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…

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan: Breathing life into the bones of extinct animals

Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (@Palaeo_Prof) was born in Pretoria, the youngest of three daughters. After matriculating from Laudium High School, she wanted to become a science teacher because education is part of her DNA. It is the profession followed by her eldest sister and her father, a headmaster, and several others in her extended family. In…

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…

[LISTEN] The Science Inside: Radio waves, lost continents and skirt lengths

Want to know more about a cellphone that could charge itself, how to build a radio from scratch or how the SKA radio telescope is to probe the radio waves of distant galaxies? Then listen to this episode of “The Science Inside”, produced by the Wits Radio Academy. Other topics in this show include: * News…

The dream of electric cars

Time to rev your (electric) engine. Funeka P. Nkosi of the CSIR writes in Science Today about electric cars, and the relevant research being done in South Africa.    Twenty years ago, it looked like the dream of the electric car was dead. Even though the first practical electric car was invented in 1884, these…

Age-old secret that Hollywood celebrities try to keep from you has been uncovered … by palaeontologists

Hollywood celebrities spend large amounts of dollars on it. The hunky stud at the local pub thinks he knows it. But the age-old secret has been carefully kept for millions of years. Yet, it seemed obvious to pre-mammalian reptiles that went so far as to evolve mouths full of beautifully crafted teeth. It’s your beautifully…

Why it’s still worth getting the flu vaccine this year

Is it worth getting a flu shot this winter? Dr Sibongile Walaza, a medical epidemiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and lecturer at Wits, explains more about it. Influenza, more commonly known as flu, kills between 6000 and 11 000 South Africans every year. About half of those deaths are in the elderly…