Swifts Don’t Just Dream of Flying…

first_img…they fly while dreaming.  Did you know that swifts, the aerial acrobats of the air, sleep on the wing?  That’s not all, they adapt their wing shape to turn on a dime.  Science Daily summarized the cover story of Nature this week (April 26) that examined “wing morphing” in swifts – their ability to change wing shape in flight.  Dutch and Swedish scientists ran tests in wind tunnels to measure the lift and drag for different wing shapes.  Extended wings are more efficient for gliding, but swept wings are good for tight turns and speed.  Swept wings also protect against breakage.  Swifts gain a 3-fold advantage in flight efficiency by continually adjusting the shape of their wings.    Wing morphing is the “latest trend in aviation,” the article says.  NASA is experimenting with micro-aircraft that can vary wing shape in flight for use in surveillance.  Students in the Netherlands are also imitating the flight of the swift with their model aircraft.  But then, even the Wright brothers observed birds for ideas on how to construct wings for the first airplane.    The article also says that swifts even mate in the air.  They only land on their cliff-hanging nests to lay eggs.  Otherwise, it’s in the air all the time—up to 1.5 km high at night while roosting in mid-air.  European swifts migrate to South Africa and back each year.  In a lifetime, a swift will fly 4.5 million kilometers—equivalent to 100 round trips around the Earth.Swifts also eat up to 20,000 insects a night.  Fortunately, no evolution fables polluted this story.  No one tried to say that a T. rex morphed into a swift over millions of years.  That wouldn’t fly on a wing or a prayer.  Who taught swifts the kind of aerodynamics NASA admires?  Who gave them both the hardware and software to live on the wing almost all the time?  Who programmed the autopilot that allows them to roost without a roost?  Calling a swift swift is like calling an orange orange.  What would they call a human?  Smart?  Wise?  Sometimes.  Homo is not always sapiens sapiens.  For proof, see next entry.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Soccer City: an architect’s dream

first_img25 February 2010 Architect Bob van Bebber waited 15 years to realise his dream – and it’s a dream the world can share on 11 June when 88 851 spectators take their seats at South Africa’s spectacular Soccer City stadium for the opening of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™. Van Bebber originally proposed a stadium – not just any stadium but a World Cup stadium – back in 1991 while completing his architecture degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. But he was told a stadium required too much engineering – until then engineers mostly designed stadiums. So he told his professor at the time, respected conservation architect Herbert Prins, that one day he would do it. That day arrived in 2006, when his design for Soccer City was approved. “This has been a dream project that I have been chasing for so long,” he says. A massive calabash, one of the symbols of rural African life, rises from the ground at Nasrec on the outskirts of Soweto in Johannesburg, outflanking the long, surrounding mine dumps. “I wanted to bring aesthetics and design into a stadium,” explains Van Bebber, a keen footballer at one time. The calabash was selected from a number of designs as being “the most recognisable object to represent what would automatically be associated with the African continent and not any other”, he says. “The calabash, or ‘melting pot of African cultures’, sits on a raised podium, on top of which is located a ‘pit of fire’. Thus the pot sits in a depression, which is the ‘pit of fire’, as if it were being naturally fired,” reads the info pack. It is hoped that the calabash shape will be “recognised instantly by spectators in every corner of the world”. Aesthetics and design So, does it have aesthetics and design? Its large, rounded shape is created by means of thousands of glass-fibre concrete panels in eight different earthy colours, fitted together in a patchwork, and curving around into the cantilevered roof. Odd glazed panels punctuate this facade, allowing sunlight to stream in. The three-tier stadium soars 60 metres into the air, and stretches across 300 metres. At night when the lights are on, it takes on a fantastic glow, something almost extraterrestrial. It looks magical from a distance; it looks magical from inside, with its multiple shapes and colours soaring above your head in a curve, as you enter. Although it encases you in its roundness, that roundness is tempered by huge angled concrete columns and ramps on the inside, and although the concrete is dead and grey, the contrasting shapes are alive with design, enhanced by tall open spaces. Van Bebber says that for him the design of the calabash has special meaning. “It symbolises people coming together, a melting pot of cultures, sharing