SciFest wrap up

Pics by Sean William Messham, Sophie Marcus and Karen Crouch

Thirteen years ago, a group of South Africans attended a science festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Liking what they saw, they took the concept back to Grahamstown, secured some funding and opened the doors of, what is now known as, SciFest Africa in 1997.

This year’s SciFest has just come and gone, providing a wealth of interactive workshops, lectures and exhibitions. Here’s a taste of what people have encountered at the 2008 festival.


By Ithuteng Mashabela



ciFest Africa 2008 was ushered out by the sound of music at the programme’s last Sounds Talkshop on Wednesday 22 April. Through an informative interactive demonstration, the talkshop looked at the science behind the production of sounds and, eventually, music.

Students and observers were shown how vibrations travel through the solids, liquids and gasses to produce sound, and even had a hand at helping the lecturers create sounds using tuning forks and sound boxes. Young observers watched in amusement as they learnt how straws, garden hoses and funnels can all be used to create musical instruments.


By Chantelle Malan


he laser show is one of the main attractions of SciFest Africa as it is highly entertaining and demonstrates some of the most intricate technology of the 21st century. This combination is very attractive to non-scientists as they can learn about science and technology in an enjoyable way.

This year the laser show was mainly made up of 3-D projections of SciFest Africa’s sponsors and movie characters. The pyramids were also shown in their full glory. A musical track played throughout the entire show, changing depending on the images created by the lasers. It only cost R8 and was a great way to be entertained and educated at the same time – be sure to catch it next year!

By Caeri Dunnell



s it turns out, there is not just a petrol shortage in South Africa – there is also a shortage of oil, which is essential in the production of petrol, and refining capacity. This came as a surprise when visiting the Petroleum Agency South Africa stand at SciFest. The agency regulates and monitors all exploration and production companies involved with petroleum, oil and gas in South Africa.

Nearly half of the world’s oil reserves have been depleted in the past 100 years. We may have used up most of the known reserves but they keep finding more and as the cost of oil goes up, more reserves become viable. All expeditions to search for oil have to be regulated by the Agency. Currently there are rigs off Mossel Bay, along the west coast and also off the coast of Durban.

There is a proposal for a gas pipeline to be built between Mossel Bay and Cape Town, because the cost of transporting the gas for production is skyrocketing with the price of petrol – the very petrol that is being produced. The pipeline would cost billions, but could also save money in the long run.

By Ithuteng Mashabela


lbany Museum was invaded by prehistoric beasts during SciFest. Although the colossal creatures were only sculptures of the actual dinosaurs that roamed the earth more than 160 million years ago, their life-like appearance could have fooled a few.

The dinosaur exhibition showcased fossils and life-size reconstructions of some of the smaller varieties of this ancient species. The skull of the Taung Child, along with other human fossils discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves, were also put on display for the viewing pleasure of the public.






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