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…

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…

New app for small-scale fishing industry

A free app – co-developed by academics, government, civil society and fishing communities – will be the lynchpin in the government’s efforts to launch and roll out a small-scale fishing industry in South Africa. Traditional and artisanal fishing communities, according to an Equality Court ruling in 2007, have been consistently marginalised during both apartheid and…

Between science and society: Northern Cape communities struggle with the telescope in their backyards

“Will the SKA affect pregnancies in the area?” The question comes in Afrikaans, in a rough voice belonging to someone who has lived a much longer, harder life than this middle-aged man appears to have lived. We’re in Vanwyksvlei, in the Northern Cape. Outside the last light is draining from the timeless Hantam Karoo landscape.…

Why South Africa is finding it difficult to wean itself off coal

South Africa has made domestic and international commitments to climate change mitigation. But the country continues to depend on coal-fired power plants, which provide 92% of its electricity. A key challenge for the country in dealing with electricity shortages is that the bulk of power comes from coal, which is harmful for the environment and…

Eight water data projects from last weekend’s SKAHack

While the past week may have seen massive downpours, it doesn’tmean the drought and water shortages are over. This is why Geekulcha hosted its most recent hackathon – the SKAHack – to encourage developers to help find solutions for problems in their community. Named after the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), SKAHack was held in the Eastern Cape…

Hunting in Africa: to ban or not to ban is the question

Hunting has long been a highly controversial activity, whether as a sport (leisure or recreational), for commercial purposes or if done for cultural reasons. African countries that legalise hunting activities experience scrutiny around their conservation efforts, and how much money they make from it. In an article in The Conversation Africa,  Nkabeng Maruping-Mzileni, a lecturer…