and passing around the calabash.” And the world is going to be sharing from that calabash come June. He says now, with the stadium almost complete and a truly splendid addition to Johannesburg’s growing list of African-inspired structures, that he is “very proud” of it. Construction will take three years – it started in February 2007 and will be complete in March 2010. Sibongile Mazibuko, the executive director of Joburg’s 2010 unit, says the design of the stadium “symbolises the unity of Africa”. “There is something very cultural about it, it touches who we are,” she says. World football body Fifa describes it as “one of the most artistic and awe-inspiring football venues on the African continent”. Seats Arguably the most striking of all the 10 stadiums, teams playing at Soccer City are likely to be overwhelmed by the sounds of cheering and vuvuzelas coming from 88 851 people, the number of seats in the stadium. This is almost double the capacity of any of the other nine World Cup stadiums around the country. Symbolism has been built into it. Nine vertical lines run through the seats and through the facade, aligning with the other nine 2010 stadiums, as well as the Berlin Stadium, where the 2006 World Cup was held. “These are representative of the road to the final, and it is hoped that, after the World Cup, the scores of each game at each venue will be placed in pre-cast concrete panels on the podium,” reads the information statement. “A visit to the stadium will thus provide one with a full history of the World Cup and all its scores.” The stadium has other significance, too. In 1990, Nelson Mandela was welcomed back to his home town, Johannesburg, here. A funeral service was held here for Communist Party leader Chris Hani, who was assassinated in Boksburg in 1993. First in South Africa Van Bebber is an architect at Boogertman Urban Edge & Partners. The firm was ranked first in South Africa and Africa and 63rd in the world for 2008, according to the World Architecture Magazine. It has been around for 25 years, with offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Dubai and Mauritius. Its designs range from hotels, shopping centres, office parks and showrooms, to industrial parks and homes and palaces. It has picked up awards for the design of the Parktown Quarter, the Irene Village Mall, the Blu Bird Centre in Rivonia and the Bigen Centre in Pretoria. Van Bebber has previously been involved in the design of office towers, a beach resort in Dubai, retail developments, a parkade, sections of OR Tambo International Airport, and Emperor’s Casino in Benoni. He had been working on a stadium design since 2001, believing that South Africa would win the bid to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup. So when, in 2004, it was announced as the host for the tournament, the firm was asked for its design. Boogertman were ready with seven different proposals, among them a design acknowledging the city’s disappearing mine dumps; the kgotla, defined by the tree, of the African city state; the African map as a horizontal representation, with the roof of the stadium depicted as a desert plane set within the mineral wealth of southern Africa; and a representation of the national flower, the protea. Van Bebber says that very little of the old remodelled FNB Stadium was kept. It had only one grandstand, on its western side, with the other three sides simply banked seats. All sides now have covered stands, with two levels of VIP boxes and suites running completely around the stadium. The moat and the curved geometry of the edges of the field have been retained. Van Bebber is particularly proud of the fact that all seats have a good view of the field. The stadium has green-friendly elements. All lighting is energy efficient; materials from dismantled sections of the old stadium were re-used; water collected in the moat around the field is used to water the field, and excess water is used to flush the toilets. The flushing of the urinals is programmed, releasing water in tune to the use of the toilets. Budget The major challenge has been making the budget stretch as far as it can, says Van Bebber. “But despite this, I think we have given value for money.” The original budget started at R1.9-billion in 2007, and escalated to R3.3-billion by the end. Increasing costs for items like materials, the scope of the stadium and import duties led to the jump in budget, costs felt equally by all the stadium construction teams. Mazibuko agrees, saying that the City has got value for money in Soccer City, and that the investment was “quite justified”. She is also pleased with the impact of the development on the surrounding neighbourhood, which is receiving an upgrade. A transportation hub and pedestrian mall is being constructed to its south and the precinct will contain new roads, walkways, lighting, signage, landscaping, CCTV cameras and public amenities. Boogertman brought in overseas stadium contractors