Meeting the humans behind the Nobel Prize

It’s 11.25 on a Tuesday morning, and I’m nervous as hell. In just five minutes, I’ll be sitting down for an interview with Prof Bernard Feringa, 2016’s Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry. You might not have heard of him, but you probably know his work: he built the nanocar, back in 2011. What do you…

Young SA scientists forge networks at BRICS

The 2nd BRICS Young Scientists Forum gathered young researchers from five partner countries of the BRICS conglomerate to share in their academic and policy practices. The networking forum was hosted by China as BRICS 2017 chair at the Zhejiang University from 11 to 15 July in the south-eastern city of Hangzhou, in the Zhejiang province.…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…