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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



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Discovery in Scorpius constellation may signify clean energy for Earth
2017-01-23

 Description: Discovery in Scorpius constellation may signify clean energy for Earth Tags: Discovery in Scorpius constellation may signify clean energy for Earth

Earlier this year, a group of international astronomers
announced the discovery of an exotic binary star system,
AR Scorpii. The system is in the Scorpius constellation.
Photos: Supplied

See article on Nature’s website 

In future, stargazers and astronomers will look at the Scorpius constellation near the Milky Way with new eyes. Earlier this year, a group of international astronomers announced the discovery of an exotic binary star system, AR Scorpii. The system is in the Scorpius constellation.

Prof Pieter Meintjes, researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS), worked with four colleagues on what he describes as a “wonderful discovery”. This sensational discovery, which could lead to the production of cleaner energy on Earth, will be published in the research journal, Nature, early in 2017.

Model developed to interpret new set of measurements
The exotic binary star which was discovered consists of a red dwarf and a white dwarf revolving around each other every 3,5 hours. The binary system showed very prominent pulsations of 117 and 118 seconds respectively. The pulsations can be explained by a bundle radiation produced by the white dwarf star.

“These new observations have shown that the radiation is strongly polarised, a sign that we are dealing with synchrotron radiation here. Synchrotron radiation is produced by electrons accelerated to extremely high energy levels in the magnetic field of the white dwarf star,” says Prof Meintjes.

He developed a theoretical model to interpret a new set of measurements that was taken by the 1,9 m telescope and the 10 m SALT telescope at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAA0).

Totally unique phenomenon could contribute to energy production on Earth
“I further indicated that the interaction between the magnetic fields of the white dwarf star and the red dwarf star induces secondary processes that specifically describe the behaviour of the radiation in the radio band and infrared band accurately. AR Sco is the first white-red dwarf binary system of which all the pulsated radiation could be explained by the synchrotron process, which is totally unique,” says Prof Meintjes.

According to Prof Meintjes, the value of the model lies in the fact that the processes which produce the radiation in AR Sco, can also be applied to produce energy on Earth.

 

Plasma reactors are based on roughly the same processes which apply in AR Sco, and with refining, it could be utilised to generate electricity in future. This will be much cleaner than nuclear energy.

 

The model developed by Prof Meintjes explains all the radiation in the system – from radio waves to X-rays – in terms of electrons accelerated to extremely high energy levels by electric fields in the system, which then produce synchrotron radiation over a very wide band of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Prof Meintjes is currently working on a follow-up article examining the evolution of the AR Sco, in other words, the origin of such a unique system and the final state towards which it is evolving. “My vision for the immediate future is therefore to develop a model for the evolution of the source concerned,” he says.

 

 

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