Author Sarah Wild


Will physicists ever be bang on?

There was a bang, we think. About 14bn years ago, a tiny singularity — a point smaller than a pinhead and containing all the matter in our universe – exploded. We’re pretty sure. If we accept that the universe started with a bang – an “if” that is infinite and expanding at about 70km per second per megaparsec as you


SKA takes long view on big data

As governments worry about how they will legislate the access to and analysis of “big data”, scientists are still trying to figure out how they’re going to cope with the deluge of information. “Big data is a very abused term that is bandied about a lot,” says Simon Ratcliffe, technical lead for scientific


Big Brother offers safety in numbers

You swipe your credit card at a shop, sit down at a restaurant after checking Foursquare and browse Facebook while waiting for your friend to arrive. En route to your car afterwards, you reply to an e-mail and then turn on your GPS to find the best route home. At each


SKA ready and raring to go

In all of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) excitement, we’ve forgotten that it is first and foremost a scientific instrument, created to allow scientists to answer questions that can’t be answered with existing equipment: how are galaxies created? Are there other habitable planets? What is dark matter? What is


SKA: bringing astronomy to Africa

It is difficult to teach radio astronomy, which detects invisible radio waves, to students. It is not like optical astronomy where you can point a dish at the sky and stare at a star, says Anita Loots, associate director at Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa. “The concepts are abstract because you can’t


Bridging the gaping digital divide

New communications minister Yunus Carrim has boldly vowed to go where every minister before him has tried and failed: increase Internet penetration and cut the cost of communicating in South Africa. The number of Internet users in the country has


Residents do battle over cellular masts

From the Northcliff water tower, you have a 360-degree view of ­Johannesburg. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Magaliesberg. The skyline landmark teeters on what was once called Aasvöelkop, the ridge where Matabeleland founder Mzilikazi stood before he headed north to Zimbabwe


New broom sweeps clean at tech agency

The newly appointed board of the Technology Innovation Agency – which has only one member from the previous board – is conducting a forensic investigation into the agency and the CEO, Simphiwe Duma, has elected to take “special leave” for the duration of the investigation


SA science website covered in cobwebs

A member of the public visiting the South African Agency for Science & Technology Advancement’s (Saasta’s) website for information about science in the country will find information that is outdated, and in some cases dating back to 2008. This is despite the fact that last year the agency received a parliamentary


One step closer to another Earth

Twenty years ago, we thought that the solar system, with its collection of planets — which then included now-demoted Pluto — was unique. But in the past few years, new data, aided by planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler, has shown that, not only are there billions of planets in the universe, in the Milky Way they are also