July 2008/Issue 23

think. what you can be

What belongs here? See competition details on page 2.

Attention intelligent entertainment

All these pictures have something in common ...

WHAT IS IT?

Jody Williams tells us about her idol life â&#x20AC;˘ Can a hero outrun an explosion? We expose silly movie physics

YOUR CHALLENGE Fill in +, –, x or ÷ in order to solve these equations, to which the answer is always 10. (We’ve done the first one.) The solutions can be found in the Have Fun section at <www.hip2b2.com>. HIP2B2 iThink Challenge

PAGE 2 + 3 + 4 + 6 - 5 = 10

The origin of 10

(11 _ 4 _ 15) _ 3 = 10

From ten to 10 Things I Hate About You Ten things you didn’t know about the Olympics

(19 _ 19 _ 1) _ 20 _ 8 = 10 2 _ 3 _ 4 _ 24 _ 10 = 10

The 10-minute challenge

5 _ 7 _ 4 _ 28 _ 2 = 10

Hip – and mobile CLUES BY NICKLAUS KRUGER • cover photographs: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos

(313 _ 7) _ 16 _ 2 = 10

Extreme measures Movers and shakers

Contents

(5 _ 9 _ 45) _ 30 _ 7 = 10 (161 _ 7 _ 13 _ 34) _ 7 = 10

REGULARS

Ed’s note Community of Hip Brand Ambassadors: meet Jessica and Louis

4 _ 4 _ 2 _ 2 = 10 (6 _ 7 _ 2) _ 4 _ 1 = 10 3 _ 5 _ 8 _ 3 _ 4 = 10

Smart technology

(30 _ 5 _ 21 _ 9) _ 12 = 10

Deconstruction: the hairdryer

(2 _ 3 _ 4) _ 12 _ 2 = 10

Smart maths: the power of 10

(5 _ 11 _ 3) _ 26 _ 5 = 10

Sci DIY: make a lava lamp

2 _ 2 _ 9 _ 32 _ 6 = 10

Body science: nasty bites

54_ 4 _ 36 _ 4 = 10

Think tank Simply science: why cats always land on their feet

(8 _ 20 _ 19) _ 47 _ 7 = 10 (12 _ 72 _ 48) _ 8 = 10

INTELLIGENT ENTERTAINMENT

Press play: what not to miss Music: Jody Williams Movies: silly movie physics Game lab: a gamemaster’s views on Xbox 360 Books: your views on The Book of General Ignorance

15 _ 2 _ 25 _ 38 _ 7 = 10 8 _ 5 _ 4 _ 40 _ 30 = 10 36 _ 11 _ 22 _ 42 _ 1 = 10 7 _ 8 _ 44 _ 2 = 10 (1 _ 3 _ 46) _ 5 = 10

CHAT ROOM

‘If you wanna be somebody, if you wanna go somewhere, you’d better wake up and pay attention ...’

PUBLISHED ON BEHALF OF BSQUARE COMMUNICATIONS Communications Manager Kate Evans HIP2B2 PIONEERED BY MARK SHUTTLEWORTH <www.hip2b2.com> Published by New Media Publishing (Pty) Ltd Tel: 021 417 1111 • Fax: 021 417 1112 <www.newmediapub.co.za> Managing Director Bridget McCarney Business Development Director John Psillos Editorial Director Irna van Zyl All rights reserved. While precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of information, the editor, publisher and New Media Publishing cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies, injury or damages that may arise. Printed by Paarl Print ABC 124 687

NEVELIA

Winner: 2007 AdMag Custom Publisher of the Year

Photograph: DENVER HENDRICKS

Ten

Editor Nevelia Heilbron Art Director Anton Pietersen Managing Editor Desireé Kriel Editorial Assistant Nicklaus Kruger Copy Editor Sally Rutherford Proofreader Fred Pheiffer Publisher Helena Gavera Creative Director Crispian Brown Executive Editor Ami Kapilevich Production Manager Shirley Quinlan Reproduction New Media Repro Advertising Director Aileen O’ Brien •  Tel: 021 417 1228 Advertising Executives Nick Armstrong •  Tel: 021 417 1188 Michael Daly (JHB) •  Tel: 011 263 4804 New Business Enquiries Martha Dimitriou •  Tel: 021 417 1276 Editorial Contributors Nikki Benatar, Ellen Cameron, Paul Carter, Erin Classen, Ami Kapilevich, Living Maths, Jacqui Lund, Michelle Minnaar, Linda Pretorius, Anthony Samboer, Mark van Dijk, Mandy J Watson Syndication Manager Glynis Fobb Educational Consultants Wordwise

YOU WROTE ...

it

SMS ‘HIPCOM’ followed by your ideas and opinions to 34978. Each SMS costs R2. Or write to us at HIP2B2, PO Box 440, Green Point 8051.

respect

We spoke to the winning team of the HIP2B2 iThink Challenge. CAITLIN LE ROITH

Grade 9, Herzlia Middle School At the iThink Challenge we had really good teamwork. I loved the brainteaser. If I won R10 000 I’d donate 10% to the Red Cross and buy a better camera. If I had 10 free minutes I’d relax or take a little nap. CARA DAVIDSON

Grade 9, Herzlia Middle School At the iThink Challenge the tasting task was a fun, hands-on exercise. If I won R10 000 I’d help as many people in need as possible. If I had 10 free minutes I would go hang-gliding.

Who do you nominate for the HIP2B2 badge of respect, and why?

ca

Grade 10, Herzlia Middle School The iThink Challenge was very exciting. I never expected to win. If I won R10 000 I’d save most of it and spend the rest on whatever my new laptop needs. If I had 10 free minutes I’d spend it thinking about things. DAVID LEVIN

Grade 9, Herzlia Middle School At the iThink Challenge I enjoyed the fire-making part. It felt nice to have a real grasp of the situation. If I won R10 000 I’d probably buy as much computer stuff as possible. If I had 10 free minutes I’d spend it chatting to a famous celebrity.

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Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with a missing tibia (shin bone), cycled 600 km around Ghana with just one good leg – a journey that thrust him into becoming an ambassador for fellow Ghanaians. Among other achievements, he’s founded an educational fund and will lead the Ghanaian (physically challenged) basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

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JOSH KATLOWITZ

v id

Y O U S A I D it

da

Don’t miss our TV show, Mondays, 16:30, SABC 2. Learn more about the digital world on Monday, 21 July.

jo

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– Thandile Bidla, Rossburg High

Check out Press Play (p. 38) each month to see what’s on where. The Durban leg of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists takes place on 1 August. – Ed

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l in

As the next Albert Einstein, I must say you guys create an inspiring TV show. You help to broaden our minds; I try my best to watch it every week. Where can I find out about science expos in Durban?

c

• Write to: HIP2B2, PO Box 440, Green Point 8051  • Email: <talk2us@hip2b2.com> or <win@hip2b2.com>.

SCIENCE ROCKS

NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK brought out the inner Newton in everyone.

St Cyprian’s School in Oranjezicht, Cape Town, held a Science Expo where learners researched a question of their choice. The five winning project winners will advance to the regional Eskom Expo for Young Scientists at the MTN Sciencentre, 19 to 21 August. Lauren Fonto’s winning project (above) investigated dog behaviour and toy choice. Siobhan O’Donovan was another winner for her project on plant growth and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

numbers

COMP 3: get graphic Do you have a flair for design? Create the best HIP2B2 screensaver and it could be featured on the site. How? Click to the Competitions section at <www.hip2b2.com> for details. Closing date: Monday, 21 July.

SCIENCE WhIZZ-KIDS

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by

COMP 2: hot topics Sign up for the forum and you could be one of the randomly selected registered users to win an MP3 player. The top three forum topics will win HIP2B2 phone tones. How? Click to the Forum section at <www.hip2b2.com> and get registered. Closing date: Monday, 21 July.

EYEWITNESS

R OCK WITH ME

hip

hip 2 b

Comp 1: MOBI MAGIC Sign up for HIP mobile internet and you could win one of three HIP2B2 MP3 players. How? SMS ‘mobi hip2b2’ to 32978 (cost is R1), or click to the Competitions section at <www.hip2b2.com>. Closing date: Monday, 21 July.

with

Get connected to the various HIP2B2 portals and win a host of prizes.

win

Interviews by nicklaus kruger and desireé kriel • Photographs: denver hendricks, Janie van der Spuy/FIVESTAR PR, gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos

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forum

It’s hip. It gives you a chance to be a star. And it promotes smart values. Make sure your school joins in the fun at the annual ARA Be Your Best Rock Challenge. • Bellville: 5 August. • Khayelitsha: 7 August. • Durban: 27 August. • Gauteng: 16 September. Go to <www.rockchallenge.co.za>.

is the number on the world’s most valuable football shirt. Worn by Pelé in the 1970 World Cup final, it was sold in London on 27 March 2002 for £157 750 (R2,34 million).

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cents in the USA is called a dime.

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English words are contained in the word ‘therein’ without rearranging any of its letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.

10

-sided shapes are called decagons.

10 CE

is the estimated date of birth of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples and the first pope in Catholic theology.

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billion skin flakes is the number shed by the average person in a day. Don’t worry too much, though – that’s just a little over 5 grams of skin.

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years, the In average person uses the toilet 25 000 times.

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iTHINK CHALLENGE

Three provinces, 42 schools and over 500 brains were given a workout at the first HIP2B2 iThink Challenge.

THE EVENT To celebrate National Science Week, HIP2B2 set up an amazing race of science, maths and general knowledge challenges via various channels: the HIP2B2 magazine, website and TV show.

