Khwezi Science Report

TIMESLIVE PODCASTS  |  Podcast , ±17 min episodes every 5 weeks, 2 days  |  Broadcast schedule  | 
The Khwezi Science Report is a dive into the warm waters of science where information is made interesting and understandable and is placed in the context of our daily lives.

From archaeology to tech, astronomy to zoology, you'll find it all here with host Tanya Farber, a senior reporter at the Sunday Times. She loves how science connects with other ways of understanding the world around us from all sorts of disciplines.

Each episode takes the listener on a journey through all things weird and wonderful, from the local and global world of research, discovery and innovation.

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Milestone moments from the Covid-19 pandemic

Over the past two years, we’ve lost many people. Jobs have been lost, the economy has nosedived, our lifestyles have been altered forever. We are living through a serious historical milestone and in this episode we reflect on the unforgettable moments we’ve experienced. We chat to renowned medical historian and anthropologist from UCT, Dr Mandisa Mbali, about the shape of our post-pandemic society.

The national shift in vaccine thinking 

Before SA had a secure and healthy stash of Covid-19 vaccines, there was a mighty push by the South African and African community to make sure that vaccines were being supplied equitably. 
However, now that we have a bountiful supply of vaccines and have hopes to vaccinate enough of our community to substantially curb transmission, a powerful “anti-vax” sentiment seems to have taken hold.

The facts, the whole facts and nothing but the facts around vaccine safety and the origins of ivermectin treatment

Some scientists bask in the limelight because of their work. Others quietly - and rigorously - go about their mission wearing many challenging hats so that the interests of public health are at the front of the agenda for the rest of us.

One such person is Prof Helen Rees who gave up some of her precious time to talk to us about Covid-19 vaccines, ivermectin and other hot Covid-19-related topics.

We're in a pandemic - but other extreme events are also on their way

When Charlotte Maxeke Hospital went up flames, as did parts of the Mother City, South Africans asked, 'what next?' and 'who caused it?'

But the reality is this: being in a pandemic doesn't mean we aren't vulnerable to other disastrous events, and as the climate crisis intensifies, we are going to see major extreme events like droughts, fires and floods, becoming more frequent. It's time to change the way we think of them and prepare for them.​

We have paid a hefty mental toll - a year since the land fell quiet

"We are now living in world where grief itself is transmitted globally," says Wits University historian Professor Hlonipha Mokoena.

In this podcast, she speaks to Sunday Times reporter Tanya Farber about ways in which the South African and global psyche has changed since a pandemic swept across the globe, bringing with it a fight for vaccines.

Prof Madhi on whether you can get reinfected once you've had Covid-19?

Vaccines are the talk of the town, but what about the natural immunity (or lack thereof) enjoyed by those who have suffered through Covid-19 disease? And what about those who were infected but asymptomatic? Do they have any antibodies to speak of? And what about immunity against the new variant if you got sick in the first wave? And is an antibody test even worth getting?
In this podcast, Sunday Times senior science reporter Tanya Farber digs into some of these questions with the esteemed Professor Shabir Madhi, a global leader in infectious diseases and a vaccinologist at Wits University where he is dean of health sciences. Prof Madhi has also been instrumental in Covid-19 clinical trials taking place in the country.

Is pollen the bee's knees of forensic science?

From quack dentists misinterpreting bite marks, to a few grains of glitter solving a crime, forensic science keeps the public enthralled. But what about one of the most accurate forensic disciplines that simply does not have enough resources? In this podcast, we look at the extraordinary world of forensic palynology in which tiny grains of pollen help solve some of the most mysterious crimes - including the local case of a murder victim who was moved to Knysna after she was killed.

Is Africa still the worlds guinea pig?

As scientists expedite research into a suitable vaccine against Covid-19, global efforts are at risk of being undermined by political forces.

Ahead of the US election, Republican leaders are claiming to be just days away from a suitable vaccine, with the left saying it’s a power play.

Russia already threw down the gauntlet a few weeks ago, much to the scorn of the West, while in China, citizens are traveling hundreds of miles to ask for a jab still in development.

Brazilian President Javier Bolsonaro has snubbed China by saying “The Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig…That is why I have decided not to purchase this vaccine.”

South African vaccine trials are underway as part of an international effort, while some on the continent are mistrusting of scientific developments because of an interview on French TV that went horribly wrong.

Vaccines do not happen in a vacuum. This podcast explores how the French interview is an example of a sociopolitical moment that threatens to derail a massive global effort in urgent healthcare.

It also explores the power imbalances during colonialism in the early 19th century in Africa and how that context is a brutal example of how not to test drugs.

Traffic jams are back! What now?

In this episode of the Khwezi Science Report, Tanya Farber looks at the physics behind traffic jams, and the conundrum of urban sprawl in which people need to get from A to B to earn a living. She asks if we've learnt anything during lockdown and how to untangle the mess our cities are in.

When bad science risks lives

It all started with one very flawed trial and the next minute, a drug called hydroxychloroquine was doing the rounds on twitter and flying off the shelves. But while fake news about cures for Covid makes its way across the globe, real people suffer. Daniella Djan, author of Crazy Became Me - A Lupus Story, speaks about her struggles before Covid-19, and how things went from bad to worse when her life-saving drug was suddenly in short supply because of bad science.

Singing for sex: male birds rise early

In this episode of the Khwezi Science Report, Tanya Farber takes us into the world of birds in the concrete jungle. She shares a harrowing pet story, shares some fascinating studies, and speaks to an obsessive twitcher, that's an obsessive bird watcher looking for the rare ones, who shares some gripping tales of birding in the burbs.

Waze for humans - SA students create new app to help you avoid Covid-19 hotspots

In this episode of The Kwezi Science Report, we look at the fascinating story of how the body of a man who died 9000 years ago sheds light on questions we still have today about what to do with the dead. We talk about worker ants who climb the social ladder, and smartphone tech that busts you for walking in a drunken manner. We explore the psychology of agoraphobia, and hear more about a local app that can help you avoid the crowds. We also take the listener on a one-stop-shop of the latest in Covid-19 testing, and what this pandemic is doing to fertility rates.

12 episodes