South African Journal of Science - latest Issue
Volumes & issues
Volume 112, Issue 11-12, 2016
Author J. Butler-AdamSource: South African Journal of Science 112 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0186More Less
The extraction of shale gas is often said to have considerable benefits as an alternative and relatively new source of energy and as a creator of jobs, with the consequent social and economic advantages that follow. Why, then, would communities as different and geographically far apart as those in Lancashire and the Eastern Cape be so determinedly opposed to fracking? The reasons are numerous: the extraction process is water intensive in the face of water scarcity; the potentially carcinogenic chemicals used in the process may escape and contaminate ground water; air pollution is also common; heavy transport (for equipment and water) will have substantial environmental impacts; and the activity can ruin valuable or tourist-intensive landscapes. In short, the extraction of shale gas may well present significant environmental, technical, social and economic challenges - along with any benefits that it might bring.
Source: South African Journal of Science 112 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/ a0185More Less
Professor Brian van Wilgen received the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Science-for-Society Gold Medial award at ASSAf's annual prestigious awards ceremony on 12 October 2016. Gold Medals are the apex awards of ASSAf and the South African science system and are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements by individuals in scientific thinking for the benefit of society.
Author Bernard SlippersSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 3 –4 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/ a0189More Less
Many academies globally interact with young scientists (viewed here as all those who have just completed postgraduate studies to mid-career scientists) only on an ad-hoc basis through prizes or once-off engagements.This substantial group of active knowledge producers is often not treated as a core part of the scientific community or as leaders who could shape science and society - despite the fact that they often drive new developments,and will be the leaders of the scientific community in as little as 5-10 years. It is often argued that they should be spending their time 'in the lab' and writing grants and papers, rather than busy themselves with the type of engagement and policy work that academies typically undertake. Consequently, the voices of the next generation of science leaders are often silent in policy discussions, even when the policy is about young scientists or about the future of science. It is thus not surprising that a recent special feature in Nature concluded: 'Academia is more difficult than ever for young scientists. That's bad for them, and bad for science.'
Author Zak YacoobSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 5 –6 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0188More Less
On 6 and 7 October 2016, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted the 2016 Annual Young Scientist Conference in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology; the South African Young Academy of Science; Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering (GenderInSITE); and the South African Chapter of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World. The conference explored and discussed human rights in Africa in many of its dimensions to celebrate 2016 as the 'African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women'.
Author Hannah R. SimonSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 7 –8 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/ a0180More Less
Heralded as the decade of social awareness, the start of the 21st century has brought with it a growing cognisance of what is good and right. Through time, the world has birthed different schools of justice, which have all added their flavours to the hypothetical cocktail of human well-being. Two of these schools - social justice and environmental justice - have attracted the most attention. The United Kingdom's Department of Forestry has deemed social justice the 'shar[ing] of social, environmental and economic benefits' and environmental justice the 'distribution of environmental benefits'. When either of these justices are not met, waves of resistance - so-called social and environmental activism, respectively - invariably arise. Social activism effectively caters directly to the needs of people, whilst environmental activism prioritises the state of the environment.
Author Eben MareSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 9 –11 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0184More Less
Source: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 12 –17 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0183More Less
Research is a key resource in a knowledge economy and governance system. In order to enable research to benefit the nation and to contribute to growing the knowledge-based economy (the aims of the Global Change Grand Challenge, and specifically the Society and Sustainability Research Programme), the gap between research, knowledge production and policy and management (i.e. the knowing-doing gap1) needs to be closed, yet closing this gap remains a complex challenge. This year's annual SANCOR (South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research) Forum meeting addressed this gap through consultation with a variety of stakeholders from the coastal and marine science community. Our brief was to provide for reflection and discussion on aspects of the science-policy-management interface within South Africa and this commentary provides a summary of the Forum discussions. We detail some current challenges of integrating coastal and marine science into policy and decision making in South Africa, highlight 'success stories' and provide some thoughts on maximising overlap and building a sound science-policy interface. Although couched in the context of marine and coastal sciences, our findings will resonate with other scientific disciplines. Similarly, the challenges in and opportunities for creating constructive dialogue for evidence-based decision-making are not specific to South Africa, so we draw on national, international and collective experience to provide an avenue for doing so. In this commentary we highlight current examples of mismatch between science and policy by focusing on barriers resulting from legislation, politics and a general lack of process for better integration. In particular, we focus on the complexities of evidence-based decision-making at different scales, and how international scientific engagement has helped shape policy in South Africa. We finish by providing some perspectives, directions and examples to help narrow the gap and foster better science-policy integration into the future.
