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The aardvark is found throughout much of Africa, from the southern part of Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope. A primarily nocturnal animal, it lives in burrows and feeds on ants and termites, occasionally eating other insects, the fat mouse, and a species of wild ground cucumber.

The aardvark is up to 2.3 m (7.5 ft) long, including the fleshy, tapering tail, which it uses to throw earth backward when it burrows. It has an arched back, a tubular snout, and large, upright ears. The aardvark uses its specialized, chisel-shaped claws to break open the hard clay of termite nests; then it uses its sticky tongue to capture the insects in the nest. Unlike the animals known as anteaters, which are toothless, the aardvark has twenty cylindrical, rootless teeth that grow continually throughout its lifetime.

The female gives birth to one or occasionally two offspring which can dig their ...


The aardwolf, whose name in Afrikaans means “earth wolf,” stands 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20 in) high at the shoulder, has a body length of 50 to 80 cm (27 to 31 in) long, and is covered with long, coarse hair and soft underfur. It is light buff in color, with black bands. At night it leaves its burrow, traveling singly or in a group, to forage for insects, especially termites. When attacked, the aardwolf erects its mane, achieving a formidable appearance, and ejects a foul-smelling fluid from its anal glands. Having weak jaws and small teeth, however, it must use its sharp canines to fight off such enemies as the dog. Toward December the female aardwolf finds a burrow and bears a litter of one to five young.

The aardwolf is classified as Proteles cristatus It is usually placed in the hyena family Hyaenidae Some experts ...


Mohamed Adhikari

South African medical doctor and politician, the most significant political leader of the South African Coloured community during the first half of the twentieth century, was born in Wellington near Cape Town on 12 December 1872. He was the eldest son of nine children born to Abdul Rachman, a greengrocer, and his wife Kadija Dollie. Descended from grandparents who were manumitted slaves, his graduation as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893 was a signal achievement. After two years of postgraduate study in London, he returned to Cape Town in 1895.

Abdurahman entered public life in 1904 when he became the first black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council. Except for 1913–1915 he represented Wards 6 and 7 District 6 for the rest of his life Abdurahman exerted substantial influence on local government because of the exceptional support he enjoyed ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.


Ness Creighton

Egyptian Muslim mathematician, also known as al-Hasib al-Misri, the Egyptian Calculator (or Reckoner). His full name was Abu Kamil Shujaʿ ibn Aslam ibn Muhammad ibn Shuja. Very few biographical details are known concerning Abu Kamil, but his productive peak appears to have been at the end of the ninth century. The year of his birth and the year of his death are known with a decent degree of certainty as he is known to have died before al-Imrani (who died in 955) but to have lived well beyond al-Khwarizmi (who died in 850). A direct successor in the development of algebra to al-Khwarizmi, his texts on algebraic theory helped to form the groundwork for later mathematicians, including al-Karaji. Fibonacci would later adopt his mathematical techniques.

Abu Kamil worked to perfect many of al Khwarizmi s algebraic methods including work with the multiplication and division of algebraic objects and the addition ...



Most of the 1,200 species of the genus acacia are native to tropical Africa or Australia. The normal type of leaf is bipinnate (featherlike), but it is often modified. The acacia is of great and varied economic importance, yielding edible seeds and valuable timber and gum.

Acacias belong to the ...


Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a fatal disease caused by the slow-acting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus multiplies in the body until it causes immune system damage, leading to diseases of the AIDS syndrome. HIV emerged in Africa in the 1960s and traveled to the United States and Europe the following decade. In the 1980s it spread silently across the globe until it became pandemic, or widespread. Some areas of the world were already significantly affected by AIDS, while in others the epidemic was just beginning. The virus is transmitted mainly via sexual fluids, but also by blood, from mother to child in the womb, and during delivery or breast-feeding. AIDS first was identified in the United States and France in 1981, principally among homosexual men. Then in 1982 and 1983 heterosexual Africans also were diagnosed Today AIDS poses a threat to the survival of millions especially ...


The existence of HIV was first identified among populations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as it was in North America and sub-Saharan Africa, in the early 1980s. HIV is a particularly virulent and incurable infection that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids (such as blood or semen) and attacks the immune system, leaving the infected person susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers, often resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and death. Recent trends in Latin America and the Caribbean show a disproportionate number of new cases of HIV infection emerging among the poor and working classes and among populations of African descent.

After a few cases of the disease were diagnosed among Haitian immigrants in the United States, considerable attention was focused on the AIDS epidemic in Haiti This focus led to the misconception among many U S scientists and in the media that Haitian ...


For information on

Physical characteristics of the continent of Africa: See Climate of Africa; Geomorphology, African.

Rivers: See Congo River; Gambia River; Niger River; Nile River; Senegal River; Ubangi River; Zambezi River.

Deserts: See Drought and Desertification; Kalahari Desert ...


