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Science Engineering Technology

British government announces major quantum computing initiatives

By: Rebecca Campbell     18th September 2020 The UK government recently and formally launched the country’s National Quantum Computer Centre. The creation of this centre was first announced in 2018 and the government has committed £93-million to the initiative. The launching of the centre was announced at the Virtual Quantum Summit at the... 

Signs of life on Venus?

By: Rebecca Campbell     15th September 2020 An international (UK-US-Japan) team of astronomers have stunned the scientific world by announcing the discovery of a rare molecule in the atmosphere of Venus, the third planet from the Sun, and Earth’s nearest neighbour (often called Earth’s ‘non-identical twin’, because the two are so similar... 

Signs of life on Venus?
Photo by Nasa
A 1974 visible wavelength image of Venus, taken by the Mariner 10 spacecraft and recently reprocessed with modern technology to make the structure of its clouds more visible.

Cosmic rays, background radiation could hamper quantum computing

By: Rebecca Campbell     11th September 2020 Quantum computing promises to bring huge improvements over conventional computing, if it can be scaled up from the current, basically laboratory test, installations. It would be able to process much more complex problems than conventional computing and do so at far, far higher speeds. But... 

Battery metals to boom despite widespread Covid-19 disruption

By: Donna Slater     11th September 2020 Battery metals, which are used in modern energy efficient electrical products, are playing an increasingly important role in climate change mitigation and the shift towards a lower carbon-intensive future. Battery metals, including lithium, vanadium, copper, cobalt, nickel, lead and graphite are... 

Battery metals to boom despite widespread Covid-19 disruption

Sasol gives insight into its automation, digital journey

By: Simone Liedtke     9th September 2020 Implementing a digital transformation strategy is a “must”, rather than an option, and is driven by both external and internal forces, petrochemicals company Sasol Chemicals digital lead Oratile Sematle said on September 8. Speaking during an automation-themed webinar as part of this year’s... 

Sasol gives insight into its automation, digital journey

Data key to long-term optimisation, says SAIMC's first-ever female president 

By: Simone Liedtke     9th September 2020 Describing data as the “new oil” or “new water” of the world, Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control (SAIMC) president Annemarie van Coller has emphasised the importance of changing data from “just data to insights”. Speaking during an automation-themed webinar hosted... 

Data key to long-term optimisation, says SAIMC's first-ever female president
SAIMC president Annemarie van Coller gives viewers some insight into the data journey. Video: Creamer Media's Kutlwano Matlala. Editing: Creamer Media's Nicholas Boyd.

British and African researchers to work on Covid-19-related projects funded by the UK

By: Rebecca Campbell     8th September 2020 The UK has allocated £7.2-million to fund 20 new research projects to help poor countries deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on their most vulnerable populations, including children and refugees. The countries concerned are in Africa and Asia (including the Middle East) and the... 

Defy lauded for innovative locally-made ventilator

By: Marleny Arnoldi     8th September 2020 Appliance manufacturer Defy has been internationally recognised for its role in a project to provide innovative life-saving ventilators. The ventilators are designed and manufactured by South African engineers.  

Defy lauded for innovative locally-made ventilator
Defy's Impilo ventilator

Scientists ascertain oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide than previously believed

By: Rebecca Campbell     7th September 2020 An international research team led by scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK has determined that the world’s oceans are absorbing significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed. The team also included scientists from the University of the Highlands and Islands, the... 

Nasa successfully ground-tested improved rocket booster

By: Rebecca Campbell     7th September 2020 Last week the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) successfully tested what could be described as the ‘mark 2’ version of the booster rocket for its heavy Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS boosters are the most powerful booster rockets ever built for flight operations and... 

Nasa successfully ground-tested improved rocket booster
Photo by Nasa
The FSB-1 booster photographed half-way through its test burn

Scientists in Hawaii have proposed a solution for the puzzle of Dark Energy

By: Rebecca Campbell     4th September 2020 Scientists at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa, in the US, have developed a theory to explain the mysterious force known as dark energy. For some 20 years now, scientists have known that not only is the universe expanding, but that this expansion is accelerating. The force driving this... 

Scientists in Hawaii have proposed a solution for the puzzle of Dark Energy
Photo by Event Horizon Telescope
From the outside, a Geode would look like a black hole (pictured: the black hole in the centre of the M87 galaxy).

Paratus activates direct terrestrial fibre link from Teraco to Maputo

By: Natasha Odendaal     4th September 2020 Pan-African telecommunications company Paratus has completed a new terrestrial crossing between Johannesburg and Mozambique. The group lit up a 750 km route from Maputo, through Eswatini, to one of Paratus’ international colocation centres, Teraco Isando DC. 

