

Dr Melanie Nieuwoudt at the brewery of the Stellenbosch University Department of Process Engineering where she did part of her research work. Photo: Hanjo Odendaal

Doctorate in beer leads to first brewery in the Cederberg

For Dr Melanie Nieuwoudt her doctoral studies on beer brewing are much more than just an academic matter. She will be putting the knowledge she has gained over the past four years into practice by opening a micro-brewery in the Cederberg on the Nieuwoudt family farm, Kromrivier. Dr Nieuwoudt is one of 18 graduates of…

(2) The unnatural landscape in Kagiso due to mining. This is what Mariette calls the "legacy of mining". (Photo: Anina Mumm)

Kagiso’s environmental and health hazard in pictures

I interviewed Mariette Lieferink for episode 3 of The Science Inside, and she took me on a tour of Kagiso, a township on Jozi’s West Rand, which is heavily affected by acid mine drainage. These pictures show Mariette informing a community, who are in the process of rising up against mines in the area, about the…

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Nobelprys vir chemie: Een wenner se wortels is in SA

Hy is in 1947 in Pretoria gebore, het in Suid-Afrika grootgeword en hy is met die Nobelprys vir chemie bekroon. Prof. Michael Levitt (66) is nou ’n Amerikaanse, Britse en Israeliese burger en hy deel dié eer met nog twee mans van Joodse afkoms. Hulle is proff. Martin Karplus (83), ’n burger van die VSA…