THE PRIZES The final three teams in each province took home various HIP2B2 products, such as phone tones and Bass on Taps. Each member of the winning team received a laptop, sponsored by Game.

DURBAN’S DREAM TEAM ‘The iThink Challenge was designed to test quick-thinking skills and in Durban there were a few teams who knew just how. The Skype competition against the other provinces was awesome – the supporters cheered every time the Crawford team scored. The three MCs from St Mary’s did a great job in keeping the crowd entertained. The highlight of the event is a tough choice between the science experiment that created a lot of smoke, flame and excitement, and the science cupcakes. After the science project there was a lot of potassium permanganate and glycerine on the tables … but there was no sign of a cupcake crumb, so you decide.’ - By Brand Ambassador CoOrdinator Lizelle De Bruin

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PhotographS: waldo swiegers, sean laurenz, denver hendricks

THE CHALLENGES A spot-the-mistake challenge using the magazine. A tongue-twister. A tasting experiment. A website codebreaker. A live Skype general-knowledge challenge between the three competing provinces. (This was audited by online editor, Nina Liebenberg, who was live in studio on the HIP2B2 TV show.)

national science week

JOHANNESBURG’S MOJO ‘The highlight of the day was when the team from my school (Northcliff High) was the first to light the candle without using a match. I was elated. The lowlight was, without a doubt, the Skype competition. We all agreed to blame our performance on inferior internet reception. I had an embarrassing moment when I tripped over the wires on the floor, causing the projector screen to go blank. I moved away before anyone could see it had been me, but it still brought a pang to my heart to know I was the cause of a hall full of groans.’ - By HIP2B2 Brand Ambassador Ogo Nkando

CAPE TOWN’s WINNING SPARKS ‘The highlight of the day was the online Skype competition between the winning team, Herzlia Middle School, and the winning teams of the other provinces. It resulted in a lot of excitement and a close battle for the title. The laugh-out-loud moment occurred during the finals on Skype. The question was, “What does the T in SALT stand for?” After a short delay, another team answered, “Large.” It was great to see how everyone learnt just how much fun and excitement you can have with science.’ - By HIP2B2 Brand Ambassador Johannes Jonker

e winn

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rs

Spotlight on JESSICA and LOUIS We introduce you to two HIP2B2 Brand Ambassadors and tell you more about their projects.

Stirling High School, Grade 11 PROJECT I am researching body language

in dogs, humans and horses (they have other ways of communicating that I find interesting). AIM Body language is something most people overlook. With good communication being so scarce, we should learn as much as we can about it. The great thing about maths is the way everything falls into place, and the way it is involved in everything. My favourite part of science is blowing stuff up (of course) because it gives you a chance to take a closer look at how things work. Science can answer some of life’s toughest questions and it can – and has – helped us in so many ways. The coolest experiment I’ve ever done was when I blew up a pile of leaves at my grandparents’ farm. It made such a cool sound and the leaves that weren’t burnt went flying. I’ve always wanted to be a vet because it involves science and animals, my two favourite things. I am still looking for a new way to combine everything. I love horse riding because of the friendship you can forge with the horses. And the fun you can have with horses is endless. Tips for horse riding: relax, have fun and remember that you’re only doing half of the work. If you want to succeed in life, don’t do drugs. Stay in school. Watch the HIP2B² TV show and, most importantly, have fun! Because that is what life should be all about.

LOUIS VAN BILJON Pretoria Boys’ High School, Grade 11 PROJECT I’ll be putting my invention

Eyes for the Blind on the market. AIM It is an apparatus with five sensors

(left, right, top, bottom and front) that warn blind people about obstacles in their way. I still have to make it more accurate and fashionable. My favourite part of inventing is the tinkering. I love all the different choices you can make, and I love it when various solutions and improvements become clear. My favourite inventions of the 21st century are the PVC decoder for DSTV and 3G cellphones. I’d like to become a biomedical engineer. I love extreme sports. I first got into abseiling in primary school on a field trip. I really like the adrenaline rush. The most exciting river rafting trip I’ve taken was actually on a tube. We went to my friend’s farm, and the river was coming down strong. One of the girls fell off and got sucked in by the stream. I had to go in after her and saved her life. I was the hero of the day. Water polo and rugby are sports I enjoy. Both are very physical, but the fact that you wear Speedos in water polo makes me lean more toward rugby. My bucket list includes: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, bungee jumping at Bloukrans, skydiving, canoeing the Dusi, abseiling at the Knysna Heads and seeing the Great Wall of China.

For more on the HIP2B2 Brand Ambassadors, their project ideas and activities, check out <www.hip2b2.com>.

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By Nicklaus kruger ∙ PHOTOGRAPHS: denver hendricks

jessica west

smart technology smart, innovative or wacky

BUILT FOR SPEED Want to shave a few seconds off your swim time? The LZR Racer from Speedo helped set seven world records in a single week. This bodysuit is made from the world’s lightest, lowest-friction, woven swim fabric, with electrically bonded panels and silicone grippers at the ankle and knee. Despite controversy over whether the suit gives wearers an unfair advantage, FINA, the international swimming body, has approved it for use in this year’s summer Olympic Games. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Does hi-tech gear give athletes an unfair advantage? SMS ‘HIPCOM’ followed by your thoughts to 34798. Each SMS costs R2.

( a l m ost ) F l y L i k e A B ird Finally, a jet pack that can fly all over the world? Well, almost. Yves Rossy, or ‘FusionMan’, recently flew solo over the Swiss Alps for 10 minutes using a specially constructed wing. The FusionMan Wing is 2,5 metres long and uses four Jet-Cat P200 turbine* engines, which cost about R40 000 each. Click to <www.jet-man.com/prod/index_en.html>. *turbine (noun) a machine in which the kinetic energy caused by the movement of a liquid is converted to mechanical energy.

CELLS OF GREEN Phones that incorporate nanotechnologies? That’s the idea behind the Nokia Morph: to make a device out of nanoscale ‘grass’, a material that when magnified looks like blades of grass, yet feels like a solid surface. Each ‘blade’ can absorb solar energy and charge

the phone automatically. The phone could also be made out of a mesh of nanoscale fibres that would allow you to unfold it to make it smaller or stretch it to wrap around your arm. Nanosensors could ‘sniff’ the air around you to check pollution levels or pollen count.

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smart technology

City Like A Tree

Ultimate Weight Loss If you want to experience true weightlessness, the Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero G) is the way to go. G-Force One, a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, can accommodate 35 ‘flyers’. During the 90-minute flight, parabolic manoeuvres (controlled ascents and descents) are used to simulate Martian gravity (one-third that of Earth), lunar gravity and zero gravity. Those who have experienced zero-g with Zero G include Professor Stephen Hawking and Tom Hanks during the filming of Apollo 13. Click to <www.gozerog.com> to book now for the next flight. It could set you back as much as R30 000, so start saving.

Personalised PSP Are eye-catching gadgets your thing? Sony’s PSP – the ultimate handheld gaming system – will soon be available in metallic blue in America. It’s part of a special Madden NFL 09 bundle. In Japan, there’s a mint-green option and a limitededition matt bronze. We don’t know yet if we’ll get these colours in SA.

Low-Tech Moment Load-shedding lamp When the power goes out, light up with an oil lamp. Oil lamps have been around for thousands of years, and modern lamps are energy efficient. Most burn kerosene or paraffin, so be careful when handling them. HIP2B2 Brand Ambassador Ogo Nkado’s project is about a device that alerts you to dangerous carbon emission levels. Click to the Brand Ambassadors section on <www.hip2b2.com> for more.

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With property so hard to come by, the best way to build may be up, way up. Beijing is considering constructing the 3 km-high Ultima Tower, an ecofriendly city that uses design principles from termite mounds to reduce temperature fluctuations and from trees for transport. It will be powered by wind turbine energy and would be about 10 times as tall as the Eiffel tower. For more, click to <www.tdrinc.com/ultima.html>.

WHOSE IDEA WAS IT ANYWAY?

Who designs a tower the size of a mountain? A very unusual architect, of course: Dr Eugene Tsui, president of Tsui Design and Research. Taking his cue from nature, Dr Tsui uses working principles from animals, plants and ecosystems in his designs. Being sustainable and environmentally friendly are the main themes of Tsui Designs, and this type of ‘evolutionary architecture’ may be our best bet for future development.

By nicklaus Kruger and Mandy J Watson • Photographs: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos, zero g

Heat shield (7) ensures that the barrel remains cool.

Air is drawn through the vents in the back casing.

Air flowing over the heating element (2) is heated.

Electric motor drives fan (1). Hot air is blown out the barrel (4). Three-way switch (5) regulates motor speed: high, normal, off .

Cable restraint protects wires from excessive bending when in use.

the Inner workings

Hairdryers simply consist of a small motor-driven fan (1) and a heating element (2). The heat generated by your hairdryer accelerates the evaporation of water particles and dries the hair. When you switch on your hairdryer, the heating element, which is usually made from coiled nichrome wire, is heated up. This wire is wrapped around insulating mica boards (3) in a manner that allows air to flow through and over the heating element. Nichrome is an alloy consisting of nickel and chromium. It has two important properties that make it ideal for use as a heating element: it has a high melting point of 1 400˚C – so it can withstand very high temperatures when an electric current passes through it – and, unlike iron, it does not rust when heated. The heat radiated from the heating element is blown through and out the hairdryer’s barrel (4) by means of the motordriven fan. A three-way switch (5) usually regulates the motor’s speed. The faster the motor spins, the more air is drawn over and around the heating element. Some hairdryers have a cold-shot button (6) that disconnects the heating element from its power source. The heating element, which is located in the centre of the hairdryer’s barrel, is surrounded by a heat shield (7) constructed from heat-resistant material. Like a blanket, it insulates the heat and ensures that the hairdryer’s barrel remains cool at all times. For safety’s sake, all hairdryers have a built-in thermal fuse and/or a bimetallic switch (8). These devices regulate temperature and prevent overheating.

TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS: ANTHONY SAMBOER

deconstruction

we take it apart

the hairdryer

Bimetallic switch (8) trips if temperatures get too high. Insulating mica boards (3).

Fan.

Front grill is heat resistant and acts as aâ&#x20AC;Żprotective barrier.

Resistors and capacitors regulate electrical current. Cold-shot button (6) switches off heating element when depressed, resulting in cool air being blown out the barrel.

Power is fed from the wall plug into the hairdryer.

Did you know?

Hairdryers were invented around the end of the 19th century. Alexandre F Godefoy created the first model in his salon in France. The handheld, household hairdryer first appeared in 1920.

Our favourite bits The bimetallic switch, which ensures safe usage. It is constructed of two types of metal strips, each one expanding at a different rate when heated. Because of the different expansion rates, one metal strip gets longer than the other. This causes the longer strip to bend. The more heat, the bigger the bow. If it bends beyond a certain point it trips a switch, disconnecting the power to the hairdryer and so preventing a possible fire or meltdown.

Shock horror

Excessive or incorrect use of hairdryers can cause hair loss. Too much heat will dry up the natural moisture in your hair. Excessive heat can damage hair follicles, making it difficult for them to produce new hair. Always keep the hairdryer 25â&#x20AC;&#x2030;cm from your hair and point the stream of air down the hair shaft.

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attention

There is a number that binds flawless gymnasts, the digits of most humans, certain religions, hit music charts – and British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. A HISTORY OF 10

Our early ancestors quickly discovered their in-built counting system – their fingers and toes. It was probably this personal calculator that led to the decimal system we use today. With the dawn of trading and the development of a system of writing, it became necessary to develop symbols to represent these numbers. The numerals that we use today come originally from India. Here is an example of some of the earliest ones used in the decimal system. These numerals were then adopted into Arabic culture.

By Paul Carter

Through their use there, they spread on to Europe and developed into the symbols we use today. Brahmi numerals around 1st century CE 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

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10 FAMOUS 10s 1. A perfect score. 2. The top-selling hits on the music charts. 3. The number of human fingers. 4. The number of human toes. 5. The house number of the British Prime Minister (Downing Street). 6. Ten-pin bowling. 7. The Christian and Jewish Commandments. 8. X (10 in Roman numerals). 9. The number of wickets to be captured by the bowling side in cricket. 10. The number worn by legendary footballer, Pelé.

the power of 10 Ten is a force to be reckoned with. Check out <www.powersof10.com> and <www.richardphillips.org.uk/ number/Num10.htm>.

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0 1 of s e e r deg

9 Neon (Ne) has the atomic number 10,

separation

Take a journey from the number 10 to 10 Things I Hate About You.

Countdown

… and follow the coloured word prompts.

10 is a nice, round number. It’s the basis of the decimal numeral system (10 x 10 = 100, etcetera); it’s the number of fingers humans have spread over both hands; and, without the number 10, the Top 10 music charts just wouldn’t be the same. And – you’ll want to put this fact up in big, bright lights – 10 is the number (out of a total of 117 known elements) allocated on the Periodic Table for the chemical element neon.

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which means that it has 10 protons in the nucleus of its atom. Neon in its natural state is a colourless gas. So what then makes neon lights glow? Neon gas (99,5%) mixed with a small dash of argon gas (0,5%) in a glass vacuum tube glows red under an electric current. Although most signs have since been replaced by LEDs (light-emitting diodes), neon signs used to light up the night sky. The first neon sign was hung outside a Paris barber shop in 1912 by the French inventor Georges Claude; neon lamps had already been displayed at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago by Serbian-American genius Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla

’s long list of useful inventions includes radio, X-rays and wireless technology. Unfortunately, he didn’t patent some of his brilliant gizmos, so others took the credit for them and he died penniless. (It’s not all bad news for Tesla, though: in the 2006 Hollywood movie The Prestige, where he’s played by the musician/actor David Bowie, he’s the guy who invents the machine used by Hugh Jackman’s magician character.) The credit for the invention of the X-ray went to the German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen, who for his efforts won the first-ever Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901. Other early Nobel physics laureates included radiation pioneers Pierre and Marie Curie (1903) and argon discoverer Lord Rayleigh (1904), whose students included a bright spark named JJ Thomson. INVENTIVE THEFT

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When Nikola Tesla first came to America, he worked for Thomas Edison. For the dirty low-down on how he was conned, click to <www.flyingmoose.org/truthfic/tesla.htm>.

attention

The Manhattan Project

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was the top-secret operation that developed the first nuclear bombs (aka atomic bombs), dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of World War II. The idea of an atomic bomb was first written about by the sci-fi novelist HG Wells. But the fictional ‘atomic bombs’ he describes in his book The World Set Free don’t have anything to do with nuclear weaponry – they’re just normal bombs that never stop exploding. Sounds like The Manhatten Project scientists would have been better off listening to the advice of Tony Stark, the fictional weapons designer from the comic book and movie Iron Man.

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JJ Thomson – who was known in

polite circles as Sir Joseph John Thomson – invented the mass spectrometer, the machine you’ll see in TV forensics shows like CSI. (You know the story: Gil Grissom finds a weird, green, gooey substance at a crime scene and takes it back to the lab, where they use the mass spectrometer to figure out the slime’s chemical composition). But JJ Thomson’s biggest claim to fame was winning the Nobel Prize for Physics ‘in recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases’. In other words, he discovered isotopes and electrons.

By Mark van Dijk

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Electrons have a

negative charge. Protons have a positive charge. Neutrons have neither, so they’re electrically neutral. So? Electrons, along with atomic nuclei (which consist of protons and neutrons), make up atoms. And an atom is the smallest particle that comprises a chemical element. So that means that the electron is the basis for the whole periodic table of elements … and when Danish physicist Niels Bohr discovered this in 1913, he could soon understand atomic structure and quantum mechanics (that is, what those atoms do and how they do it). Bohr spent most of his free time discussing quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein, his friend and colleague on The Manhattan Project.

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Iron Man – unlike

Superman or Spider-Man – gets his superpowers from his suit. His weapons include repulsor rays fired from his gloves, arm-launched missiles and shoulder-launched ballistic weapons. The suit is powered by a small arc reactor, which generates three gigajoules of power. That’s about 3 000 000 000 watts, which makes the 60-watt light bulb in your bedside lamp seem extremely dim. The Iron Man suit is also equipped to fly, travelling faster than the speed of sound.

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attention

3

from being the name of an award-winning song by Coldplay – the measurement of the distance a sound wave travels in a set amount of time. In dry conditions at 20°C, the speed of sound is 343 metres/second … pretty fast, but not as fast as the speed of light. The speed of light in a vacuum (space) is exactly 299 792 458 metres/ second. So what’s a light year then? A light year is the distance light travels in a vacuum in one year, based on the Julian Calendar. 10 million light years away

View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Go to <http://micro.magnet.fsu. edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/>.

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William Shakespeare

didn’t ever use the Gregorian Calendar, however. It was only introduced in England in 1752, long after his death. One of Shakespeare’s earliest plays was a romantic comedy called The Taming of the Shrew (written between 1590 and 1594). In 1999 it was turned into a teen comedy movie starring Julia Styles and Heath Ledger called …

The Julian Calendar was introduced in

45 BCE by Julius Caesar, when astronomers realised their existing lunar calendars were one day short of a solar year. The lunar calendar had 13 months of 28 days each (364 days), but the Earth actually takes about 365¼ days to revolve around the Sun. The Julian Calendar used a cycle of three years of 365 days, plus a fourth year of 366 days, giving an average of 365,25 days. After a few centuries astronomers noticed the calendar was a few days out of sync with the seasons. A new calendar was established, the Gregorian Calendar. It made centennial years leap years only if they were divisible by 400 … so 1900 was not a leap year, but 2000 was. The Gregorian Calendar came into use in the Holy Roman Empire during the lifetime of the famous English bard, William Shakespeare.

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1

.. . 10 Thbinogust I Hate A . You f! of t s Bla

Start your own ‘Top 10’ discussion in the Forum section at <www.hip2b2.com>. Time to rant and rave.

PHOTOGRAPHS: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos, inpra

The speed of sound is – apart

Olympics

1. The Bird‘s Nest Beijing’s Olympic Stadium is an intricate design of interwoven steel, which makes it look like a bird’s nest. The nest was supported on temporary columns (‘twigs’) while the welders wove their 35 kilometres of magical metal. Once it was finished, they had to get rid of these stilts without weakening the steel lattice. Cranes were too rough and expensive. So the builders used sophisticated computer-controlled hydraulic systems to lift the whole 45 000 ton nest into the air while the stilts were removed and then to gently place it back onto its foundations. If you’re interested in engineering and how stuff is built, visit the Engineering Virtual Laboratory. Design a bridge, drill for oil or control a robotic arm using the same constraints that engineers do. Visit <www.jhu.edu/~virtlab/virtual-laboratory/>.