Towards the study of South African literature as an integrated corpus, Helize van Vuuren (Ed.) : book reviewAuthor Menan Du PlessisSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 18 –20 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0181More Less
The title of this new work by Helize van Vuuren refers to a dancing rattle made from dried springbok ears laced together by a thong, and is an appropriate metaphor for her set of eight gracefully interlinked academic essays in which she explores the possibility of a more inclusive approach to South African literature, looking in particular at intersections between literary productions in various indigenous Khoesan languages - but mainly the !Ui language, IXam - and Afrikaans. Along the way she gives thoughtful consideration to many of the most pressing questions in current South African discourse studies, such as the issue of possible cultural appropriation, how to meet the expression of historical trauma with adequate sensitivity, how to traverse the gap between oral and written literature, how to assess material available only in translation, and in particular, how to further an appreciation of South African literature as a multilingual and multimodal but nevertheless integrated corpus.
Author Roelf Van NiekerkSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 21 –23 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0182More Less
Military psychology is a sub-discipline of psychology that encompasses a wide range of academic and professional activities such as assessment and measurement (monitoring and selection), diagnosis, intervention (prevention, support, treatment and rehabilitation), training and development, human engineering, organisational development, and research. Because of its comprehensive scope, psychologists from different registration categories (such as clinical, counselling, industrial and research) contribute to different areas of military psychology. Military psychology has been practised in South Africa for almost five decades. In the rest of Africa, military psychology is not as formalised and some may view it as still in its infancy.
Source: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 24 –28 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160056More Less
The global use of skin lighteners is not new. Although skin lighteners have been used for centuries, only in the last century has the production of these materials become commercialised and global. Currently, Africa has the highest number of studies reporting on the global prevalence of skin lightener use (see Table 1). Despite toxic systemic effects, application of topical skin lighteners remains popular throughout the African continent. The market for commercial skin lighteners has grown in the Caribbean, Asia and the Far East. The chief reasons for this growth remain varied, but, undoubtedly, are strongly linked to historical racism, the perceived social benefits of lighter skin and the marketing expertise of the multinational cosmetics companies now involved in their production. 2-4 More recently, incentives for skin lightening use by pigmented people arise in part, and mostly subconsciously, from colourism - that is, the preference for lighter skin tone because of its association with positive social outcomes.
Palaeomagnetic results and new dates of sedimentary deposits from Klasies River Cave 1, South Africa : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 29 –40 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160051More Less
Palaeomagnetic data from Klasies River main site Cave 1 (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa) are reported. Natural remanent magnetisation directions obtained from 77 oriented samples were determined by progressive alternating field demagnetisation methodology. Three palaeomagnetic samplings from the Witness Baulk from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) Late Pleistocene White Sand member and the Holocene Later Stone Age (LSA) middens in Cave 1 were dated and analysed to obtain the palaeomagnetic directions recorded in the sediments. Here we provide new optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates for the White Sand Member, and new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dates for the LSA midden of areas not previously dated. The palaeomagnetic analysis took into account rock magnetism and directional analysis. The former reveals that the main magnetic carrier was magnetite; the latter shows that characteristic remanent magnetisation of normal and anomalous directions were observed in the lower portion of the White Sand Member and LSA midden. Normal directions correspond to the palaeosecular variation record for South Africa during the Late Pleistocene. On the other hand, the anomalous directions recorded in the LSA midden might represent the likely Sterno-Etrussia geomagnetic field excursion which occurred during the Late Holocene and is observed in other places on the planet. Finally, the directional data obtained are a potential tool for discussing the age of deposits corresponding to those periods.
