Maths, computer science students at HLF meet their heroes

University of KwaZulu-Natal maths doctoral student Chinedu Izuchukwu is pretty clear about one of the highlights of attending the weeklong 7th Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany: it is meeting the man behind a software programme that has made his academic life so much easier. The brain in question belongs American Prof Leslie Lamport, winner of…

The UCT prof who helped save the bluefin tuna

Later this month, Professor Doug Butterworth will be formally honoured by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun for contributing to the sustainable management of the very lucrative bluefin tuna fishery. In 2008, Butterworth received a similar national order from the South African president, after he helped to set the benchmark…

Legs gets an extra (3D printed) leg

A secretary bird called Legs is the first raptor in South Africa to sport a 3D-printed prosthesis. It was designed by some of the South African team members involved in the recent development of the world’s first 3D-printed middle ear bones. Scibraai visited Eagle Encounters Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Centre  at Spier Wine Estate near Stellenbosch…

It’s about the people for climate change scientist Jessica Thorn

  Dr Jessica Thorn was recently announced as part of the first three Women in Climate Change Science Fellows, an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI). She will be hosted by the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa but…

Bone accountancy

As part of her PhD in Anatomy, Mandi Alblas regularly visits Stellenbosch University’s Kirsten Skeletal Collection. Like an accountant she packs out, photographs and tallies each of 206 bones in each of the 700 skeletons included in her study – 144 200 bones in all.    There’s something moving about the way that Mandi Alblas switches between…

So, who is South Africa’s new Minister of Science and Technology?

South Africa’s new Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, likes things to be done on time. She’s solution-driven and prefers preparing properly for briefings and other commitments by working through all necessary documentation herself. She likes things to be in order and believes in accountability. And she hates being rushed and being given last-minute jobs. “I…

Whiskers tell what’s on a lion’s menu

World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3 March. This year the spotlight falls on the world’s big cats. New research by South African researchers have shown that the details trapped in a lion’s whiskers provide minute detail about the type of animal that has been on its menu. They were also able to tell at what…

Bernie Fanaroff brought SA the world’s largest telescope

Dr Bernie Fanaroff did his PhD because of his interest in physics – and in the process developed a way to classify very distant radio sources that is still being used today. Since then, much of his efforts have gone into South Africa – among others as a union movement leader, as a civil servant…

Jill Farrant: resurrection (plant) woman

Prof Jill Farrant’s life merges with water. To be more specific, she’s occupied by the ability of a rare few so-called resurrection plants to seemingly die off when none of this life-giving source is available, only to bounce back within hours once a few drops come their way. She was born in the summer of…