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think. what you can be

August 2009/Issue 30


origins issue

chicken vs egg? The origin of life

We have the answer

Why evolution’s so smart

someone’s found a body how to

Solve the mystery and win

• Identify a skeleton • Decode DNA • Put an egg in a bottle (without squashing it)

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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When I’m cross – which thankfully doesn’t happen too often – I frown just like my mother. My baby toe is almost identical to my father’s and I apparently have my great grandmother’s eyes. It’s a wonderful thing to know where you come from. Like the latest chapter of a never-ending book, your story follows on from those that came before you, and introduces the chapters that will one day follow yours. But your book didn’t start out with your grandparents or even great-greatgrandparents. It started billions of years ago, with a smart little cell called LUCA (find out more on page 11). And the rest, as they say, is history. The Origins issue is here to celebrate that history – yours, ours and everything else’s. So what are you waiting for? Get started …

Editor Janna Joseph Art Director Anton Pietersen Managing Editor Desireé Kriel Junior Writer Nicklaus Kruger Copy Editor Sally Rutherford Proofreader Deanne Vorster Contributors Ellen Cameron-Williger, Justine Joseph, Linda Pretorius, Mark van Dijk, Michelle Minnaar, Nikki Benatar, Nina Liebenberg, Sparx Media and Tinus De Bruyn Educational Consultants Wordwise


BSQUARE COMMUNICATIONS EDITORIAL BOARD General Manager Cathryn Treasure HIP2B2 pioneered by Mark Shuttleworth

Publisher Helena Gavera Editorial Director Stefania Johnson

ADVERTISING & MARKETING Sales Executive Michael Daly (JHB) +27 (0)11 263 4804

Published on behalf of BSquare Communications by New Media Publishing (Pty) Ltd +27 (0)21 417 1111 • <> Advertising Director Aileen Lamb New Business Development Martha Dimitriou +27 (0)21 417 1276 Creative Director Crispian Brown Production Director Lucrezia Wolfaardt Digital Manager Heléne Lindsay Finance Manager Mark Oaten EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS Editorial Development Director Irna van Zyl Business Development Director John Psillos Managing Director Bridget McCarney All rights reserved. While precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of information, neither the editor, publisher nor New Media Publishing can be held liable for any inaccuracies, injury or damages that may arise. ABC 101 265


PRODUCTION, CIRCULATION & SYNDICATION Production Manager Shirley Quinlan Subscriptions John Pienaar +27 (0)21 417 1218 Subscriptions Call Centre 0860 103 662 Repro by New Media Repro Printed by Paarl Print


Hip and happening its HIP h



has 2B2 Roadshow ugust, the HIP A d to or il w pr t A From g the smar ove, spreadin om been on the m uth Africa. Fr So ols around ho sc aces pl to y * an eM m nd of ST tchefstroom (a ere, done that Pretoria to Po we’ve been th in between), t (but we got the T-shir . and not quite there was one) would have if B Limpopo rand According to iba: Thabang Mod 2 Ambassador, 2B IP H yed the ‘We really enjo n and fu d ha y kids roadshow. Man as good for . It w were inspired be hat they can w k in th kids to out ab ey will think … and now th ip sh ur e, entreprene maths, scienc , click to fo in e or m r gy.’ Fo and technolo com>. <www.hip2b2.

What we’ve been up to, and what’s coming next …

? dy for iThink Are you rea On 3 August, HIP2B2‘s iThink challenge will take place simultaneously at schools in seven provinces: Merensky High School (Limpopo), St Andrews (Welkom), Stirling High (East London), St George’s College (Port Elizabeth), High School for Girls (Potchefstroom), Marist Brothers Linmeyer (Gauteng), Hoërskool Stellenbosch (Western Cape) and Heather Secondary School (Pietermaritzburg). Learners from around the country will tackle a variety of tasks, riddles and problems, using the HIP2B2 magazine, website, TV show and audience experts for clues. More than 1 400 people will be involved, and the winning team will be announced live on our TV show on SABC 2 at 15:30.

photographs: istock photos, Rebecca Hearfield

*STeM is what HIP2B2 is all about: science, ors assad ools b m A h Brand tem to sc rs s g bassado in r B rand Am

technology, entrepreneurship and maths, and the many exciting opportunities they offer you.

B me, the s that program o other learner y’ve had. ir e h t f t o the ut As part reach o ortunities that adors held o t d e hardt ir p mbass dor Reg s’ A a are requ d the same op s d s n a b ra r m wB ha Brand A s sparks learne event. f the ne ince. o haven’t h g c iu n a r e e o t t v u o a Pre year, their pro at the G lcanos t So this interest event in d homemade vo ns, they d e ll fi n an oo a fu and gen ball rple fire From pu me-filled hydro ntrepreneurship a e . fl , a , y ic g g r f explodin ience, technolo ols in South A sc ho all c t s o h t f g o u g n ro in b lectio ccord e a s – a s r o t o ssad maths e, Amba Well don d e k c ! , you ro sources

3>. ? Click to <www.hi os ot ph e or m e se Want to

YOU S A ID We spoke to learners at a HIP2B2 event in Limpopo. Rohit Mathew

Grade 7, Laerskool Tzaneen I would like to be a scientist because I enjoy experiments and learning about science. It would be cool to make a difference in the world. More boys should be interested in science because they have more confidence and are interested in experiments and science.

Kholofelo Selatlha

Sello Budsa

Grade 10, The King’s Court Christian School I really enjoyed this event because I learnt new things, used new equipment and did many new experiments. I learnt to enjoy science. If I could go back in time to any era, I’d choose the era of creation, because everything was still pure.

Grade 9, Tsaneng Combined My role model is David Beckham – I like the way he plays soccer and one day I would like to meet him. I want to as famous as he is! If I could be any animal, I would be a monkey – they can move around quickly and they can sleep anywhere.

SimonE Schoeman

Nkateko Shikwambana

Grade 7, Duiwelskloof Primary School I’d like to be an archaeologist someday, because I love discovering things and I would like to make history. If I could go back in time to any era, I’d choose the Middle Ages, so that I could be a princess and live in a castle.

Grade 7, Unicorn Preparatory School Today I learnt that I can do cool experiments with things that I use every day. My favourite experiment was when we lit the newspaper and put the egg on the glass bottle and it got sucked in. It was really, really cool!


Nk a t e

Simon E

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o k

Interveiws and photographs by CHANTeL SCHOEMAN • istock photos

The Colour Issue was printed with six different covers. We asked you to send photos of yourselves holding at least four of the covers, and this is the winning photo, sent by Kutala Mvumvu from Cambridge High School in East London (she’s holding the green magazine). Well done – you’ve each won a HIP2B2 USB watch!


felo lo ho K

y o u W ON !


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123 years ago, pharmacist

YOU WROTE Howzat HIP2B After reading your great magazine about colours, I decided to do an experiment for myself. My bedroom walls were red and have always been so distracting. So I asked my mom and dad to repaint them blue. After hours of just fooling around and getting my clothes full of paint, it was finally done and I realised how much calmer and more comfortable I was. I can now study better and focus on my work. Thanks for the great tip, HIP2B2!

