Projects

Garment of Destiny

Work on a new single-author book with a working title of “Garment of Destiny” will be started. The title is derived from Martin Luther King: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects … [Read more]

Quantum Chaos in Many-Body Systems

The concept of chaos in classical mechanics is well defined. The classically chaotic system studied in its quantum mechanical version, “quantum chaos”, shows special features that are different from the corresponding classically regular system. In the studies of quantum chaos random matrix theory and semiclassical methods are often used to classify the complexity of the … [Read more]

Infectious causes of human cancers: results and perspectives

During the past decades it became evident that at least 21% of the global cancer incidence is linked to viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. Among these infectious agents, viruses play a rather dominant role. In part we do understand the mechanisms by which these agents contribute to cancer development. Some of them act as direct … [Read more]

The cellular and molecular connectome of somatic sensation

The underlying circuitry for somatic sensation remains a mystery. Although different kinds of somatic sensory neurons are specialized to respond to certain qualities of stimuli, they all release glutamate. Therefore, the way of conveying the quality of the perception onto the central nervous system must rely on precise terminations in the spinal cord dedicated to … [Read more]

The Performance of Democracies

Over the last century, several waves of democracy have swept over the globe, bringing representative democracy to places where it seemed inconceivable. There are many reasons to be enthusiastic about this historically remarkable development.  However, this enthusiasm is dampened by three things. One is that there is only a very weak correlation between established measures … [Read more]

Crime-focused Law and Colonial Sovereignty at the Cape of Good Hope, circa 1795-1810

Through quasi-inquisitorial procedures for identifying particular subjects as criminals, law at the Cape circa 1795-1810 fashioned hierarchies of criminals in the name of a particular sovereign’s justice. This research programme will explore – by reviewing official records of criminal cases – how law claimed to serve a sovereignly endorsed social order while simultaneously authorizing particular … [Read more]

Invertebrate motor control and inhibitory motoneurons

The miniaturisation of animal body cells is limited, and as a consequence, muscle and nerve cells are of similar diameters in large and small animals, to within an order of magnitude. Small animals thus have to control their behaviour with much fewer muscle fibres and nerve cells. Insect muscles may consist of a few tens … [Read more]

Novel approaches to stabilize atherosclerotic plaques

Cardiovascular disease has for many years been the leading cause of death in western societies and the incidence is now also rapidly increasing in many developing countries. The major clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease are acute myocardial infarction and stroke. These acute events are caused by atherosclerosis, a chronic degenerative disease of large and medium-sized … [Read more]

The sense of beauty in the Nederlansliedjies of Cape Town’s sangkore

Nederlandsliedjies are one of the two most important repertoires of creole songs which feature in the competitions of the Sangkore (also called: Nagtroepe, Hollandse Teams or Malay Choirs); they are also the repertoire that raises the strongest emotions among listeners and singers belonging to the group that was labelled “coloured” during apartheid. Consequently competitions are … [Read more]

Understanding Non-Contractual Obligations: Unjust Enrichment and the Law of Torts in Comparative and Historical Perspective

Whereas the European and South African law of contracts is today seen as a normatively integrated part of the law of obligations that can be explained coherently on the basis of an overarching theory or a set of intellectually related principles, the rest of the law of obligations is apparently still understood as resulting from … [Read more]