How dangerous is nuclear power?

I rather like nuclear power. It’s not perfect but it is powerful and, although the depleted fuel does need to be carefully stored away, it’s clean. However there are those people that are intent on demonising it as nothing but a massive disaster waiting to happen. This happens all over the world, but is it actually true? Continue reading

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Science and the world’s future

Today, I attended a special lecture, Science and the world’s future, presented by Bruce Alberts, the editor of Science. Since Science is one of the most respected scientific publications out there I expected a good talk about science. For the most part I got what I expected. However, when it came to the questions things went downhill quickly. Continue reading

To be unAfrican seems to me a compliment

When I wrote about The Spear yesterday I said that some people described the painting as “an attack to the very value and moral systems of the majority African people.” I said such criticisms were needed to make sure that we are able to progress in our ethics but now, as more reactions to the painting have come to light, I feel that perhaps that attack on the moral systems of the majority is actually a compliment. Continue reading

The Spear, a test for South Africa’s free expression

The Spear by Brett Murray

There has been a lot of talk about Brett Murray’s depiction of President Jacob Zuma in the picture, The Spear, which already has it’s own Wikipedia entry. Everyone has their opinion on the picture, which was sold for R136 000, and whether it is a legitimate example of freedom of expression or whether it should be removed and destroyed. I want to look at it in light of the 10 principles of free speech I talked about earlier.

While the display of the picture has been defended by City Press and the Goodman Gallery on the grounds of freedom of expression it has been opposed by supporters of Zuman and the ANC by multiple, and often ridiculous, arguments. Continue reading

Don’t blame animals for human behaviour

Just over a week ago a Scottish woman visitng South Africa was injured while in a Cheetah enclosure. Then another woman claimed that she had also been attacked by the same cheetahs a few years earlier. The manager of the facility then admitted there had been other minor incidents. I’ve petted a tame cheetah before and it really is a great experience because it’s the sort of animal that you admire because of it’s physical attributes. At the same time you need to realise that those same attributes make it a dangerous creature that is probably physically superior to you. Continue reading

Amazing plants

A lot of people think of plants as boring, if occasionally attractive, things that don’t do much worth talking about. As it turns out that’s wrong. It might not fit into the general view of plants but they do a lot more than just sit around. In this post I want to show you plants that eat animals, grow without soil, move (and move a lot faster than you might expect) and can survive incredibly harsh conditions. Continue reading

Rhinos need evidence-based thinking

Late last year the Western black rhinoceros was declared extinct in West Africa. This year South Africa, home to up to 80% of the world’s rhino population, has had to deal with incredibly high levels of poaching. They are being killed for their horn, even by the very people that are meant to protect them, which sells for an astronomical amount. If the trade on rhino horn was lifted South Africa would be sitting on a stockpile worth R10 billion! Continue reading