- Ayanda Simelane

H­ ey Ayanda Our magazine is sent to more than 960 schools around South Africa, but we haven’t got to everyone yet … If your school doesn’t get our magazine at the moment, I suggest that you ask your school or parents to subscribe to it directly. It only costs R97,50 for a year (six issues), and all you need to do is email John Pienaar at <>. Hope that helps, and keep thinking! – Janna

Grade 9, Rondebosch Boys High School

Hey Stuart … It is so great to see that our mag is influencing your life! And now, we’ve got something to go with your new room: a HIP2B2 MP3 player and speakers! Enjoy your prize (and your new-found calm) and stay smart! ­– Janna




Invented something? Had a brainwave? Just 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 <>. EMAIL <>. WRITE TO HIP2B2, PO Box 440, Green Point 8051.

r e b m u n

Hi guyz I’m a physical science student at Ndlela High School in Mpumalanga. I don’t have enough information on how to get your magazine, and I’d really appreciate it if you can help me get it. Please guyz, carry on helping us in science, and please update me about your latest topics. We love you.

- Stuart Carmichael-Green




Hey Kaylene. Thanks for the great feedback … you rock too! – Janna


- Kaylene, grade 10


Hey u crazy peeps! Jst letting u no that there is nthin cooler in life than science, so dnt worry if u’re good at science n ppl call u a nerd bcoz of that – that is jst plain stupidity, bcoz believe u me, science rocks n u rock!





Dr John Styth Pemberton formulated Coca Cola, which is now the world’s most recognisable brand.

58 cm is the height

of Jyoti Amge, the world’s shortest teen. She’s 15 years old and weighs five kilograms.

20 minutes is

the amount of time it takes for certain bacteria to mature from birth to splitting into two new cells.


In , explorer Christopher Columbus was the first to discover America – that is, the first after the locals, who had already been living there for 13 000 to 18 000 years.

240 million years

after they went dormant, bacterial spores in New Mexico were coaxed back to life by researchers. It must have been a bit of a shock: the last time they were active, the dinosaurs were just starting to make their first appearance.

1280 – or

thereabouts – saw the invention of the first spectacles, in Italy.


If search engines were people, Google would be the guy who can always put you in touch with the right person. But now there’s a new kid on the block: Wolfram Alpha, the strange but smart guy who can solve almost any problem. Basically, Wolfram is a search engine that answers questions directly, rather than finding related sites. It’s particularly good for maths and science queries, but it also has access to loads of textual material. It’s not very pretty and it won’t lead you to many cool sites. But if you want a quick answer, Wolfram’s your guy. <> WOLFRAM KNOWS ...

For wacky Wolfram queries, click to <http://mashable. com/2009/05/17/better-wolfram-easter-eggs>.

the web ON YOUR WRIST Wrist computers are a staple of sci-fi films. Now Parvus is making them real with the Zypad WR1100. This wrist-bound wonder has a 128MB flash and 256MB RAM, and can accommodate extra memory cards. Its 3,5” touchscreen has 640x480 resolution, and an automatic contrast mode so it can be used in bright sunlight. It has built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and wireless radio, as well as USB ports and a biometric finger reader. It’s also durable, water-resistant, heat-resistant, dust-resistant – everything a wristputer needs to be to survive. Okay, so it probably won’t beat the iPhone just yet. But it’s only a matter of time … <> Thinking big

In 1949, Popular Mechanics magazine predicted that ‘while a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 10 000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers of the future may have only 1 000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1,5 tons.’ Only 1,5 tons?!


A Ll THE GLOBE ’S A LAMP When you’re studying late at night, there’s one thing you really need. No, not coffee. Light. But lights are energyexpensive things, which is why designer Karin Johannson came up with the Dynamic Lamp, which uses good oldfashioned muscle power. To charge it, you simply spin the globe – getting your light, some exercise and a nice break from studies, all with the flick of your wrist. Right now, it’s only a concept, but with any luck, we’ll soon be spinning our way to a brighter world. <> LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

A day on Earth hasn’t always been 24 hours. Thanks to the effects of the moon and Sun, Earth rotates about two milliseconds slower every 100 years.

By Nicklaus Kruger • Photographs: Geotectura, Maurizio Maiorana, Andreas Nyquis (Dynamic Lamp), Sun Dry Swim, Parvus, istock photos

smart technology clever, cool or crazy

wolfram the wise

smart technology smart idea: Maurizio’s COOKA

CASTLES IN THE SKY You can build an unusual building, but it’s all been pretty much done before … or has it? Well, Geotectura and Malka Architects’ concept for Delft University’s Architecture Faculty certainly hasn’t. Their plans include AIRchitecure: basically, flying workspaces. A main off-site flying building (blimp-style) would be used, and could even be extended by flying classrooms. The building frames would consist of carbon and aluminium, and solar batteries in the balloon would power all student necessities. <>

Need to cook something, but can’t find a stove? Okay, probably not, but it does happen. And that’s where Maurizio Maiorana’s Cooka comes in handy! Basically a foldable stove-top mat with with a silver conductor and a plug, the Cooka has three heating elements, surrounded by tiny holes that blow hot air around the pot. The liquid silicone rubber can tolerate temperatures up to 200ºC, shielding any surface from heat damage. Perfect for cooking on the go, and it’s pretty, too … <> entrepreneur alert

Got an even smarter idea? Email us at <>.

TAKE A DRY SWIM As winter turns to autumn, it’s time to start contemplating the warm months ahead. And soon we won’t even have to worry about getting our swimming clothes wet. Why? Because Sun Dry Swim has devised water-repellent swimsuits made out of nanotechenhanced activewear fibres that don’t absorb water. So when you step out of the pool, the moisture collects on the outfit’s surface and you just need to shake it off. It’s also very easy to clean – like water, dirt doesn’t stick to it. Check it out at <>.

the naming game

How the world’s favourite new products got their names: Twitter When cofounder Biz Stone first saw this clever communicationon-the-go service, he thought of the way birds communicate: chirping, tweeting … twittering! Wikipedia This online encyclopaedia’s name comes from two words: ‘wiki’ (Hawaiian for ‘quick’) and ‘encyclopaedia’. Blackberry Looking for a word that would evoke joy and happiness, creators realised that the small buttons resembled seeds. So they settled on a term that reflected this and brought out the gadget’s colours (that is, black).


Pickup (3) Tuning pegs (2)

the Inner workings

we take it apart Volume and tone controls (6)

Final signal passed to amplifier (7)


Volume and tone controls (6) Bridge

Electric current (5)

Coil wrapped around magnet (4)

Pickup, with magnet beneath each string (3)

Metal strings (1)

Music may be magical stuff, but it isn’t created by magic. When the string (1) of a guitar is plucked or strummed, it vibrates at a certain frequency. This produces a musical note, which is high or low, depending on the thickness, length and tension of the string. The tighter the string, the higher the note, which explains why a guitar is tuned by turning the tuning pegs (2) at the end of the neck. But making the sound is just the beginning. An electric guitar often needs to be heard over a crowd of screaming fans, so it uses a device called a pickup (3) to amplify the sound. The pickup runs beneath the strings and contains six magnets with fine wires coiled around them (4). When a string vibrates, it disturbs the magnetic field of the magnet below it, creating an electric current in the coil. This current (5) then makes its way to the volume and tone controls (6), which allow the musician to alter the signal before it’s sent to the amplifier (7) to be pumped to full volume. Finally, loudspeakers convert the signal back into audible sound waves.

