Untold Stories

The Untold Stories in the History of Physics in South Africa

 The publication of the book “Physics in South Africa”, edited by PR de Kock and H Moraal, prompts the opening of a new phase in gathering the archives of physics in South Africa.

 To quote the Introduction:

“When does the history of physics begin? Which of the different histories should be told? Did all potential contributors have a full opportunity to participate?”

“Particularly in southern Africa, one can rightfully imagine that the story begins over two million years ago... However, the chronicling of this period, potentially rich in evidence of knowledge generation and innovation, is still ongoing, and will be revealed in due course by other disciplines which are expert in deciphering the records that remain of this important heritage.”

“The interval from 1830 to 1994 spans a variety of political contexts in which science was carried out. During that time, many aspiring physicists were discouraged, and many practicing physicists were lost to the field or to the country. In many cases, records of these life stories have not survived. Therefore, while no history can claim to be complete, this particular one leaves out the acknowledgement of many thinkers, and many thoughts. Indeed, there are many such untold stories, and these may be of exclusions, difficulties, campaigns for broader participation and transformation, and the successes in managing to continue to participate under difficult conditions. It is hoped that this account may encourage some of the untold stories to be heard and recorded.”

The full Introduction of the book can be found here.

In addition, therefore, to the material that has been gathered through the Departments and Institutions by the unflagging efforts of the Editors, there are many stories that have not yet been told, and we invite members of the physics community to record them now, using this web interface.

To contribute, please email us.

Contact details

We ask contributors to email us their details, so that we can make contact for the next History of Physics project.


© South African Institute of Physics,July 2013

ISBN: 978-0-620-56602-5

Your story

Please submit your contribution via this email.

Acceptable formats

We are prepared to accept your contribution in MS Word, LaTeX, or pdf format.


Please include historical data as far as possible: dates (especially years), places, and the historical context. Contributions should be in English as the common language of physics in South Africa at present. 

Corrections to, or historical comments on, the current volume are acceptable.

Contributions containing hate speech, significant inaccuracies, or material outside the bounds of the practice of physics will be ignored.

The editors reserve the right to use or discard material at their discretion.

 What will happen to my contribution?

Within 10 years, it is hoped that material will be edited and added to “Physics in South Africa”, in the form of Annexures or additional volumes. The document should serve as living archives for the community of physicists.

Copyright © 2015 South African Institute of Physics. All rights reserved.