Making plant fibres flame-retardant might make them fly

There is renewed interest in natural materials, as recyclability and environmental safety become more important in manufacturing and consumables, writes MSc candidate Tshepiso Princess Molaba of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.This article is part of the Mail & Guardian’s Science Voices series.    It looks like a sleek car dashboard, but under its smooth surface flax fibres criss-cross…

#Science Voices: A new ready-to-eat twist on old grains

A locally produced nutritious ready-to-eat composite meal produced from locally available indigenous grains using non-traditional low cost processing methods could be a possible solution to the malnutrition situation in rural African communities. Nokuthula Vilakati, a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, does research on this.This is her story in the Mail & Guardian’s Science Voices…

Save indigenous Zulu sheep and you save rural farmers

Zulu sheep are valuable to farmers because of their ability to brace the harsh environment in the KwaZulu-Natal region, writes Thembinkosi “Mnqobi” Xulu, a MSc candidate at the University of Zululand. This article was first featured in the Mail & Guardian’s Science Voices supplement. In the green plains of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal, small skinny sheep graze. With their…

SCIENCE VOICES: Finding ways to prevent cricket injuries

Pace bowlers are at particular risk of sustaining injuries, writes Benita Olivier, a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand. There is a great need for research to help with such injury prevention. Dale Steyn is performing a stylish delivery — a gentle run-up, a slight side bend — resulting in an astonishing ball…

SCIENCE VOICES: ‘Insect farming’ a possible industry for rural communities

For some southern African communities, stinkbugs are a culinary delicacy, writes Cathy Dzerefos in an article that forms part of the Mail & Guardian’s Science Voices series. Dzerefos is a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand. “If you have thongolifha you can leave the meat!” says a middle-aged office worker at Komatiland Forests. “Thongolifha is…

SCIENCE VOICES: The sleeping pill that wakes up damaged brains

Between our love for contact sports and our shocking road traffic injury figures, South Africans are at the troubling end of head trauma statistics, writes Petrie Jansen van Vuuren, a MSc candidate at the University of Pretoria. A conservative estimate, based on hospital records from the 1990s, estimates that 170 000 people sustain brain damage…

SCIENCE VOICES: Is life at its heart a quantum problem?

Can quantum biology help us to understand what distinguishes a bunch of molecules from a living organism? By Adriana Marais, a PhD candidate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. #ScienceVoices In the beginning, during the first billion years (Gyr) of the Earth’s 4.5Gyr life, space debris bombarded the planet. High-energy collisions with meteorites up to 500km in…