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think. what you can be

November 2009/Issue 31

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Why wait ’til you grow up?

The small world issue

W i n n e r o f t h e M P A S A P i c a A wa r d 2 0 0 7 & 2 0 0 8 f o r P u b l i s h i n g E x c e l l e n c e


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PHOTOGRAPHS: cover istock photos contents/gallo/gettyimages.com

Challenge

This magazine is packed with smart stuff. Get your brain in gear by answering these … 1. Given the numbers 2, 2, 3 and 5, how would you use addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and all four numbers to get an answer of 24? 2. What is the next number in the following sequence: 1; 8; 27; 64; 125; 216; …? 3. I am a three-digit number. My second digit is four times my third digit. My first digit is seven less than my second digit. What number am I? Email your name, city, school, grade, contact number and answers to <win@hip2b2.com> and you could win a HIP2B2 Bass on Tap.

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HIP2B 2 NEWS

Hip and happening Everything you need to know from the HIP2B2 hub.

! Start small, make it big A word from Mark Shuttleworth

photographs: istock photos, Rebecca Hearfield

There’s something wonderful about growing up in the 21st century. The world has become a very small place – so small that you can almost hold it in your hands. And wherever you’re growing up, the world is now so small that if you dream something and you commit yourself to that dream, you can aspire to be the very best in the world at whatever it is that you choose. If you don’t yet know what that dream is, then the best thing you can do is lay solid foundations, on top of which you can build any kind of career. That’s what HIP2B2 is all about – inspiring you to do the things now, at school, that will lay fantastic foundations for any career you may choose. Spending time on STeM* at school makes a huge difference later in life, and it’s not just about being a mathematician or a scientist. No matter what you want to be, these subjects will train your brain to think clearly and ask the right questions. So what are you waiting for? Start small, dream big, and the sky really is the limit.

ening? What’s happ In August, HIP2B2 hosted the iThink Challenge in seven provinces simultaneously. Learners tackled a variety of tasks – from building a steam turbine to cracking a card trick – using the HIP2B2 magazine, website, TV show and audience for advice along the way. At 15:30, the winning team from each province logged onto Skype for the final round, which was shown live on the HIP2B2 TV show. The winning team came from Port Elizabeth, and each team member won a laptop. Well done to all the teams, and see you again next year! iThink:

TV show: If you’ve been tuning in to SABC 2 every Monday at 15:30 (our new time slot, remember!), you may have noticed that we’ve been playing prerecorded episodes since September 28. We’ll be live again soon, so watch this space! Meanwhile, you can catch up on all the episodes you missed. Brand Ambassadors: Our Brand

Ambassadors have been studying hard for exams, and we’re sure that you have too. But for Louis, James, Senaly, Simone, Ashleigh and Juan, these exams will be their last at school, as they’re about to finish Grade 12. Next year, Simone, James and Louis will be studying Engineering, Senaly has applied for Computer Science and Engineering, Ashleigh will be studying Actuarial Science, and Juan has applied to study Medicine and a BSc (Bachelor of Science). If you need advice on any of these degrees, then these are the guys to speak to! Email <ambassador@hip2b2.com> if you have any questions for them.

*STeM is what HIP2B2 is all about: science, technology, entrepreneurship and maths, and the many exciting opportunities they offer you.

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Megan Catherine

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G9, St Andrew’s School, Welkom My project is about reducing the litter problem by making RDP houses out of recycled plastic. The little item I couldn’t do without is my cellphone. I organise my life on it. If I suddenly shrunk to the size of an ant, I’d go on an adventure in a remote-control car.

4

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G11, Rondebosch Boys High, Cape Town My role model is Mark Shuttleworth – he inspires so many young people. In my project, I tested radiation from cellphones and found that children are at risk if they use them for extended period of times. If I suddenly shrunk to ant size, my instinct would be to hide.

Mendy Zintwana

Humphrey Kamuzinzi

G11, Stutterheim High School, East London My project is about whether one’s intelligence affects the kind of music one listens to. If you want to enter the Eskom Expo, work hard, know your facts, don’t be discouraged and have fun. The little item I couldn’t do without is my cellphone.

G9, Lebone College, Bojanala region My project proves that an increase in carbon dioxide results in an increase in temperature. The most interesting project I’ve seen shows how to find a missing person using only one strand of hair. The little item I can’t do without is my notepad – I use it all the time.

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Interviews and photographs by claire foley • istock photos

We spoke to national finalists at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists in Pretoria.

Daron Golden

G9, St Andrew’s School for Girls, Johannesburg My role model is Natalie Du Toit. She has perseverance and she has achieved great things. My project is about the global effect of deforestation. Favourite random fact: it takes 17 pine trees to make one ton of paper.

hu m p h

YOU S A ID

.. Tanna Loser

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Everything at HIP2B2 was created for you, and we would love to know what you think about: • the name, HIP2B2; • the magazine; • the website (<www.hip2b2.com>); • the TV show (SABC 2, Mondays at 15:30); and • the Roadshow (if it came to your school). •A  lso, if you could receive anything from HIP2B2 on your cellphone (fast facts, experiments, etc.), what would you like to receive and why? Whether it’s positive or negative feedback, now’s your chance to make a difference. Email your name, age, grade, school and answers to <win@hip2b2.com>, and you could win a PS3 hamper.

a nn ta

tell us & win!


forum

Competition closes: 28 February 2010

- Phoebe Mabelane, G8

Hey Phoebe :) With every issue, we try to open your mind to the science all around you, and I’m glad the Colour Issue did this for you. I hope that your colourful stationery works and that this issue lives up to your expectations! – Janna

T A LK

TO

US

s r e b m u n

cover competition To prove how small the world really is, we challenge your class to send one copy of this magazine to another class somewhere else in the world. Include a letter, asking that class to photograph themselves with the magazine and anything that identifies their country (eg a flag). They must then email the photo to you, and post the magazine to another class, which must email a photo to you, and so on. Forward all the photos you receive to <win@hip2b2.com>, and if your magazine travels the farthest, your class will win a HIP2B2 hamper, with cool stuff for every learner. To track our travels, click to <www.hip2b2.com>. NOTE: Although the cover looks like an envelope, you’ll need to put the magazine in a real envelope to post it.

