South Africa 19.9.2013 06:00 am

Sun shines on SA’s bright sparks

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

From our beaches to the moon and back, South Africans have consistently been at the forefront of technology and innovation.

The most recent two are of course the digital laser perfected by Sandile Ngcobo and the raising of the Costa Concordia by Nick Sloane.

A timeline of inventions shows South Africans have always been at the cutting edge, especially when it comes to medical inventions, one of which has been used to aid former President Nelson Mandela.

Which of the following inventions could you not do without today?

1946: Trevor Wadley designs the Wadley Loop, a unique circuit for cancelling frequency drift , and the Tellurometer, an accurate tool for measuring distance.

1950: A KwaZulu-Natal resident known only as Mr Robertson invents Q20 to displace water from the distributor caps of his VW Beetle which apparently used to hate wet weather.

1950: Sasol is the world’s first oil-from-coal refinery, providing 40% of South Africa’s fuel.

1962: Born in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, Ronald Price Hickman designs the original Lotus Elan, Elan +2 and the Europa, and in 1972 Black & Decker took his Workmate, a portable workbench, global.

1962: Selig Percy Amoils creates a new method of cataract surgery at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto. He also invented the rotary epithelial scrubber used in corrective laser eye surgery, used on former President Nelson Mandela, whom Amoils has treated since 1994.

1963: Used to prevent erosion and as off -shore reefs, the 20 ton Dolosse were developed by Eric Merrifi eld to break up wave action and protect harbour walls.

1967: Dr Chris Barnard performs the world’s first heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital on Louis Washkansky.

FILE PIC -- A picture shows the Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC) and the three wind turbines in the capital Manama on April 8, 2008. The BWTC made history today as its pioneering wind turbines turned together for the first time. The three 29m-diameter turbine blades on Bahrain’s iconic landmark are the world’s first to be integrated into a commercial development, and are forecast to provide the equivalent of 11-15% of the power for the two towers when fully operational. AFP PHOTO/ADAM JAN

FILE PIC — A picture shows the Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC) and the three wind turbines in the capital Manama on April 8, 2008. The BWTC made history today as its pioneering wind turbines turned together for the first time. The three 29m-diameter turbine blades on Bahrain’s iconic landmark are the world’s first to be integrated into a commercial development, and are forecast to provide the equivalent of 11-15% of the power for the two towers when fully operational. AFP PHOTO/ADAM JAN


1969: Pratleys Pu y is created by George Pratley and was used in the Apollo XI mission’s Eagle landing cra on the moon.

1974: Springs resident Ferdinand Chauvier invents the Kreepy Krawly, used worldwide to clean swimming pools.

1975: The Sheff el bogie, designed to overcome the limitations of narrow gauge railways, is built by SA Railways mechanical engineer Dr Herbert Sheff el.

1979: The Computed Axial Tomography Scan or CAT scan is invented by Cape Town physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield for which they won a Nobel Prize for medicine.

1991: The Hippo Water Roller, designed by Johan Jonker and Pettie Petzer, is an innovative container design to help carry up to 90l of water, obviating the need for people to carry buckets of water on their heads.

1992: Ever wondered how sports commentators know how fast a ball is travelling? It’s all thanks to Henri Johnson’s Speedball, which measures the distance, speed and angle of the ball.

1992: The Smartlock safety syringe is developed by Hendrikus van der Meyden and Alexis Wadman at the Vaal University of Technology. It is a three-piece disposable syringe that provides protection against needle-stick contamination.

1993: Gervan Lubbe builds a machine to electronically stimulate the body’s natural nerve impulses to relieve pain.

1996: Louis Liebenberg and Lindsay Stevenson reveal Cybertracker, a hand-held computer that provides a hi-technology method of tracking animals in the field. The graphic interface makes it possible for illiterate people to enter detailed information, which helps scientists carry out their research.

1996: Rory Stear and Chris Staines release the wind-up radio.

2001: Ken Hall’s plastic mini-oven which he invented to reduce the risk of fires in squatter camps, is named one of Time magazines best inventions of the year.

A handout picture released by the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on April 27, 2011, shows a woman standing with a water roller in the village of Kuma Garadayat, North Darfur, at the start of the distribution of 3,000 specialized water rollers to formerly displaced villages throughout the region. It is hoped that these barrels will both ease the physical burden on women and children and reduce the number of trips made to far off water points, thereby increasing the community's sense of security. AFP PHOTO/OLIVIER CHASSOT/UNAMID

A handout picture released by the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on April 27, 2011, shows a woman standing with a water roller in the village of Kuma Garadayat, North Darfur, at the start of the distribution of 3,000 specialized water rollers to formerly displaced villages throughout the region. It is hoped that these barrels will both ease the physical burden on women and children and reduce the number of trips made to far off water points, thereby increasing the community’s sense of security. AFP PHOTO/OLIVIER CHASSOT/UNAMID


2002: Peter Ramsay and Mark Beagle from KwaZulu-Natal develop the world’s first automatic microwave popcorn vending machine.

2008: Limpopo born Dr Mulalo Doyoyo creates Cenocell, a highly adaptable building material made from coal ash.

2008: South African architect Shaun Killa designed the Bahrain World Trade Centre, the first skyscraper in the world to build wind turbines into its design.

2009: Richard Kgwahla invents a stackable building unit for mud houses and offers a protective layer that ensures that mud is not washed away by rain.

2011: Professor David Woods of the University of Cape Town together with his team design and build the Freeplay Fetal Heart Rate Monitor. The device can be powered by wind-up and solar power, rechargeable batteries or mains.

2011: Ludwick Marishane wins the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur-of-the-Year Award for Drybath, an invention that takes  the water out of bathing.

 

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