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Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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.

Article

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 ...

Article

Jarita Holbrook

Astronomy on the African continent includes a long history of observations of the night sky done without the aid of telescopes, as well as modern observatories with impressive instruments. Africa is home to several world-class observing facilities, mostly in South Africa—Boyden Observatory (1927), Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (1961), Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (1941), and the South African Astronomical Observatory (1820); and Namibia houses the High Energy Stereoscopic System (2002 a gamma ray observatory Many African countries have astronomy societies planetariums or small observatories associated with universities that have telescopes suitable for teaching and public viewing These include Algeria Egypt Ethiopia Gabon Mauritius Morocco Tunisia and Zimbabwe The Working Group on Space Sciences in Africa is a continent wide organization that promotes the development of astronomy concerning itself with astronomy education public outreach fund raising international collaborations and the development of ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

Article

Adam Jones

traveler and writer from what is now southern Ghana, was born c. 1827 in or near the Asante capital of Kumasi. In contemporary documents, his name often appears as Aquassie Boachi. His father Kwaku Dua (c.1797–1867) was Asantehene (King of Asante) from 1834 to 1867. According to the “History of Ashanti,” prepared in the mid-twentieth century under the chairmanship of Asantehene Prempeh II (1892–1970), Kwasi Boakye belonged to the village of Atomfuo, 8 miles (13 km) east of Kumasi. This suggests that on his mother’s side he came from the lineage of royal blacksmiths, which may explain why, in 1837 in accordance with his father s wishes he and a close relative of the same age Kwame Poku were chosen to accompany a Dutch embassy under Major General Jan Verveer on its return to Elmina on the coast They were subsequently brought to ...

Article

Robert Fay

The Cabora Bassa (or Cahora Bassa) Dam is a 2,075-megawatt arch dam on Lake Cabora Bassa, located on the Zambezi River northwest of Tete in Mozambique. It stands 171 meters (561 feet) high and is 303 meters (994 feet) wide. The Portuguese colonial government built the dam between 1969 and 1974, partly as an attempt to maintain its rule in Mozambique. The colony’s economy needed both irrigation and hydroelectricity, but Portugal also reasoned that supplying South Africa with inexpensive power would encourage that nation to help fight the independence group Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which opposed the dam’s construction. After Mozambique achieved independence in 1975, the FRELIMO-led government refused to maintain the unprofitable dam, and blamed the dam’s fiscal woes on the low electricity prices Portugal had set for South Africa.

During Mozambique s seventeen year long civil war Cabora Bassa and associated projects ...

Article

Edwin Corena Puentes

was born in the city of Cali, Colombia, to Alicia Angulo and Héctor Caicedo, parents of African descent. From a very young age, he demonstrated in his math classes a strength for defining realities with numbers. He went to high school at the Colegio Antonio José Camacho, then completed his undergraduate studies at the Universidad del Valle, where he earned a degree in electronics engineering in 2005. During those years of training, he began to contribute to research projects in topics such as information services and thin-film technology. For his academic performance and discipline, he was advised by researchers at the university’s Escuela de Electrónica (Electronics School) to participate in the creation of a digital electrocardiograph system. In more common terms, this is a cardiovascular diagnostic procedure that is commonly utilized in modern medicine.

Caicedo s passion for research and innovation in the field of applied technology for curing ...

Article

Araceli Reynoso

was born on 2 December 1919 in Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca. His parents were Francisco José María Carrillo and Candelaria Morales, a mulata originally from Juchitán, a small town located within what is today the municipality of Azoyú in the state of Guerrero. He had three more siblings. His mother died when he was still a child, after which his father married Teodora Alarcón. Álvaro took his stepmother’s last name in recognition of the fact that she had raised him and his siblings.

Álvaro liked to say that he was oaxaqueño by birth and raised by the Costa Chica of Guerrero a region that has historically identified itself as the major African presence in Mexico Costa Chica or Small Coast covers the southern Pacific coast of Mexico beginning in Acapulco Guerrero and ending in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Africans arrived in this area of Mexico in the middle of the sixteenth century ...

Article

Osire Glacier

the first female pilot in Morocco and the Maghreb, was born into a bourgeois family in Fez on 14 December 1936. Her father, Abdelwahed Chaoui, was an avant-garde journalist and an actor who wanted his daughter to have an exemplary education, including training in Arabic and French and in Moroccan and Western cultures (Morocco was at the time a French protectorate). From her childhood, she distinguished herself by her exceptional intelligence, impressing her teachers as well as the director of her school.

In addition to her success in school Chaoui demonstrated strong leadership skills When she was seven years old she organized a strike in her school to protest against the violence of the colonial authorities She made her young peers promise that they would not return to their classrooms until the French authorities liberated the students who had been arrested in a public demonstration in favor of Morocco ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

construction engineer in the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 17 December 1931 in Boali, a town north of Bangui known for its waterfalls and hydoelectric plants, in what is now the CAR’s Ombella Mpoko prefecture. His mother was a Banda from central Ubangi-Shari, and his father was a Gbanu, an ethnic group classified with the Gbaya-speaking peoples who constitute about one-half of the population of the CAR. Béfio is a common Gbaya name, but Béfio’s father died when he was very young and so he was raised for the most part by Banda members of his family.

