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Study finds that most plastic litter in Cape Flats rivers washes ashore close to river mouths
Tue, 16 Feb 2021 - 12:30

Despite mounting concern about the large amounts of plastic litter entering the sea from land-based sources, there is surprisingly little information on how plastic travels from rivers into the sea. Researchers from the University of Cape Town’s FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology recorded the amounts of litter washing ashore along 2.4 km of sandy beach on the northern shore of False Bay, Cape Town. Their recently published study finds that most plastic litter in Cape Flats rivers washes ashore close to river mouths

Gigantic galaxies discovered with the MeerKAT telescope
Mon, 18 Jan 2021 - 14:00

Two giant radio galaxies have been discovered with South Africa's powerful MeerKAT telescope. These galaxies are amongst the largest single objects in the universe and are thought to be quite rare.  

The discovery has been published online in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The detection of two of these monsters by MeerKat, in a relatively small patch of sky suggests that these scarce giant radio galaxies may actually be much more common than previously thought. This gives astronomers vital clues about how galaxies have changed and evolved throughout cosmic history.

Win-win for wind energy and eagles
Fri, 15 Jan 2021 - 10:15

While the rapid uptake of wind energy across the globe offers hope of a transition toward sustainability, this same energy can also present a real threat to soaring birds of prey. Now a new tool offers hope of a win-win solution, allowing developers to rapidly identify the best locations for their wind turbines and also minimise the risk of collision for one special bird of prey.

COVID-19 dashboard measures resurgence risk
Wed, 06 Jan 2021 - 14:00

As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic grips South Africa, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from some of the country’s leading universities and civil society have put their heads together to develop a COVID-19 dashboard. The platform analyses the resurgence risk, monitors hospital admissions and presents other essential data relating to the pandemic.

Shrimp-like tanaids mimic hermit crabs
Wed, 06 Jan 2021 - 10:30

University of Cape Town (UCT) marine biologist Dr Jannes Landschoff describes it as “an intriguing little animal” that lives like a hermit crab but isn’t a crab. Unlike its fellows, this tiny, shrimp-like tanaid also chooses to bed down in empty gastropod shells. A new paper by Dr Landschoff and lead author, UCT master’s student Rouane Brokensha, sheds light on how this miniscule animal is adapted to shell life.

Desert research leads to master’s degree
Wed, 09 Dec 2020 - 16:45

Liezl Maritz, who is graduating with a Master's degree in Biological Sciences, worked in isolation on the coast of the southern Namib desert and had black-backed jackals as her companions observing her doing her research. She was doing the first investigation ever into the ecological viability of wetland marine ponds created by diamond-mining activities.

Food and clean water start with soil biodiversity: learning more about it is urgent
Wed, 09 Dec 2020 - 12:15

Dr Charlene Janion-Scheepers, from the Department of Biological Sciences, looks at how soils are vital for agriculture, biodiversity and clean water and describes how this below-ground world is often overlooked. She examines how the loss of life below the ground due to intensification of agriculture, climate change, erosion and compaction, among other things, is one of the biggest global threats to soils.

Sensing good vibrations: a remarkable sensory organ in the beaks of ancient fossil birds
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 - 17:45

Newly published research by an all-women team from the University of Cape Town shows how one of the most ancient groups of birds (from the time of the dinosaurs) was able to detect minute mechanical vibrations in the soil using their beaks. PhD student Carla du Toit from the Department of Biological Sciences is the lead author, Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is co-author and leading dinosaur palaeontologist and Dr. Susan Cunningham is senior author and avian sensory ecology specialist.  

The opportunity presented by the call for decolonization
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 - 17:30

Dr Margaret Blackie, from Stellenbosch University, presented the Department of Chemistry Transformation Committee lecture, with a talk entitled, "The opportunity presented by the call for decolonization ".

What meteorites can tell us about Mars
Wed, 25 Nov 2020 - 09:30

Hundreds of millions of years ago something crashed into the planet Mars with enough force to eject pieces of Martian rock into space. Some of these pieces of rock made their way to Earth where they entered our atmosphere as meteors. A precious few landed on the surface of our planet as meteorites. Thanks to scientists like Geoffrey Howarth, a geologist based at the University of Cape Town (UCT), these Martian meteorites are now being studied to better understand the structure and geological history of the red planet.

School of IT Showcase displays students’ ingenuity
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 - 10:45

Developed by senior University of Cape Town (UCT) students, tech projects and innovations that aim to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems were on display at the 2020 School of IT Showcase this week.

Groundbreaking new book: Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals
Thu, 12 Nov 2020 - 09:30

According to Professor Maano Ramutsindela, University of Cape Town (UCT) Dean of Science and co-editor of Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals, a groundbreaking new book, the book brings together over 80 researchers from a variety of disciplines on five continents to demonstrate an approach to an equitable global partnership in the production of knowledge relevant for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

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