EMAIL <talk2us@hip2b2.com>. WRITE TO HIP2B2, PO Box 440, Green Point 8051.

1935 was the

year a sick shark spat up a human arm in front of a bunch of tourists in an aquarium in Sydney, Australia. Luckily, the fingers (and their prints) were still intact, so experts could determine that the arm belonged to a criminal named James Smith. Not that he needed it any more … It takes or more for an aluminium can to decompose, but only about six weeks for it to be recycled and back on the shelves!

1 400

Had a brainwave? Got something on your mind? We want to know … SMS ‘MOBI HIP2B2’ followed by your thoughts to 33978 (R1,50 per SMS) or comment (for free) on our MOBISITE at <mobi.hip2b2.com>.

the largest eye of any living animal, and it’s owned by the giant squid. That’s about the size of a human head and around 10 times the size of a human eye.

100 years

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Hey Lwazi. We’re not calling for new Ambassadors yet, but we will be, so email <ambassador@hip2B2.com> to express your interest. – Janna

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- Lwazi Sobekwa, g9

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Hey HIP2B2, I love your magazine – it’s awesome! I would, however, love to be a Brand Ambassador … what does it take to be one?!

Hi HIP2B2!! Thanks for the best magazine in the world. Who would have thought that the colour of the walls influences one’s performance? I certainly didn’t know that. In my class, the walls are plain white and they always make me feel sad. After reading your Colour Issue, I’ve decided to have all my stuff (pens, pencils, pencil bag, books, etc.) in my favourite colour, since I can’t get the school to paint the walls in my class. Hope I will improve. :) The challenges in the issue were great, especially the Brain Buster ‘Colour Blind’ – now I think I’m colour blind too. I also understand why I love McDonald’s so much. Bet next issue will be great. Double thumbs up!!!

i

ON THE MOBISITE

25 cm is the width of

YOU W ROTE

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y o u sms e d

About rainforest plants are thought to contain a cure for cancer.

300 acres of

rainforest are destroyed every minute around the world. Oops – there goes another one!

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smart technology clever, cool or crazy

iTies

functional fashion

Girls are used to pointless accessories – they have belts that don’t hold your pants up, scarves that don’t keep your neck warm, and high heels that hurt when you walk. Guys’ clothes aren’t like that … Except for ties. Sure, these little strips of material may add a touch of class to an outfit, but they can’t keep you warm or help you store stuff. At least, they couldn’t until the iTie came along. This clever accessory comes with hidden pockets at the back, specifically designed to hold small MP3 players like the iPod Nano. They’re also great for cellphones, pedometers and other little gadgets, as well as business cards, credit cards or money. Now that’s what we call dressing smart. <www.theitie.com>.

Telekinetic Obstacle Course Think you have extraordinary mental powers? Play around with the Telekinetic Obstacle Course and you could find out once and for all. This game allows you to focus your brain waves to manoeuvre a ball through a series of obstacles. A headband and two earlobe clips measure theta-wave activity in your brain – the more you relax and concentrate, the more theta waves you produce. Based on your theta-wave activity, the headband sends a wireless signal to an air fan, which increases or decreases its speed, causing a foam ball to rise or sink. The rest is up to hand-eye coordination. Build your own obstacle course, challenge your friends and learn to control your mental genius. Sounds like good fun all round. <http://tinyurl.com/mindmover> To see the Telekinetic Obstacle Course in action, click to <www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6RCACuNEbY>.

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ATMs fight back Bad guys, beware Thanks to crime, the poor ATMs in South Africa can’t hang on to their (well, our) money any more. That’s why ABSA has introduced new machines that are ready to fight back. These ATMs use cameras and special software to detect when someone tampers with the card slots, and they then eject pepper spray at the offender. So far, the technology is in use at 11 high-risk sites, but soon, it could be everywhere. So the next time an ATM swallows your card, call your bank before you dig out your screwdriver. You wouldn’t want things to get ugly … <http://tinyurl.com/atmspray>

FAST FACT: due south

The world’s most southerly ATM – and probably the planet’s loneliest one – is located at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Probably not much crime around there …


smart technology

By Nicklaus Kruger • Photographs: Schweeb UK Ltd, British steam car challenge, mattel mindflex, recipe puppy

Shweeb Monorail

Ride the skies

Cycling keeps you healthy and gets you where you want to be without pumping the air full of pollution. But things can get a bit crowded on the ground, what with pedestrians, taxis and cars … which is why a New Zealand-based company, Shweeb, has devised a cycling system in the sky. The Shweeb Monorail is a network of single rails with pods hanging from them. Each pod is pedal-powered, with a top speed of 40 km/h. They’re fairly comfortable to ride and can be used by nearly anyone. And unlike a cable car, you’re not likely to run out of power and get stuck in the air. For now, the system is on Shweeb’s own grounds, and we probably won’t see cities connected by pedal-powered monorail systems anytime soon. But there are several potential applications for which they could be very useful: guided tours through natural parks, scenic routes that really show you the city, adventure camps, and so on. <www.shweeb.com>

Recipe Puppy

So you’re starving for a hamburger, but all you have in your kitchen is spiced mince, fudge and parsley and you have no idea what to do with that. You could go out and buy a burger – or you could head over to the Recipe Puppy website and let it tell you how to make the best possible burger out of what you have at home. All you need to do is input the dish you want and the ingredients you have, and the puppy will list all the recipes you can use. You can add it to your website, check it out on Facebook, add it as an app to your iPhone or use it alongside your Google searches to make you an instant cooking expert. Move over, Naked Chef … you can’t compete with Recipe Puppy. <www.recipepuppy.com>