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BY JACQUI LUND • photographs: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos, corbis

*Including seven things you might not yet know about the Beijing Games.

sport science

2. China plays weatherman The 2008 Olympics is right in the middle of Beijing’s rainy season. Bizarrely, the wondrous new Bird’s Nest National Stadium has no roof, causing a worry that the Olympics may get rained out. So the Chinese are going to stop the rain using a farming method called cloud-seeding. They shoot silver iodide and rockets filled with dry ice into the clouds, moisture collects around the foreign particles, saturating the air, and it rains quickly. Days before the Olympics, the Chinese plan to bombard Beijing’s clouds with rockets and essentially ‘use up’ all their rain.

Make your own Cartesian ’diver‘ Fill a one-litre plastic bottle with water. Stick a small ball of modelling clay on the pointy end of a Bic pen lid (see below). Gently put the pen lid in the bottle, clay first. Tightly screw on the cap. Squeeze the bottle hard. The pen lid will sink. When you stop squeezing it will rise. Why? Squeezing compresses the air, allowing water into the cap so it sinks. When you let it go, the air expands again, allowing the cap to float again. (Adapted from <www.sciencebob.com>.)

Beijing’s aquatic centre, the Water Cube, has been designed using the Weaire-Phelan principle. This principle shows how space can be efficiently partitioned into cells of equal volume with the least surface area between them by using 12- and 14-sided shapes (dodecahedrons and tetradecahedrons). The idea originated from bubbles in foamy water, a perfect theme for an aquatic centre. The configuration is ideal for absorbing earthquakes, an essential feature in China. If you want to get creative and design your own stadium, or maybe just a house, download SketchUp, Google’s free 3-D modelling software at <http://sketchup.google.com/>.

3. The Olympics goes under Underwater World aquarium in Qingdao City hosted an Underwater Olympics as a buildup to the Olympics in Beijing, adapting sports to play underwater. The fencing competition had two fencers trying to balance on a wire cable, sword fighting. The first to fall off was the loser. In shooting, marksmen had to shoot at balloons with harpoons. There was also underwater cycling and gymnastics. All the players were trained scuba divers.

5. The cube route of water

4. The flame keeps burning The Olympic Torch that lights the Olympic Flame in Beijing must be the same fire that was lit at the start in Greece. That’s the rule. The Chinese Olympic Torch is designed to burn in 65 km/hour winds, heavy rain and -40˚C cold when it travels to Mount Everest. The designers use rocket-science concepts: combustion, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and aerodynamics. The fuel is propane, which doesn’t freeze and is environmentally friendly.

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sport science

According to the Beijing Daily newspaper, parents in China have been naming their kids after the Olympic mascots. Beijing 2008’s Olympic mascots are the Fuwa, the Five Friendlies. Meet Beibei the Fish, Jingjing the Panda, Huanhuan the Olympic Flame, Yingying the Tibetan Antelope and Nini the Swallow. In Chinese symbols, when you put their names together – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – they say ‘Welcome to Beijing’. Over 3 000 Chinese babies have also been named ‘Olympics’.

7. Where the poo goes What happens to horses’ poo at the Olympics? Humans have toilets but our equine friends do not. Horses have a very long digestive system, 22 m of small intestine and 10 m of large intestine. Each horse produces about 10 kg of poo per day. At the Sydney Olympics, there were 250 horses. At least 17 days’ worth of poo will need to be disposed of in Beijing. That’s 42 500 kg! They’ll have to dig a great big hole and bury it. Smelly.

8. The geometry of billiards Although recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the sport of billiards is not yet included in the Olympic Games. It is a fun game that involves lots of physics and geometry. For example, in a head-on or angular direct shot, Newton’s Conservation of Momentum theory requires

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that the white ball and the ball it hits always travel off at exactly a 90° angle from each other (see diagram). If you put backspin on the white ball, however, that spinning energy is transferred to the ball it hits, changing that 90° pattern. TAKE YOUR SHOT

Put the colour ball on a straight line away from the pocket. Measure a 90° angle perpendicular to the ball and pocket line. At the intersection, mark the ball with a dot, then see if you can make the white ball hit the dot. It should make the colour ball shoot directly into the pocket. Now see what happens if you can put on some backspin.

90 degrees

6. Olympic names

9. The keenest (and most stupid) Olympic athlete Felix Carbajal of Cuba lost all his Olympic money en route to the 1904 St Louis Games in a craps game (gambling) in New Orleans. He hitchhiked to St Louis, arriving in time for his marathon wearing heavy shoes, long pants and a longsleeved shirt. Having gone to all the trouble, he wasn’t going to miss his race, so he cut off his trousers and shirt and ran. Along the way, he was so hungry, he ate green apples out of an orchard, which made him vomit. Amazingly he still managed to finish fourth.

10. Lesser-known heroes Jesse Owens (1), the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in track and field, was black. 1 Hitler’s propaganda during the 1936 Berlin Games said black people were less than human. So his wins really got up Hitler’s nose. Ray Ewry (2) won 10 golds over four Olympics, more than any other person in Olympic history. But because 2 his events, standing high jump, standing long jump and standing triple jump, are no longer recognised, he’s been forgotten. Johnny Weismuller (3) didn’t lose 3 a swimming race in nine years, establishing many World Records. But he is only remembered because he played the first-ever Tarzan.

unusual units

extreme measures

1. The Mickey

2. The Dash

A mickey is the smallest movement of a mouse that your computer can detect. It is usually about 0,1 mm. 10 mickeys = 1 millimetres. That’s the width of a credit card, or how much your hair grows in three days.

6. The Scoville

A Scoville is a measurement of how hot (as in burny) a chilli pepper is. It is based on the number of times a chilli must be diluted in water before it is no longer hot. 10 Scovilles = not very hot at all! That’s one drop of Tabasco sauce mixed into 2 kg of rice. (Hot ones are 200 000 Scovilles.)

You know when somebody’s giving you a recipe and they say, ‘Add a dash of salt’? Turns out a dash is exactly 0,000616 litres – or 0,6 millilitres. 10 dashes = 6 millilitres. That’s a slightly heaped teaspoonful.

7. The Gillette

A Gillette is how powerful a laser is. When lasers were invented, scientists would see how many Gillette razor blades they could burn through. 10 Gillettes = a laser that can burn through about 7 mm of steel. The first laser was 2 Gillettes in strength.

8. The Jiffy

A jiffy is 0,01 seconds, based on how long it takes for a computer to remind itself what it is doing at any given time. 10 jiffies = 0,1 seconds. A photon (light particle) travels 29 000 km in a jiffy.

3. The Warhol

A warhol is a measure of fame. The pop artist Andy Warhol once said that everyone has 15 minutes of fame. A warhol is 15 minutes of fame. 10 warhols = 150 minutes of fame. That’s about as long as somebody in a really good TV ad is famous.

4. The Nibble

A nibble is four bits. Computers think in binary code, which is a series of 0s and 1s. These are called bits (a bit is either a 0 or a 1). Eight bits are called a byte. 10 nibbles = 40 bits. That’s approximately how much memory a computer uses to store one word in Word.

9. The Galactic Year

A galactic year is 250 million years. That’s how long it takes for our solar system to revolve around the centre of our spiral galaxy. 10 GY = 2,5 billion years. The Proterozoic Era began 2,5 billion years ago. That’s when the continents formed.

5. The Dol

A dol is a measure of pain. It comes from the Latin word for pain: dolor. In 1940, a professor studying the effects of pain-relieving medicines used dols to measure pain. 10 dols = the maximum amount of pain a person can endure. That’s like keeping your hand in a fire.

10. The Millihelen

This is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Helen of Troy was so beautiful that her face launched a thousand ships to war. A millihelen is a thousandth of that: only one ship. 10 millihelens = beauty to launch 10 ships. That’s as beautiful as Vanessa Anne Hudgens.

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BY Ami Kapilevich • photographs: gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos

You’ve heard of kilometres and litres, but have you heard of a mickey, a jiffy or the dol?

The power of 10

Imagine having to write out 1 000 000 000 000 000 more than once? Scientific notation has a simpler solution. base

10

x

exponent or index

WHY USE SCIENTIFIC/EXPONENTIAL NOTATION?

1 It’s easier to describe very large or very small numbers using a concise method of describing the number. 2 Using exponential notation reduces the risk of making errors in calculations. HOW DOES IT WORK?

The exponent refers to the number of zeros that follow the 1. So: 100 = 1, since the zero exponent means that no zeros follow the 1. The positive exponents have the following values: 101 = 10; 102 = 100; 103 = 1 000; etc. Negative exponents indicate negative powers of 10, expressed as fractions with 1 in the numerator and the power of 10 in the denominator. For example: 10-1 = ; 10-2 = ; etc. This allows us to express other small numbers this way. For example: = 0,0025 2,5 × 10–3 = 2,5 × ’ means we should move the (‘× decimal three places to the left.)

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When converting numbers to scientific notation, remember that there should only be ONE digit to the left of the decimal comma, so adjust the main number and the exponent accordingly if you end up with two- or three-digit whole numbers (i.e. 2,34 x 104 and not 23,4 x 105, although this is perfectly correct logically). TRY THIS AT HOME

What is the thickness of one sheet of paper? This is not easy to measure using only a ruler. What is the thickness of a single human hair that is 100 times thinner than the paper? Try this: • Count out 100 sheets, place them in a neat pile and measure its thickness. Then divide your answer by 100. • Divide this new answer by 100 and you will have the thickness of a human hair. Convert your calculations into scientific notation. Have fun!

