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It's a tale of dating elephants and exploding atomic bombs. Of how, for the first time, the consequences of open-air atomic bomb testing will be able to assist with determining the age of elephants and hopefully put an end to the illegal ivory trade.
And it's a story of a nuclear physicist from the University of the Witwatersrand who has used his expertise to find a way to date elephant tusks, to an accuracy of 99 percent - something which has never been done before.
Dr Elias Sideras-Haddad is Lebanese, was born in Egypt and raised in Greece. He did his post-doctoral research in the United States at the famous "Star Wars Lab", the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which researches warfare techniques. He now works as a diamond physicist and lecturer of nuclear physics at Wits.
One of the reasons he prefers to be based in this country, he says, is because of his affinity for wildlife.
"I'm crazy about the Kruger National Park. The main reason I'm in this country is because of the park," Sideras-Haddad says.
He is sitting in his office at the physics department. It's somewhat of a let-down, not exactly what you'd expect the office of a renowned physicist to look like.
There are two desks on opposite ends of the room - one with a computer, the other without - a small bookcase, and some shelves where a few files rest.
It's not filled with the clutter of papers and textbooks that one imagines research brings with it.
Sideras-Haddad apologises for his sparse office: "I'm in the middle of moving right now, so all my books aren't here."
He apologises again about his lack of plug points as he gets down on his knees and slips under his desk to unplug the computer and replace the plug with that of his laptop battery.
He opens a presentation to explain how he has applied a process called accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to date elephant tusks.
The current test used for dating tusks, the carbon-14 dating method, can be used only to date items older than 300 years and younger than 60 000 years.
It's a destructive technique, explains Sideras-Haddad.
"It needs very big samples to work with. An arrow made out of bone was discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves. It was crafted and believed to be about 45 000 years old, and showed that humans had a sense of aesthetics back then."
But in order to date the arrow head, it had to be cut in half, and that sample was submitted for dating.
It was burnt, and from the released carbon dioxide, carbon-14 is measured and the object dated.
A sizeable portion of the artefact was lost for ever.
AMS is, however, different.
Sideras-Haddad says it uses samples less than a thousand times the size used for the carbon-14 dating method, and while the latter takes three days to date a sample, AMS takes three minutes. It means large numbers of small samples can be tested quickly.
AMS also uses something called the nuclear bomb pulse curve, a graph which depicts the measure of carbon-14 content in the atmosphere from 1946 to the present date.
"In the 1940s, when the world started doing open-air nuclear bomb tests, it almost doubled the carbon-14 in the atmosphere.
"In 1963 they banned open-air bomb tests. Then the carbon-14 decreased very rapidly. By 2020 we expect it to reach normal levels," says Sideras-Haddad.
But until then, by using AMS, the level of carbon-14 is determined and a date is able to be calculated.
Sideras-Haddad is keen to explain his work in detail - he doesn't want nuclear physics, something people commonly associate with nuclear bombs, to be associated only with bombs.
"We don't even talk about nuclear bombs these days. You don't need a nuclear physicist to do that anymore, you need a chemical engineer instead," Sideras-Haddad quips.
"The Star Wars Lab, for instance, is definitely a war laboratory.
"But the work and research they are doing doesn't all relate to war," he says.
Sideras-Haddad, however, wants to launch a different kind of war - a war on poaching using his dating method to identify ivory from recently killed elephants.
He recalls a visit to the scientific services department at the Kruger National Park to obtain elephant tusk samples.
"I had to go to take the samples out. They gave me three very small tusks but in that room they had tons and tons. It was packed to the top with elephant tusks."
He sees no reason why the tusks of elephants culled more than 10 or 15 years should not be sold.
"If you can only trade in tusks from elephants that died 10 or more years ago if you are a poacher and you kill an elephant you will have to put it in the cupboard for 10 years and in that time your business will be destroyed," says Sideras-Haddad.
He acknowledges that the ban on ivory trade was instituted to address the issue of poachers.
In 1991 Kenya lobbied for a ban on the trade and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) declared it illegal.
"Huge revenue comes to the parks from the sale of ivory to the East.
"A lot of this revenue has been lost because of the ban, which, I believe, was initiated in terms of total incompetence with respect to Kenya's managerial policies at their parks," says Sideras-Haddad.
He says the AMS method is foolproof.
"The only way to influence the results of the dating is to pay the guys doing the analysis.
"I'm not sentimental," he adds. "I don't think we should be squeamish about not culling an overgrown elephant population that is destroying the biodiversity around it," Sideras-Haddad explains.
His technique is undergoing the slow process of being patented, and although there has been superficial interest from the Kruger National Park and the departments of agriculture and of environmental affairs and tourism, Sideras-Haddad says it has not been sufficient to encourage implementation of the dating technique or a call for the lifting of the ivory trade ban.
There are 15 years or so in which to squash the poaching industry and it's important to start now, he maintains.