The British Steam Car Not just hot air On 25 August 2009, the British Steam Car became the world’s fastest water-powered ride. The previous record was 127 mph (204,39 kph), set by American Fred Marriott in 1906. Just over a century later, the ‘fastest kettle in the world’, as it’s been called, hit an average speed of 139,843 mph (225,06 kph) in its record-breaking ride, blasting to a top speed of 151 mph (243,01 kph). Not quite F1 material, but very impressive for something that’s powered by hot air. The 7,6-metre-long car is equipped with 12 boilers, which run on petroleum gas. The boilers heat water to 400 ºC. This is then injected into a turbine to run the engine, in much the same way that we use steam to generate power in our power stations. Something to think about next time you boil the kettle … <www.steamcar.co.uk>

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DECONSTRUCTION

How clean is

your classroom? Brand Ambassador Reghardt Pretorius takes a closer look.

What do I discover? That a very sturdy type of bug that can make you seriously sick grows practically everywhere in my school, my house and anywhere where there are people. It’s called Streptococcus, and it was probably in my samples (to be sure, Professor Venter would need to carry out more extensive tests), along with another powerful bacterium called Staphylococcus. Both of these bugs live on your skin (where they protect it from even nastier bugs), but if you prepare food without washing your hands, they can get into your food. Then you incubate the food (ie, leave it out of the fridge) and voilá – your lunch can make you very sick indeed. Scary stuff.

Enlarged bacteria (above), and the real Staphylococcus under a microscope (right).

Shoe sole

Keyboard

Hand rail Door handle Light switch

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Thanks to this experiment, I now know that while I’m typing this, I am putting a few hundred new bugs on my fingers. But bacteria are a normal part of life (in fact, they’re essential to the functioning of your body) so this isn’t a reason to panic. Just wash your hands regularly, and let your immune system handle the rest.

By Reghardt Pretorius • Photograph under the microscope: Dr Carrie Brady • PHOTOGRAPhs: David scharf/science photo library, 3d4medical.com

Selective culturing, pathogens, sequencing, Streptococcus. Big words used very quickly by a very smart man named Professor Fanus Venter, a microbiologist at the University of Pretoria. And then there’s me, standing in his lab with some very gross-looking petri dishes, trying to find out what’s growing in my school.


W h at ’ s N e w i n S c i e n c e ? THE GOOD SAMARIT-ANT

So you and some friends are walking in the desert (just go with it, okay?) and you spot someone half buried, with a rope around his waist. What do you do? If you were desert ants, there’d be no question. It has long been known that ants will dig their fellows free from the sand or drag them out by their legs. But new studies show that desert ants (Cataglyphis cursor) have more elaborate rescue plans.

sci files

Researchers at the University of Paris-Nord, France, buried ants after tying nylon threads around their ‘waists’, then exposed the victims to other ants. When the captive came from the same colony, the wanderers always launched a rescue, moving sand, biting thread and pulling limbs until their friend was free. Ants from other colonies weren’t so lucky: they were threatened, bitten and dismembered, or even sprayed with acid.

fast fact: if you give up, so do they

When the ant was chilled beforehand, its buddies wouldn’t rescue it – it was too cold to struggle and thus didn’t release pheromones that attract help.

By Nicklaus Kruger • photographs: istock photos

ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND WE GO

In movies, people always walk in circles when they don’t know where they’re going … then they come across their own footprints, vultures show up and they start yelling that they’re going to die. Well, it turns out it’s true – people walking through unfamiliar territory really do walk in circles. That’s according to scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany. Volunteers were asked to walk as straight as they could for several hours and were tracked with GPS. As soon as the sun was not visible, all the subjects walked in circles. Blindfolded subjects walked in especially small circles of about 20 metres in diameter! The researchers plan to continue their studies under more controlled conditions, so if you find yourself in Germany with nothing to do – go walk in circles for science!

MULTITASK MUCH? DON’T!

Ever find yourself doing homework while listening to music while sending an SMS? Well, researchers at Stanford University, USA, think it’s better to do one thing at a time. And they should know, having conducted experiments to test students’ ability to organise information, ignore irrelevant details and switch between tasks. Multitaskers turned out to be worse at filtering out irrelevant details and at memory tasks than those who did one thing at a time, plus they took longer to switch between tasks! Go figure ... AGREE? DISAGREE?

Does multitasking work? Email <talk2us@hip2b2.com> and you could win a HIP2B2 Bass on Tap.

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How do we know how big the sun is? – Rokunda

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? – Suné

The sun, as we all know, is big. But how big? It’s not like we can go up there with a really big roll of tape and measure it. Instead, we turn to Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravitation:

Not exactly: if that were true, doctors would need their families and friends to swear off apples so they still had a job. And, of course, not all ailments can be cured by diet alone. But apples do provide some healthy benefits. For one thing, they contain vitamin C, which boosts immunity. They’re also rich in flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant effects and for helping to prevent heart diseases. Then there are phenols, which reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Apples are low in kilojoules and can even act as a natural toothbrush, cleaning teeth and killing bacteria in the mouth. In other words, they may not prevent you from catching flu or breaking your leg when you fall out of a tree. But they really can’t hurt, can they?

F = G(MSun)(MEarth)/(R2) F is the force of attraction between the Earth and the Sun, MSun and MEarth are the masses of the Sun and the Earth, R is the distance between the two and G is the gravitational constant. MEarth can be calculated by weighing yourself (using the same equation, but substituting your mass for the mass of the Sun), and F and R can be determined using telescopes and satellites. If you plug in all these values, you can solve for the mass of the Sun. So how big is it? Our sun weighs approximately 2 x 1033 grams, or two thousand billion billion billion kilograms – 333 000 times what our little planet does. Feeling small yet?

