Sydney Brenner: A Nobel Prize winner’s life dedicated to science

In the more than eight decades that Nobel Laureate, Prof Sydney Brenner, has all-consumingly devoted his life to science, he twice wrote powerful proposals of no longer than a page. Short but sweet, these kick-started the two projects that are part of his lasting legacy. The first was to request funding to study a worm,…

Picking a rhino’s brain

Is a black rhino’s brain similar to that of a white rhino? Not quite, according to researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand. They say that the subtle differences seem to be because of the animals’ diet and the size of their respective home ranges. The research was conducted by Adhil Bhagwandin and Paul Manger…

The Case of the Drinking Aardvark

Scientists do not always get their aha moments when they implicitly set out to find one. Serendipity often comes into play, which then warrants further investigation and eventual discovery. Sometimes these discoveries put pay to hearsay, and provide much clearer facts. Such is the Case of the Drinking Aardvark. Prof Graham Kerley of the Centre…

Citizen science crowdfunding project pays off

Learners from the Kayamandi community in Stellenbosch recently practiced their skills as citizen scientists when they had the opportunity to hike in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. In the process, the 31 learners helped to collect samples for an ongoing research project, and learnt how to isolate the fynbos pathogens that they collected. The learners who…

A few shortcuts to the latest Homo naledi news

Still feel as if you’re not quite yet on top of the biggest science news coming out of South Africa this week? About the latest news about Homo naledi? Here’s a few essential links:   Here’s the full press release from Wits University. The first two paragraphs read: “The Rising Star Cave system in South Africa…

New species named after the man who co-wrote the ultimate Cape orchid book

Bill Liltved, the driving force behind what many people call the “opus” of South Africa’s orchid species, has been honoured by having a newly identified white orchid species from the Kogelberg mountains being named after him: Satyrium liltvedianum. The new species is announced in the latest edition of the South African Journal of Botany which…

#Scibraai Sides: Mopane worms: are there still enough to go around?

In life, you get two types of people. Those who eat mopane worms, and those who definitely don’t. In Limpopo, the eating of mopane worms and trading in them are a way of life for many people living in the province. This tradition has been passed on from generation to generation. Environmental changes such as the…