Ana Raquel Fernandes

Also known as the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa, the African Association was founded in 1788 with the objective of sponsoring geographical expeditions to Africa, and in particular, to chart the course of the river Niger. A related aim was to open the African continent to British trade and influence. The founder member Sir Joseph Banks, a naturalist and a wealthy patron of science, was its president. The Association's first Proceedings were published in 1790, together with the account of Simon Lucas, one of the first explorers sent to Africa by the Association. However, Lucas's sensationalist travel memoirs were rapidly eclipsed by the publication of more accurate accounts produced by the celebrated explorers Mungo Park, the German Friedrich Hornemann, and the Swiss Jonathan Burckhardt, whose African expeditions were also sponsored by the Association.

With the assistance of Bryan Edward Secretary ...


Robert Fay

Larger than the Asian elephant, which lives in Southeast Asia, the African elephant is grayish brown, with thin, rough body hair, and an elongated trunk and tusks. It reaches a height of 4 meters (13 feet) at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 7,000 kilograms (15,430 pounds). African elephants have distinctively large ears, which may measure 1.5 m (5 ft) from top to bottom. Like the Asian elephant, the African elephant is threatened by diminishing habitat and the demand for elephant tusks, which provide ivory.

The boneless muscular trunk the most distinctive feature of the elephant is actually a greatly elongated upper lip and nose Elephants use their trunk to convey grasses leaves and water to their mouth Elephants commonly feed in the morning evening and at night and rest during the middle of the day They consume as much as 150 kg 330 lb of forage a ...


Elizabeth Miller

conjectural early human, also known as Mitochondrial Eve, was proposed by Rebecca L. Cann and her fellow researchers in 1987 Using mitochondrial DNA inherited only along the maternal line Cann and her associates examined 147 individuals and produced a genetic evolutionary tree showing branching from two sets of individuals one set of African ancestry and a second set of mixed African and other ancestry The most parsimonious explanation of the tree was that modern humans originated in Africa from a single source which Cann and her coworkers named Eve at a date between 140 000 and 290 000 years ago Subsequent research has placed this date more accurately at approximately 200 000 years ago by comparing ten human genetic models African Eve is a mathematical model and not an actual fossil of human remains Nonetheless most scientists now agree that she is the most recent woman who is ancestral ...


Robert Fay

The black skinned long legged African hunting dog weighs between seventeen and thirty six kilograms forty to eighty pounds and is covered with short sparse fur in a wide range of black yellow and white patterns The large ears are rounded and each paw has only four toes The animal lives and travels in packs numbering from a few to more than fifty individuals Packs range up to 3 900 square kilometers about 1 500 square miles in their search for food but they greatly restrict their range when pups are young and unable to follow the pack The dogs hunt in a pack which moves slowly after its prey and gradually increases its pace as the victim moves away Once the pack has selected a victim it rarely wavers sometimes following prey up to several kilometers The dogs are one of Africa s most successful hunters with a kill ...


Chris Stringer

It has been several decades since the man from Kibish made his appearance before the world of science. Strongly built, stained in hues of blue and brown from his lengthy immersion in the soil, the fragments of his skull, jaw, and skeleton had been disinterred from their resting place on the banks of the River Kibish in Ethiopia in 1967.  Researchers did not realize it at the time, but scrutiny of those few bone fragments would prove to be crucial in a fundamental rethinking about the evolution of our species.


A 1996 book by the National Research Council, Lost Crops of Africa, draws attention to the potential of the continent's little-known indigenous crops for improving regional and global food supplies. Featured prominently among the 2,000 native grains, roots, and fruits utilized as food staples is African rice (Oryza glaberrima), “the great red rice of the hook of the Niger.” Yet, despite its plant-breeding potential, there are other compelling reasons for a research focus on glaberrima.

This overview of rice history in the Americas raises several issues that bear on prevailing conceptions of the Columbian Exchange the period of unparalleled crop exchanges from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries Scholarship on the Columbian Exchange has long emphasized the economically viable crops of American Asian and European origin the role of Europeans in their global dispersal and thus the diffusion of crops to rather than from Africa The slight attention ...


Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...



Courtney Q. Shah

Scientists have debated the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since they first recognized them in 1981 when clusters of homosexual men in California and New York were found to have suppressed immune systems. Since then HIV has become pandemic, affecting all segments of the population in every corner of the globe. Scientists believe that the disease originated in Cameroon, where a related virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been found in chimpanzees. The theory is that SIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the twentieth century. A retrospective study of preserved blood samples done in 1998 confirmed that the earliest known case of HIV was in a Congolese man who died in 1959.

AIDS was first labeled gay related immune deficiency GRID by the U S government s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC The earliest studies in ...


Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...


Abdul Karim Bangura

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi, or Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Uzalagh al-Farabi, was born in 870 c.e in Kazakhstan or Persia or Afghanistan Also known in the West as Alpharabius he is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher scientist and musicologist of his era and perhaps one of the greatest Muslim philosophers in all of history As a political philosopher al Farabi sought out answers to many of the most difficult questions facing the Islamic world during his lifetime He questioned the relations between humankind and God the role of the intermediary the influence of the divine law in private life and the limitations of the human mind He went beyond the divine law and searched for humankind s place in the universe and our relationship with nature society and the divine law He inquired about the different types of political institutions ...