IN THE REAL WORLD

1 Scientists use scientific notation to: • work with microscopic measurements; • calculate the atomic masses of atoms; • and work with large numbers like the distances between stars. 2 Statisticians use the notation when calculating information involving large sums of money, population figures and other economic comparisons. 3 To make calculations easier, we use scientific notation when working with large numbers: (1,5 × 108) ÷ (5 × 108). In decimal notation, this would be: (1,5 × 100 000 000) ÷ (5 × 100 000 000).

smart maths

The value of 10

WORK IT OUT

What can you get with …

Try your hand at these calculations. Calculate

SOLUTIONS

1 3 × 104 2 6 × 107 3 2 × 103 4 3 × 104 5 4,3 × 103 6 1,09 × 104 7 1,6 × 102 8 2,5 × 10–6 9 (a) 2 × 1011; (b) 6,645 × 10–27

Photographs: istock photos • the value of 10 by paul carter and ellen cameron

1 (1 × 103) × (3 × 101) = ___________________ 2 (3 × 104) × (2 × 103) = ___________________ 3 (8 × 106) ÷ (4 × 103) = ___________________ 4 (3,6 × 108) ÷ (1,2 × 104) =________________ 5 (4 × 103) + (3 × 102) = ___________________ 6 (9 × 102) + (1 × 104) = ___________________ 7 (2 × 102) – (4 × 101) = ___________________ 8 (3 × 10–6) – (5 × 10–7) = __________________ 9 Now try your hand at expressing the numbers (a) 200 000 000 000 and (b) 0,000000000000000000000000006645 in scientific notation!

today

10 YEARS AGO

10c • 16 seconds of talk time (land line, peak hours) • approximately five matches • 4 ml of bottled lemon juice

10c • 45 seconds of talk time (land line, peak hours) • approximately 25 matches • 8,5 ml bottled lemon juice

R10 • 1 kiddies’ milkshake • 1 litre of petrol • a Sunday newspaper • a muffin • a little more than one US dollar

R10 • 1 chicken-mayo toasted sandwich • 4 litres of petrol • a glossy monthly magazine • a waffle (with ice cream) • 1 pound sterling

R10 000 • a Celestron reflecting telescope • a Vuka 125 cc scooter • a student’s return ticket to America • the removal of all four wisdom teeth in hospital • 8 300 kg of cement • 40 g of gold

R10 000 • 3 fabric-covered two-seater couches • return tickets to London for you and two friends • a year at university • 77 600 kg of cement • 160 g of gold

R10 million • 56 Toyota Corollas (1.6 litre, 2008 model, new) • 10 average houses, with about R400 000 to spare

R10 million • 120 brand-new Toyota Corollas • 31 average houses, with R50 000 to spare

R10 billion • launch a satellite into space • four Boeing 747-8 jumbo jets • pay off less than 0,2 % of SA’s external debt

R10 billion • the Thukela Water Project (Gauteng water supply scheme involving two dams and a 120 km pipeline from KZN) – twice over! • pay off 4,8 % of the country’s external debt at the time

CLOVER FACT

For R10, you can get two 175 g tubs of Clover Danone NutriDay yoghurt. And you’ll still have a few cents change. Clover competition question: who industrialised the production of yoghurt? See our pull-out centrefold for answer and entry details.

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QUICKEN YOUR EYES Try this daily drill to improve your reading speed. First, you need a book that’s easy to read. Pick a few consecutive pages and count the words on each page. Try to find pages with more or less the same number of words. Time yourself and read for 10 minutes. When the time is up, mark where you stopped reading. Count the number of pages you read and round off to a whole number and a fraction to the nearest quarter. Use the following formula to calculate your reading speed: Words per minute

=

Total pages read x WP (words per page) Time (10 minutes)

Once you know your reading speed, practise this drill for 10 minutes every day using the same pages. Try to get further every day and to increase the number of words you read per minute.

EGG-CELLENT Fancy yourself a speed freak? Try to beat Ashrita Furman’s world record for completing a one-mile (1,609 km) egg-andspoon race – with the spoon held in his mouth. His record is 9 minutes 29 seconds.

BELIEVE YOU CAN FLY Skydiving is not for the faint-hearted. If you want to skip the hours of training, go for a tandem skydive. You’ll be attached to an instructor who will jump out of an aeroplane with you at an altitude of 10 000 feet (3 048 metres). You’ll free fall for about 40 seconds before your instructor pulls the ripcord to release the parachute and you descend to land. The entire experience, from take-off to landing the parachute, lasts an average of 10 minutes, depending on weather conditions.

SAVE A LIFE If you’re over 16, weigh more than 50 kg and are in good health, you can donate blood. You’ll need about 30 minutes to fill out forms, complete an interview, and have your blood pressure, pulse and iron level checked. The actual blood donation lasts 6 to 10 minutes. That’s all it takes for you to give 500 ml of your blood, which could save someone’s life. You may only donate blood every 56 days.

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try this at home

EXIT THE ATMOSPHERE Imagine being strapped into a space shuttle on the NASA launch pad at Cape Canaveral. You feel the G-forces pushing you into your seat during lift-off, the shuttle hurtles into the atmosphere at 28 968 km/h – this is nine times the speed of the average rifle bullet – and 10 minutes later you’re in an eggshaped Low Earth Orbit checking out the entire continent of Africa from your window. This brings new meaning to the phrase, ‘I’ll be there in 10 minutes.’ Click to <www.af.mil/library/podcast.asp> to receive the Air Force feed in your podcasting application.

BECOME THE NEXT STEVEN SPIELBERG Robert Rodriguez is known in Hollywood as ‘the one-man film crew’. He believes in finding creative and inexpensive solutions to problems he encounters while filming one of his blockbuster films. He also believes you need only 10 minutes to learn everything there is to know about making movies. Click to <www.exposure.co.uk/makers/minute.html> and do his 10-minute film school. We’ll see you on the silver screen.

Got 10 minutes to spare? You’ll be amazed at what you could do in only 600 seconds.

GAME ON The current Guinness World Record for the fastest completion of Super Mario World is 10 minutes 54 seconds. Scott Kessler set the record on 9 July 2004 on a Nintendo console. Challenge yourself to break the record and end up in the Gaming Edition of the famed book. By Erin Classen • gallo/gettyimages.com, istock photos

SNACK ATTACK After completing all these challenges, you’ll need a sweet treat. Here’s a recipe for Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treats that takes 10 minutes to make. Ingredients 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 300 g marshmallows 6 cups Rice Krispies 1 Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. 2 Add Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. Stir until well coated. 3 Using a buttered spatula, press mixture evenly into a 5 cm-deep square or rectangular dish coated with cooking spray or lined with wax paper. Cut into 5 cm squares when cool. MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat butter or margarine and marshmallows on high for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Then follow steps 2 and 3 above.

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Movers and Shakers

From overcoming severe disabilities to revolutionising the world of science and invention, these youthful achievers have made a global difference in the last 10 years. 2. LARRY PAGE AND SERGEY BRIN

Claim to fame Founders of Google, the world’s biggest search engine. Want to know more? Well, Google it! Nett worth R4 200 billion in 2007. FAST FACT

Google is named after ‘googol’, the term for the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

1. OSCAR PISTORIUS

Claim to fame South African sprinter, Paralympics champion and world-record holder in 100 m, 200 m and 400 m amputee races. Voted as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2008. Secret weapon With the aid of hi-tech carbon-fibre legs, he is as fast as the best able-bodied runners in the world. Watch him in action at the Beijing Games. BLADERUNNER

Oscar is nicknamed The Bladerunner because of his carbon-fibre blades. Known as Cheetahs, they cost nearly R300 000 a pair.

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3. DEE CAFFARI

Claim to fame The first woman to circumnavigate the world ‘the wrong way’, against prevailing winds and currents, on her own, nonstop. One of a kind It took her six months to complete her 46 600 km voyage. She is only the fifth person in the world to have done this. FAR FROM HOME

At one point in her circumnavigation, the nearest people to Dee were astronauts on the International Space Station.

By Michelle Minnaar • photographs: gallo/gettyimages.com

4. MARK SHUTTLEWORTH

Claim to fame The first African in space and one of the greatest champions of open-source software. Superboss Founder of Thawte, the world’s fastest growing internet certificate authority, and Here Be Dragons to support local entrepreneurs on the global market. Local hero Pioneer of HIP2B2 and fearless promoter of the STEM (Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Maths) values among youth.

achievers 5. KENDALL CIESEMIER

Claim to fame Founder of Kids Caring 4 Kids, an organisation supporting Aids orphans. Defining moment At 15, Kendall has already undergone two liver transplants. She used her own money to ‘adopt’ an Aids orphan, and while recovering in hospital she asked for donations for Aids orphans instead of gifts for herself. Big contribution To date her organisation has raised R4 760 000 for Aids orphans.

7. XIAOWEI ZHUANG

Claim to fame Biophysicist who uses photography techniques to study the influenza virus. She had her PhD by the time she was 24. Her modus operandi Using lasers and microscopes decked out with a pair of colour-specific digital cameras, she is able to film a virus in action in a single cell. These movies help scientists understand better how viruses work.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What role can South African teens play in the battle against HIV and Aids? SMS ‘HIPCOM’ followed by your thoughts to 34978. Each SMS costs R2.