DIAGRAM: HOW COOL STUFF WORKS © 2005 Dorling Kindersley LIMITeD • PHOTOGRAPH: istock photos



W h at ’ s N e w i n S c i e n c e ?

sci files


Around four billion years ago, meteors were hitting our planet like it was going out of fashion (and luckily for us, it was). But that doesn’t mean living organisms couldn’t have survived, say researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. Recent data shows that the collisions would have melted only a fraction of the Earth’s crust. Microbes could easily have survived underground, meaning that life could be even older than we thought. In fact, we can’t rule out the possibility that meteors carried the world’s first organic molecules. So, next time something bad happens, cheer up – it could be the start of something great. The largest known asteroid, Ceres, is about 950 km in diameter – that’s bigger than Britain! did you know?


According to aerodynamic theory, bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly. So zoologists at Oxford University, UK, set out to determine how they manage it. First they trained bees to fly through a wind tunnel. Then they blew smoke past the flying bees – revealing vortices in the air – and recorded them with high-speed cameras. The result? Bumblebee flight is extremely inefficient. Not only do the wings of a bumblebee flap independently, but the airflow around the bee never quite joins up to help the insect slip through the air. Most flying animals have aerodynamic finesse, but the bumblebee uses a brute-force approach, fuelled by energy-rich nectar. It’s the SUV of the winged world, while almost every other insect is a Ferrari. It gets the job done, but it’s not very pretty …

By Nicklaus Kruger • photographs: istock photos


Ever find that the lesson’s over and you can’t remember what the teacher was saying? Try doodling next time. A study by Jackie Andrade, of the University of Plymouth School of Psychology in the UK, suggests that people who doodle while listening to something will retain more information. In the study, 40 volunteers listened to a short voice message and were

then asked to write down the names of people attending a party (according to the tape). Half were asked to doodle while listening, while half just listened. Afterwards, the doodlers could recall and write down more correct names than the nondoodlers. So next time your teacher catches you doodling rather than ‘paying attention’, just remember: science is on your side.

writing vs doodling

Doodling may beat boredom, but it doesn’t beat actual note-taking. So keep writing down what your teacher’s saying, okay?


that’s life

ther one just like

By Linda Pretorius

d and made ano ned: a cell divide


mazing happe a g in th e m so o, g n years a Right now, as you read this, the cells in your bod Nearly four billio y are doing the same thing. y in Earth’s history. or st s es cc su st te ea gr y is the came what it is toda be d an n ga be e lif How And after billions of years, we ’re still part of it. Here’s the low -down on life as we know it.

DNA is pretty powerful stuff. Why? Because it controls the construction of proteins. And proteins control how every cell works. And cells make up tissues, and tissues make up organs, and organs control your whole body. You get the idea.

The double helix

The DNA Dictionary DNA is your body’s manual for building the proteins* it needs. It uses four molecular letters – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) – to spell out its instructions.

*Proteins are the worker molecules of your body. They can be structural (like the ones that hold your skin together) or functional (like those that break down your food).

DNA is separated into genes, which are like sentences written on two strands of DNA, and then coiled into a spiral, called a double helix (imagine two telephone wires twisted around each other). The sentences are condensed (there’s not much space in a cell) and packaged into chapters (called chromosomes).


If you typed 60 words a minute, eight hours a day, it would take you about 50 years to type the human genome.


3,9 billion years ago

4 billion years ago

THE EARTH COMES TO LIFE Most of the Earth is covered by oceans. The atmosphere consists of stifling carbon dioxide, water vapour and a dash of nitrogen and carbon monoxide. It’s a hot pressure pot: temperatures are 50 to 80°C, and atmospheric pressure is similar to what we’d now experience about 500 m underwater. Undersea hot springs release scalding steam into the air. The planet is often target practice for asteroids from outer space.

But your protein-manufacturers (called ribosomes) don’t understand DNA. So an enzyme (a type of protein) uncoils the two strands and translates them into a language called RNA. RNA is very similar to DNA: it uses three of the same letters, but replaces T with U (Uracil). Every three letters of RNA form a ‘word’, which codes for a specific amino acid. These are strung together to form a protein.

>>>>>>>>>> Conditions around the hot springs are just what life is looking for. A single cell containing RNA appears from the steaming cauldron. It manages not only to survive, but also to make a copy of itself. Scientists call it LUCA – the Last Universal Common Ancestor. How LUCA functioned is uncertain, but it may have used existing molecules to copy its RNA. Sneaky.

photographs: istock photos, p. sole, ism / sciencephoto library, victor habbick visions / sciencephoto library, eye of science / sciencephoto library,


that’s life

What about evolution? Imagine you’re a beetle: if your genes allow, you’ll probably survive until it’s time to reproduce. Chances are that another bug will think you’re hot enough to mate with, and your genes will be passed on to your kids. But if your DNA makes you too weak or unattractive, you may not survive until mating … and even if you do, other bugs may not want your genes in their offspring, so you’ll die without having kids. So, some genes survive, while others die out. Charles Darwin called it ‘survival of the fittest’; we call it lucky.

Will the real human being please stand up? Evolution worked out very nicely for us. Billions of years after that first cell divided, certain apes became able to stand on two feet. This helped them survive – they could gather food and hold objects more easily, for example – and made them popular mates. They had more kids, allowing the new, improved genes to spread through the population. Eventually, all the offspring of those apes (including you) walked upright.

For more examples, click to <http://>.

Colonies of slimy cyanobacteria build on layers of calcium carbonate (the stuff that makes chalk). Other bacteria live underneath the top layers, with sand grains trapped in between. Dome-shaped bacterial colonies, called stromatolites, form.

2,6 billion years ago

Microbes called Archaea arise. They use carbon dioxide and a chemical found near the hot springs as an energy source. Eubacteria also arise, using smelly hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide and a light-capturing molecule to make energy. Photosynthesis becomes cool. Cyanobacteria alter the energy recipe: water replaces hydrogen sulphide, and oxygen is released as waste (like today’s plants).

3,5 billion years ago

>>>>>>>>>> 3,8 billion years ago

sinclair stammers / sciencephoto library, eye of science / sciencephoto library

HOW EVOLVED ARE YOU? So you think you’re a highly evolved specimen? Your body may be the latest model, but it’s full of evolutionary rejects: Can you move your ears? If you can, you have your auriculares muscles (and your ancient ancestors) to thank. Their action is easy to see on the ears of a cat, which can swivel almost 180°. Still got your appendix? You may have had it surgically removed, but you wouldn’t really notice the difference. This organ has no use in the modern body, but it’s thought to have helped process the cellulose in our ancestors’ very leafy diet. Does the cold give you goosebumps? These are caused by the contraction of tiny muscles called arrector pili muscles, which are attached to your hair follicles. In our furrier days, this would have allowed every strand to stand on end, trapping air against the skin for insulation.

Cyanobacteria rule the world … for now.



Life as a foetus Once upon a time, you were just one cell. In less than a week, you became a hollow ball of about 30 cells. Once this ball attached to the uterus wall, everything was set for a new person to form. First, the embryonic version of you separated into three layers, from which every organ and body part would develop. After two months, rough forms of all your body systems were ready for action – you

already had limbs with webbed fingers and toes, and your heart had started to pump blood! At this stage, you were almost half as long as Mom’s little finger, and weighed a whopping 1 g. A month later, your body was significantly longer. Your liver was already making bile and your facial features were starting to form. By this time, Mom could already find out whether you were a girl or a boy. After five months, silk-like hair covered

your skin, and your face looked very human (it’s about time); another month on, your nails had developed and enamel was coating your teeth. In the final three months, you spent most of your time growing and completing preparations for birth. Facing the world when you’re just a bit longer than a ruler and weigh about the same as three cartons of milk is really brave. So well done – you were a born achiever.


