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SA school kids excel at global science fair

Three South African young scientists have returned home with outstanding prizes after competing at the Oğuzhan Özkaya Education-Karademir Science Energy Engineering Fair in Izmir, Turkey.

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Projects by Joshua Sylvain de Miranda, grade 10 at Tyger Valley College and Este-Lize Graham grade 10 at Hoërskool Menlopark, both in Pretoria, were selected to exhibit at the OKSE2F while competing against 600 other participants at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) in October 2017. Joshua won first prize/gold medal in the chemistry category while Este-Lize won second prize/ silver medal in the biology category.

Waheed Amanjee, a grade 11 learner from Creston College in Port Shepstone won second prize/ silver medal in the engineering- energy category at the science fair. He was selected for his impressive research entitled: FootBit: Step into the Future. His project is inspired by the need for efficient renewable energy sources worldwide. There is a dire need for innovative and efficient renewable energy sources so more people can have access to electricity. The problem is that most present forms of renewable energy are reliant on sources that humans are not in control of and are usually very expensive.

The device that Waheed came up with is simple, effective and economical. The range of energy harvested on the shoe sole, is able to power a 50V LED light, Arduino and charge a battery. “This invention will assist in reducing the human species’ carbon footprint and place Africa on the forefront of innovation in renewable energy.” says Waheed.

In March this year, Waheed was selected to represent Africa at OKSE2F after taking first place in the Innovation Category at the Buskers Festival in Zambia.

For his project titled, “Fire Redundancy Effect of Non-toxic Chemicals”, Joshua aimed to develop a flame retardant that would delay the spread of fires in informal settlements. “The research involved investigating the variables that affect the behaviour of fire, the dangers and obstacles that fire departments face when responding to fires in informal settlements and going into informal settlements to investigate building materials used and how flame retardants could delay the spread of fires,” says Joshua. Joshua determined that using a solution of Borax and Boracic Powder as a flame retardant on building materials would delay the spread of fires.

The project Este-Lize exhibited at  OKSE2F is entitled “Can laser light enhance cell division?”, and seeks to explore the effects of using a continuous wave laser to irradiate TZM-bi cells at a fluency or power density of 5J/cm2. “The irradiated cells were compared to the non-irradiated cells of the control group to determine if laser interaction with cells can enhance or inhibit cell division. The outcome of this project will provide a clearer understanding of the effects that lasers have on cellular processes taking place within cells at in-vitro level,” says Este-Lize.

OKSE2F aims to bring together high school students from all around the world to present their scientific and technological researches and to make them share their culture. To this end, young people are invited to exhibit their research projects in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, energy, mathematics-computer and robotics.

“Every year we are impressed by the ingenuity shown by the participants at Eskom Expo. Their commitment to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems such as sustainability is admirable. Eskom Expo recognises and rewards their contribution to the global knowledge base,” says Executive Director of the Eskom Expo, Parthy Chetty.

OKSE2F and the Eskom Expo are both organisations that invite young people to present their projects on their platforms and to make social and cultural exchanges with their peers from all over the world. The science fair took place from 4 – 10 June.

“At Eskom we have a huge need for talented scientists and engineers and by supporting the Eskom Expo we are able to invest in developing a pipeline of talented technical specialists. The Eskom Expo isn’t just about cultivating an interest in the sciences but through strategic support we encourage young scientists to pursue their interest at a tertiary level. This long-term vision means that in a few years’ time these scientists will begin to serve South Africa in areas beset by a scarcity of skills,” says Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission and Acting Group Executive Sustainability & Risk.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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