9. NONHLANLA MOKOENA

Claim to fame One of only three female nuclear physicists in southern Africa. Rags to riches Raised in poor circumstances, she left school at the age of 15 but later resumed her studies. In order to pay her tuition fees, she once worked as a domestic worker. Today she has a BSc degree with honours and works at Koeberg nuclear reactor. 10. TOBIAS PATTERSON JONES

8. AKRIT JASWAL

6. STEVE CHEN, CHAD HURLEY AND JAWED KARIM

Claim to fame Founders of YouTube.com, which has undoubtedly impacted our lives. Defining moment Time magazine’s invention of the year for 2006. Nett worth YouTube was worth  R11,5 billion in 2006. clover FACT

A glass of milk can turn a dull phone call into a lot of fun. For a milky twist on the famous ‘Whatzaaaap?’ ad click to <http:// youtube.com/watch?v=b9ctjJ65o3Y>.

Claim to fame ‘India’s smartest boy’. He has an IQ of 146 and began to read Shakespeare at the age of four. Defining moment In 2000, he performed his first medical procedure at his family home. He was seven. With no formal medical training, he managed to free the fingers of a girl whose hands had closed into a fist after being burnt in a fire. Next challenge At present, he is doing his BSc in medicine at university. Do note that he is only 12 years old. brilliant brains

Check out famous brains at <www.kidsiq-tests.com/famous-people.html>.

Claim to fame Sixteen-year-old inventor of a device that allows sufferers of repetitive strain injury (RSI)* to use a computer mouse. How he did it Tobias devised a glove to attach to a mouse-like device that allows the hand to move through the air while sensors send messages to the computer. This cuts down on the movements causing problems and can assist computer users with motor-coordination difficulties. *Repetitive strain injury is caused by

overuse of a tool such as a computer mouse. Over time it affects muscles and tendons in the hands, arms and upper back. YOUNG ACHIEVERS ALERT

Do you know of any extraordinary young individuals? Write to HIP2B2, PO Box 550, Green Point 8051, email us at <hip2b2@newmediapub.co.za> or SMS 34978. Each SMS costs R2.

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sci diy

You’ll need

• red marker pen • one bottle of mineral oil (or baby oil) • green and blue food colouring • one bottle of 70% concentrated isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), available from pharmacies • one bottle of 90% concentrated isopropanol, available from pharmacies • tin opener • clean, dry coffee can (or any can large enough to hold a light bulb) • knife • light bulb (at least 40W) • flat-bottomed light-bulb base with mains connector • plastic funnel • glass bottle (with a cap)

Light up your life Funk up your room with a lava lamp.

DEATH BY LAVA LAMP

In 2004 a man in Kent died after a lava-lamp-related explosion. He was heating a lava lamp on a stove and it exploded violently, sending glass shards into his chest. So just remember, stoves and lava lamps are not a good combination.

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BEAUTY IN A BOTTLE Steps 3 and 4

The mineral oil and the isopropyl have different densities and are immiscible (neither dissolves in the other, so they don’t mix). That’s why when the lamp is cold you’ll see separate liquid layers. When the light is switched on, it illuminates the display and heats the liquids in the bottle. Heat makes the molecules spread apart, so the compound becomes less dense and begins to rise. As the liquid moves away from the bulb, it cools and begins to sink.

RESEARCH and EXPERIMENT CONDUCTED BY NICKLAUS KRUGER • PHOTOGRAPHS: DENVER HENDRICKS, istock photos

What to do

NB Adult supervision required 1 Unscrew the inky felt tube from the marker pen and drop it into the mineral or baby oil. Leave it in until the oil changes colour. 2 Add six drops of green food colouring to the 70% isopropanol and six drops of blue food colouring to the 90% isopropanol. 3 Use the tin opener or a knife to cut a series of v-shaped openings around the bottom of the can. 4 Use the knife to cut a round hole in the centre of the bottom of the can (as shown). 5 Attach the light bulb to the light-bulb base. Place the base on a flat surface and then cover the base and bulb with the can. 6 Using the funnel, pour some of the blue-tinted 90% isopropanol into the empty glass bottle. 7 Add some of the mineral oil and watch it sink. 8 Pour in some of the green-tinted 70% isopropanol. 9 Give the bottle a few good swirls. 10 Screw the cap onto the bottle, place the bottle on top of the inverted can and turn on the light.

Reaching new frontiers Sasol is more than a fuel company. Whether it’s in the field of chemicals, fuels or a growing interest in gas, Sasol comprises a family of businesses that use science and technology to create magic and improve lives. Did you know that this innovative company was established in 1950 by the South African government to manufacture fuels and chemicals from indigenous raw materials? Today it is an established market leader in the energy industry.

Choose a great career in science ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

Are you excited about electricity and electronics? Electrical engineers usually deal with large-scale electrical systems such as power transmission and motor control, but they are also geniuses with circuit boards and microchips. They are employed in a variety of industries, from telecommunications to television design and movie-industry special effects. This career will suit you if you have a lot of patience, a good understanding of mathematics and fair technical abilities. A love of tinkering won’t hurt, either. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO STUDY THIS?

You’ll need to write an admission exam to study electrical engineering at a tertiary institution, and you will need to score at least a 4 in Mathematics and also in Physical Sciences to register in 2009. Several universities offer four-year BSc (Eng) degrees in electrical engineering. If you register at a technical institution, a minimum of three years will be needed to complete your diploma, with a fourth year to earn a Masters in Technology.

JOBS FOR AFRICA Exploration, mining, science, technology and business development are all the interests of this global company. Are mathematics and science your favourite subjects? The Sasol bursary scheme is especially aimed at learners with a passion for these disciplines. ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS Sasol offers exceptional opportunities to talented people, so your curiosity and enthusiasm can help you achieve your dreams and reach new frontiers. BRILLIANT BURSARIES

Sasol offers various bursaries for full-time university studies in BSc Engineering, BSc and BCom. Visit <www.sasolbursaries.com> or call 0860 106 235 to find out more.

tutorial

HIP2B² hits the mobile internet. Online editor, Nina Liebenberg, walks us through getting connected. HIP2B²’s mobizine is now available on the mobile internet. If you have a WAP-enabled phone you’re ready to get connected. Will it work on my phone?

The mobi site will work on most recent mobile phones that have a colour screen, access to the mobile internet and a browser. The service is ideal for WAP 2.0 handsets with a minimum screen width of 176 pixels. No more mobizine?

Our new mobi site gives you all the great content you’re used to from mobizines. The only difference: no software downloads or updates required. What makes it hip?

The site has been designed to load quickly. No subscription cost applies, so you only pay for the amount of content you view. It’s full of weird and wacky science and technology trivia, information on new inventions and interesting careers, and downloadable games and music – the ideal way to pass the time when stuck in the car or waiting for a lift home.

GET CONNECTED STEP 1

SMS ‘mobi hip2b2’ to 32978 to receive a link to your phone. A once-off cost of R1 applies and thereafter you pay less than 4 cents per page. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go …

Nasty bites DANGER RATING Nothing a trip to the pharmacy won’t cure. Painful, but you’ll live. Uh-oh, doctor here we come. Get help – now! You’re as good as gone.

BLOODSUCKING TICK • When a tick bites you, you don’t feel a thing. But inside a battle rages between your immune system, the tick’s bloodsucking mechanism and tick-borne bacteria. • When the bite punctures a blood vessel, your body launches a bloodclotting reaction to plug the hole. • Immune cells are sent to the bite site, which becomes a red, inflamed spot around a black centre after a few days. • You start feeling flu-ish: fever, nausea and muscle pain should motivate a trip to the doctor. • A course of antibiotics and you’ll soon recover. DID YOU KNOW?

A gnathodynamometer is a device to measure bite pressure.

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MAD DOG • As a rabid dog sinks its teeth into your flesh, it slobbers saliva over the wound. Rabies viruses get a free ride into your blood. • Left untreated, the viruses multiply in your cells for anything between one and three months. • Gazillions of these creepies attack your nerves and steadily encroach on your brain. The battle between virus and immune cells leaves many nerve cell casualties. As the virus reaches your brain, you start going potty. • You swing between bouts of unconsciousness and terrible aggression; you get fearful spasms at the sight of water; you drool excessively. • A few days after these symptoms start, you slip into a coma and die. • Treatment consists of active immunisation with a vaccine soon after you’ve been bitten; if not treated, rabies is invariably fatal once it reaches the central nervous system.

KOMODO DRAGON • This creature clenches its jaw around your leg. With serrated teeth it tugs at your flesh and rips off large chunks. • You bleed a lot. ‘Komodo dragons have a keen sense of smell,’ says Chris de Beer, curator of the reptile park at the Pretoria Zoo. ‘And the smell of blood tells other dragons in the area that food’s ready.’ • While it bites, the dragon smothers the wound in bacteriainfected saliva. The bacterial infection overwhelms your body’s natural defence mechanisms and, if left untreated, sepsis causes the flesh to rot. • Severe blood poisoning follows. • Chance of recovery is very good if you are treated with strong antibiotics soon after the attack. BUT IS IT DEADLY?

An eight-legged thing lurking in the corner? See whether it is dangerous at <www.biodiversityexplorer.org>.

By Linda Pretorius • photographs: iSTOCK PHOTOS

Being bitten is painful – and sometimes deadly.

body science

VIOLIN SPIDER • You don’t feel the bite. Two to eight hours after being bitten, the site becomes really sore and a sharp burn persists. • Your body sends immune cells to the bite site, which becomes swollen and red. • After a day or two cytotoxic* venom causes bleeding at the site and a blackish wound forms. • A few days later, the swelling goes down, but the venom keeps on destroying skin cells. Blood clots and platelets clump, and blood vessels in the surrounding tissue are damaged. • This becomes an oozing wound with a sunken centre that persists for weeks. • Backed by antibiotics and antiseptic treatment, your body can heal the wound.

