Physics institute hosts 59th annual conference

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pretoria – Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has congratulated the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) for its ground-breaking initiatives that have changed the face of science in the country.

“I would like to congratulate the institute for its pioneering review initiatives that have and will have far-reaching effects on science training. In 2004, the institute reviewed the science disciplines through the International Panel Report on Shaping the Future of Physics in South Africa.

“Thirteen of the 14 recommendations from the review have been implemented, including the establishment of the National Institute of Theoretical Physics (NITheP), the formation of the DST-funded SAIP Office, the Synchrotron Research Strategy, and the South African National Research Network (SANReN) that are crucial for projects such as big data transfers through SKA and the biosciences,” said Minister Pandor.

She was speaking at the 59th annual conference of the SAIP, held at the University of Johannesburg on Monday evening.

The minister also commended SAIP for running the Physics Teacher Development Project. She encouraged SAIP to expand this project to all nine provinces, especially to include previously disadvantaged communities.

SAIP also hosts the Photovoltaics Workshop, which is important in light of the country’s energy build programme. Currently, renewable energy contributes very little to primary energy, and even less to the consumption of commercial energy. South Africa has a renewable energy target of 10 000 GW hours.

Minister Pandor said in order to reach this renewable energy target, more needs to be invested in research and development.

“The SAIP is addressing this need through the Entrepreneurship for Physicists and Engineers programme,” said the minister.

The SAIP was established in July 1955 and has grown to a membership of about 490 members (as of June 2004), of which about 10% are in other African countries or further abroad.

It has also diversified to the extent that there are today a number of specialist groups within the SAIP, concentrating on more specific fields, whilst participating in the general activities of the institute. –