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Are elephants really afraid of mice? – Matthew Not really … they just need glasses. Elephants are very big and mice are very small. Which isn’t to say that small things can’t be terrifying (look up bot flies if you’re brave), but mice can’t do much to bother an elephant … other than make an icky squishing sound if they end up underfoot. The thing is, elephants have fairly poor eyesight, and the only reason they may seem afraid is that they are anxious about unidentified sounds or movements – like teeny tiny mice waaay down there on the ground. But this could be triggered by any small animal, so there’s nothing particularly scary about rodents.


Q&A

If atoms are mostly empty space, why can’t we walk through walls?– Anonymous It’s true, atoms are more than 99,9% empty space. But try as we might, we just can’t merge the spaces of our atoms with those of a wall. Firstly, like charges repel one another, and this repulsion gets stronger as objects move closer together. So when the nuclei of your atoms get close to the wall’s, they push each other apart. But this probably won’t need to happen, as the electrons of your atoms and the wall’s will repel one another long before the nuclei get close together. In fact, this repulsive charge is so great that you’ve never actually touched anything in your life! Even when you stand up, the particles in your feet are a fraction of a nanometre off the ground.

You had questions. We have answers.

Is teleportation possible? – Josua Nothing can travel faster than light, but thanks to quantum mechanics*, there’s a way around that. Basically, the information contained in two particles can be linked in such a way that they become mirror images. Because of this, it may one day be possible to link your particles with particles elsewhere, and transfer your information (reversed) to a second set and then to the third set (re-reversed), recreating you elsewhere. It’s not exactly teleporting – we’d be creating a copy rather than moving the original – and it’s not going to happen anytime soon. For one thing, there are trillions of cells in a human body, and that’s too much data for us to handle right now. And even if we could, the process would require a huge amount of energy. In other words, stick to planes. *Quantum mechanics describes the physical world at the atomic and subatomic level. By Nicklaus Kruger • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos

Why don’t electric eels electrocute themselves if they live in water? – Naledi Electric eels produce (shocker!) electricity. Using battery-like cells, they produce about 1 amp of current (any current greater than 0,005 amps can cause severe pain). They use this to stun predators, kill smaller fish and shock irritating human beings. As to why they don’t shock themselves, water is more conductive than body tissue, so the charge travels away from them. Also, an eel’s skin has a higher electrical resistance than fish skin, so the electricity will go through the fish’s skin more easily than the eel’s. Plus, the eel is covered by a layer of mucus, which provides further insulation. Besides, what kind of silly animal would shock itself every time it tried to eat?

ASK US AND WIN!

Got a question you need answered? Email your name, city, school, grade, age and question to <talk2us@hip2b2.com>. If it’s published you will win a HIP2B2 Bass on Tap.

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Atom bomb: 3 metres x 71 centimetres

Explosion: 12 kilometres high

impact of all.

by Mark van Dijk • PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos, steve gschmeissner / science photo library

any of the world’s m , ct fa In l. fu er w po be to You don’t have to be big smallest phenomena have the biggest


stop or I’ll pop You’re probably going to want to stay away from the pufferfish next time you visit an aquarium: its skin and organs contain tetrodotoxin – a poison that’s 100 times more deadly than potassium cyanide. Seriously. Just 0,025 g of this stuff is enough to kill a 75 kg person.

it’s the Bomb The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II was code named ‘Little Boy’ because the bomb itself was, well, little. It measured only 3 m long and 71 cm in diameter. And while it weighed 4 000 kg, it contained just 64 kg of uranium, only 700 g of which actually underwent nuclear fission to cause the big explosion … and only 0,6 g of that was transformed into energy! It may have been small, but when Little Boy exploded, it rocked Hiroshima with a power equivalent to about 18 kilotons of trinitrotoluene (known to chemists as C6H2(NO2)3CH3 and known to most people as TNT) … which is equivalent to 18 000 tons of dynamite!

Things get even worse in Colombian jungles, where the golden poison frog makes its home. This little amphibian is the most poisonous vertebrate on Earth: just 0,001 grams of its alkaloid batrachotoxin would be enough to kill 20 people … or two African bull elephants!

DID YOU KNOW?

THE PRETTIEST little ITCH It doesn’t sound like much, but a grain of sand is all it takes to create a pearl inside an oyster. (Actually, most times it’s not even a grain of sand – it can even be a tiny parasite!) Here’s how it works: the mollusc protects its inner shell by wrapping the irritant – the sand or parasite – in layers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and conchiolin, thereby sealing it off … and making a beautiful pearl in the process.

The toughest little bug on the planet is the tardigrade, a microscopic, water-dwelling, eight-legged beastie that can live anywhere from the top of the Himalayas to the bottom of the ocean. Space researchers even sent a group of them into orbit, where they were exposed to cosmic radiation, solar radiation and the lifeless vacuum of space … and they survived!

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Red Hot Chilli Peppers It’s only six or seven centimetres long, but the naga jolokia pepper is the hottest chilli in the world. Hot enough to make you sweat just by reading the words: naga jolokia (well, almost). But what makes it so hot? And why are the smallest chillies always the hottest? The ‘heat’ (or piquancy) of a chilli depends on the amount of capsaicin* it contains. This chemical compound is found mostly in the internal membranes of a chilli and the white stuff around the seeds. Capsaicin content is measured by the Scoville Scale, which tests how many times a chilli has to be diluted in sugar syrup before its capsaicin

FAST FACT

If a chilli is burning your tongue, drink milk rather than water: it contains a protein called casein, which cancels out the capsaicin.

is neutralised and its ‘heat’ can no longer be detected. So a bell pepper, which has no capsaicin, has a Scoville rating of 0; and a naga jolokia, which has to be diluted about a million times, has a Scoville rating of 1 000 000. In other words, a chilli’s power doesn’t increase with its size … the small chillies have the highest proportion of seeds and membranes, and that’s why they seem hotter. *Capsaicin stimulates the nerves in your skin and mucous membranes – which is why your tongue burns and your nose runs whenever you eat a chilli. Capsaicin’s chemical structure is (CH3)2CHCH=CH(CH2)4CONHCH2C6H34-(OH)-3-(OCH3), in case you ever want to cook some up in your science lab.


