Astronomy is a key instrument for development

Koos Degenaar -- Wed, 05/06/2015 - 17:01

Astronomy is a key instrument for development

A prominent member of the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prof Nithaya Chetty, visited the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) for the third time on 5 May 2015.

He presented a public lecture on the stimulating developments of astronomy in South Africa to a large number of young and aspiring scientists, general public, other members of the science community as well as students and staff.

He was also one of the key note speakers during the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Agricultural Science and Technology.

Prof Chetty is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and stands as a nominal member of the South African Institute of Physics.  Among his many awards he was presented the NRF president’s award in 1997 and is a two-time recipient of the American Fullbright Fellowship.  Prof Chetty is a full professor of physics at the University of Pretoria. Motivated by his hard work, he also occupies the position of NRF Deputy CEO Astronomy.

Astronomy in Southern Africa is gradually witnessing extensive growth in terms of infrastructure, investments and human capacity development. South Africa and Australia has won the bid to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope which is the world's largest radio telescope.

This illustrious professor who was delighted to visit the campus again, shared his thoughts on astronomy as a key instrument for development. He also spoke about how this discipline is changing the landscape for research, engineering, technology, development, education, public engagements and internationalisation in our country, since astronomy is in many ways a lead endeavour and is breaking new unchartered grounds for other disciplines to follow.

The lecture was very stimulating and Prof Chetty answered some of the fundamental questions in science. He also explained the reasons why South Africa is investing so much in astronomy as it is an effective instrument for development and stands as an exciting subject for people both young and old helping in building new generations of scientists.  

Prof Chetty (right) from the National Research Foundation