Tag Archives: science

Wild Reading, October 3-9

Being a science writer, I spend most of my time reading, digging for stories and finding out what is going on internationally. Wild Reading is about sharing these amazing snippets. Some of these are linked to stories I’m working on, some are just strange things that have found their way onto my computer screen. All…

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Wild reading

Being a science writer, I spend most of my time reading, digging for stories, finding out what is going on internationally. When my partner and I finally sit down to the dinner table, one of us usually asks, “So what did you learn today?” Wild reading is about sharing these amazing snippets (like did you…

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Climate change: Red alert in the Anthropocene

It is fitting that “Anthropocene”, the term coined just more than ten years ago by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist, denotes the new ecological period, following the end of the Holocene, when humans became the principal force driving changes in the planetary system. I say this because the Holocene (“New Whole”), or stable…

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Bizarre things we could do with medical technology but probably shouldn’t

I saw recently a statement by a scientist that the first human to live for a thousand years has already been born. He was that confident that the elixir of eternal life is within reach. It made me think that there are many things already here or around the corner that medical technology could do,…

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It’s a sheep-eat-plant world…except sometimes

It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Or, in this case, it is usually a sheep-eat-plant world. But in Chile, sometimes the plants eat the sheep. When I first read that, I thought I was being had, that I would excitedly tell people about this carnivorous plant with a taste for sheep and be told I was wrong….

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The technology and theology of ‘Battlestar Galactica’

One of my all-time favourite science-fiction series, Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, which ran for four seasons in the US – from 2003 to 2009 – and was an expansion of and imaginative re-elaboration on the Glen Larson 1978 television series by the same name, is much more than meets the eye. This is true…

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An exceptional South African thinker

In 1995 one of the best loved, most down-to-earth and wisest of South Africa’s thinkers, the philosopher Marthinus Versfeld died at an advanced age. If anyone thought that philosophers must of necessity always have their “heads in the clouds” of abstract thought – like the ancient Greek philosopher Thales, who once fell into a well…

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“Philosopher” Stephen Hawking pronounces philosophy dead

At the recent philosophy conference at UCT in Cape Town, philosopher Callum Scott, from UNISA, presented an intriguing paper – “The death of philosophy: A response to Stephen Hawking” – on the 2010 book by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (Bantam Books). In a nutshell, Scott offered a critique of Hawking…

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