SMALL BUT SMART

you’ve got the power

PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos

You know the song ‘It’s A Small World After All’? Well, they say you’re only about six steps away from the guy who originally sang it. In the 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to find out just how small the world really is. He sent letters to random people, asking them to pass their letter on to a specific person on the far side of the United States … but only if they knew that person. If they didn’t, they had to pass the letter along to a friend who might know the target person. On average, each letter was passed along by 5,5 people – leading Milgram to conclude that Americans are ‘separated’ from each other by about six other people. So next time you’re feeling small, just remember: you’re only a few people away from being friends with Beyonce or Barack Obama. Prove how powerful you really are by participating in our cover competition. See page 5 for details.

FAST FACT

9,6 mm

This is the actual size of an adult Brazilian Gold Frog, the world’s smallest frog!

SMALL DIFFERENCE, BIG DEAL When the Hubble telescope was launched in 1990, it came with a huge price tag ($2 billion) and even huger expectations. Astronomers hoped it would deliver clear pictures of stars millions of light years away and to achieve this, it had been equipped with the most powerful mirror ever built. This mirror was so sensitive that it had to be tested in the middle of the night, so it wouldn’t be affected by the vibration of cars. Unknown to the testers, though, a microscopic fleck of paint landed on the mirror, putting it out by four micrometres. Four micrometres may not sound like much, but this was enough to compromise the mirror and the entire Hubble Project. Too bad they only noticed the problem when the contraption was already in space. It took several space missions (and a few billion more dollars) to fix the problem. Oops!

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Young Entrepreneurs Who says you have to be big to make big bucks?

RIQUEL PADAYACHEE

‘It started out as a hobby,’ she says of her homespun jewellery business. ‘But I reached a point at which I had so many bracelets, earrings and necklaces that I didn’t know what to do with them all! My mom then suggested I start up a business.’ Using fliers and happy customers to spread the word, Riquel is now a 14-year-old entrepreneur with a thriving business in her Cape Town community, creating what she calls ‘unique, fashionable and trendy’ accessories. She even appeared on the HIP2B2 TV show! Contact Riquel at 084 446 7384 on weekends for more information.

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Fraser Doherty Age: 14 Location: Scotland Five years ago, this Scottish teen borrowed some homemade jam recipes from his grandma and started mixing batches in his parents’ kitchen. The demand was huge and before long Fraser was making 1 000 jars a week! Today, Fraser is a 19-year-old millionaire, supplying his Super Jam to about 500 shops across the UK, and bringing in revenues of about R21 million a year!

By Mark van Dijk • photographs: Shavan rahim, istock photos

Age: 14 Location: Cape Town


YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

Catherine & David Cook Age: 17 & 19 Location: New Jersey, USA

William Kamkwamba Laura Durst Age: 16 Location: Connecticut, USA Two years ago, Laura noticed that there weren’t many jobs available for teenagers in her home town of Woodstock, Connecticut. So she set up a web-based business, WorkInMyRoom.com, to provide her fellow teens with resources for jobs that can be done from home. ‘Seeing my mom work from home, where she could be her own boss, I liked the idea of that,’ Laura told The New York Times. By selling advertising on her website, Laura is already earning about R2 000 a month.

Lim Ding Wen Age: 9 Location: Singapore Okay, so he’s not a high-flying entrepreneur … yet. But this Singaporean whiz-kid has the skills to become one of the world’s biggest IT boffins. He recently wrote an application for the iPhone, which was downloaded over 4 000 times from Apple’s iTunes Store. The catch? He’s nine. And he only wrote the program to keep his baby sisters (aged three and five) entertained.

Age: 14 Location: Mastala, Malawi William left school at 14 because he couldn’t afford the fees. But instead of moping around, he used what he’d learnt (plus two library books and some trash), to create a 5 cm tall windmill. That windmill generated enough electricity to power two lightbulbs and a radio in his family’s home … and then he built another, and another. His innovation transformed his village and earned him a bursary for the African Leadership Academy. William, now 22, isn’t making any money out of his windmills, but he has changed lives, written a book and been praised as a future African leader.

This brother-and-sister duo was still in high school when they set up a social media site called myyearbook.com. Four years later, it’s the third-most popular networking site in the world (behind Facebook and MySpace). It all started when Catherine and David were flipping through their school yearbook, noticing how bad some of the photos were. So they decided to put their next yearbook online and let their classmates post their own photos. Which just goes to show: start small, and you never know what will happen!

YOU?

Age: doesn’t matter Location: doesn’t matter Reckon you have what it takes to be the world’s next teen entrepreneur? Find a way to make R500 (legally, please), then email <talk2us@hip2b2.com> and tell us how you did it. If your idea is the smartest or you were the first person to earn R500, you’ll win a USB watch!

19


From your own body to the hole in the ozone layer, Big up to airplanes The Wright brothers’ 1905 plane was about 8,5 m long, and weighed less than 400 kg. A century later, the Airbus A380 measures 73 m (head to tail), has a wingspan of 80 m and weighs over a thousand times more than the Wrights’ plane. But how do these giants still fly? Paul Potgieter, an aeronautical engineer at Aerosud in Pretoria, says technological advances are behind the increase. ‘Because modern materials are light yet very strong, we can build bigger bodies without adding too much weight,’ he says. ‘Powerful engines help to generate enough lift to overcome the pull of gravity.’

20

Buildings: a tall order At 381 m, the Empire State Building in New York was the world’s tallest building in the 1960s. Barely 50 years later, the Taipei 101 towered 509 m above the ground and by 2010, the Burj Dubai will be one-and-a-half times taller still. Because a building has to oppose the force of gravity, its height is limited mostly by the weight of its structure. Steel skeletons around which bricks and concrete can be built form lighter structures, meaning weight limits are approached only at much greater heights than before.

