Our Focus Areas


  • Did you know that there are 206 bones in the adult human body and there are 300 in children (as they grow some of the bones fuse together).
  • The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes or stirrup bone located in the middle ear. It is approximately 0.11 inches (0.28 cm) long.
  • The most dangerous animal in the world is the common housefly.  Because of their habit of visiting animal waste, they transmit more diseases than any other animal.
  • The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels.  This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.
  • The human eye blinks an average of 4 200 000 times a year.
  • The Skylab astronauts grew 1.5 - 2.25 inches (3.8 - 5.7 centimetres) due to spinal lengthening and straightening as a result of zero gravity.
  • The largest telescope in the world is currently being constructed in northern Chile. The telescope will utilise four 26 ft 8 in (8.13 metres) mirrors, which will gather as much light as a single 52 ft. 6 in. (16 metres) mirror.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope weighs 12 tons (10 896 kilograms), is 43 feet (13.1 metres) long and cost $2.1 billion to build.
  • The greatest tidal site2016 on earth occurs in the Bay of Fundy.  The difference between low tide and high tide can be as great as 54 ft 6 in (16.6 meters).
  • The heaviest human brain ever recorded weighed 5 lb 1.1 oz (2.3 kg).
  • The deepest part of the ocean is 35 813 feet (10 916 metres) deep and occurs in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.  At that depth, the pressure is 18 000 pounds (9 172 kilograms) per square inch.
  • The largest cave in the world (the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia) is 2 300 feet (701 metres) long, 980 feet (299 metres) wide and more than 230 feet (70 metres) high.
  • The hottest planet in the solar system is Venus, with an estimated surface temperature of 864 F (462 °C).
  • The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.
  • The cosmos contains approximately 50 000 000 000 galaxies.
  • Sound travels about 4 times faster in water than in air.
  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
  • Super Glue was invented by accident.  The researcher was trying to make optical coating materials and would test their properties by putting them between two prisms and shining light through them.  When he tried the cyano-acrylate, he couldn't get the prisms apart.
  • No matter its size or thickness, no piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7 times.
  • According to an old English system of time units, a moment is one and a half minutes.
  • Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man.
  • JB Dunlop was first to put air into tires.
  • Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, also set a world water-speed record of over seventy miles an hour at the age of seventy-two.
  • The United States consumes 25% of all the world's energy.
  • A Boeing 707 uses four thousand gallons of fuel in its take-off climb.
  • It takes 70% less energy to produce a ton of paper from recycled paper than from trees.
  • The planet Saturn has a density lower than water.  So, if placed in water, it would float.
  • Hawaii is moving toward Japan 4 inches every year.
  • The centre of the Sun is about 27 million °F (15 million °C).
  • Sunlight can penetrate clean ocean water to a depth of 240 feet.
  • The common goldfish is the only animal that can see both infra-red and ultra-violet light.
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger that its brain.
  • It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
  • The pupil of an octopus' eye is rectangular.
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

  • The MTN ScienCentre at Canal Walk Century City in Cape Town, is South Africa's first world-class interactive science centre. It is a place where you can have fun, while learning about scientific discoveries and technological innovations. They have over 280 displays as well as an auditorium, camera obscura, computer rooms, laboratories, and exhibition hall.

  • The Johannesburg Planetarium was bought from the City Council of Hamburg in 1956 by the city of Johannesburg to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the city. On 12 October 1960 the first full-sized planetarium in Africa and the second in the Southern Hemisphere, opened its doors to the public.

  • The Natural Science Museum - Durban The Natural Science Museum is one of the smallest of South Africa's science museums and is the only one of its kind funded by a local authority. It is open to the public 363 days each year and admission is free. It is one of the best attended museums in South Africa, with an average of 334 000 visitors per year. Their mission is to teach people about the Earth, its history, and life on Earth in the past and present.

  • The Museum of Science and Technology.   Pretoria has one of only a few inflatable planetariums in the country called the Starlab. You can also take a guided tour through the Museum which boasts a display of hands-on science models and exhibits covering areas such as physics, biology, mechanics and space exploration. Visit their Hall of Holography to understand the connection between lasers and real 3D images ... or if you need to get in touch with the lighter side of things visit Optikon and discover the world of optical illusion.

  • South-Africa's Large Telescope The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, with a hexagonal mirror array 11 metres across. Although very similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, SALT has a redesigned optical system using more of the mirror array. It will be able to record distant stars, galaxies and quasars a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye - as faint as a candle flame at the distance of the moon.


Bending water

What you need:
  • a hard rubber or plastic comb or a balloon
  • a sink and water faucet
What to do:
  1. Turn on the faucet so that the water runs out in a small, steady stream, about 1/8 inch thick.
  2. Charge the comb by running it through long, dry hair several times or rub it vigorously on a sweater.
  3. Slowly bring the comb near the water and watch the water "bend."
  4. This project can also be done with a balloon.
What happened: The neutral water was attracted to the charged comb and moved towards it.

