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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


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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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