New dates confirm and extend previous age determinations for the LSA and White Sand Member from Klasies River
Characterisation of smectite-rich clay soil : implication for groundwater defluoridation : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 41 –48 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20150442More Less
Groundwater is a widely used and affordable source of drinking water in most of the rural areas of South Africa. Several studies have indicated that groundwater in some boreholes in South Africa has a fluoride concentration above the level recommended by the World Health Organization (1.5 mg/L). Fluoride concentrations above the permissible limit (>1.5 mg/L) lead to dental fluorosis, with even higher concentrations leading to skeletal fluorosis. In the present work, we evaluate the application of smectiterichclay soil from Mukondeni (Limpopo Province, South Africa) in defluoridation of groundwater. The clay soil was characterised by mineralogy using X-ray diffraction, by elemental composition using X-ray fluorescence and by morphology using scanning electron microscopy. Surface area and pore volume was determined by the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller surface analysis method. Cation exchange capacityand pHpzc of the soil were also evaluated using standard laboratory methods. Batch experiments were conducted to evaluate and optimise various operational parameters such as contact time, adsorbent dose, pH and initial adsorbate concentration. It was observed that 0.8 g/100 mL of smectite-rich clay soil removed up to 92% of fluoride from the initial concentration of 3 mg/L at a pH of 2 with a contact time of 30 min. The experimental data fitted well to a Langmuir adsorption isotherm and followed pseudo second order reaction kinetics. Smectite-rich clay soil showed 52% fluoride removal from field groundwater with an initial fluoride concentration of 5.4 mg/L at an initial pH of 2 and 44% removal at a natural pH of 7.8. Therefore smectite-rich clay soil from Mukondeni has potential for application in defluoridation of groundwater. Chemical modification is recommended to improve the defluoridation capacity.
- Physicochemical and mineralogical characterisation of smectite-rich clay soil
- Defluoridation of groundwater using smectite-rich clay soil
- Adsorption modelling using adsorption isotherms and kinetic models
Stirred cell ultrafiltration of lignin from black liquor generated from South African kraft mills : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 49 –55 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20150280More Less
Ultrafiltration of lignin from black liquor was carried out in a stirred batch cell using polyethersulfone membranes. Parameters such as operating pressure, feed concentration, stirring rate and membranecut-off size were varied and their effects on lignin retention and permeate flux were investigated. The operating pressure, feed concentration and stirring rate were varied in the ranges 150-350 kPa, 3-9%and 200-400 rpm, respectively. The membranes used had cut-off sizes of 5 kDa, 10 kDa and 20 kDa.A one-factor-at-a-time experimental design approach was applied in this study. Retention of lignin increased with increases in operating pressure, feed concentration and stirring rate, but decreased with an increase in molecular cut-off size of the membrane. Permeate flux on the other hand increased with increases in pressure, stirring rate and molecular cut-off size of the membrane but decreased with an increase in feed concentration. The extraction of lignin from black liquor was successfully carried out and extraction efficiencies as high as 86% could be achieved depending on the experimental conditions. The study was concluded with the recommendation of conducting additional experiments using a pilot plantin a continuous mode.
- The extraction of lignin from black liquor was successfully carried out and extraction efficiencies as high as 86% were obtained. The results can be used to extend the ultrafiltration of black liquor to an industrial scale.
Impact of mother tongue on construction of notes and first-year academic performance : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 56 –61 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160037More Less
The purpose of this study was to identify whether there are any differences in the quality of the notes constructed in English between students for whom English is a first language and those for whom it is a second language. Subsequently we assessed whether this difference, if any, affected their grades. Unsurprisingly, the first-language students produced better structured and more detailed notes; they also performed better academically than their second-language peers. However, when students were provided with training that focused on using writing as a means to promote critical thinking, there was an improvement in the personalisation of their notes. The improvement in grades was significant for second language students. Thus the university has a pivotal role to play in preparing students for academic success by providing them with supportive measures to aid their transition into first year.
- The work illustrates that writing can be used as a tool for students to improve their learning and their academic performance.
- Second-language students' grades improve when writing interventions are provided early in the year.