After about 1,8 billion years of cyanobacteria guzzling carbon dioxide and burping out oxygen, the atmosphere has become oxygen rich. But the carbon dioxide shortage threatens Archaea’s survival. Another type of bacteria, purple bacteria, have adapted to the conditions: they use oxygen for energy and burp out carbon dioxide. Archaea start snuggling up to the purple bacteria, where oxygen is low and

carbon dioxide is high. Eventually, Archaea swallow up the purple bacteria. Purple bacteria are happy (well, if they had emotions, they would be), because they’re constantly fed oxygen in a protected environment; Archaea are ‘happy’ because oxygen is always replaced with carbon dioxide. Archaea and purple bacteria start swopping genes, creating a new life form called eukaryotes. The stage is set for multicellular life.

540 million years ago

2 billion years ago



Life suddenly flourishes. Scientists call it the Cambrian explosion. Animals now have shells or exoskeletons, and experiment with many weird and wacky body plans.

that’s life

What about stem cells? Stem cells are like superheroes: they’re ordinary cells with no fancy shape or function, but they can rapidly divide and morph into specialised cells when called upon. Embryonic stem cells (from embryos) are the most versatile, and can become any cell type the body may need. There are also stem cells in an adult body, but they’ve already been assigned to a specific type of tissue, and they’re just waiting to report for duty. The ability to ‘call upon’ stem cells under the right conditions make them potentially handy for treating conditions like Parkinson’s and diabetes, where

a particular type of cell has been lost or damaged. But a lot of research still needs to be done, and this is where it becomes tricky. The embryonic stem cells are isolated from fertilised embryos that are destined to be destroyed. Many people feel the research is murder, because a potential human life is lost. Others feel that the research will help to relieve many people’s suffering.

The origin of original ideas Do you dream of being a famous inventor? Easy: invent something brilliant. But how? ‘An invention always starts with a problem,’ says Pretoria patent attorney Wessel van Wyk. Usually your brain has long been gathering information, which it then uses in a novel way to solve an existing problem. Toilet paper was invented by Joseph Gayetty in 1857, much to the relief of the human race, which until then had been using newspapers, stones and even sponges on a stick (blame the Romans for that one). The aseptic juice container was invented by Ruben Rausing in 1963. Milk cans were clumsy to transport to the market, so he developed rectangular cartons called Tetra bricks. Because they could easily be stacked, the idea soon caught on.

What do you think?

entrepreneur alert!

Is stem-cell research a miracle or a mistake? Send your name, school, grade and opinion to <> and you could win an MP3 player.

Think you could be the next Joseph Gayetty or Ruben Rausing? Click to <>, or email us at <>.

The mother of all extinctions occurs. Almost 96% of all aquatic life forms is wiped out. Our ancestors were part of the lucky few that survived. Close call.

The first mammals, called megazostrodontids, appear on the scene. They’re small, mousy and nocturnal animals – a good thing if you want to stay out of the dinosaurs’ way. Megazostrodon fossils were first discovered in southern Africa in the 1960s.


200 million years ago

251 million years ago


Gazillions of multicellular organisms inhabit the Earth.


Possibly … but you’d find it pretty much impossible to track down the guilty butterfly. The butterfly effect (as scientists call it) is part of a field of study called chaos theory, and states that small changes in a dynamic system may have larger effects on other parts of that system. Which could mean that a tornado in Texas was started by the slight change in wind conditions caused by a butterfly in Bloemfontein. But the complex interconnections of nature could also mean that the same butterfly also prevented a tornado in Brazil. how do sperm cells swim?

Ever seen a tadpole swimming around, using its little tail to propel itself through the water? Sperm cells move around using a similar basic principle, but on a much smaller scale. Each sperm cell has a tail-like structure (called a flagellum, from the Latin word for ‘whip’), which projects out of the cell body and whips from side to side. This is different from a bacterial flagellum, which rotates round and round like a corkscrew, giving the cell a sense of direction.


Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order?

This may seem like a dumb question but it’s not quite as simple as ABC. The English alphabet got its order from the Latin alphabet, which was based on Etruscan, which was based on Greek, which had a similar alphabetical order. Taking into account slight changes along the way (Latin added G and moved Y and Z to the end), our alphabet goes back to the Ugaritic alphabet from about 1400 BCE. Why they listed the letters in that order is anybody’s guess. But why change 3 000 years of good lettering? did you know?

‘Alphabet’ comes from the first letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta. If their alphabet had run backwards, we’d call it the omegapsi (omega and psi). Does time pass more slowly at lower altitudeS?

Y ? H W W

If a butterfly flaps its wings, can it really start a tornado on the other side of the world?

Yes. So if you want your exam to go by faster, ask to write it on the roof of the tallest building in town. If the rest of your classmates are on the ground floor, they’ll be closer to the centre of the Earth – which is also its centre of gravity. Einstein’s theory of relativity holds that time slows down as you get closer to a centre of gravity … so the clock will tick by slower for your classmates than it will for you, on the roof. That’s the good news. The bad news is, the difference will be tiny (like, several billionths of a nanosecond).

? Y H

Ever wondered which really came first: the chicken or the egg? Well, now you’ll know.

Q&A Why does water drain clockwise in the southern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the north?

It doesn’t. The way water drains has almost everything to do with the shape of your bath and the angle at which the water is introduced to the plughole – and almost nothing to do with which hemisphere you’re in. We say ‘almost’ because of something called the Coriolis effect. Here, the flow of the bathwater is influenced by the movement of the Earth – which, of course, rotates clockwise if you’re standing at the South Pole and anticlockwise at the North Pole. But the Coriolis effect only really works on large masses (like cyclones and tornadoes) … and not so much on your humble bathtub.



Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

For centuries, philosophers scratched their heads over this problem of circular cause and consequence (‘Which came first: X, which can’t come without Y; or Y, which can’t come without X?’). In the end, it took scientists to solve the problem. According to the theory of evolution, living organisms evolve through changes (or mutations) in their DNA code – but these changes can only take place in the zygote cell (the first cell of a developing baby). So whatever the DNA mutations were that created a modern-day chicken, they must have occurred before the creature hatched. So that settles it once and for all, then … The egg came first. By Mark van Dijk • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos

Why are most human beings righthanded?

Here’s one of the more popular theories: ancient societies used the left hand as a symbol for evil or misfortune. The right hand symbolised correctness (hence the ‘right’ hand). So, left-handed people were often shunned by society and fewer married and reproduced. This caused lefthandedness to start ‘dying out’. Today, right-handed people make up between 70% and 95% of the population. Another theory holds that a form of the gene linked to left-handedness is also linked to mental illness … no wonder lefties were so unloved. WHY LeftIES laugh last

In 2006, researchers found that left-handed men who graduated from university are 26% richer than their right-handed peers. Did Italians invent pasta?

There’s a theory going around that Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy from his travels in China. But that’s a lie. The truth is, Italians were producing pasta more than a century before Polo packed his bags. So does that mean the Chinese got their noodles from Italy? No. In 2005, archaeologists unearthed the 4 000year-old remains of a pot of noodles in Lajia, China – but these were made from millet grass grains, not from wheat flour like Western pasta. But unless that recipe somehow made its way west along the trade routes, it seems that both countries ‘invented’ pasta independently. 17

T me is money

Want to travel through time? Get a job that takes you back to your origins.