Populous, despite not being required to. One person spent three to four days for six weeks working with Van Bebber’s team, fine-tuning the design. “It was amazing how much we had done right,” says Van Bebber. He admits, however, that building the stadium has been an “almost vertical learning curve”. He is pleased with the comparison with the other stadiums around the country. He feels three of them – in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth – are good but Eurocentric designs, having been designed by German architects. “They’re very slick, with very high specs, and therefore more expensive.” The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban cost R4.8-billion to build and the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town cost R5,8-billion. “Soccer City compares very favourably with the others, but we feel it’s ahead of the pack,” he says. It seems appropriate that South Africa will play the first game here. At 4pm on 11 June, Bafana Bafana will run on to the field, to face Mexico. Every South African hopes that the final game, at 8.30pm on 11 July, will also see Bafana Bafana run into the stadium, to take the trophy. Standing with Van Bebber in the stands on a wet day, I suddenly became aware of a gentle roar. I looked around, wondering what it was, then realised: it was the rain flashing down on the roof. A gentle roar seemed a good sound for this spectacular stadium. Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Zambian hydro projects in full swing

first_imgZambia’s Kariba North Bank hydro power station is being upgraded (Image: Travel Pod)  All required funds for the US$430-million expansion of Zambia’s Kariba North Bank hydro power station have been secured, and the project is steaming ahead.The scheme got going in 2008 with $325-million provided by Exim Bank, owned by the Chinese government. The outstanding amount of US$105-million has recently been sourced through a loan from the Development Bank of Southern African (DBSA).The granting of the loan was announced on 26 October 2010 in Zambia.Dr Bane Maleke, a divisional executive at DBSA, confirmed the following day that all funding is now in place. The hydro plant is owned by Zesco, Zambia’s state-owned power utility.Maleke said the funding from China is based on an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement.Sino Hydro Corporation, also of China, is the sole project contractor, and the EPC contract means they have taken full responsibility for construction – including the supply of material and labour. The project is due to be completed by December 2012, and it’s hoped that the plant will be operational by early 2013.The expansion plans revolve around the installation of two units with a power-generating capacity of 180MW each. “Through the additional 360MW, this loan facility will ensure that the capacity of the power station is increased from 720MW to 1 080MW,” said Maleke.Kariba North Bank’s capacity was recently increased from 540MW, after four existing generators were upgraded.Delivering Zambia’s 2011 budget speech on 8 October, the country’s Minister of Finance Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane said “impressive progress is being made on the Kariba North Bank Extension Project”.Power supply is expected to improve in local communities in the Siavonga district when the project is complete, DBSA said.More new hydro power projectsThe revamp of the Kariba North Bank hydro plant, located more than 130km south of the capital city Lusaka, forms part of the Zambian government’s efforts to meet growing demand for electricity in the country.There are advanced plans for the construction of a $1.5-billion new project, the 600MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydro station. Work will begin there by mid-2011.Sino Hydro Corporation will also work with Zesco on this project, which Musokotwane said will be “one of Africa’s largest public-private partnerships in the energy sector”. It’s set for completion in 2016.Kabompo Gorge and Kalungwishi hydro electric projects are due to start in 2011. “When completed over the medium-term, these projects will add about 258MW in generation capacity,” the minister added.Zambia has potential to produce over 6 000MW of hydro electric power, but is currently exploiting less than 2 000MW, Maleke said.Improving power access in rural ZambiaThe Zambian government is also planning to develop mini-hydro power stations to improve access to electricity in rural areas as part of its Rural Electrification Programme, Musokotwane said.He added that the about of $6.4-million allocated for the programme in 2011 is the “first step in attaining the government’s target of increasing rural access to electricity from 3% to 15% by 2015”.“The demand for hydropower – which is considered a clean, renewable and environmentally friendly source of energy – has increased tremendously in Southern African, alongside a need to increase the generation capacity of the region,” Maleke said.• At the time of being published, the exchange rate was R7.24 to US Dollarlast_img read more