- Students need to take on the responsibility for their learning; lecturers also have a responsibility in scaffolding learning.
Student-perceived criteria for assessing university relevance in community development : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 62 –68 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160071More Less
In sub-Saharan Africa, universities are increasingly being called upon to contribute more towards combating poverty and promoting development in rural areas. Yet, it is still argued that universities are ivory towers, and as a result, their contribution to finding sustainable solutions to issues hampering the realisation of improved quality of life of people in rural areas remains unsatisfactory. This perception emanates from the universities' apparent failure to articulate and demonstrate how they can achieve the desired goal stated above. Moreover, there are no universally embraced criteria for assessing the relevance of a rural area based university to the community it serves. This study was therefore carried out to determine the perceptions of University of Venda undergraduate students on what they believed were appropriate criteria for assessing the relevance of a rural area based university in community development in South Africa. Reflection circles, anchored on participatory research techniques, were used to engage the students.The results of the engagement were organised into sub-themes. The most prominent perceptions were: 'A university has active long-term community-based development initiatives'; 'A university is continuouslyaddressing the real needs of the communities in question'; â??University initiatives are creating jobs for its graduates and community members'; and 'Continuous community requests for university assistance in solving the challenges militating against development'. The wide range of perceptions of students observed in this study is a useful input into initiatives seeking to develop an objective tool for assessing the relevance of a rural area based university in community development.
- A set of criteria that students believe should be used to assess the relevance of universities in community development were generated.
- The criteria can be used to develop an index that might serve as a tool for ranking university relevance to their constituencies.
- The criteria can also be used to sharpen the business of community engagement directorates in rural-based universities.
Author Anastassios PourisSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 69 –76 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160054More Less
The results of an effort to identify the performance of energy and fuels research in South Africa during the most recent period (2003-2013) are reported. Bibliometric approaches have been employed in order to assess the field of energy research. Energy research was identified to be improving over time, albeit from a small basis. The field appears to equally emphasise fossil and renewable energy research. Similarly, universities were identified to be producing a subcritical number of energy articles in comparison with international organisations. The relatively small activity in the energy field appears to affect the international collaboration of the field, which is well below the national average. International comparisons in terms of articles per GWH of electricity produced and articles per million population show that South Africa should increase substantially its effort in the field in order to be comparable with other countries.
- This article makes a unique contribution in scientometrics to the field of energy research in South Africa which, given its multidisciplinary nature, is a generally neglected field of study in South Africa.
Formulating tasks to develop HOTS for first-year calculus based on Brookhart abilities : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 77 –82 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160139More Less
We describe an approach to develop higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) among first-year calculus students. The ideas formulated by Brookhart to develop HOTS were used to identify from the literature three core abilities that should be targeted. Then eight expected learning outcomes for the development of HOTS were documented, in the context of the study of first-year university calculus. Those expected outcomes were used to formulate sample tasks that were designed to target the development of the eight abilities. A pilot study was done to determine whether the tasks had the high mathematical demand envisaged. It was found that about 37% of the participants did not give any response to the tasks. Further it was found that about 31% of the participants were able to critically evaluate a given possible solution to a problem and make a value judgement. It is recommended that to promote HOTS among students, the formulation of tasks should focus on developing the following abilities: interpreting a general definition or statement in the context of a given model; translating a worded or graphically represented situation to relevant mathematical formalisms; identifying possible applications of mathematics in their surroundings; identifying linkages between groups of concepts and interpreting these linkages in the context of a model; working systematically through cases in an exhaustive way; critically evaluating one's and others' presented solutions to a problem; interpreting and extending solutions of problems; and using with reasonable skill available tools for mathematical exploration.
- A large proportion of the student intake at university level is unable to answer mathematics questions that focus on HOTS. There is therefore a need to deliberately focus on and promote HOTS amongst the average students in the context of calculus.