Sperm meets egg. A baby is born. If you’re fascinated by what happens in between, then obstetrics may be the job for you. An obstetrician keeps mothers and babies healthy during pregnancy and birth. They monitor the developmental process and are by the mother’s side during delivery. ‘If you want to be an obstetrician,’ says Dr Tanya Victor, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Netcare Blaauwberg, ‘make 100% sure that you know what the work entails before you commit to it, because it’s a 24/7 job.’ Good people skills are also a must – unless you don’t mind your hand being crushed by an angry woman in labour! Study it through a medical degree (MBChb) at any major university, followed by a four-year Masters degree in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


Palaeontologists are hunters. But they don’t need guns or arrows to bring down their prey. Why? Because the animals they hunt have been dead for millions of years. Palaeontologists use fossils to uncover the truth about prehistoric creatures. They use radiocarbon dating to determine a fossil’s age, and they need to be extremely good at puzzles – you try putting a huge dinosaur together, piece by tiny piece. If you want to be a palaeontologist, you should ‘never lose your sense of wonderment,’ says Professor Phillip Tobias, one of South Africa’s top scientists. Which shouldn’t be a problem, when you’re rubbing shoulders with dinosaurs for a living. Study it through a BSc in Zoology at any South African university, then specialise in Palaeontology.

If you dream of being like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, archaeology is a good place to start (unless you just want to be like Harrison, in which case stick to acting). Archaeologists study earlier societies, helping us understand their histories and lifestyles. Expect to get your hands dirty, digging up relics and then going through the long process of classifying every piece. ‘The best thing about the job is the variety,’ says archaeologist Jude Sealy. ‘It involves fieldwork, lab work, travel and interaction with a wide range of disciplines.’ You need to have endless patience – sometimes you won’t find anything for months. But when you do find something, the rewards are more than worth the wait. Study it through a BA or BSc degree, majoring in Archaeology.

By Michelle Minnaar • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos



Qa Developmental & A with Professor Sue Kidson, Geneticist at UCT Most people work with computers and numbers. Sue Kidson works with stem cells and embryos. And we’re not just talking about human embryos. She studies worms and sea urchins and chickens and mice to find out which genes work in which parts of the body, and why some babies don’t develop as they should. How did you get into Genetics? I started out by studying Zoology and had some courses in Genetics. I had a very inspiring teacher who opened my eyes to the mysteries of how body patterns arise, and how cells specialise. For example, have you ever wondered why you have only two arms and two legs? Why not four of each? Developmental geneticists try to find answers to these types of questions. It’s very interesting because in addition to finding out how genes control development, we also can find out how genes evolved. What do you love most about what you do? I study biology at many levels: whole organisms, embryos and cellular behaviour. I use the tools of molecular genetics to do this, and I never, ever get bored. Studying embryonic stem cells is particularly interesting: I see how cells change in the Petri dish from being pretty ordinary-looking into ones that can actually contract in the dish, like muscle cells. Part of our work uses cloned animals or cells, or genetically engineered animals and cells, and we put genes into cells to see how they work. It’s really fascinating!

What are the job prospects? There are many jobs for embryologists, cell biologists and developmental biologists, and you can study these subjects at most universities in the country. What do you think about stem-cell research? Stem cells are unique because they can change into other types of cells – this is how babies can develop eyes, ears, fingers, toes and so on from just a few cells! We must definitely research stem cells because they have the potential to be useful for studying and possibly treating diseases, as well as for testing drugs. We must be especially careful when it comes to trying out stem cells for human therapy when we haven’t proven their potential in the lab or in animal models of disease. The first clinical trial using embryonic stem cells has just begun in the USA. Any advice to future geneticists? Make sure you have a good knowledge of whole-animal biology, biochemistry and genetics before you try to specialise. You need a love of Biology, an interest in complexity, a high level of endurance and a tolerance for failure. Most of science is about slog, plus 1% inspiration. And even inspiration doesn’t just happen: it comes from lots of thinking, studying, reading and talking. Study it through a BSc, majoring in Genetics, at any South African university. Got a question for Professor Kidson? Email it to <> and we’ll make sure you get an answer.


This could be



Isaah Alexy Mhlanga is a busy guy. He’s an honours student and research assistant at the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Economics and Econometrics. Last year, he came third in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech competition, and got the chance to meet Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel. But it hasn’t always been easy … I attended high school at Matseliso High in Meadowlands, Soweto. I loved Maths, Physics, Biology and Geography, but I wasn’t a big fan of languages. I did all my subjects at Higher Grade because I knew I had the potential to do well in them. I attended school from Monday to Sunday, and was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. At night, I’d be up until 2 am, trying to get ahead with my studies.

Can’t afford the degree of your dreams? Neither could this guy …

Most of my classmates thought I was crazy, but that didn’t bother me. Sometimes, I would go to school without breakfast, and had no money to buy a snack at lunchtime. I couldn’t watch other students eat, so I used my breaks to ask questions, and do my assignments and homework. I knew that my father couldn’t afford university fees, so my matric results had to get me in. My duty was to study … hard. In the end, I matriculated with straight A’s, and was able to complete my undergraduate studies through funds from the NSFAS. I liked Economics from the first class. There was a logical link between action, cause and consequence, and between yesterday, today and tomorrow. Economists don’t just shape the world; they create it. In five years’ time, I must have completed my Masters in Financial Economics. I will go into the world of investment banking and know everything there is to know in financial markets. I want to make people richer and myself wealthy in the process! If you can’t afford to study, that’s not a train smash. Work like there is no tomorrow. Get those results – good results – and don’t give up. Do your research and apply for bursaries or financial aid as early as you can. Be positive – if you have a brain and you use it wisely, you’re bound to succeed.

NSFAS is a registered credit provider in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (NCRCP 2655)

Need funding for your studies? Not having your own funds doesn’t mean you can’t go to university or college. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a government agency, has over R3-billion available to assist students from impoverished communities to pay for tertiary studies.

What you need to do • Apply to study at a university or Further Education & Training (FET) college. Apply before September, using your Grade 12 June exam results. • Once you’ve been accepted, apply for financial aid at the university Financial Aid Office or FET College Student Support Centre. • When applying for financial aid, take along: your barcoded ID, proof of household income (your parents’ or guardians’ salary or pension slips), and the names and ID numbers of members of your family who are studying or at school.

For more info, call 021 763 3232 or email <>.

PHOTOGRAPHs: istock photos



BY NICKLAUS KRUGER • PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/, istock photos

iPods are so last century. Don’t believe us? Here’s proof. THE iPOD In 2001, Apple computers revealed the future of cool – the iPod. Many hailed it as a musical first. But it wasn’t really … 1979 Kane Kramer and his buddy James Campbell invent the IXI system, a portable music player the size of a cigarette box. It stores music digitally and has a display screen, navigation buttons and earphones. Unfortunately, it only has enough memory for three-and-a-half minutes of music. Also, there’s no Napster or iTunes for downloads (what with the Internet not really existing). So the idea is shelved until the rest of the world catches up. 1997 The first successful – but not quite so cool – MP3 player was invented by Advanced Multimedia Products. It was called the AMP MP3 Playback Engine. Not the catchiest title around but, hey, they had to start somewhere.