Supersized snacks In the late 1970s, an average hamburgerand-fries meal weighed about 250 g and a soda was 387 ml. Twenty years later, the same meal weighed almost 55 g more and the accompanying soda was 200 ml bigger. Scientists say consumers think they’re getting more ‘value for money’. But eating more has weighty consequences: American teenagers now weigh six to seven kilograms more than they did 40 years ago, so don’t follow their example, okay? FAST fact: more is more

A US restaurant group changed from using round to oval plates in the late 1990s, to fit more food on the plate.


size matters

Your growing, shrinking body It’s not your imagination: Gran and Grandpa really are shrinking. Studies have shown that Gran will be about 8 cm shorter at 80 than she was in her twenties, while Gramps will have lost about 6 cm. You’ll reach peak height in your early twenties. From then on, your vertebrae will gradually become thinner (due to mineral loss), while the gel-like cushions between them will lose fluid. As the vertebrae stack closer together, your body will start to hunch over – so stop slouching while you still can!

the world is full of life-changing size-changers.

By Linda Pretorius • PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/ gettyimages.com, istock photos

winning times: the race to lose time A 12-second sprint over 100 m ensured Olympic gold in 1896. By 1968, 100 m required less than 10 seconds. And in 2009, Usain Bolt sprinted to the finish in just 9,58 seconds. ‘Several factors contribute to faster winning times,’ says Dr Ross Tucker, sports scientist at the University of Cape Town. ‘We train better and eat better, we use better equipment and we run on hard surfaces rather than dirt tracks. But the fastest guys also have the right genetic, physiological and cultural make-up.’ The rest of us just take a car.

Earth, on thin ice The amount of ice covering the North Pole has decreased by 10% per decade over the last 30 years. The ice sheet has also become substantially thinner: a recent study showed that it was about 700 cm thinner in 2008 than in 2004. Ice at the polar regions, especially the North Pole, is like the Earth’s thermostat. It reflects sunlight and prevents ocean temperatures from rising, which in turn keeps global temperatures in check. But the less ice, the larger the area of dark, heatabsorbing water. Ocean temperatures rise and even more ice melts. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s bad news for just about everyone.

it’s a smaller world after all We’re talking society, rather than surface area. Less than a century ago, crossing the Atlantic meant weeks at sea; today it takes a day by plane. A letter took weeks to reach friends overseas; today you can email them, chat on Facebook or Skype, or send them an SMS. The world is a very convenient place. On the bad side, diseases find it equally convenient, spreading with unprecedented speed via airplanes. But hey, if you can’t stop the bugs from travelling, at least you can track their progress on Google Maps … To track swine flu, visit <http:// flutracker.rhizalabs.com>.

21


Tiny technology

Bacteria don’t use cars or computers. But the technology does exist in their size …

In this conceptual computer image, a micro-syringe has latched onto a red blood cell and is about to inject a substance directly into the cell.

here’s a world beneath the world we know. It’s everywhere, in everything, but we’re only just starting to work with it. This is the nanoworld, the realm of the really tiny. In the nanoworld, mountains are made of molecules, and long distances are measured in nanometres. A nanometre is a hundred-thousandth of the width of a human hair, or about the length a beard grows in the time it takes to reach up and shave it. So, yes, we’re talking about pretty small stuff.

24

Life in the nanoworld At the nanoscale, gravity is less important and all those puny little forces you discussed in chemistry class (like Van der Waals) are more significant. Insulators (substances that don’t carry a charge) might become semiconductors, melting points can change, metals can become transparent … it’s all a little weird. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like it – in fact, we’re fascinated by it. Which is why we all love nanotechnology.


TECHNOLOGY

so What’s the big deal about tiny tech? Nanotechnology will revolutionise our (not-so-nano) world. Already, engineers are working with nano-size wires to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors.

By Nicklaus Kruger • PHOTOGRAPHS: iconey l jay / science photo library

At the same time, doctors are searching for ways to use nanoparticles in medical applications (tiny needles and machines that make scalpels look clumsy) and materials scientists are creating new substances that might be used to explore volcanoes or even space. And that’s just the boring stuff. Doctor Nanotechnology One of the coolest medical applications of nanotechnology involves killing cancer cells with nanobots. These come with small computers and a supply of poison that they can inject into a cell that’s identified as cancerous. Nanobots could also be used to carry oxygen inside the human body. One day, these little machines may be cruising through your own blood vessels, ferrying oxygen directly to any organs in need. Then there’s Intelligent Medicine, pioneered by Proteus Biomedical. This company embeds microsensors into existing drugs and devices. The sensors can then transmit information about the body and the effect of therapy to a cellphone via the internet, giving doctors new insight into their patients’ bodies. Which means no more awkward camera-tubes and uncomfortable X-rays and scans. What a relief!

Strongest of the strong Graphite (pencil lead) and diamond are both made of carbon, but they have some obvious differences (graphite is soft and conducts electricity, while diamond is hard and does not). This is because of the way the carbon atoms bond together. And nanotechnologists have managed to combine the best of both these substances into a miracle material: graphene. Graphene is a pure carbon sheet that’s only an atom thick, but it’s stronger than diamond and conducts electricity 100 times faster than the silicone in computer chips. It could be useful in touchscreens, solar cells, energy-storage devices and highspeed computer chips. But don’t get too excited – this is still a few years away. More of less?

For more information about nanotechnology, check out the Nanotechnology section on our website <www.hip2b2.com>.

