To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Russian, copy and paste the complete URL ("http://www.generator21.net/let12.htm") and enter it in the box after you click through.
G21 BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSTORE
G21 Digital Internet Postcards
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST. You'll be glad you did. Surveys that affect our look and feel and much more. Be part of the In-Crowd!
LETTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
MONKEY ON THE WIND
MY GLASS HOUSE
NEW YORK STATE
THE SEX COLUMN
RECOMMENDED DAILY REQUIREMENT ARCHIVES.
LAST WEEK's EDITION
MEET THE G-CREW! These are the people behind this jam-band every week.
TABLE OF CONTENTS & BACK ISSUES
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Good evening from sunny South Africa, where the heat is harsh and unyielding, especially in a garden in which the trees are still too young to cast any shade to speak of!
Gaynor Paynter & her sons
I am a young South African, and proud to be one. Although I come from a country which has an infamous past, it also has one of the most hopeful futures. The country itself is poised for great things which will come of its most valuable asset, it's people.
Today I would like to take the opportunity of showcasing some of the achievements that the innovative inventors amongst these people, my fellow South Africans, have made to South Africa in particular and to the world in general. These contributions have been quite diverse in their nature and marked in their importance in various fields (well, some of them, at least, have been!) South Africans are responsible for some of the modern conveniences we now take for granted.
Who would have thought that the manufacturer of the seats used in Concorde, the inspiration behind the automatic pool cleaner and the engineers who design and make flight control technology for Britain's fighter jets can all be found in South Africa? And where would a cricketer such as West Indies captain Carl Hooper come when he needs a new bat, but to South Africa?
Some other world firsts that South Africans are responsible for include:
- The Kreepy Krauly
This is an underwater vacuum cleaner which is used for the cleaning of swimming pools. This miraculous pool monster effectively sucks up unwanted objects and fungi automatically with little or no effort required by its owner. (It uses the pool filter system, which you only have to backwash once in a while.) Yes, you can thank us South Africans that you do not have to use the old brush method and do it manually any more! Today a pool without a Kreepy is very unusual.
- The extraction of oil from coal
The South African company Sasol is the worldžs first (and largest) oil from coal refinery. It is situated in Sasolburg in South Africa and provides 40% of our fuel (used for consumption by passenger vehicles, trucks, etc). The company itself is a major source of employment (in fact, the town of Sasolburg consists mainly of Sasol employees and their families.) This methiod is a most productive way of using one of South Africažs plentiful commodities.
The G5 long-range artillery piece manufactured in South Africa is exported to several parts of the world.
Designed by Eric Merrifield and initially installed in East London, these are large, strangely shaped concrete blocks which weigh up to approximately 20 tonnes and are specifically designed to break up wave action, protect harbour walls and coastal installations. They are used internationally.
- Third umpire technology
(This is one of which I am immensely proud, being the cricket lover that I am).
This is the practice of making use of television technology in cricket matches, allowing a third umpire in a control room (two umpires stand on the field.) It provides the opportunity of giving accurate assessments of issues such as runouts, close catches, etc. which can be too close for the naked eye to judge correctly. This is done in conjunction with the television station broadcasting the match - when such as decision is referred to the third umpire, the television station shows him slow motion replays from various angles until the umpire feels he has enough "evidence" to make his decision. He then relays that opinion to the umpires on the field by means of electronic equipment. This eliminates much error and is a very fair way of playing the game.
It is, however, in the medical field that South Africans have perhaps been the most prolific, having made at least two significant, world changing breakthroughs.
The first of these is, of course, the worldžs first heart transplant which was conducted by Dr Christiaan Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital in the 1960s. Dr Barnard pioneered and conducted the procedure himself, then a gruelling, long operation, but the procedure is one which has been used countless times since to save many lives. Although the first recipient of a transplanted heart only survived for about three weeks after the operation was completed, the procedure itself was refined and perfected both by Dr Barnard and by other physicians, and today it is almost run of the mill procedure in most hospitals worldwide.
The second medical breakthrough brought about by South Africans was the development of the CAT Scan technology, the Computed Axial Tomography scan which was developed at Tufts University in England by South African physicists Allan Cormack and by Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories in the early to mid 1970s. Twenty or thirty years later, this technology is now available for use by patients at over 30,000 locations throughout the world. The CAT scan has the unique feature of being able to record, via imaging soft tissue, bone and blood vessels and has become the back bone of most Radiology Departments worldwide. This type of imaging allows the accurate diagnosis of a vast array of illness and injury, a luxury which was not available readily in the past.
In a nutshell, a CAT scan can be described in the following way. It is an X-Ray procedure generating cross section views of specific parts of the body, by combining many different x-ray images, giving a view of whatever part of the body is required, even internal organs and structures of the body. The machine takes images in "slices" and combines these to come up with one overall picture, almost like slices of bread, which put together make up a loaf.
The technique, which is a painless one, and is minimally invasive, has been used in diagnosing various diseases by the detection of tumours, etc. It can also be used by physicians for performing biopsies for suspected cancers, the removal of internal body fluids for various tests and the draining of abscesses which are normally deep inside the body. This procedure is also very low risk, and the most common problem experienced by patients is actually an adverse reaction to the intravenous contrast material - the iodine based liquid taken to make organs and structures more visible
One cannot write an article like this without making mention of the initiatives that have been undertaken by various organisations in the country to promote invention in our country. Such great inventions have been made in the past that one can only wonder what the future holds for inventions in South Africa in differing fields. The field of medicine is prolific in South Africa, but we are also involved in the military field, the sporting field, the field of technology, the field of mobile communications and satellite technology - to name but a few.
With all the things that have been invented in the past, there must be so much more waiting for us in the future! We can only wait with bated breath, but I do know that these innovative people need to be given the full backing of our country.
Therefore, supportive initiatives are vitally important and one of the most prolific of these is The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists which gives young inventors a chance to expose their projects at the highest possible level, both in South Africa and to other countries. Every year Eskom, which is the national supplier of electricity, runs a nationwide competition and, on the completion thereof , the selected national gold medallists participate in six international fairs.
These being the annual Expo Science Europe, the Hong Kong Joint School Science Exhibition, the Indian Ocean Science Expo 2002 (a French science fair held in Reunion), the Taiwan International Science Fair and the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar. These science fairs give them international exposure and the chance to pit their skills against those of their counterparts in other countries (giving a fair representation of the comparison between South African and international standards). These are great opportunities for all South African inventors to go full out to prove the viability of their inventions - great motivating factors.
In closing, it is these things, amongst many others, that make me truly proudly South African. It makes me want to strive to be the best South African that I can be. However, there is one more South African invention I read of, also in the medical field, which brought a smile to my face and surely one to the faces of many many males in the world - the invention of a condom which can be put on in approximately three seconds. Apparently, the conventional kind takes over forty seconds and is the source of much frustration. All I can say about this invention is "Trust a South African - it had to have been a male though".
Have a great week!
© 2003, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to firstname.lastname@example.org.