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Mackenzie-Hoy is a consulting acoustics and electrical engineer –

By Terry Mackenzie-hoy

The most significant invention

7th July 2023

What do you think is the most significant invention of recent times? That is to say, in the last 100 years. What invention stands out as the most life-changing, that had the greatest influence, the... 

End of Second World War

30th June 2023

We won’t go into all the countries that fought in the Second World War other than to say the British fought the Germans and the Germans fought the British and subsequently the British fought the... 

King Tut

23rd June 2023

This year is the 101st since the discovery of Tutankhamun. For those of you who don’t know, Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled over Egypt for a very short period of about ten years. He... 

Quo vadis?

16th June 2023

I have in previous columns pretty much avoided writing about how stupid the South African government has been with regard to the current situation. It is almost beyond belief that a government, any... 

Waiting room tale – Part 2

9th June 2023

In last week’s instalment of this column, I had injured my foot and gone to the hospital to have it seen to. I had made one visit, at the end of which (after waiting many hours) I was sent home to... 

Hanging about in waiting room

2nd June 2023

I have had more than the usual number of injuries over my 67-year life. This is not a bad thing, since it really demonstrates a life of experience. It might also be demonstrating a life of... 

Okavango adventures

26th May 2023

I’m two years younger than my brother; however, because of the arrangement that existed at the time, I went to school one year after him instead of two years. This, in turn, meant I was young,... 

Summer storms in Joburg

19th May 2023

Johannesburg is a very large city. I’m not sure of the exact dimensions but I think it is at least 1 500 km2. Various cloudbursts which occur all over South Africa vary from Cape Town (continuous... 

Worse than it’s ever been

12th May 2023

At the time of writing this article, there is loadshedding; the power is off intermittently for two to four hours at all locations in South Africa. This is a regular occurrence, and it represents a... 

More stories about the Navy

5th May 2023

During my national service, when I was stationed at Durban Naval Command, interesting events happened from time to time. Before I continue, I should point out to those who are new to this column... 

Dropping bombs – Part 2

28th April 2023

In last week’s piece about disposing of bombs at sea, I explained how, when in the South African Navy, I was the engineering officer and had accompanied a ship offshore, where, at the 10 km... 

Dropping bombs – Part 1

21st April 2023

One of the more interesting and terrifying occupations I had in the South African Navy involved the disposal of bombs off the Durban coastline. In fact, using the description “dropping bombs off... 

Future of wild animals

14th April 2023

Jeremy Clarkson, as you should know, is an English journalist and British TV personality, who, for several years, presented a television programme which dealt with motor vehicles called Top Gear.... 

Need to up nuclear generation

7th April 2023

It is a fact that electricity has only been available for about 120 years. This means, for example, that there was no electricity during the South African War and during the Crimean War, and the... 

Future of motor transport

31st March 2023

We all have seen documentation about the prospects that car manufacturers are providing or hope to provide as far as new developments in cars are concerned. Simply put, it is the promise, or at... 

Electricity 50 years from now

24th March 2023

The electrical system that we had 50 years ago is effectively the one that existed in 1973. It is startling to me to realise that this is 50 years ago; however, such is the case. The electrical... 

Forgotten electronics

17th March 2023

Over the various years, there have been a number of instances of electronic devices which have been invented that have been widely used and then which have been surpassed and finally overtaken by... 

Dark days

10th March 2023

In many newspapers and in Engineering News & Mining Weekly itself, there are references to the collapse of the power grid. Just so that we all understand what we are talking about, the grid is the... 

Even more adventures in the Defence Force

3rd March 2023

This is the third article concerning my time doing my national service, of which I spent the major part of two years between 1975 and 1977 at the Durban Naval Command, which was established to... 

More adventures in the Navy

24th February 2023

In the previous column, I wrote about being in the Navy nearly 30 years ago. After reviewing, I find it is closer to 50 years ago. A thing to remember is that, 50 years ago, things were different.... 