Nanotech you never knew about • Sunscreen Many newer sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. The old stuff used larger particles, which gave your skin that whitish tinge. • Scratch-resistant coatings Adding aluminium silicate nanoparticles makes coatings more resistant to scratches. Today, these coatings are found in everything from saucepans to cars and eyewear lenses. • Tennis The VS Nanotube Power Racket, made of nanotube-infused graphite, is light but incredibly strong. And the Double Core tennis ball has a coating of clay nanoparticles on the inner core as a sealant, making it difficult for air to escape. • Antimicrobial bandages Scientist Robert Burrell has devised a process to manufacture bandages that contain silver nanoparticles. These block the bugs’ cellular respiration, suffocating them and preventing infection. • Self-cleaning glass Nanoparticles are used to make glass photocatalytic (when exposed to light, it can break down dirt) and hydrophilic (when water hits the glass, it spreads evenly and washes the glass clean).

The future of nanotech: made to order Want to build a new shelf for your bedroom? Looking for the latest iPod? Why spend money when nanomachines could just create your heart’s desire in minutes? That’s the long-term dream of molecular manufacturing, possibly the most sci-fi aspect of nanotechnology. Step one? Develop nanoscopic assemblers that could be programmed to manipulate individual atoms to create any substance or shape you need.

This could take quite a while, as we would need trillions of assemblers working together to ensure construction doesn’t take too long. Which brings us to step two: get the little guys to build each other – each generation could build the next batch of assemblers, and the population would grow exponentially. Step three? They work together to construct … well, basically anything. 25


M

U R OW O Y E N AK BY NICKLAUS KRUGER • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos

sci diy

WHAT You’ll need

• a sealable sandwich bag (eg Ziploc) • water • s omething to look at (small but not too small, like the fine print in a newspaper) What to do

1. Pour water into the sandwich bag until it is half-full. 2. Seal the bag well and dry off the outside so that your magnifying glass doesn’t wet the page. 3. Hold the bag over the writing you would like to magnify. 4. Keep experimenting to find the right distance from the newspaper and the ideal amount of water (small movements are more likely to be more helpful than large ones).

26

wHAT’S

UP WITH THAT?

Water is more dense than air, so light bends and travels more slowly when it passes from air into water. The water in the bag forms a convex (curved outwards) lens, which refracts (bends) the light and brings it together at the point where you see the image clearly. The magnification isn’t much, but it is still noticeable. In fact, in the early days of microscopy, hundreds of years ago, tiny glass globes filled with water were used to magnify small objects.

THE BIG PICTURE

An electron microscope can bounce a beam of electrons off an object, magnifying it up to 300 000 times! To see what bone, immune cells and nylon stockings really look like, click to <www.eyeofscience.com>.


smart maths

The world of small How do people work with numbers like 0,00000000023? We do the maths …

By Paul Carter • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos

A long time ago, an ancient Greek philosopher called Zeno developed a series of mathematical problems called paradoxes. The solutions to these problems seemed mathematically correct, but they went against common sense. For example, say you want to get from point A to point B and you’re already halfway there. You would have half the distance to go. If you walked halfway again, you would have a quarter of the distance to go, and so on. We could write your progress as a series: , , , , ,… But according to this, you’d never get there! The fractions would keep getting smaller, but would never reach 0. While the maths is correct, we know that in reality, it is possible to get from A to B (thankfully). Feeling confused? You’re not alone – problems like these still baffle many of today’s great minds. Nice going, Zeno … How to write reeeeally tiny numbers If you take the above paradox to its 27th step, you’ll reach the fraction: = 0,0000000074505806. As you can see, this is a very small number.

In maths and science, we often have to work with very small numbers, and scientific notation comes in handy. Basically, scientific notation is used to write extremely big and tiny numbers as powers of 10, with one number before the decimal comma and two after it. So, the number above would be 7,45 × 10–9. Can you see why? One number before the comma

Only two numbers after the comma

0,0000000074505806 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

move the comma nine places to the right, making 10-9

Putting the nano into technology The power 10–9 has a special name: nano, from the Latin word nanus, meaning ‘dwarf’. The dimensions of atoms are in the nanometre (nm) range – that’s one billionth of a metre! But small is good in the modern world. From cellphones to calculators, everyday gadgets are getting smaller and more powerful, and scientists are working more and more with technology that’s measured in nanometres.

This has lead to an exciting new career called nanotechnology (see pages 23 and 24). In this field, scientists work with nanorobots that can be implanted into the bloodstream to perform small-scale surgery or even used as miniature military spies! Nanorobots require tiny computer chips, which are built using nanocircuitry. Some of this circuitry is so ridiculously tiny that it has to build itself, because we don’t have tools that are small enough! Now that’s what we call artificial intelligence … USE YOUR BRAIN 1. What would the number be in the 25th step of Zeno’s paradox? Can you write it in scientific notation? 2. The following paradox proves that 2 = 7. Can you see where the maths has gone wrong? 6x –10 = 21x – 35 2(3x – 5) = 7(3x – 5) Divide by 3x – 5. 2=7 Click to <www.hip2b2.com> for the answers. Smart Maths sponsored by

27


music

We catch up with

Hunter Kennedy, guitarist and co-lyricist for aKing.

By Nikki Benatar • PHOTOGRAPHS: Renee Frouws • Liam Lynch

h u n t e r r e v i e ws . . .

The name aKing morphed from ‘King’, which was what [frontman] Laudo Liebenberg called himself as a solo artist. But some Scandinavian folk outfit was already called that. And we didn’t want to be another ‘the’ band – like The Strokes, The Killers, The Editors. So we put an ‘a’ in front, which introduced the whole word-play thing – aching, as in hurt and pain. The key to making a great album is to choose a direction and go with it. Each song may be different, but the album should have a common theme. My personal ad would read: lazy 26-year-old with mediocre music skills, has (secret) dream of becoming a novelist.

HUNTER’S BIG 5

The five best albums to come out of this country are: Scatterlings by Juluka. This was the first world-class, uniquely African album that I heard. Hometalk by Mango Groove. I saw them at King’s Park in Durban, which was the first massive stadium gig I went to. Eet Kreef by Johannes Kerkorrel – the only Afrikaans album that influenced me. Boys will Be Boys by Rabbitt, the South African Beatles. I loved the rock ’n’ roll myth surrounding them. Pineapple Flava by Boo! I love the mix of kwela, dance and rock, and that the lead singer played bass. The fact that there was no lead guitar intrigued me.