HUMAN BITES • Believe it or not, sometimes people bite people. If the biter really puts effort into it, his jaw can close at about 500 N around your flesh – that’s like a bag of cement falling from 1 metre above you. • Bacteria on your skin and in saliva can cause serious infections, most commonly tetanus (lockjaw), a disease that causes prolonged muscle spasms and convulsions. • Treatment includes a course of antibiotics and sometimes even stitches. A recent study showed that men are 12 times more likely than women to bite and get bitten by other men. Alcohol is often a contributing factor. Try this at home

MAKE YOUR OWN INSECT REPELLENT • 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil • 5 drops cedar essential oil • 4 drops lavender essential oil • 3 drops tea tree essential oil • 3 drops citronella essential oil • 3 drops lemon thyme essential oil • 2 drops peppermint essential oil • 4 tablespoons sweet almond oil Mix together and store in a clearly marked, dark glass bottle. Use only on skin; do not swallow or get in your eyes. Fast fact

The Australian inland taipan is the most venomous terrestrial snake. Venom in a single bite is enough to kill 100 humans. Luckily it’s a very shy snake, so bites are extremely rare.

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intelligent entertainment

THE PUBLIC HOLIDAY 9 August is National Women’s Day so show some love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the ladies in your life. THE EXPO The regional leg of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists kicks off on 18 July. Click to <www.exposcience.co.za> for info. THE WORKOUT The World Rope Skipping Championships comes to Cape Town from 23 to 28 July. It hooks up gymnastics, break dancing and skipping. Visit <www.ropeskipping.co.za> or call Muriel on 021 671 4818 for further information. THE EVENTS For football fans, the One Nation Cup international tournament will be hosted in Durban from 7 to 11 July. Go to <www.durban.gov.za>. • RoboCup 2008, the 12th international robotics competition, takes place from 14 to 20 July in China. Visit <www.robocup.org> or <www.ibots.uct.ac.za>. • The Durban International Film Festival takes place from 23 July to 3 August. There are seminars and workshops with filmmakers. Click to <www.cca.ukzn. ac.za> or call 031 260 2506. • Sasol Techno X is back from 11 to 15 August at Boiketlong in Sasolburg and explores what’s hot in science and technology. HIP2B2 Brand Ambassadors Louis van Biljon and Simone Abramson will present their inventions, too. Go to <www.sasoltechnox.co.za> for more information. THE shows What if you could win R10 million and all you had to do was answer five questions? If you’re interested, then Power of 10 is the game show for you. It starts 3 August on MNet. • When a computer geek inadvertently downloads government secrets directly into his brain, his friend-turned-CIA agent recruits him as a secret agent. Chuck starts 4 July on MNet.

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by erin classen • PHOTOgraph: www.cca.ukzn.ac.za

press

play

40

Jody Williams speaks about life as an Idol – and what she and judge Randall have in common.

By Nikki Benatar • PHOTOGRAPHS: DENVER HENDRICKS, sony bmg

music

JUST PLAIN JODY Idols has changed my life because of the publicity and people watching my every move. When I’m singing, I’m not shy, I’m in my element, but off stage, I’m very shy and I just can’t help it. I was in the middle of my matric year when I entered Idols. I’m completing matric over two years. I’m doing English, Afrikaans, Mathematics and Life Orientation this year, and Business Economics, Economics and Tourism next year. I’d like to learn to play the piano, and I’d like to learn to dance – anything that will keep me fit, so I don’t run out of breath on stage. My dream collaboration would be with a big-name rapper because I know that would sell records – Timbaland, T-Pain or Chris Brown. The smartest person in the world is the person who invented cell phones. I try to eat as much as I can as I need to pick up weight, but I can’t seem to. Randall Abrahams is not as mean as he appears – he’s actually really shy. Performing with Celine Dion was nervewracking but amazing; she’s my pop idol. My first album has lots of different styles and songs. It includes some unexpected songs, and is a mix of upbeat and mellow; some have a churchy vibe, and there are some ballads. I’d love to write my own songs but that’s not an option right now – my record company handles that side of things. My favourite songs are the first single ‘Kiss of Life’ and a beautiful ballad called ‘Who Will I Run To?’ FAST FACTS

Birthday? 17 May. Favourite food? Pasta with a creamy baconand-cheese sauce. Favourite judge on Idols? Gareth Cliff because if he needed to say something not-so-nice to you, he’d say it in a nice way. First record bought? Celine Dion. What’s your motto? Take each day as it comes.

Click to <www.youtube.com> and search for ‘Ken Lee’, the Bulgarian Music Idol’s audition that changed the way we think about song lyrics. AN IDOL WORLD

• When Jody won Idols she was 17, making her the youngest-ever winner of South African Idols. Heinz Winkler, the winner of Idols Season 1, was 23; Anke Pietrangeli (Season 2’s winner) was 21; Karin Kortje (season 3’s winner) was 26. • Jordin Sparks (far right), American Idol’s season-6 winner, was also 17 when she took the title, making her the youngest winner in American Idol’s history. • Though Anke and Karin have disappeared into relative obscurity, Heinz has recorded three albums, has been nominated for two SAMAs, was placed fourth in the World Idols competition in 2003, and performed the theme song for the Disney movie Treasure Planet. IDOL WORSHIP

Hannah Montana’s Miley Cyrus (15) recently caused a stir with her semi-nude pics from a Vanity Fair shoot. Should teen idols be responsible role models? What do you expect from your teen idol? SMS HIPCOM followed by your comments to 34978. Each SMS costs R2.

There are other artists who, like Jody, realise the value of formal education. • AVRIL LAVIGNE (while still at school) won a chance to sing with Shania Twain. But only after finishing high school did she release ‘Complicated’. • After completing her General Certificate for Secondary Education, KATIE MELUA completed a BTEC in music at the Brit School, an institution to prepare students for a life in show business. Shortly after graduation, she released her first album. • ALICIA KEYS began playing music at seven, and wrote her first song at 14. At 16 she graduated as valedictorian from the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, and won a scholarship to Columbia University. • South African electronic duo GOLDFISH, Dominic Peters and David Poole (below), spent years playing around with instruments at high school. They began performing while studying jazz at UCT.

movies

Silly Movie Physics Part 1

Physics operates on rules. From explosions to kung fu to impossible car jumps, Hollywood’s theatrical displays have flaws revealed by simple high-school physics.

flaw 1: humans can outrun an explosion

Action-movie heroes often have to run and dive for cover from explosions (Die Hard, Rambo, etcetera). Oh, right! Whether they can is a simple matter of comparative velocities and how much of a headstart the hero has. Professional athletes can perhaps run at 10 metres/second. An explosion travelling at the speed of sound – and many travel faster, at least initially – has a velocity of 340 metres/second. No way, José Even if the hero is 300 metres away from the source of the explosion, he’ll have less than a second to find cover. And the speeding fireball we see in the movies isn’t even the biggest of his worries. There’s also the shock wave, though that moves at or a little faster than the speed of sound. More importantly, there’s the electromagnetic pulse, including all kinds of electromagnetic radiation, especially infrared radiation from heat-releasing bombs. This pulse travels at the speed of light or about 299 000 000 metres/ second. That’s a bit faster than even Arnie’s legs will take him. SOUND AND FURY

For more on the speed of sound and light, see page 18.

42

Yasantwa (Emelia Burns) outruns an explosion in The Condemned? You’ve got to be kidding.

flaw 3: cigarettes can cause a big bang

Picture the scene: the hero’s just about to meet his end at the hands of the villain when he notices a trail of petrol leading to a leaking tanker. With a quip, he tosses his lit cigarette into the trail, which ignites the fuel, causing a giant explosion. BOOM! But it really doesn’t work that way. Do not try this in real life. A bus cannot fly – it will become toast.

By Nicklaus Kruger • photographs: © 2007 warner bros and inpra

flaw 2: vehicles can fly

Cars in movies seem designed to defy gravity, lifting off from the ground with the greatest of ease in any high-speed chase, like any time Mel Gibson is driving in Lethal Weapon. The best example of a gravity-defying jump comes from Speed, where a bomb on a bus will detonate if the bus moves at less than 50 miles/hour (about 80,5 km/h). At one point, Keanu Reeves has to guide the bus over an unfinished bridge with a 15 metre gap in the middle. The bus successfully makes the jump, landing easily on the other side.

The burning truth Cigarettes are designed to smoulder, not burst into flame, even at temperatures of over 500oC. The explosive range for petrol is 1,4% to 7,6% gasoline vapour (it’s the vapour that actually ignites) in air, and

the activation energy needed is about 536oC. A 540oC cigarette has enough energy to light a suitable concentration of petrol, but it doesn’t transfer the heat fast enough. Instead, the cigarette starts to warm the petrol, so more of it evaporates, and the concentrations shift enough that it just won’t ignite. play it SAFE

Matches and lighters do provide just the right rate of heat transfer, so don’t use them around petrol. To read about more examples of really bad movie physics, visit <www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/>.

A smouldering cigarette will not cause petrol to burst into flames – but using a lighter after dosing yourself in petrol certainly will. Ask the male models from Zoolander.

Why this is impossible Without a ramp of some kind, motor vehicles simply won’t move up into the air – they’re designed to stay on the road. No matter how fast it was moving, the bus still would have dropped a bit as a result of gravity. At best, even if the bus had been moving at about 120 km/h, inertia would have carried it straight into the other side, causing it to stop suddenly and explode. GETTING UP TO SPEED

For a clip explaining why the Speed bus jump could not happen as shown, click to <http://youtube.com/watch?v=9tEAMLOupKs>.

