Resolutions – in culture, language, and science

New year is a time for resolutions. Whether it’s to exercise more, learn a language, or be more environmentally conscious, this popular concept hits a peak in January. So let’s have a look at where resolutions have come from and gone to, in culture, language, and science.

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Pint of Science: Bringing science to the public and highlighting African research

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A physicist, a biologist and a neuroscientist walk into a bar. What sounds like the beginning of a joke is in fact how the Pint of Science Festival works. This year, from 14 to 16 May, 26 scientists from varying backgrounds walked into bars at three venues across Cape Town to bring us three nights of TED-styled science talks. Continue reading

The whys and hows of attracting young children to science in South Africa

This is an article I wrote for the New Age on behalf of Pint of Science South Africa:

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“Why?” It’s the question that drives parents insane. “Why do leaves turn yellow?” “Because the weather is changing.” “Why?” “Because our part of the earth is moving further away from the sun.” “Why?” And it goes on. This inquisitive nature may drive parents to distraction, but the constant search for answers and the never-ending streams of “why” are the very things that should be nurtured in young children in order for the next generation of inventors and scientists to blossom. Continue reading

Art, spring flowers, and the discovery of a blue halo

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I have a sketch book, or as it was marketed, a visual journal. I think I prefer the name visual journal – each picture was something I chose to draw, not something that was put in front of me as in art class, and each picture has an added dimension of having a memory attached to it. And, as it turns out, sometimes a picture will end up having some form of scientific relevance too, as happened with my picture of spring flowers. Continue reading

Rainwater harvesting – tapping into a greatly underused resource

This article is specific to the context of the Cape Town drought, but the concepts can be applied in any water-scarce situation where there is the potential to harvest rainwater.cropped-rain.jpgAs you’ve probably heard, over and over if you live in Cape Town, dam levels are low. At 31% capacity, water storage levels are 25% lower than they were this time last year.  Although there are talks of shipping water from upcountry, and building a desalination plant, perhaps we should be looking to the skies – which deliver fresh water right into our backyard.

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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