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How long until we lose the moon?

Interested in local research about the moon? Then read this article by Sphumelele Ndlovu of the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which first appeared in the latest edition of Science Today.   The Moon, every year, moves away from Earth by about 3.8 cm. It seems very small, about the…

An Atherigon fly visiting a yellow carrion plant. Photo: Adam Shuttleworth

Carrion plant’s (only) little helper

Not all flies attracted to foul-smelling carrion plants help with its pollination In the life cycle of smelly yellow carrion plants (Orbea lutea subsp. lutea), all flies are not created equal. Their flowers, which quite literally reek, lure insects from far and wide that are attracted by the smell of decaying matter and faeces. However,…

The Sibudu Cave. Credit: South African Heritage Resources Agency

Birdie num num: Stone Age people loved it too

Fancy digging your teeth into a meal of pigeon breasts or dishing up guinea fowl legs? Middle Age Stone men and women did too. Researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Evolutionary Studies Institute carefully looked at bones collected in the Sibudu Cave near Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal. Sibudu Cave – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Sibudu…

Scientists say that there are four genetically distinct giraffe species. Photo: Engela Duvenage

A rethink about giraffes

If you thought that all giraffes were created equal, think again. Yes, based on their looks they all seem pretty much the same, but their genes tell a totally different story. The ones you’ll see in the Kruger National Park or elsewhere in South Africa are genetically very different from the ones in Ethiopia and…

Wine tasting at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Engela Duvenage

[LISTEN] The Science Inside’s Wine segment

This week’s The Science Inside radio slot is all about wine. The Drunken Monkey Hypothesis is discussed, and how our enjoyment of alcohol might be evolutionary. Find out about the chemistry of a good wine with Prof Antonio Ferreira and the process of wine making with Samantha Fairbairn. Both are from the Institute for Wine Biotechnology…

Photo: Wikimedia

Monday Menu: Bottled water and human rights

Have you ever thought about the fact that bottled water might be having an impact on one of man’s most basic human rights – access to water? It’s all about commodification and boils down to money, says Maria Macarena Pereda of the University of Pretoria, in a mini-thesis she completed as part of her LLM…

The yellow presba. Photo: John P Simaika

John Simaika’s fascination with dragonflies

Stellenbosch University water ecologist Dr John Simaika has spent lots of time around dragonflies since one serendipitously landed on his dinner plate while he was discussing his honours degree project. Along with his former postgraduate supervisor, the renowned insect conservationist Prof Michael Samways of the SU Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, he has recently…