Icasa to issue high demand spectrum ITA by end of September

By: Natasha Odendaal     4th September 2020 The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) plans to auction the long-awaited high demand spectrum in March next year. The auction of the high demand spectrum, which was originally going to take place during December 2020, will now be completed by no later than March 31,... 

Wireless valve bank available locally

By: Tracy Hancock     4th September 2020 The EX600-W wireless valve bank module from industrial automation technology company SMC is officially available in the South African market, says SMC senior technical sales engineer Wade Holland. The product has been available in Europe and Asia since early last year, but still needed to conform... 

Wireless valve bank available locally
TIME AND MONEY The EX600-W wireless valve bank module is designed to reduce downtime and costs

Nasa’s Orion spacecraft passes its final review process and now flight ready

By: Rebecca Campbell     3rd September 2020 The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has reported that the Orion spacecraft that will undertake the uncrewed Artemis I mission has passed both its System Acceptance Review and Design Certification Review. This means that it is fit for its full planned mission profile –... 

Nasa’s Orion spacecraft passes its final review process and now flight ready
Photo by Nasa
The Orion spacecraft (right foreground) for the Artemis I mission, photographed earlier in its test process in a Nasa thermal chamber

UK announces major quantum computing initiatives

By: Rebecca Campbell     2nd September 2020 The UK government formally launched the country’s National Quantum Computer Centre on Wednesday. The creation of this centre was first announced in 2018 and the government has committed £93-million to the initiative. The launching of the centre was announced at the Virtual Quantum Summit at the... 

How health dept's new app will assist the fight against Covid-19  

By: News24Wire      2nd September 2020 The national health department has launched the Covid Alert SA app, which informs people if they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19. President Cyril Ramaphosa called the app, which was launched on Wednesday, a "powerful tool to support our digital contact tracing efforts". 

How health dept's new app will assist the fight against Covid-19
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize

Covid-19 pushes cloud to forefront

By: Natasha Odendaal     2nd September 2020 A new study by World Wide Worx, in partnership with F5, Dell Technologies, Digicloud Africa and Intel, has revealed how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed cloud computing to the front of decision-makers minds. The comprehensive Cloud in Africa 2020 report maps out latest cloud trends across... 

AfriForum submits commentary against proposed 5G policy

By: Natasha Odendaal     1st September 2020 The civil rights organisation AfriForum has raised its concerns that the Draft Policy and Policy Direction on Rapid Deployment of Electronic Communication Networks and Facilities, or fifth-generation (5G) policy, will violate property rights and pose specific safety risks to landowners. In a... 

Cosmic rays could be a problem for quantum computing

By: Rebecca Campbell     31st August 2020 Quantum computing promises to bring huge improvements over conventional computing, if it can be scaled up from the current, basically laboratory test, installations. It would be able to process much more complex problems than conventional computing and do so at far, far higher speeds. But... 

Laser tech key to developing economy

By: Tracy Hancock     28th August 2020 It is vital that South Africa has an in-depth understanding of the impact photonics-based technologies will have on its economic development, as they underpin the communication systems and sensors needed to drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The country also needs to ensure that it can... 

Laser tech key to developing economy
LASER FOCUS The present focus of the Rental Pool Programme is to improve the commercialisation of research done by research groups

More local laser R&D needed

By: Tracy Hancock     28th August 2020 South Africa is not placing enough focus on laser research and development (R&D), especially in the private sector, but there is hope, says the director of the Laser Research Institute (LRI) within the Physics Department at Stellenbosch University Dr Pieter Neethling. “Laser and photonics R&D is... 

More local laser R&D needed
PRIVATE PARTICIPATION Getting private-sector companies to fund laser research and development at local universities is expected to change the landscape dramatically

Increased demand for laser marking

By: Tracy Hancock     28th August 2020 Identification and traceability company Traceability Solutions has seen an increase in enquiries for laser-marking systems despite the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, says MD Kelby Parker. “Many sectors, such as fast-moving consumer goods, did not have a loss of production from... 

Increased demand for laser marking
iZONIT VISION SYSTEM The product enables the user to establish view mark positioning accurately and easily before firing a laser

Scientists find evidence of supernova explosions relatively close to Earth

By: Rebecca Campbell     26th August 2020 Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered evidence for supernova explosions in the interstellar space around our Solar System, from analysing deep-sea sediments. Supernovas (or supernovae) are the super-powerful explosions which mark the death of massive stars. All... 

Advanced biofuels and CCS combined bring real carbon reduction benefits – US scientists

By: Rebecca Campbell     25th August 2020 Advanced biofuel technologies could provide significant benefits in countering climate change, a study project led by scientists at Colorado State University (CSU) in the US has found. Couple these technologies with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the result could be the achievement of... 

