Science and technology in South Africa
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The first significant work in astronomy in South Africa was performed by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille between 1751 and 1753, culminating in the measurement of the arc of the southern meridian and a catalog of almost 10 000 southern stars, later published as Coelum Australe Stelliferum.
The Royal Observatory was established at the Cape of Good Hope in 1820 and opened in 1829. Today, with the main observing site having moved from the Cape of Good Hope to a higher site near Sutherland, it is host to the Southern African Large Telescope as well as numerous other South African and international telescopes.
Notable astronomers who have worked in the country include John Herschel who published Results of astronomical observations made during the years 1834, 5, 6, 7, 8, at the Cape of Good Hope in 1847 and David Gill whose work include the Cape Photographic Durchmusterung.
The Karoo Array Telescope (or MeerKAT) is under construction as a pathfinder for the $2 billion Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, which will be split between sites in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Being rich in coal, South Africa has some of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world.
The South African Solar Challenge is held bi-annually over a distance of 2,500 miles (4,000 km).
South African companies hold a considerable number of high value patents related to mining.
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Nuclear weapons programme
During the 1960s and 1980s South Africa had been pursuing research into the development of nuclear weapons as well as biological and chemical weapons. South Africa was able to acquire Uranium from native ore deposits, and used aerodynamic nozzle enrichment techniques to produce weapons-grade Uranium. Six bombs were constructed, with one still under construction before the termination of its nuclear weapons programme. It is alleged that South Africa had been collaborating with Israel to develop nuclear weapons and that it possibly detonated one of its weapons over the Indian Ocean in a nuclear weapons test. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons programme in 1989, the first nation in the world to do so, and became a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991.
Despite government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology, information technology and other high technology fields, not many notable groundbreaking companies have been founded in South Africa. It is the expressed objective of the government to transition the economy to be more reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that South Africa cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can the republic rely on its mineral wealth in perpetuity.
Important advances made in South Africa
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- 1.5 Mya - Earliest evidence of controlled use of fire by humans at Swartkrans
- 1882, 1 September - Kimberley becomes the first city in the Southern Hemisphere and in Africa to have electric street lights.
- 1920 - Hendrik van der Bijl publishes The thermionic vacuum tube and its applications. The standard textbook on the subject of vacuum tubes for more than 20 years.
- 1937 - The 17-D Yellow Fever vaccine is announced by Max Theiler
- 1945 - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was founded
- 1955 - SASOL produces its first automotive fuel from coal
- 1959 - Trevor Wadley invented the Tellurometer, the first successful microwave distance measurement device.
- 1962 - SANAE I, the first South African Antarctic base is built.
- 1963 - The Dolos was developed in East London
- 1965, 18 March - SAFARI-1, the first nuclear reactor on the African continent, goes critical
- 1967, 3 December - The first successful human-to-human heart transplant was performed by Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital
- 1974 - The first automated pool cleaner, the Kreepy Krauly, was introduced by Ferdinand Chauvier
- 1975 - Development is started on a helmet mounted sight system and the South African Air Force later become the first country to deploy these during combat.
- 1978 - SAR Class 6E1 (No. E1525) sets the narrow gauge land speed record for rail vehicles at 245 km/h (152 mph).
- 1995 - Mark Shuttleworth founded Thawte, an early Internet security company which is now the second largest certificate authority on the internet.
- 1995 - The Natal Sharks Board starts marketing of the Shark POD, a personal device to deter sharks.
- 1999, 23 February - SUNSAT, the first South African produced satellite was put in orbit by an American Delta II launch vehicle.
- 1951, Max Theiler, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on producing a Yellow fever vaccine
- 1979, Allan McLeod Cormack, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for pioneering work in X-ray computed tomography
- 2002, Sydney Brenner, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for pioneering work in molecular biology
Objects named after South Africans
- Minor planet 5038 Overbeek, discovered May 31, 1948, is named after South African astronomer Michiel Daniel Overbeek.
- Minor planet 23182 Siyaxuza, discovered July 23, 2000 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team, is named after South African scientist Siyabulela Xuza.
Research institutes and societies
- Academy of Science of South Africa
- African Centre for Genome Technologies
- African Institute for Mathematical Sciences
- Agricultural Research Council (South Africa)
- Astronomical Society of Southern Africa
- Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
- Department of Science and Technology (South Africa)
- Engineering Council of South Africa
- National Research Foundation of South Africa
- Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital
- Operations Research Society of South Africa
- Royal Society of South Africa
- South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative
- South African Bureau of Standards
- South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
- Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
- South African Journal of Science
- South African Marine Predator Lab
- South African Medical Research Council
- South African National Antarctic Programme
- South African National Bioinformatics Institute
- South African National Space Agency
- Technology Innovation Agency
- South African National Research Network (SANReN)
- TENET (network), the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa
- Theal, George M'Call (1897). History of South Africa under the administration of the Dutch East India Company, 1652 to 1795. London: S. Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd. pp. 74–75.
- Nicolas Louis de La Caille, Thomas Henderson, Francis Baily, Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1847). A catalogue of 9766 stars in the southern hemisphere, for the beginning of the year 1750, from the observations of the Abbe de Lacaille made at the Cape of Good Hope in the years 1751 and 1752. London: R. and J.E. Taylor. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
- Clerke, Agnes M. (1893). A popular history of astronomy during the nineteenth century. p. 8.
- "Results of astronomical observations made during the years 1834, 5, 6, 7, 8, at the Cape of Good Hope". The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
- "Sasol produces 1,5 billion barrels of synthetic fuel from coal in fifty years". SASOL. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "Historical Overview of the South African Chemical Industry: 1896 - 1998". Chemistry International. 3 21. May 1999. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "SASOL: COMMITTED TO GTL SINCE 1947". Sasol takes the technological lead. Reed Business Information Limited. 1 May 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
- Jäger-Waldau, Arnulf (2008). Joint Research Centre - Renewable Energy Unit - PV Status Report 2008 (PDF). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. ISBN 978-92-79-10122-9. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
- "Timeline of Firsts". Retrieved 2010-01-11.
- Kaplan, David (March 2011). "2. The Evidence for and the measurement of South Africa’s advanced technological competencies". South African mining equipment and related services: Growth, constraints and policy (PDF). University of Cape Town. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-1-77011-236-0. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- C. K. Brain; A. Sillent (1988-12-01). "Evidence from the Swartkrans cave for the earliest use of fire". Nature 336 (6198): 464–466. doi:10.1038/336464a0. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- Rincon, Paul (22 March 2004). "Bones hint at first use of fire". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- The thermionic vacuum tube and its applications on Internet Archive
- "Dr H J van der Bijl". South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "Sanae - History". South African National Antarctic Programme. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- "SANAE". Polarconservation. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- Dick Lord, Willem Hechter (2000). Vlamgat: The Story of the Mirage F1 in the South African Air Force. 30 Degrees South Publishers. p. 74.
- "SharkShield Testing". Australia's Marine Direct. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- "Electrical Shark Repellent". KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- "Background on the SUNSAT Experiment". NASA. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- Brian Fraser & Brian Marsden (December 2000). "Minor Planet (5038) "Overbeek"" (PDF). Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa 59 (11&12): 101. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- Farah Abdurahnam & Steve Rosenburg (June 2011). "South Africa's Unsung Rocket Scientist Superhero. Siyabulela Xuza". Beyond Sustainable Quarterly (11): 48–49. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
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