BATTERIES You’ll find these powerful sources of power in many everyday household gadgets. But you’ll also find them in many history books. 200 BCE Baghdad Batteries were the latest thing – clay jars with an asphalt stopper and an iron rod, surrounded by a copper cylinder and containing an acidic substance. Scientists think the batteries may have been used to treat pain or to graft silver to gold. Modern replicas produce 0,8 to 2 volts of electricity. 1791 Italian biologist Luigi Galvani discovers that animals generate electricity, but thinks that only living things have this power. 1800 Alessandro Volta, also Italian, produces the voltaic pile, the world’s almost-first battery, by soaking cardboard and two electrodes in a saltwater solution.

THE AUTOMATIC DOOR Opening doors by hand is so old-fashioned. Today, you can make a door open and close repeatedly without even touching it – at least, until you’re politely asked to leave. But the automatic door goes way back. 50 BCE Hero of Alexandria, a Greek engineer, mathematician and teacher, decides religious ceremonies need more oomph. So he designs his aeolipile – heavy doors in front of an altar, hooked up to buckets, pulleys and hydraulics. When a priest lights a fire on the altar, the doors open – as if by the breath of the gods. 1954 Texans Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt notice how strong winds interfere with doors opening. They set to work inventing a door that gets around this problem. 1960 Horton Automatics unveils the first modern automatic sliding door.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Sometimes, they pay off … SAFETY GLASS -- 1903

One day, French chemist, Edouard Benedictus, knocked a flask off a shelf and it broke but didn’t shatter. Finding that it had recently contained cellulose nitrate, he went on to develop Triplex safety glass. PENICILLIN -- 1928

Bacteriologist Alexander Fleming was about to throw out a Petri dish contaminated with Penicillium, when he noticed that the mould had killed the surrounding bacteria. And penicillin has been doing so ever since.


Solve the mystery of the buried skeleton and win a hero’s reward. While excavating a building site in central Cape Town, builders make an eerie discovery: a human skeleton that looks very, very old. As the city’s top archaeologist, you’re called to find out much as possible about the body.

How old is the body? Because the body has completely decomposed, it’s clear that Person X didn’t die last week. When a body is found, archeologists use radiocarbon dating to determine an approximate time of death. The carbon in your body is mostly carbon-12 (it has six protons and six neutrons), but about one in a trillion carbon atoms is carbon-14. This is an unstable, radioactive form that decays into nitrogen-14 over time. As soon as an organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon, and the carbon-14 already in its body decays with a half-life of 5,700 years (the time it takes for half of it to decay). By measuring the carbon-14 (14C) in the skeleton and comparing it to the atmospheric 14C, you can determine the age of the body.

A formula to calculate how old a sample is by carbon-14 dating is: ln ( ) xt t= (-0,693) (this isn’t as complicated as it looks) ln is the natural logarithm, the value of which we’ll give you. is the percentage of carbon-14 in the sample compared to the amount in the atmosphere, and t is the half-life of carbon-14. So, if is 0,976, approximately how old is this body? ln (0,976) t= x 5 700 years (-0,693) t = (-0,0242) x 5 700 years (-0,693) t = ± ­­______________ ?

Was Person X male or female? The pelvic bones come together at a 90˚ angle, making it a fairly wide pelvis. The rib cage is shorter than some others you’ve seen and the bones are light and thin. The index fingers are longer than the ring fingers, which is another sure sign this skeleton is that of a ________. Clue One of the sexes needs wider hips for carrying a special kind of object. By Michelle Minnaar • PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/, istock photos

work it out

What race did Person X belong to? Skull structure and measurements differ across ethnic groups. This person has square-shaped eye sockets and wedge-shaped, flat-backed incisors (the sharper teeth on either side of your four front teeth). You know from experience that Europeans and Asians have rounded eye sockets and shovel-shaped incisors that are curved at the back. What race do you think Person X belonged to? Clue This race is from the continent where mankind originated. For more info, visit <www.theoryofuniverse. com/man/races/races-skulls.htm>.

What job did Person X have? The skeleton’s tooth enamel hasn’t formed properly, which is a sign of great stress – either famine or disease – during childhood. The person also suffered from rickets*, as can be seen from his/her curved leg bones. Person X was obviously very poor – what would he/she have done to survive? Hint This job no longer exists in South Africa, and rhymes with the word that means ‘an excavation made in the earth to bury a dead body’. *Rickets is a disease that causes bones to soften, and can lead to fractures and deformity. It’s one of the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries, where malnutrition is common.

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swers? Got all the an ing all five questions, and Type up your report, answer m>, together with your 2 email it to < you could win a HIP2B name, school and grade, and watch! Answers will be goodie bag, including a USB > on 31 October. posted on <


The facts under the fat suit Kids around the world would probably consider Santa a saint. Little do they know that he probably really was one. St Nicholas was a bishop who is thought to have lived around 1 700 years ago. He was famous for giving gifts and being kind to children (sound familiar?). It took centuries for this guy to turn into Santa. First the Dutch started calling him Sinterklaas and gave him a flying white horse. Then, in the early 19th century, a writer named Washington Irving and his fellow New Yorkers made some changes to shift the Yuletide focus from wild party time to fun family time. Finally, the Santa we know was complete – a jolly old man who wears a red suit (instead of red bishop’s robes) and travels by flying reindeer (instead of flying horse). Talk about an extreme makeover! Home delivery: How how how

To deliver presents to two billion kids around the world, Santa has to travel a distance greater than that between Earth and the Sun!

Zombies don’t just belong in horror films – in fact, there are suspected real-life cases (click to <> for one)! Legend has it that a zombie is someone who upset his or her community so badly that a voodoo priest was hired to zombify the guy. How? Using a mixture of toxic toad skin and tetrodotoxin (a poison from the puffer fish that induces a deep coma). After exposure to the mixture, the victim’s heart rate and breathing fade to almost nothing. The ‘corpse’ is then buried, exhumed within eight hours (to prevent actual death) and force-fed a paste that causes madness and memory-loss. And, hey presto: you have a real-live zombie who can walk, talk and do stacks of manual labour without complaining. It’ll have no idea who it really is, and it probably won’t even peg that it’s working for free. Sounds like the perfect employee!


By Justine Joseph • ILLUSTRATIONS: TINUS DE BRUYN, istock photos

Wanted: living-dead labourers to work for no pay

fact or fable

What’s under the bed on bricks? The tokoloshe is the mongrel of mythological creatures. Why? Because it’s a combination of many legendary characters. According to Zulu mythology, it can be anything from a naughty, dwarflike water creature to an evil humanoid monster with a sharp, bony ridge for head-butting. Ouch! Some say that even mentioning the tokoloshe will summon the critter (bad news if you’re reading this aloud). It’s also often seen as a kind of home-curse delivery service that you can send to a mortal enemy. In these cases, only the victim can see the monster, and he’d better have a witch doctor on speed dial. Finding one of these bad boys under your bed is never a laughing matter. It’s said that the creature will climb into bed with a victim and carry the poor sucker away. That’s why believers won’t sleep on the floor and raise their beds on bricks, just in case. Or they could just keep a mongrel under there …

Humans love stories. We tell them around campfires to frighten friends and pass them down from generation to generation. But some of our favourite fables are like a bad case of broken telephone: over time, they’ve changed so much that modern folk just don’t know what to believe. So it’s time to rewind some popular tales and find out where they really began.

where do sayings come from? • Mad as a hatter This phrase is thought to stem from the fact that mercury was used by hat-makers in the 19th century. Exposure to too much mercury can affect a person’s vision, hearing, speech and coordination, causing many hatters to appear mad. • Take a rain check In the late 1800s, a ‘rain check’ voucher was distributed at baseball games that were halted by bad weather. It allowed the spectator to come back and watch another game.