Exploded Views New Holland’s new album is surprising in that it’s a departure from their first and it’s a mix of a bunch of genres, including R&B! It’s a ‘grower’ in that I had to listen to it more than once to get into it. ‘Something To Believe In’ is a good radio single. Whereas their debut album was party college rock, this one’s slower and more introspective – I really like it. New Holland:

Like this? Try Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and U2. The Resistance This album is amazing, brilliant, huge! I didn’t think it was possible to top their last album, Black Holes & Revelations, but they have! The songs are massive, but some are very long – I get ear fatigue if I listen to it for too long. They’ve stuck to their guns in terms of their sound, which is very cool. Apocalyptic symphonic pop-rock is how I’d describe it. This album makes me want to put down my guitar. My favourite is song is ‘Uprising’ – it’s huge. Muse:

Like this? Try Queen and Metallica’s S&M.

B2 tip • squeeze the skin between your thumb and index finger to ease an aching head.

29


Books

Kontax, a mobi-novel by Sam Wilson. Fuaad Coovadia

Grade 9, Waterstone College, Johannesburg

Azraa Parak

Reviews COMPILED By nicklaus kruger • Book supplied by maskew miller longman publishers

Grade 9, Parktown High School for Girls, Johannesburg

This story is a very different type of mystery, with a tinge of romance and a pinch of action. Definitely a must-read for younger lovers of the mystery genre. I admire the author’s ability to transform what could’ve been an ordinary mystery into something extraordinary. My favourite character would have to be Airtime … I loved his loyalty to his friends and his sense of humour. If I had to join the crew, my handle would be Bookworm, because I love to read. In fact, I love reading and tennis as much as the Kontax crew loves graffiti. If a random guy left his phone with me, I’d be a bit curious about what was on it and I regret to say that I’d check it out. But after that, I’d definitely try to find the person; if I couldn’t, I’d hand it over to the police. If a book was written about me, I’d have to call it The Life and Times of a Drama Queen.

Kontax

A novel on your cellphone They’re the city’s hottest graffiti crew, and they each have their own talent. Sbu has the vision, K8 has the training, Song has the technique, and Airtime has the creativity. But when Sbu hits it off with a girl at a party and she disappears, leaving him with her cellphone, he has to know: who is she? Why don’t any of her contacts know her? And why is she receiving threatening messages? Tracking her down leads Sbu and his friends into a world of action, mystery and danger.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The storyline was easy to understand yet not demeaning to the teenage reader. In my opinion, this is a huge problem with children’s or teens’ books – the story tries to hide all mention of anything nasty or bad. Kontax provides that balance between the censored and the realistic. By mentioning xenophobia and HIV, the story really touched on the background of the kids and the environment in which they grew up, which isn’t hard for us to understand, as these are real South African issues. My favourite scene was at the party, when Adelle disappears and only her cellphone is left … a true modern-day Cinderella moment. If I met an amazing-but-mysterious girl at a party and got hold of her phone, what would I do? Two words, Cash Crusaders – it’s the Joburg way of life. Just kidding, I would look in her contacts and call either the mom or dad, preferably mom (I bruise easily). If they were to write a book about my life, it would be titled Captain Awesome and his Powers of Humility or That Random Indian Guy and the Attack of the Dead Duracell Batteries in the TV Remote.

LIKED THIS? CHECK OUT...

Train Man by Densha Otoko (Del Rey Books; 2007) This is the story of a young geek who somehow gains the admiration of a pretty girl who’s way out of his league. Being a geek and not knowing what to do, he turns to chat rooms, allowing fellow geeks to guide him through the relationship. join the kontax crew

Want to meet fellow Kontax fans, comment on the stories, check out the party playlist, download wallpapers and pics, and leave comments, giving you the chance to win prizes? Of course you do! Click to <http://kontax.mobi> for the full Kontax experience.

Want to review a book for us? Write to Hip2b2 Book Reviews, PO Box 440, Green Point 8051 or email <talk2us@hip2b2.com>. Please include your contact details, school and grade.

31


brain busters Life as a bee

a i

l

l

s

r

c

N

i

M

i

t m

o n

i

i

d

c s U n i m

a c t

l o

e p

i

c

e

y a i

t n

u u

r t

e i

v

e

it’s a small world after all

A coffin

6 bees and 5 daisies

stuck in the riddle

Life as a bee

A decimal comma (6,8)

Ecosystem

Mathematical mystery

Shake it up

32

m

P

m

l

s

e

y

t

BY ellen cameron-williger • Illustrations: ANTON PIETERSEN

answers

l

Unpy atremiuni tepiet imuvetindi utimen spocimrocci ytni lamls selac teltil

The man who invented it doesn’t want it. The man who bought it doesn’t need it. The man who needs it doesn’t know it. What is it?

t

Unscramble all the synonyms of ‘small’ below and fit them into the grid so that yet another synonym of small emerges in the (vertical) shaded boxes.

stuck in the riddle

t

it’s a small word after a ll

Which mathematical symbol can be placed between the numbers 6 and 8 to result in a number that is greater than 6, but smaller than 8?

i

O

n

Y

l

S

Mathematical mystery

u

E

p

E

e

M

t

S

I

T

T

C

On a given spring day, a number of bees have located a promising patch of daisies. However, if each bee were to land on one daisy, one bee would lose out as there wouldn’t be enough daisies. On the other hand, if all the bees shared a flower, there would be two daisies with no visitors. How many bees and how many daisies are there?

E

Unscramble the letters below to find the nine-letter word that describes a type of ‘small world’.

P

Sha ke it u p


The small world issue  

Check out this super cool issue of HIP2B².

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