Sky in a jar

What you need:
  • a clear, straight-sided drinking glass or clear plastic or glass jar
  • water, milk, measuring spoons, flashlight
  • a darkened room
What to do:
  1. Fill the glass or jar about 2/3 full of water (about 8 - 12 oz. or 250 - 400 ml)
  2. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2 - 5 ml) milk and stir.
  3. Take the glass and flashlight into a darkened room.
  4. Hold the flashlight above the surface of the water and observe the water in the glass from the side. It should have a slight bluish tint. Now, hold the flashlight to the side of the glass and look through the water directly at the light. The water should have a slightly reddish tint. Put the flashlight under the glass and look down into the water from the top. It should have a deeper reddish tint.
What happened: The small particles of milk suspended in the water scattered the light from the flashlight, like the dust particles and molecules in the air scatter sunlight. When the light shines in at the top of the glass, the water looks blue because you see blue light scattered to the side. When you look through the water directly at the light, it appears red because some of the blue was removed by scattering.

Charge a light bulb

Ever had this happen in your house? Something gets broken and Dad goes over and takes a look at it. He studies it for a while and then suddenly - bing.... a little light bulb goes on above his head?

In this experiment, we'll literally turn on a fluorescent light bulb.

What you need:
  • a comb
  • a light bulb
  • a darkened room/closet
What to do:
  1. Take the comb and light bulb into a dark closet.
  2. Take the comb and rub it thoroughly through your hair. If you don't have any hair, a wool shirt or sweater will work fine.
  3. Now hold the comb to the metal end of the light bulb while carefully watching the filament in the bulb.
What happened: When you rub the comb through your hair, the friction between your hair and the comb actually causes electrons to travel from your hair to the comb. Your body (hair) becomes positively charged (because it has more protons than electrons) while the comb becomes negatively charged (it gained electrons from your hair) . The comb, in effect, becomes charged. When you touch the comb to the end of the light bulb, the charged comb discharges into the light bulb causing the bulb to emit small pulses of light.

Build a real working volcano

Now we're going to get a little messy. In this experiment we build a real working volcano. After mixing just the right amount of ingredients together, we'll add the final item to make our volcano 'blow its top' spewing red lava down the sides.

What you need:
  • Salt dough
  • Plastic soda bottle
  • Baking pan
  • Red food coloring
  • Liquid detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
What to do:
  1. First we need to create the 'salt dough'. Mix 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil, and 2 cups of water in a large bowl. Work the ingredients with your hands until smooth and firm. Add more water to the mixture if needed.
  2. Stand the soda bottle in the baking pan. Mold the salt dough around the bottle making sure you don't cover up the bottle mouth or drop any dough into the bottle. Take your time on this step and build your volcano with as much detail as you like.
  3. Fill the bottle most of the way with warm water mixed with a little of the red food coloring.
  4. Put 6 drops of the liquid detergent into the bottle.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
  6. Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle and jump back quick!
What happened: The red 'lava' flows out of your volcano because of the baking soda and vinegar mixture. Mixing baking soda and vinegar produces a chemical reaction in which carbon dioxide gas is created - the same gas that bubbles in a real volcano. The gas bubbles build in the bottle, forcing the liquid 'lava' mixture out of the bottle and down the sides of your volcano.

Magic inflating balloons

What you need:
  • bottle
  • bowl
  • balloon
What to do:
  1. Fill the bottle with hot water.
  2. Fill the bowl with cold water.
  3. Let both sit for one minute. Then empty out the bottle.
  4. Stretch a balloon over the mouth of the bottle.
  5. Set the bottle in the bowl of cold water.
What happened: The warm water heats the bottle. When the water is poured out, the heated bottle heats the air inside of it. When the bottle is placed in the cold water, the air inside the bottle cools and contracts (gets smaller and takes up less room), causing outside air to be drawn in, pulling the balloon in and inflating it inside the bottle.

How to get financial aid for studies in the field of science, engineering and technology
This booklet has been produced for school leavers who intend to apply to study at a university in the field of science, engineering and technology.

Careers Beyond 2000
Careers in Science, Engineering & Technology.  Books are available that will supply you with all the necessary information that you will need to prepare yourself for a career in Science, Engineering & Technology.

Meet BioCareers, South Africa's Official online Science Job Board and Career Centre.  Biocareers.co.za is the source for science jobs, biotech and clinical research jobs, pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical sales jobs, medical and medical device jobs.

Switchboard: +27 12 843 6300
DSI Building (Building No. 53)
(CSIR South Gate Entrance)  
Meiring Naudé Road,
Private Bag X894
South Africa

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