Source: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 83 –90 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20150489More Less
The prevalence and history of fires in Africa has led to the continent being named 'the fire continent'. Fires are common on the continent and lead to a high number of annual fire disasters which result in many human fatalities and considerable financial loss. Increased population growth and concentrated settlement planning increase the probability of fire disasters and the associated loss of human life and financial loss when disasters occur. In order to better understand the spatial and temporal variations and characteristics of fires in South Africa, an 11-year data set of MODIS-derived Active Fire Hotspots was analysed using an open source geographic information system. The study included the mapping of national fire frequency over the 11-year period. Results indicate that the highest fire frequency occurred in the northeastern regions of South Africa, in particular the mountainous regions of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and in the Western Cape. Increasing trends in provincial fire frequency were observed in eight of thenine provinces of South Africa, with Mpumalanga the only province for which a decrease in annual fire frequency was observed. Temporally, fires were observed in all months for all provinces, although distinct fire seasons were observed and were largely driven by rainfall seasons. The southwestern regions of South Africa (winter-rainfall regions) experienced higher fire frequencies during the summer months and the rest of the country (summer-rainfall regions) during the winter months. Certain regions - those which experienced bimodal rainfall seasons - did not display distinct fire seasons because of the complex wet and dry seasons. Investigation into the likely effects of climate change on South African fire frequency revealed that increased air temperatures and events such as La Nina have a marked effect on fire activity.
- Fires have played a significant role in the morphology of the African continent.
- Fires provide a number of environmental services.
- Fires were observed in all months in all provinces in South Africa, although distinct fire seasons were observed and were largely driven by rainfall seasons.
- Global climate change will result in an increase in the frequency of fires.
Deriving cues from human cognition for the modelling of shack boundaries in aerial imagery : research articleSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 91 –95 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20160065More Less
Organic studies inspire cues for modelling logic in image processing and become a basis for the development of novel remote-sensing algorithms. Examples of applications of such paradigms include the growing application of techniques such as object-oriented analysis and neural networks in image analysis for which the logic was drawn from studying various components of organic systems in the human body.Here we document a key investigation based on a set of cognitive tests conducted using aerial imagery captured over Cape Town (South Africa). These tests were conducted to later draw parallels with a feature extraction algorithm for shack settlements. We found that the visual variables of 'pattern' and 'shape' display the most significant cognitive guide for shack boundary extraction. Although the focus here was on digital imagery, learning points can be selected for application in other scientific fields as well.
- Provides an interest point for several image-processing and computer vision sciences.
- Contributes to geospatial studies and helps improve mapping and imaging initiatives.
- Directed towards solving the challenges that urban governors face in slum management.
A morphometric analysis of hominin teeth attributed to Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo : research articleAuthor Susan J. DykesSource: South African Journal of Science 112, pp 96 –110 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2017/20160136More Less
Teeth are the most common element in the fossil record and play a critical role in taxonomic assessments. Variability in extant hominoid species is commonly used as a basis to gauge expected ranges of variability in fossil hominin species. In this study, variability in lower first molars is visualised in morphospace for four extant hominoid species and seven fossil hominin species. A size-versus-shape-based principle component analysis plot was used to recognise spatial patterns applicable to sexual dimorphism in extant species for comparison with fossil hominin species. In three African great ape species, variability occurs predominantly according to size (rather than shape), with the gorilla sample further separating into a male and a female group according to size. A different pattern is apparent for the modern human sample, in which shape variability is more evident. There is overlap between male and female modern humans andsome evidence of grouping by linguistic/tribal populations. When fossil hominin species are analysed using equivalent axes of variance, the specimens group around species holotypes in quite similar patterns to those of the extant African great apes, but six individual fossil molars fall well outside of polygons circumscribing holotype clusters; at least three of these specimens are of interest for discussion in the context of sexual dimorphism, species variability and current species classifications. An implication of this study is that, especially in the case of modern humans, great caution needs to be exercised in using extant species as analogues for assessing variability considered to be a result of sexual dimorphism in fossil hominin species.
- Caution should be exercised in using modern analogue species as proxies for fossil hominin species variability.
- Exceptionally wide ranges of molar variability between certain fossil hominin specimens currently allocated to the same species might indicate possible misclassification.
- Molar morphology in gorillas tends to reflect primarily size, rather than shape, variability between the sexes, which is a consideration in the context of assessing possible sexual dimorphism in fossil homininspecies.