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A trek to the start of time

first_imgThe Square Kilometre Array telescope willbe made up of some 3 000 antennasgrouped over roughly one squarekilometre.(Image: Square Kilometre Array) This article originally appeared on pagetwo of South Africa Now, a six-pagesupplement to the Washington Postproduced on behalf of Brand South Africa.(Click to enlarge.)MEDIA CONTACTS• Lillian Mofokeng, Communications ManagerSquare Kilometre Array South African Project+27 (0) 11 442 [email protected] will probe the edges of our universe. It will search for gravitational waves, predicted but never detected. It will be a virtual time machine, enabling scientists to explore the origins of galaxies, stars and planets. And South Africans are at the heart of its development.Allied with eight other African countries, South Africa is competing against Australia and New Zealand to host the €1.5-billion (R14.3-billion) Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an instrument 50 to 100 times more sensitive and 10 000 times faster than any radio imaging telescope yet built.The international SKA consortium is due to announce the winning bid in 2012, with construction likely to start in 2014 and finish by about 2022.The telescope will be made up of some 3 000 antennas grouped over roughly one square kilometre. South Africa plans to locate the core of these in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape – an arid, remote area blessed with exceptionally clear skies and minimal radio interference – with outlying stations in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.The country is no newcomer to major league astronomy. The Northern Cape is already home to one of the world’s largest telescopes, the Southern African Large Telescope or SALT.South Africa also works closely with neighbour Nambia on the HESS gamma ray telescope, and is currently building an 80-dish precursor instrument for SKA, the Karoo Array Telescope (also known as the MeerKAT), due to be commissioned in 2013 as the most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere.In the process, South African engineers are already working on some of SKA’s technological building blocks – such as a prototype dish antenna that combines new materials with innovative design processes to meet the SKA’s exacting precision, durability and cost criteria.If awarded to South Africa, SKA would establish the southern African region as a major international astronomy hub.And the SKA consortium, comprising 55 institutions in 19 countries, is optimistic that the US will be part of the project.In its latest report to the US National Research Council, released in August, the US Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics endorsed the SKA, expressing “unqualified enthusiasm for the science that this facility could deliver and recognition that it represents the long-term future of radio astronomy.”This does not automatically translate into the 40% funding the SKA partners were hoping the US would provide. The committee noted that the SKA schedule and the US funding timetable are out of synch.At the same time, it urged funding for two other projects – HERA (Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array) and NANOGrav (North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves) – that could greatly assist SKA.Responding to the report, SKA project director Richard Schilizzi said: “We are cautiously optimistic that the US will take part in the SKA.”Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:Powering towards a green economySouth Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.The everyday beauty of SowetoSouth African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.Launchpad to a billion consumersBy offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.A trek to the start of timeIt will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.Brewing up a global brandMiller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.Looking south and east for growthAs the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.More than just a celluloid MandelaThere is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.Africa in the new world orderKgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.Mining history for new solutionsMark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.Turning up the media volumeSince 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.A joule of an energy-efficient carSouth Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.South Africa: Time to believeThe forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.Finding sound real estate investmentSouth Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.My normal, crazy, mixed-up countrySouth African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.Bring on the braaiAll South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.last_img

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