Residents Welcome Drug Serv Pharmacy at Seaview Gardens Health Centre

first_imgStory Highlights Dr. Christopher Tufton says the intention is to establish 50 of these outlets across the country, “then the hospitals and some of the major health centres would provide the other outlets”. For Sharon Kelly, who has been attending the Seaview Gardens Health Centre every month for the past 10 years, having the pharmacy close by means that she is now able to get her medication within her community, which saves both time and money. Residents of Seaview Gardens in St. Andrew are welcoming the opening of a Drug Serv Pharmacy at the community health centre. Residents of Seaview Gardens in St. Andrew are welcoming the opening of a Drug Serv Pharmacy at the community health centre.The move by the National Health Fund (NHF) allows members of the community and other users to access their medication at the same place where they receive their healthcare.No longer will persons have to travel to Cross Roads or the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) to get their medication.For Sharon Kelly, who has been attending the Seaview Gardens Health Centre every month for the past 10 years, having the pharmacy close by means that she is now able to get her medication within her community, which saves both time and money.“It was really difficult to have to go all the way downtown to get my medication at KPH, but now that the pharmacy is here, I have time to do other things on clinic days,” she says.Olando Wilson, who is epileptic and has been attending the health centre every two weeks since childhood, says that given his condition, he is happy to no longer have to travel outside of Seaview Gardens for his medication.Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, Everton Anderson, tells JIS News that the agency is working assiduously to fulfil its mandate to consolidate the management of government pharmaceutical services.He says the Fund has found that “many of the primary care facilities are not properly covered as it relates to having reliable pharmacy service, which has been a major focus of the Fund”.He explains that in making the decision to set up the Drug Serv Pharmacy in Seaview Gardens, the NHF team met with members of the community to discuss how they could be better served.“This has led to people staying at the health centre and receiving their medication at their point of care, and experiencing a better pharmacy service,” he says.Mr. Anderson notes that it is the Government’s intention to replicate the model across the country, working not only with NHF-managed pharmacies but also with private facilities.“We recently took over the management of the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital Pharmacy, and we’re looking at expanding into those primary care facilities in that (parish),” he notes.The NHF CEO says the programme will be moving into other parishes, including Manchester and Clarendon.“We want one model that works across the country that incorporates our pharmacies, private pharmacies and appropriate management of our hospitals, to create a really pleasurable pharmacy experience for the patients,” he adds.In the meantime, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, tells JIS News that the consolidation will result in increased efficiency, and is one component of the Government’s overall programme to improve pharmaceutical services.The other is linked to the existing public-private partnership, which involves making Government drugs available to public patients at selected private pharmacies.The objective is to expand pharmaceutical care and minimise waiting time for patients.“This is intended to give better coverage, and it will, in turn, reduce waiting time for persons who would have to rely on the hospital pharmacies. So, it’s really an overhaul of the approach to drug distribution by creating one platform to administer, and linking that with some critical private-sector partners to create more windows and more outlets for distribution,” he explains.Dr. Tufton says the intention is to establish 50 of these outlets across the country, “then the hospitals and some of the major health centres would provide the other outlets”.“Our position is that those outlets will significantly reduce the need for long waits and for travelling long distances. After that, we will review and determine if there are any necessary adjustments to be made,” he adds.The objective of the Drug Serv programme is to make high-quality pharmaceuticals readily available, as well as to facilitate improved patient compliance, especially among those who are unable to purchase the medication.Seaview Gardens Health Centre patient, Sharon Kelly, welcomes the opening of the Drug Serv Pharmacy, which has allowed for greater access to her medication.last_img read more