July 2013
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Debates winners in New York
SA learners scoop silver in Beijing
SA scientist impresses in FameLab
Nanotech draws attention in Kenya
SAASTA salutes David Block
Science Centre CEO awarded
Young science brainpower awarded
75 years of coelacanth research
Join in recording the diversity of life
Open your own Science Spaza
The Universe is expanding
"Space Skype" links kids
Coastal and marine science in SA
Internship programme
A scientist for a day
iThemba LABS - advancing knowledge
Ex ZooClub members' success
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

In the news

SOUTH AFRICA - The cast of the popular Grey's Anatomy gathered around the Lodox machine and looked in awe as it did an entire body X-ray of a person injured in a road accident, in 13 seconds, a procedure that would take around 20 minutes with conventional X-rays.

"It's freaking magical," whispered one character.

This scene was aired in a recent episode of award-winning soap, Grey's Anatomy on M-Net, and the machine that threw the characters was designed, built and distributed in South Africa by local company, Lodox.

The Lodox device is the world's first and only full-body, high-speed digital X-ray scanner. It was originally developed for security screening on South Africa's diamond mines, but Lodox Systems developed the technology for medical use.

The scanner takes 13 seconds to produce an accurate, full-body overview of injuries and foreign bodies in a patient.

"Grey's Anatomy is only TV, but in real life, doctors in South Africa and international hospitals are saving lives with Lodox and using our technology for the most effective trauma management," said Pieter de Beer, Lodox chief executive.

Locally, the scanner can be found at 13 public hospitals and one private one, as well as in two mortuaries, and helps determine cause of death. The Lodox device is also a useful tool in criminal investigation as it quickly detects the existence of foreign objects inside a person.

The Lodox Programme is a research initiative between the University of Cape Town, the NRF's Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) and Lodox Systems (Pty) Ltd. in the field of Medical Imaging. The programme is sponsored by THRIP and Lodox Systems (Pty) Ltd.

Source: The Mercury

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - A small NASA telescope was launched into orbit at the end of June on a mission to determine how the sun heats its atmosphere to millions of degrees, sending off rivers of particles that define the boundaries of the solar system.

The study is far from academic. Solar activity directly impacts Earth's climate and the space environment beyond the planet's atmosphere. Solar storms can knock out power grids, disrupt radio signals and interfere with communications, navigation and other satellites in orbit.

Scientists have been trying to unravel the mechanisms that drive the sun for decades, but one fundamental mystery endures: How it manages to release energy from its relatively cool, (5 500 degree Celsius) surface into an atmosphere that can reach up to 2.8 million degree Celsius.

At its core, the sun is essentially a giant fusion engine that melds hydrogen atoms into helium. As expected, temperatures cool as energy travels outward through the layers, but then in the lower atmosphere, known as the chromosphere, temperatures heat up again. Pictures and data relayed by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, telescope may finally provide some answers about how that happens.

The 1.2-metre long, 204-kg observatory will be watching the sun from a vantage point about 644 kilometres above Earth. It is designed to capture detailed images of light moving from the sun's surface, known as the photosphere, into the chromosphere. Temperatures peak in the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona.

All that energy fuels a continuous release of charged particles from the sun into what is known as the solar wind, a pressure bubble that fills and defines the boundaries of the solar system.

"Every time we look at the sun in more detail, it opens up a new window for us," said Jeffrey Newmark, IRIS programme scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Source: Reuters

LONDON - Plants do complex arithmetic calculations to make sure they have enough food to get them through the night, new research published in journal eLife shows.

Scientists at Britain's John Innes Centre (JIC) said plants adjust their rate of starch consumption to prevent starvation during the night, when they are unable to feed themselves with energy from the sun. They can even compensate for an unexpected early night.

"This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation," mathematical modeller Martin Howard of JIC said.

During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store and estimate the length of time until dawn. Information about time comes from an internal clock, similar to the human body clock.

"The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity," JIC metabolic biologist Alison Smith said. "Understanding how plants continue to grow in the dark could help unlock new ways to boost crop yield."

Source: Reuters