Greywater: the do’s and don’ts of reusing greywater at home

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Catch your shower water in a bucket for later reuse. Photo credit: peasap

It’s winter in the Cape, and although I’ve enjoyed having a longer period of warm sunny days this year, even I have to admit that I’ve been hoping for a good wet winter after the drought. For a city right next to the sea, it’s amazing how we can be so affected by a drought season. But here we are, and as we look for ways to use less water, many are turning to greywater recycling. While this is great, greywater cannot be handled in the same way as municipal water, and health risks can arise from simple mistakes. If you’ve wondered about that smell as you water the lawn, or the colour of the water you’ve been storing, you may be doing something wrong with how you use greywater. Continue reading

Long term thinking and the antibiotic resistance crisis

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Adapted from a photo by Fredrik Rubensson

There was the email: I would like to invite you to our July event Getting Cozy with Catastrophe: Superbugs, Drug Resistance … When I received an invitation to a talk on antibiotic resistance, I have to admit, I was initially a little bit uninspired by the topic. If you’ve been in a biological field for long enough, you kinda know the antibiotic resistance story. But then I looked a little closer at the write-up. Superbugs, Drug Resistanceand the Power of Long Term Thinking. “Ah,” I thought. “Maybe there will be something new to bring to the table.” And so it was that when on July 5th, Women in Tech Cape Town hosted a TechTalk with drug resistance scientist Dr Imogen Wright as the speaker, I was sitting in the audience, with my pen at the ready. Continue reading

There’s science in your mug – it must be teatime!

A bit of a frivolous post, as I take a teatime break, and muse at the science of everyday. cropped-tea-2238290_1920.jpgMilk first? Milk at all? Sugar? How long should I leave the tea-bag in for? Green or black or red or white? Herbal – does that still class as tea? The science of tea is clearly important to our everyday lives. However you take your tea, the evidence points in favour of the humble tea break! Continue reading

White hat hacking to combat disease

white hat hacking to combat disease (2)Information can be hacked – unfortunate as it is, it’s true. And interestingly, hacking can take place not only on the internet, but also within your very cells. Viruses use our genetic information against us to make more of themselves – a form of molecular hacking. However, hacking doesn’t always imply something bad. Just as there are white hat hackers, there is also good molecular hacking. Continue reading

Difficult conditions can be difficult to study: the journey of a little white pill

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The problems with human subjects
Credit: xkcd

It all starts with a cause. Of course it does. Be it malaria, Alzheimer’s or something else – there is a reason to start looking for a cure. Sometimes, it’s easy. Traditional healing plants are obvious avenues for drug discovery. Sometimes, it’s hard. What do you do when bacteria become resistant to all known drugs? Or if you just don’t understand a disease enough to develop something that will target the underlying cause rather than just the symptoms. Whatever road is taken, drug development has to tick certain boxes, and contend with certain politics, before a pill ends up in your bathroom cabinet. Continue reading

Crowd sourcing science

cropped-citizen-science-2.jpgCrowd funding projects has become a common phenomenon in today’s world, but crowd sourced science? What does that even mean?! This means that the public can contribute to scientific research – through the form of both data and ideas for advancements. It is commonly called citizen science, with the people doing it dubbed citizen scientists. With the rise of technological advancements, this is becoming more prevalent in our world today, and will likely play an integral role in the way that science progresses in the future. Continue reading

Bacteria antibiotic resistance, and a possible solution – Part 2

cropped-bacteria-426997_1920.jpgThe danger with writing “Part 1” at the end of any post title is the fact that you have to follow up on your threat… I mean, promise. Last time we looked at how bacterial antibiotic resistance can occur. Antibiotic resistance poses a huge public health problem, with notable diseases, such as tuberculosis, being resistant to multiple drugs. Which is obviously REALLY BAD! So what do we do about it? Continue reading