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…

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…

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…

David Glasser: working towards economic benefits

On 29 September 1936, David Glasser was born in Alexandria in the Eastern Cape. A strong scholar, he was placed in St Andrews School in Bloemfontein for his primary education, going on to complete his secondary schooling at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. Matriculating first class in 1954, Glasser was placed fifth in the…

[LISTEN] The Science Inside Family episode

It’s Family Day on The Science Inside radio show, presented by the Wits Radio Academy. Your family’s genes may be why you hate coriander leaves. If you’re hoping to start a family, Dr Mohamed Iqbal Cassim from the BioArt fertility centre says trends in fertility have changed. In Unscience, there is a reason why you…

Explainer: What’s behind the rabies outbreak in SA?

In the last four months five cases of rabies in humans have been reported in South Africa, and an additional two cases are probable. The country’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases warns that steps need to be taken to curb the trend. The Conversation Africa’s health and medicine editor Candice Bailey spoke to the institute’s Jacqueline Weyer…

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…

[LISTEN] The Science Inside show about listeriosis and fake medicine

South Africa is facing the world’s biggest recorded outbreak of listeriosis. This week’s The Science Inside Radio Show finds out why this food-borne disease is so unique. In Unscience, hear why expensive fake medicine might just work better than cheap placebos. Content hosted by iono.fm This broadcast is made possible through the Wits Radio Academy.…

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…