• Head over heels Meaning chaotically in love, this term is actually backwards – the 14th-century version was ‘heels over head’, which makes more sense, because if your head is normally over your heels then the confusion of love should reverse things. For some reason, people began saying ‘head over heels’ in the late 18th century, making love more confusing than ever! • Bimbo This was probably derived from the Italian word ‘bambino’, meaning ‘child’, and originally referred to a stupid

man with a bad reputation. Nowadays, Paris Hilton seems to own the word and the male equivalent is a ‘himbo’. • Murphy’s Law In other words, ‘if anything can go wrong, it will’. The story goes that in 1949, Captain Ed Murphy, a development engineer in California, commented on a useless technician’s work, saying, ‘If there’s any way to do things wrong, he will.’ A few weeks later at a press conference, an officer credited the programme’s safety record to planning for ‘Murphy’s Law’.


sci diy

You’ll need

• one raw egg • candle (and something to light it with) • braai tongs • glass of tap water, half full What to do

1. Light the candle. 2. Hold the egg over the flame (with the tongs, of course). 3. Its surface will start to darken. Move it around until most of the shell has changed colour. 4. Let the egg cool down – this should take five to ten minutes. 5. Gently lower the egg into the glass of tap water. 6. Look closely at the egg … 7. You should see your reflection, like it’s an egg-shaped mirror. wHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?

The egg becomes covered in a layer of soot (carbon dust, which forms when something burns but doesn’t catch alight). The carbon pushes the water away and keeps a layer of air between it and the eggshell, giving it a reflective effect that lasts until the air is completely dissolved into the water.


Beneath the SURFACE You’ll need

• six raw eggs • white vinegar • watertight container with a lid • large spoon What to do

1. Place the eggs in the container. Make sure they’re not touching each other. 2. Pour in enough vinegar to cover the eggs (but don’t pour directly onto the eggs). 3. Put the lid on and wait a few minutes. 4. Look inside. If bubbles are forming on the shells, you’re good to go. 5. Refrigerate the container for a day or so. 6. Take the container out of the fridge. Use the spoon to carefully remove the eggs. 7. Throw the vinegar out, put the eggs back in, and refrigerate for a day or two. 8. Take them out and have a look. They’re totally shell-less and squishy, but still solid. Weird, right? wHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?

The shells are made of calcium carbonate, which breaks down in the presence of the vinegar’s acetic acid, forming calcium (that drifts away) and carbon (that bubbles away). So you’re left with just the wobbly bits.

egg in a bottle You’ll need

• a boiled egg • a glass bottle with a neck slightly smaller than the egg’s circumference (a 250 ml Coke bottle is a bit too small) • box of matches (be careful!) What to do

1. Boil the egg for approximately 10 minutes and then let it cool down enough to take the shell off without breaking the egg. 2. Carefully light a match and then drop it, still alight, into the bottle. 3. Repeat step 2 two or three times in quick succession. 4. While all the matches are still burning put the egg on top of the bottle neck, narrower end pointing down. 5. Watch as the egg magically gets sucked into the bottle! wHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?

The burning matches consume oxygen, decreasing the air pressure in the bottle. Now the greater air pressure outside pushes the egg down into the bottle – or it gets completely stuck and you have to try to be a bit faster next time …



smart maths

of Maths


These days, maths is all a² this and b² that … but who came up with this stuff? And what’s it good for, anyway? Here’s your answer.


Okay, so you’ve heard about Pythagoras the theorem (that’s the a2 + b2 = c2 one). But you probably haven’t heard about Pythagoras the person, who lived in ancient Athens and founded a religion in which


numbers were the true reality (like The Matrix, but without Keanu Reeves). One of the many uses of Pythagoras’ theorem is to prove the existence of irrational numbers (numbers that can’t be expressed as a fraction that contains only integers). Why? Because in a triangle with sides of 1 and 1, the hypotenuse must be the square root of 2. And like π, this is an irrational number. SUM IT UP

1. My brother is twice as old as I am. Five years ago, when I was half my current age, he was three times my age. What equation describes my age? And how old is my brother now? 2. A right-angled triangle can be constructed by joining two radii that run perpendicular to each other. In such a triangle, in a circle with diameter 16 cm, what is the length of the hypotenuse, according to Pythagoras’ theorem? For solutions to these and more questions, visit <>.


Discoveries that were later explained by maths. Dispersal

Greek mathematician Archimedes was once ordered to determine whether the king’s crown was solid gold. In the bath, he noticed that the water rose by a volume equal to that of his body – and ran naked through the streets shouting, ‘Eureka!’ He then used the ratio between the crown’s weight and volume to prove it was a fake! Gravity

One day, Sir Isaac Newton was relaxing under an apple tree when one of the apples fell. This got him thinking about the natural ‘pull’ that planets have … and led to his ground-breaking law of gravitation. Smart Maths sponsored by

By Mark van Dijk • PHOTOGRAPHS: istock photos


Remember the good old days when maths was all about numbers (1 + 1 = 2) … and then you discovered it uses letters too (ax² + bx + c = 0)? No, teachers are not just messing with your mind – they’re introducing you to algebra. This branch of maths has been around for millennia but only got its modern name from the ninth-century Persian mathematician, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who called it Al-jabr (‘the restoration of broken parts’). Over time, algebra has been expanded to solve problems in physics, engineering, economics, architecture and dozens of day-to-day tasks. Its power lies in those crafty letters: by using a’s and x’s to represent unknown variables, we avoid pages and pages of confusing notes.


We invade the brain of Cassette lead singer,

Jon Savage.

From left to right: Nathan Waywell, Jane Breetzke, Jon Savage, Andrew Wessels

J o n r e v i e ws . . .

Only By The Night I’ve been listening to this band of brothers for five years, long before they broke through with this album. It’s the most refreshing, original, groundbreaking yet simple album of the past decade – no other band has revealed such honesty and freshness. They’ve never tried to be what they’re not and it’s this effortless coolness that sets them apart.

By Nikki Benatar • PHOTOGRAPHS: emi international, suukie music, sonybmg

Kings Of Leon:

Like this? Try Hockey and, locally, aKing. Cigarettes and Cinnamon Another great band from Bellville. Their songs have catchy, fresh hooks and great lyrics and I’m impressed by their uniqueness. They might not have the substance of KoL, but in terms of coolness, Jax wipes the floor with everything else locally. New Holland is another great new band out of Bellville, as are F*kofpolisiekar, aKing and Van Coke Kartel. Jax Panik:

Like this? Try Empire of The Sun and Haezer.

Since I was eight, I’ve had two interests: film-making and music. My earliest memories involve running around our house with a video camera or trying to be Freddie Mercury. I used to have my own filmproduction company, but I had to shut it when Cassette got too big. I still direct ads for an agency called Terraplane. When I left university, I made a practical decision to go into film, because I thought I’d never make money in music. About five years into my film career, I met Idols judge and head of Sony Music, Dave Thompson, who offered me a record contract if I moved to Joburg. So I did.