NEXT ISSUE Spaceships, lethal lasers and protective shields – where has all the sci in sci-fi gone?

45 43

SA Xbox Webmaster Werner Joubert tells us about gaming with Jack Black. My Xbox 360 gamer score is 73 879. I’m pretty highly ranked, actually. Xbox Live is the online forum for Xbox 360. In my opinion, without Xbox Live, some games are just not worth getting. You can get game demos, game videos, movies, music and Xbox 360 themes on the Xbox Live marketplace, and it allows you to play on-line with other players.

As Webmaster of the Xbox 360 website, I promote Xbox 360 gaming, especially Xbox Live. I try to give local gamers a meeting place, because it is difficult for us to play on Xbox Live (it is not supported in SA). I ensure the website is updated, upgrading and adding modules as needed. I also run the Xbox 360 South African League (via <www.agasa.co.za>), allowing gamers to compete on a more professional level. Last year we awarded SA colours to gamers who won the Xbox 360 Nationals events (and yes, I was one of the lucky guys to get colours for Project Gotham Racing 3).

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I’ve had awesome moments on Xbox Live. Meeting global celebs is probably the most exciting. Like playing PGR 3 with Jack Black, or Gears of War against Linkin Park’s DJ. I’ve played against Jude Law, Jodie Kidd and Xzibit. I’ve also played against developers and the best Xbox 360 gamers in the world. Racing against the World Cyber Games’ champion in PGR 4 and beating him … now that’s a highlight! All the PS3 has that Xbox doesn’t is Blu-ray – for now, as the Xbox 360 will be getting Blu-ray soon, hopefully. I’ve compared the two platforms, with the same game running on both, and I stick to my guns and say Xbox 360 looks better. Crisper, in fact. For more information, click to <www.xbox-360.co.za>.

Werner’s top three games

• Project Gotham Racing 4: I’ve always been a racing game fanatic and this is an awesome game with great visuals. • Forza 2: yet another neat-looking racing game, with cool extras like car physics and car tuning, and it’s a simulator-style game, so it’s more intense. • Guitar Hero 2 and 3: I didn’t really like these that much initially because I struggled, but the more you play the more you get hooked. You feel like a rock star when you get all the notes 100% right. MOST POPULAR SA XBOX GAMES

1 Call Of Duty 4 2 Gears of War 3 Halo 3 STARTING OUT? WERNER SUGGESTS ...

Racing games Project Gotham Racing 4 and Forza 2. Sports FIFA 08 and PES08. Others Mass Effect, Oblivion (old but classic) and GTA IV, of course.

By nicklaus Kruger

opinion: GAMES

OPINION: BOOKS

The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson LISA KRIEL

RAEESA SHEIK

Grade 11, Effingham Secondary School, Durban

When I read the title, I thought it would be tremendously boring but, gosh, was I wrong! I certainly learnt things I didn’t know but thought I did. The weirdest thing I learnt from the book has to be that getting eight hours of sleep a night is actually dangerous. Adults who sleep for eight hours a night die younger than those who sleep for six to seven hours a night. My favourite fact from the book is that water is actually a light shade of blue, not colourless. Apparently, when you look into a deep hole in the snow, you can notice that the colour is slightly blue (it’s tough luck that it doesn’t snow in Durban – I would definitely have wanted to test this). People tend to make false assumptions and believe urban myths. The book tries to rectify common misconceptions, and it also explains the errors and why people believe them to be true. I do feel a little more knowledgeable after reading this. It’s an eye-opener and it makes you question everything else you know or, at least, think you do. I am definitely going to double-check all information from now on to make sure it is correct. Although the facts are mostly European, I think that it is still appropriate for South Africans to read. General knowledge is universal and with this book you can whip out all kinds of interesting facts and impress everyone.

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We are all incredibly ignorant. We really don’t know all that much, and much of what we think we know is wrong. That’s the idea behind The Book of General Ignorance (London: Faber and Faber 2006). This book takes a look at a lot of the things we consider general knowledge, and tears them apart with wit and humour. It’s the fun way to get educated and maybe one day prove to the world that you’re not the weakest link.

The book was fascinating. I’ll definitely be searching for more interesting things the next time I go onto Google to improve my knowledge. The book’s message is that we shouldn’t believe everything we hear without doing that little bit of extra research – it proves how wrong we can be about the things we thought we knew. The weirdest thing I learnt from this book is that a chicken can live without its head for about two years. At least, one chicken managed to. My favourite fact from the book is that chameleons don’t change colour to match their background, but actually change colour as a result of their emotional state. One thing I couldn’t believe was that the most dangerous animal that has ever lived is a female mosquito. We tend to underestimate the effect malaria has on people. Quite a few of the topics were very European, but it’s always useful to have background information on other countries if you decide to visit them. To lower the level of general ignorance in South Africa, we should improve our general knowledge and train people. Learning should be made more interesting so more people would want to take part in it.

Would you like 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 name, contact details, address, school and grade.

Reveiw COMPILED By nicklaus kruger • books supplied by book promotions

Grade 10, Paarl Gymnasium High, Paarl

brain busters TEN OF T HE BEST

GRIDLOCKED

RANDS AND SENSE

Michael, Zinzi and Penny each have a different amount of money on them. If Michael gave Zinzi R30, then Zinzi would have five times the amount of money Michael has. If Zinzi gave Penny R10, Penny would have the same amount of money as Michael. If Penny gave Michael R10, then Michael would have twice the amount that Penny has. How much money does each one have to start off with? answers

GRIDLOC KED

• Michael: R50 • Zinzi: R70 • Penny: R40 RANDS AND SENSE

• 1: Neon • 2: Capricorn • 3: Eris • 4: Kappa • 5: 1 500 m run • 6: 1010 • 7: Japan • 8: Buenos Aires • 9: 55 • 10: Fly half TEN OF THE BEST

1

ODDS ’N’ EVENS

3

4 8 2 5 1 9 6 7 3

The unknown sum total is 20.

2

9 3 7 6 8 4 1 2 5

9

5 6 1 2 7 3 8 9 4

7

9

4

= 3

1

= 10

1

3 2 8 1 4 6 7 5 9

5

= 1

4

6 1 9 3 5 7 2 4 8

8

8 7 3 9 6 5 4 1 2

7

= 8

5

7 5 4 8 9 2 3 6 1

4 1

1 4 5 7 2 8 9 3 6

3

8

= 15

2 9 6 4 3 1 5 8 7

BY ellen cameron • Illustrations by ANTON PIETERSEN

2

= 29

= 17

4

= 22

= 31

The usual rules of Sudoku apply, except you won’t be able to solve the puzzle as is. Only odd numbers can be placed in the yellow boxes and only even numbers can be placed in the pink boxes. Let these clues help you.

= 22

= ?

odds ’n’ evens

Each of the symbols in the table below represents a certain value. Using the sum totals given for each row and each column, decipher which values the symbols represent and hence find the unknown sum total.

= 20

Which of the two ‘tens’ is correct? 1 The 10th element on the Periodic Table: Oxygen or Neon? 2 The 10th sign of the zodiac: Capricorn or Libra? 3 The 10th (unofficial) planet: Eris or Pluto? 4 The 10th letter of the Greek alphabet: Alpha or Kappa? 5 The 10th event in a decathlon athletics contest: the 1 500 metre run or the 100 metre dash? 6 How is the number 10 represented in binary code: 1001 or 1010? 7 The country with the 10th largest population in the world: China or Japan? 8 The 10th largest city in the world (by population): Buenos Aires or Mexico City? 9 The 10th Fibonacci number: 10 or 55? 10 The position played by a rugby player wearing the number 10 jersey: fly half or fullback?’

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simply science

Why is it that ... cats always land on their feet?

2

3a

3b

DROP, TUMBLE, SAFE LANDING

Every cat has a simple four-step formula for a safe landing. 1 The cat rotates its head right side up. 2 It brings its front legs up close to its face, ready to protect it from impact. 3 It twists its spine to bring the front half of the body around in line with the head. 4 It bends its hind legs and twists the back half of its body so that the spine is aligned and all four limbs are ready for touchdown. In this position, the shock of the fall can be distributed through the limbs and the body. THIS WAY UP

Cats have such excellent balance and sense of position because of their vestibular apparatus. This tiny fluid-filled organ is found in the inner ear and has millions of sensitive hairs and tiny floating crystals. When the cat moves, the fluid shifts, giving readings on the body’s position. So when the cat falls, the vestibular apparatus tells it which way is up.

TERMINAL VELOCITY

Studies have shown that cats are less likely to sustain injuries if they fall seven or more storeys than if they fall two to six storeys. That’s because cats reach terminal velocity somewhere around the fifth floor, after which they relax and spread their bodies out in preparation for landing, spreading the impact and minimising injuries. For more on this, go to <www. straightdope.com/classics/a5_190.html>. DID YOU KNOW?

Cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four toes on each back paw.

THEM BONES, THEM BONES

4

48

How come cats are so agile and flexible, and can right themselves so quickly? They don’t have collarbones, and the bones in their spines have lots of mobility. So their front legs and body can bend freely, and they can easily and speedily twist mid-air to right themselves.

SMILE-A-WHILE

What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? One has the paws before the claws and the other has the clause before the pause.

BY nicklaus kruger • PHOTOGRAPH: gallo/gettyimages.com

1

The Ten Issue

Check out the lists of top tens!