Last October, South African science journalist Sibusiso Biyela received one of the toughest assignments of his career: to write about a fossil discovery in his native language of Zulu.
The problem was, there's no word for "dinosaur" in Zulu. Nor are there words for "Jurassic" "evolution" or even "fossil."
In this story, Biyela tackles the history behind South Africa's science language divide and writes about how he and other South African science journalists are working to overcome it.
Drug-resistant bacteria found in hospitals cause thousands of deaths worldwide each year. But a study of such superbugs in a Zambian hospital offers hope that they remain sensitive to more antibiotic types than bacteria found in better-resourced hospitals in Europe or North America.
Hospital staff often unwittingly transmit bacteria between patients. Researchers from the University of Zambia, the Ministry of Health and the Lusaka Apex Medical University collected nasal and hand swabs from 140...
South African researchers have discovered an elusive phenomenon called anti-black aurora in the stunning light shows of the Arctic circle’s night skies. Amoré Nel, postdoctoral researcher at SANSA, named and described the new phenomenon in her first publication in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
An adventurous team of South African scientists is preparing for a journey to an ocean at the bottom of the Earth. Their expedition will delve deeper into how the climate will change in Africa, and how South Africa can better protect its food supplies.
In July 2019, researchers led by Dr Pedro Monteiro at the Southern Ocean Carbon & Climate Observatory (SOCCO) in Cape Town, will sail to the Southern Ocean, which swirls around Antarctica.
Known as the stormiest place on the planet, conditions ...
Those of us who consider ourselves rational thinkers have a tendency to overestimate our ability to change people’s minds simply by presenting the facts. Smoking tobacco, driving without a seat belt, and choosing an unhealthy diet are just a few examples of how people do not necessarily make the best decisions even with access to the best information.
Since climate change science became a political football in America, the whole world has caught a cold from that sneeze of greed and stupidity.
On the Saturday of 26 September 2020, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred 1922KM south of Cape Town at a depth of 10KM below sea level. More importantly, the earthquake was just under 500KM away from Marion Island and this spurred on Stefan Lotz, a research scientist at SANSA, to contact his colleagues to check the latest live data from the resident tide gauge for a possible tsunami that might be caused by the undersea quake.
One of my favourite movies of all time is the 2014 epic science fiction film Interstellar. In a post-modernist world where I see every piece of media with a cynical eye, the sincerity of that film bowled me over instantly.
The sense of scale, wonder, and sheer beauty of the film captured the feelings I have when I think of the cosmos. From the existential angst I get from seeing pictures of Saturn, to the dread that comes with realisi...
Here’s a fun idea: if you do a headstand tonight and look towards the east, you can see Betelgeuse (colloquially pronounced Beetlejuice, like the 1988 Tim Burton comedy-horror classic), the left shoulder of the Orion constellation. The star glows red, is fairly bright and if its recent behaviour is anything to go by, it might explode tonight... or in half a million years.
I have been writing science stories in Zulu lately. For a bit of fun, I used Google Translate to see how badly the platform would translate it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the intelligible result. Professionals in the South African translation industry are not as happy as I am about this result, and they are not the only ones.
The paranoid world, through the eyes of entertainment media, has come a long way since the days of the first Terminator film in 1984, which first gave voice to fe...
SANSA’s data on the South Atlantic Anomaly is in demand as the phenomenon’s area of influence rapidly expands, potentially threatening satellite communications and navigation in southern Africa.
With the increasing occurrence of stories about men of God taking selfies in heaven, selling AIDS-curing holy water, and ridding people’s faces of cockroaches (with Doom!), it begs the question as to why people still subscribe to religion in South Africa. I understand that there is much more to Christianity and religion than these shiny-suit clad charismatic preachers, but I still wonder why so many people flock to them and still take religion serio...
There is something rather democratic about the robot called Bender (from the TV show Futurama) and his desire to kill all humans. It means he doesn’t seem to care about race, nationality, gender or diet preference; he hates all humans just the same: they are whiny meat bags doomed to a self-inflicted apocalypse.
Bender’s equal opportunity approach seems far removed from today’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) – news stories keep popping up about AI failing to treat all humans equally, surprising...
The annual Reed Dance Ceremony is a Zulu event that sees tens of thousands of young Zulu virgins (maidens) flock to Nyokeni Palace in Nongoma where they deliver fragile reeds, symbolic of their precious purity, to the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
Here is an interactive map of Nyokeni Palace which shows what happened at this year's (2015) Reed Dance Ceremony at the palace in Nongoma.
Be sure to hover over the yellow icon if you have any burning question you need answered...
There is a fat man holding my girlfriend and waving his knife perilously near her tender throat. I ask that he not chew so loudly, as he is sitting in the row behind us at the cinema. He takes great offence at my request, even though I have sat through almost the entire movie without complaining once. He responds by inching the knife closer to my now-screaming date’s throat, and all eyes on the shocked faces of the audience are now focussed on us.