Glenda Gray: guided by the needs

The road to Kliptown runs more-or-less directly south-west from the centre of Johannesburg, past the core of Soweto, and then takes a sharp turn to the right through Eldorado Park towards the bleak Walter Sisulu Memorial Square. Here, the Kliptown Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) is located, where one of Prof Glenda Gray’s many offices…

Darrell Comins’ fascination with materials

Darrell Comins was born in Pietermaritzburg on 10 June, 1942. Attending Merchiston Preparatory School and, later, Maritzburg College, he followed what was then the traditional classics course – English, Latin, history, Afrikaans, mathematics and physical science. With a broad spectrum of interests and a strong creative streak, Comins reflects that he could quite easily have…

Plantation fires: What to do with burnt trees?

It has been an exceptional fire season in the Cape, with many hectares of fynbos veld and plantations being burnt. The skeletons of many trees and protea bushes starkly stand within the burnt-out landscape. The question is: should the wood industry still use the trees that have survived such plantation fires? “From an economic and…

South Africa’s Antarctic history is being unfrozen in time

Used as a gateway to the world’s southernmost continent since the 18th century, South Africa has been actively involved in scientific research in Antarctica and in its only overseas territory, the Prince Edward Islands, since the end of World War II. The Antarctica Legacy of South Africa, a programme based at Stellenbosch University and funded…

Fracking in Karoo gets a R108m injection

The R108-million investment in shale gas research, announced in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s budget speech, was “positive” and showed “government is taking time to investigate”, World Wildlife Fund for Nature’s Saliem Fakir said. Shale gas has been touted as a way to curb climate change and reduce the world’s reliance on coal, but has been…

IBM research lab to work with the cool kids

Multinational research company IBM announced on Friday that it will be opening a research laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand, in the Tshimologong Precinct in Johannesburg. The premises was once a bar, and still has a long bar counter and heavily-graffiti’ed walls, but in a year this will be one of the top information…

Science Voices: Astrophysical jets in distant galaxy could teach us physics

In the dark and cold chasm of space, huge jets of charged particles erupt around a super-massive black hole, writes Arvind Ramessur, a MSc candidate at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Black holes, whose gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape, are usually found in the hearts of galaxies, known as active…