SCIENCE INSIDE: The Ice Bucket Challenge

The ice bucket challenge, which went viral across social media earlier this year, aims to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic laterial sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research. This week’s show looks at the attention the disease has been getting these past few months and speaks to people who are affected by the disease, here in South Africa.

The Science Inside, the show that goes inside the science of major news events, is produced by Paul McNally, Anina Mumm, DJ Keyez and Lutfiyah Suliman for The Wits Radio Academy. Tune in live to VowFM every Monday at 6pm.

If the full podcast does not load automatically, please click here.

SCIENCE INSIDE: The science and psychology of protest action and the platinum strikes

During the first 90 days of 2014, South Africa experienced nearly 3000 protest actions, more than 30 a day, involving nearly one million people.

Protests and strike action are characteristic of a democratic South Africa, for better or for worse. In this show we look at the facts around protests in SA, and we look at the role of crowd psychology. And in light of recent unrest in the platinum belt, we look at platinum as a commodity.

The Science Inside, the show that goes inside the science of major news events, is produced by Paul McNally, Anina Mumm, DJ Keyez and Lutfiyah Suliman for The Wits Radio Academy.

Tune in live to VowFM every Monday at 6pm.

If the full podcast does not load automatically, please click here.


SCIENCE INSIDE: The legalisation of weed in South Africa

The medical benefits of marijuana have long been debated. Does it help to curb pain? Can chronic weed smoking make you crazy? Can smoking weed become an addiction?

This week’s episode of The Science Inside examines the science of smoking weed. The prospect of weed being made legal in South Africa, the medicinal benefits, its impact on mental illness and how addiction works in the brain are discussed with a number of medical professionals, including psychiatrist Yusef Moosa.

Listen to the full podcast here.






What is the state of South Africa’s science education? This week’s episode of The Science Inside followed a trip to SciFest Africa in Grahamstown (a science event geared toward inspiring school children with science) to answer this question.

Along the way stories from the festival, including one about robots, another on the future of hydrogen and rocket-powered cars, idols for scientists, and a couple of marine biologists who work with fishing communities to make sure they can keep their businesses afloat.

Listen to the full podcast here.

SCIENCE INSIDE: The science of Mandela’s death

On the 5th of December 2013 the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, died at his home. When the world heard – they mourned. And in South Africa for ten days his body was kept preserved so we could say our goodbyes to his remains in person until he was buried on December 15.

This week’s episode of the weekly The Science Inside show looks at how science influenced the 10 day stretch that every South African will remember – first, what is the psychology of human grief, then how have our burial practices evolved since mummification and what is the chemistry behind keeping a body preserved for ten days in the South African summer heat?

Listen to the full podcast here to gain a deeper understanding into what those ten days signified in a uniquely South African context.

SCIENCE INSIDE: Forensic evidence

This week the world is zooming in on the Oscar Pistorius trial and the Science Inside was no different.

The forensic evidence of the Pistorius trial was the topic up for discussion in this week’s show. Professor Stephen Tuson from The Wits Law Clinic and forensic scientist Dr David David Klatzow joined Paul McNally in-studio. They discussed how the quality of an expert witness is crucial to the trial and unpack all the forensic details from the bullets to the blood to why he carried her down the stairs.

On this the second day of the trial, listen to the podcast to hear what to look out for as the trial goes on.

SCIENCE INSIDE: Inside Joburg’s tremors

Johannesburg’s mild earth tremors and women who eat toxic clay to lighten their skin tone are two of the stories in this week’s The Science Inside.  The weekly science show on campus radio station VoWFM also looks at a community learning about the scientific impact of their lives on the their surroundings.

Listen to the podcast of the show presented and produced by Paul McNally and former #teamvuvu journalist Anina Mumm, here:

VoWFm brings chemistry to the airwaves

A student conducting a chemistry experiment at the Wits Science Stadium. The university has psycho-social programmes to identify and nurture learners from disadvantaged high schools who show promise in science and mathematics. Photo: Tanyaradzwa Nyamajiya

The Science Inside brings chemistry of another kind to campus via VoW FM airwaves. Photo: Wits Vuvuzela

By Pheladi Sethusa and Paul McNally

Wits campus radio station, VoW FM (90.5), debuted a pioneering science show called “The Science Inside” last night.

The show  aims to teach listeners about science in new and interesting ways. The show produced by The Wits Radio Academy with funding from The Department of Science & Technology, takes major news events and goes into the science behind them. 

According to presenter Paul McNally, the show is committed to science education in a climate where South Africans consider knowledge of political parties superior to chemistry (and by extension corruption-uncovering journalists are deemed more worthy than science journalists). This is a perception the show hopes to chip away at, as our science and maths education was ranked second last in the world last year, just ahead of Yemen, according to a World Economic Forum Report. 

In the pilot episode Deejay Manaleng explained how a pepper spray was dropped in a girls’ bathroom. The gas escaped across the toilet and up to the ceiling. She giggled at the memory of her running out of the toilet cubicle of a packed club spluttering and coughing. She starts to cackle when she explains how each girl – for the rest of the night – squeezed into the cubicle, pulled down her pants and burnt her ass. “They were screaming,” she laughed into the microphone.

The episode with Deejay then focused on chemical weapons in Syria – a macabre and bloody topic – but the pepper spray story helped ease the tension before investigating the technology behind complicated killing machines. One of the experts on the show cited pepper spray as the world’s simplest chemical weapon.

Next Monday the show will look at the science inside South Africa’s ARV shortage. Tune in live every Monday at 6pm or stream/download the Science Inside podcasts on soundcloud.