Covid-19 impacts business landscape in the steel manufacturing industry, says Macsteel

By: Tasneem Bulbulia     24th August 2020 African manufacturer, merchandiser and distributor of steel and value-added products Macsteel is planning to leverage on technology to sustain its business growth as part of its post-Covid-19 business continuity plan. This after the spread of Covid-19 created business disruption around the world,... 

Covid-19 impacts business landscape in the steel manufacturing industry, says Macsteel
Nival Porun

Nasa announces validation of much less toxic spacecraft propellant

By: Rebecca Campbell     21st August 2020 The US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Nasa) announced on Thursday that, following just under 13 months of operational test and evaluation in orbit, it had validated a new type of propellant for spacecraft. This new propellant is much less toxic than the standard current propellant,... 

Nasa announces validation of much less toxic spacecraft propellant
Photo by Nasa
Artist’s impression of the GPIM spacecraft in orbit

New association, focused on scientific imaging, set up in South Africa

By: Rebecca Campbell     21st August 2020 A new scientific, engineering and technology (SET) association has been launched in the country. This is the Scientific Imaging Association of South Africa (Siasa). The association describes scientific imaging as “the process of obtaining images within a scientific discipline for the purpose of... 

Science and tech key to sector’s survival

By: Halima Frost     21st August 2020 The impact of Covid-19 on infrastructure projects demands that the construction sector use its scientific and engineering expertise better, says engineering consultant SRK Consulting partner and principal engineering technologist Steve Bartels. “The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us that... 

Science and tech key to sector’s survival
STEVE BARTELS Communication and data-sharing technologies will be increasingly important tools in the country’s ‘new normal’ working practices since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic

Next SpaceX Crew Dragon flight set for October, says Nasa

By: Rebecca Campbell     19th August 2020 The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has announced that the next mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will take place in late October. This flight, which will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), will actually be the first routine... 

Next SpaceX Crew Dragon flight set for October, says Nasa
Photo by Nasa
The Crew Dragon space capsule just before splashdown at the end of its successful crewed Demo-2 mission

Scientists harvest more eggs from near-extinct northern white rhino

By: Reuters     19th August 2020 Scientists racing to save the northern white rhino from extinction have harvested 10 more eggs from the last two females alive which they hope will help create viable embryos that can be incubated by other rhinos acting as surrogates. Neither of the remaining northern white rhinos on Earth - a... 

South Africa’s 4IR starts with proper spectrum allocation, incentives

By: Marleny Arnoldi     18th August 2020 University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor and deputy chairperson of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (PC4IR) Professor Tshilidzi Marwala has shared some the recommendations of the commission’s report around South Africa’s progress towards embracing the Fourth... 

Avalanche caught in progress on Mars by Nasa spacecraft

By: Rebecca Campbell     18th August 2020 The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has just released this photograph of an avalanche in progress on the surface of Mars. The avalanche was caught by the HI-RISE imager on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft. The avalanche took place in Mars’ northern polar... 

Avalanche caught in progress on Mars by Nasa spacecraft
Photo by Nasa/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Caught in the act: an avalanche races down an escarpment on Mars.

The last light that will illuminate the death of the universe predicted

By: Rebecca Campbell     18th August 2020 A theoretical physicist at Illinois State University in the US has calculated that the last phenomena that will happen in our universe is what he calls ‘black dwarf supernovas’. Assistant physics professor Matt Caplan has had his theoretical paper accepted for publication by the Monthly Notices... 

The last light that will illuminate the death of the universe predicted
Photo by Event Horizon Telescope
Black dwarf supernovas will take place so far into the future that even black holes – like this one in the M87 galaxy – will all have evaporated.

Intelsat announces simultaneous launch of two innovative spacecraft

By: Rebecca Campbell     17th August 2020 Global telecommunications satellite group Intelsat announced on Saturday that it had launched, on the same rocket, its second mission extension vehicle (MEV-2) and its Galaxy 30 geosynchronous communications satellite. The two spacecraft were launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space... 

DTIC establishes Botshabelo Digital Hub site in Mangaung

By: Natasha Odendaal     17th August 2020 The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) has established a digital hub in the Botshabelo Industrial Park, in Mangaung, in the Free State, as part of a programme to bolster digital training and create jobs. The revitalised Botshabelo Digital Hub site is one of ten digital hubs... 

The use of recycled plastic used to store electrical energy demonstrated in the US

By: Rebecca Campbell     13th August 2020 Researchers in the US have successfully used recycled plastic to create rapidly-charging energy storage devices. The research team is composed of engineering professors and students at the University of California Riverside (UCR), and they have been working on using sustainable resources –... 

The use of recycled plastic used to store electrical energy demonstrated in the US
Photo by University of California Riverside
Left to right: Professors Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan.
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