After attending primary school in Boali from 1939 to 1943 and in Bangui from 1943 to 1946 and secondary school in Bangui in 1946, Dallot-Béfio became the first Central African student granted a scholarship to study in France, where he attended the Lycée de garçons in Nice from 1947 to 1952 ...

Article

Susanne Freidberg

Until the end of World War II, the term development generally referred to biological growth processes, and its economic significance was only metaphorical. But development acquired a new meaning when President Harry Truman introduced a term that implied the antithesis in his inaugural speech in 1949:

We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of the underdeveloped areas. More than half of the people of the world are living in conditions approaching poverty. … Their poverty is a handicap and a threat to both them and to more prosperous areas….

Thus development was defined as a need and a goal as soon as certain areas among them the entire African continent were defined as underdeveloped Within several years development became an important field of study in economics sociology and other social sciences ...

Article

Samir Amin and Jesse Ribot

At the end of four decades of postwar development, the results are so varied that one is tempted to reject the common expression “Third World” when describing all the countries that have been the subject of development policies over these decades. Today, we justifiably oppose a newly industrialized competitive Third World to a marginalized “Fourth World,” to which Africa in its entirety belongs.

Article

Jeremy Rich

astrophysicist and politician, was born in Nioro a town in Mali close to the border with Mauritania He was the son of Moussa Diarra a clerk for the French colonial government and a trade unionist who backed the Parti Progressiste Soudanais of Fily Dabo Sissoko The leftist regime of the early 1960s had Moussa Diarra exiled to a town in northern Mali Modibo Diarra and three of his four brothers had remarkable careers later in life Cheick Sidi Diarra went on to become the special Africa advisor for United Nations chairman Ban Ki Moon Cheick Hamallah Diarra later was an urban planner for the New York City municipal government Sidi Sosso Diarra the eldest of the brothers was a skilled accountant who later went on to be an influential civil servant for the Malian government Modibo Diarra relocated to the larger city of Segu when he was relatively ...

Article

Dior Konaté

Senegalese scientist and specialist in artificial intelligence, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She was one of seven children. Combining her passion for sciences and her fascination for knowledge webs, Dieng-Kuntz made significant contributions to computer science research.

Dieng-Kuntz received her elementary education in Dakar and planned to be a writer, yet she became passionate about mathematics after her teachers convinced her to switch to that discipline. Dieng-Kuntz attended Van Vollenhoven High School in Dakar and at the school’s concours général, she took the top places in mathematics, French, and Latin, and second in Greek. In 1972 she passed her scientific baccalaureate with honors and congratulations of the jury. She then earned a scholarship to the Grande École Polytechnique in Paris. Rose Dieng-Kuntz was the first black African woman to be admitted to that prestigious institution. Upon graduation from the École Polytechnique in 1978 with a doctorate in information ...

Article

Missing historical identity has always plagued African Americans In a dramatic protest against this problem Malcolm Little rejected his American surname and took on X to denote his lost and seemingly irretrievable African last name and the genealogy that went with it He became Malcolm X The transatlantic slave trade one of the largest forced migrations of people in history brought more than ten million Africans to North America Latin America and the Caribbean There in part because of the loss of the cultural institutions that maintained African oral traditions most of their descendants who number now many millions more have only a vague notion that their origins lay somewhere on the African continent Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that the slave trade made it impossible for an African American to ever know his true family name or even what tribe he was descended from the Mandingos the Wolof ...

Article

Kahiudi C. Mabana

Congolese writer and chemist, was born on 14 July 1941 to a Congolese father and a central African mother. He was nineteen when Congo-Brazzaville achieved independence, which allowed him to refine his views on history and the surrounding world.

After secondary school in the Congo, Dongala embarked for the United States, where he obtained a BA in chemistry at Oberlin College and an MA at Rutgers University. He completed a doctorate in organic chemistry in France. Returning to his country, he worked as a chemistry professor at the Université Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville, where he passed a large part of his life. But he spent most of his time on literature and theater. For years he ran the Théâtre de l’Éclair in Brazzaville, until the political troubles that arose in the Congo forced him into exile in 1998 First he went to France where to the surprise of all involved ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

Greek polymath most noted for his calculation of the circumference of the earth and his invention of the discipline of geography, was born in Cyrene in modern Libya, an outpost of Greek culture; he was exposed early to exotic contacts at the end of the Greek world. Nothing is known about his youth, but by the 260s BCE he was studying in Athens, primarily with the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, and Arcesilaus of Pitane, the director of the Academy. He was also a close associate of the mathematician Archimedes, who dedicated at least one work to him. Eratosthenes was thus trained in the wide variety of thought that Hellenistic Athens offered, and his early writings demonstrate his ability in philosophy, philology, and mathematics. But there are few details about the nearly twenty years that he spent in the city.

In 246 BCE the new Ptolemaic king Ptolemy III ...