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Author Topic: Astronomer Unearths Evidence of Scientific Africa  (Read 7850 times)
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« on: April 04, 2006, 07:58:52 PM »

Astronomer Unearths Evidence of Scientific Tradition in Africa

Thebe Medupe, a rising star in South Africa's astronomy community, hopes his work will attract other young blacks into science and technology.

Part of apartheid involved destroying people's aspirations," says Thebe Medupe, a South African astronomer. "Imagine being a black child and all the time reading about other peoples' histories and other peoples' way of doing things. You start having doubts about whether you played any role in human history."

Medupe grew up in a rural village in northwest South Africa. When he was 13, he built a telescope. "I remember the first night I pointed the telescope toward the Moon," he says. "It was amazing to see the craters, the valleys, and the mountains. Since that time I knew that my career was going to be in astronomy."

Today, Medupe, 32, who earned a PhD in physics at the University of Cape Town, is a researcher at the South African Astronomical Observatory. On top of his research on variable stars, Medupe explores cultural astronomy and historical scientific activity in Africa. In the 2003 documentary film Cosmic Africa, Medupe visits indigenous peoples across the continent to learn about the form and significance that astronomy takes in their cultures. His latest project involves scouring ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu, Mali, for references to science and math.

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