Adventures in Defence Force

17th February 2023

In this and two further columns, I will list how it was to be in the South African Defence Force as a national serviceman, all of which took place 30 years ago. Before we go any further, I want to... 

Two years before the mast

10th February 2023

As time passes, people are forgetting that there was a time when all white men in South Africa had to do national service. When the requirement for doing national service first began (around 1969),... 

Gone to the dogs

3rd February 2023

In 1994, South Africa probably had the best power system in the world. It was well-run; the power was never disconnected; it was stable and reliable; and the concept of the power being off for any... 

Negative things . . .

27th January 2023

Let us assume that we have to evaluate the actual quantity of a given thing. Let us say the given thing is the amount of time spent on a highway or the distance spent on a road. We could also... 

Broekman the bantam

20th January 2023

There are some stories which are quite old, as in more than 100 years old, and which deserve to be told, but which actually have no real value. It’s all very well telling a story about what... 

Hero to zero

16th December 2022

So, back in the day, the situation regarding Eskom was like this: the State-owned utility was in such good condition that a national power failure was unthinkable. Not only this – the price of... 

Power vacuum

9th December 2022

Eskom’s COO, Jan Oberholzer, is going to retire in April 2023, which is about five months from now. He has been working for the State-owned electricity utility for over 30 years. This is to be... 

All at sea

2nd December 2022

Sometimes there are things which seem to be very sensible but which, if you look at them a little bit more closely, are not sensible at all. An example would be a computer system which is mounted... 

The end of war

25th November 2022

The Second World War was coming to an end in 1945. For it to end, the Japanese had to surrender; however, the Japanese did not have surrender as part of their philosophy in life. Consequently, the... 

Searching for Einstein

18th November 2022

It is 80 years since 1942, which was the middle of World War II. Even 80 years later, we don’t have to ask one another which was World War II, or when it happened, or who fought in it, or when it... 

Dry-cooled power stations

11th November 2022

Once completed, Medupi will be both the fourth-largest power station and the biggest dry-cooled power station in the world. It will have a capacity of 4 764 MW. Dry-cooled power stations, as... 

The cost of corruption

4th November 2022

People who have been taking note of the latest developments will know that the South African government has set up a programme whereby it is going to allow a group of selected people to resolve the... 

Our power system

28th October 2022

All over South Africa, the power is going off – not accidentally; it is being switched off. Interruptions are normally between two hours and two-and-a-half hours at a time. The power interruptions... 

Failure to launch

21st October 2022

At the turn of this century, there were many predictions about what was going to happen in terms of inventions which would reach one 100 years. Among the predictions were quite a number about what... 

The final chapter

14th October 2022

In the last three columns, I wrote about how I worked for Eskom Eastern Cape as chief engineer for operations. The whole of Eskom and the Eastern Cape, as part of it, had been split into separate... 

Eskom in 1987 . . .

23rd September 2022

In the last two articles, I wrote about how I went to work for Eskom in the Eastern Cape as the chief electrical engineer: operations. This was a fabulous job. Not only was I paid twice the going... 

Eskom 2: A backward glance

16th September 2022

In the previous article (for those of you foolish enough not to have read it), I wrote how I went to work for State-owned electricity utility Eskom as senior engineer foroperations in 1988. It was... 

Whither, Eskom?

9th September 2022

It’s 34 years since I worked for State-owned power utility Eskom. At the time, I was working for a consulting engineering practice in East London. It was a very noble consulting engineering... 

Electricity and water don’t mix

2nd September 2022

‘The War to End All Wars’ is now more than 100 years ago. Specifically speaking, this refers to World War I. Those of you who know history will know that it hardly involved the whole of the world.... 

Beware of high horses

26th August 2022

About 20 years ago, I was phoned up by a client who said that she happened to be selling a 17-storey property in Cape Town. She wanted the sale to go through quickly and, as a result, she needed... 

The mother of invention

19th August 2022

Nobody will deny that the most extensive development in the world has happened in the last 150 years. From 1900 onwards, we have seen the development of domestic electricity and lights, commercial... 

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