Our new album Who Do You Trust? is darker and more honest than our first album. It’s explosive, angry and tender. The best thing about being a musician is performing and recording. The highlight of my career was being in Los Angeles during the production of this album. I got to work with Mark Needham, who discovered and produced The Killers and My Chemical Romance. I’ve never witnessed that level of genius before. What he did on our album was legendary. My musical heroes are Queen and Kings Of Leon. James Brown gets me on the dance floor every time.

B2 fact • cassettes ruled the music world until 1985, when the first CD was released. 29

What does a dinosaur eating a lawyer sound like? Just ask film directors.

What do mating tortoises sound like? Or how about a de-barked dog, or a cute little baby elephant? And why are we asking you these questions on the Movies page? Because (and you should probably hold onto your popcorn for this) these are some of the sounds that were used to create the dinosaur noises in Jurassic Park. Impossible? Not really. Making a movie about dinosaurs is all fine and dandy if you consider the visuals (we have a pretty good idea what they looked like), but no-one knows what they sounded like. So it’s up to the sound editor/designer to create an appropriate sound for each animal. What makes T-Rex go ‘BRAAAAHR’? Quite a lot of sounds, actually. Since this is probably the most important monster in the film, the sound team worked really hard at getting ‘that roar’ just right. For the big roar, the low frequencies are lion, tiger and alligator sounds, but the high frequency is – and this is just wrong – the sound of a baby elephant. The sound


crew initially considered adult sounds, but it was the baby whose ‘roar’ was just high enough to make your legs really tremble. The koala bear also made a surprise contribution. These fuzzy little creatures may look cute, but they actually make a monster-like growly roar. And the sound made by the blowhole of a whale was perfect for the reptile’s close-up breathing. When all the sounds had been gathered, they were loaded onto different keys of a Synclavier (a type of keyboard) and ‘played’ together to the create multilayered vocals. To hear the result, click to <>. Doesn’t that de-barked dog sound just like a raptor? The raptor also recruited many different animal sounds. For example, the sound of a walrus – a low ‘wrrr’ – and the shriek of a dolphin were combined to create that spine-tingling scream. Other elements included the breathing of a de-barked dog and a horse snorting into a microphone.

What does a dinosaur eating a lawyer sound like? Probably one of the scariest (and funniest) moments in the movie is when the T-Rex first attacks the crew – and the poor lawyer gets eaten. Gory stuff, especially when you consider the sound effects: crunching bones and terrified screams. So did the sound guys really feed a person to a lion? Luckily not. They recorded a horse eating a cob of corn: those long teeth crunching on the cob turned out to be a perfect substitute. The sound of the lawyer being shaken while clasped between the T-Rex’s teeth was actually a recording of the sound editor’s Jack Russell playing with his rope toy, but slowed down a bit! Which just goes to show that the world is full of crazy sounds. With a little imagination, there’s no limit to what you can do. Now, does anyone have any idea what a de-barked dog sounds like? WANT THIS JOB?

If you’d like to be a sound engineer, visit <> for info on Johannesburg’s Academy of Sound Engineering, or <> if you’re in Cape Town.

B2 link • to hear some animal sounds, click to «».

By Nina liebenberg • photographs: ©Inpra/Rex



City at the End of the World by Francois Bloemhof Jan-Paul du Plessis

G11, Paarl Boys’ High School, Paarl

Tenielle Salik

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

G10, Heather Secondary School, Pietermaritzburg

I found this book intriguing and captivating. It caused me to stop and think – something very few books do to me. The story’s main message is that we should always aim to exceed our maximum potential. When our mind tells us to give up, we can still perform 20% more than that. Ageing is inevitable. The world is what it is because of great minds, not just young ones. Like George lives to run, I live to dance. It’s something that runs in my blood. The technology in the story was amazing. I don’t know how the writer could picture the future and still make it seem so realistic. I would rather live in 2009 than 2048 … but if we continue to live as we do, the world will probably become as the writer predicts. In 2048, I think we’ll be living in a very advanced and technological world. But there may be no more real animals and plants, because of the pollution in the world today.

City at the End of the World

(Maskew Miller Longman 2008, ISBN: 978-0-636-09174-0)

In the year 2084, the world belongs to the young. Anyone older than 35 is sent away to make space for the next generation. Eighteen-year-old George lives to run. He’s spent his life training, and it’s finally paid off – he’s been invited to the City, where the bright lights and fast pace promise that life will be better from now on. But the City has a secret, and unless George can discover it, that life might not be very long …

This book gave me a shocking insight into our probable future. I didn’t enjoy it, because it illustrated a future in which freedom, nature, religion and families are extinguished in the name of efficiency and logic. The main message was that we all have the power to change our world for the better, if we push beyond our limits. If I could change anything in the book, I would explain the technology in more detail. I would also write a much more action-packed, explosive ending. I feel great about growing old! Sure, most people say you’re over the hill at 40, but we all know what a rush it is to go down a hill! The technology in the book was quite believable. The idea of a wristband that can video call, SMS, provide internet access and trace anybody is inevitable. Self-driven cars are already being designed, so most of the technology was plausible and really awesome! Most people would rather live in a hi-tech society without crime, but I would still prefer to live in 2009. Sure, future societies will be efficient and perfectly safe, but everything would become too easy and predictable.


1984 by George Orwell (UK: Seeker and Warburg 1949) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (USA: Ballantine Books 1953) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (USA: McClelland and Stewart 1985) TALK TO US

How do you feel about growing old? Email your name, school, grade and answer to <> and you could win a HIP2B2 USB pen.

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


brain busters Original Sudoku!

Perfect numbers

The ancient Greeks identified so-called ‘perfect numbers’, whose factors, when added together, equal the number itself. The number 6, therefore, is the first perfect number as its factors (1, 2 and 3) when added together equal 6 (Note, 6 is not included as a factor, but 1 is). The ancient Greeks also believed that perfect numbers ended only in 6 or 8. Using this information, find the only perfect number other than 6 that is smaller than 50.

It’s time to return to the classics … try your hand at one of the original puzzles:


3 8

1 4


6 6

1 7

1 7






8 5


2 1

4 1

2 8


A E I O U --- U O I E A



4 9

There are only a few English words that contain all five vowels in the correct order, but there are even fewer that contain all the vowels in reverse order. One of these reverse-order words is a 14-letter adjective meaning ‘forming part of a very large land mass, but politically or geographically different enough to distinguish it from its parent land mass’. What is the word?

6 1


Big Bang


u s


= 24


The sum total of the second column = 21 =3

A E I O U --- U O I E A

‘Expansion of the universe’ Big Bang

=8 =2


Perfect numbers


28 (factors of 28 = 1; 2; 4; 7; 14 = 28)









s e


= 16

= 25


= 20

= 15




e i


= 20



Each symbol in the grid below represents a number. The sum totals of the rows and columns are given – except for one column. Figure out which number each symbol represents and calculate the sum total of the second column.

= 19



BY ellen cameron-williger • Illustrations: ANTON PIETERSEN

Many astrophysicists use the Big Bang theory to explain the origins of our universe. This letter explosion (when rearranged correctly) forms a phrase that tells you what happened in the seconds following the Big Bang. What is the phrase? _____S___ __ _H_ __I_____

The Origins Issue  

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