Science and Technology Group
The science & technology group meet on the first Friday of every month in the Lopes Arms. Meetings start at 11.15 and finish at 12.30. Come a few minutes early if you wish to purchase a drink from the bar. One or more members of the group will give a presentation on a topic of their interest to the rest of the group, usually followed by a lively Q&A session. There is no restrictions on the method of presentation or the chosen subject matter.
The first topic of discussion was Gridwatch, a webpage mentioned by Martin at the previous meeting. Ginny had downloaded it to demonstrate to the rest of the group. Basically, it shows the UK’s electricity production in real time and over the previous day, month and year.
Pat mentioned science week (March 6-15). Several Plymouth libraries were participating with 3D printers and other displays.
Geoff had mentioned a brewery visit, science and technology at work. It’s not for the beer as half the group don’t drink beer. Ginny agreed to check it out, but that has been put on temporary hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alan produced his new, and first ever, smart phone. He was having problems with the settings and asked for help. We all suggested he talk to Martin, who freely admits to being a smart phone geek.
Finally, we discussed COVID-19, which since the meeting has been declared a pandemic. We all expressed concerns on how we would cope if things got worse.
The February meeting was held at The Lopes Arms. 5 regular members attended, and we were joined by 1 new member.
Ginny started the meeting with a talk about the UK’s electricity production and how it has changed in the last decade. Ten years ago, our electricity production was mostly fossil fuel based with very little renewable energy production. Now it is completely different with renewables replacing all fossil fuels except for natural gas. This led to a discussion about the government’s attempts to make the UK net-zero carbon emissions, especially concerning electric cars and the change from gas heating in our homes to electric heating.
Martin mentioned a website he likes to visit called gridwatch.templar.co.uk. This site shows the GB National Grid status with a separate chart for each category of production. Purely for his own amusement, the designer of the website displays all the information on analogue dials which makes them look like old fashioned meter dials.
Alan then showed us an early Sony Walkman MD player and explained how it works. The player is the size of a cassette tape, but we were all surprised how heavy it was. The disc looks like a smaller version of a floppy disc. To record on the disc a laser heats one side of the disc to its Curie point, making the material of the disc susceptible to a magnetic field. A magnetic head on the other side of the disc alters the polarity of the heated area, recording the data on the disc. Playback is accomplished with the laser alone. Sony claimed that one disc could be reused up to one million times. The format was only popular in Japan and the UK, eventually been replaced by MP3 players and iPods.
Pat, who admits to being an avid “cloud watcher”, brought several books with pictures of clouds especially the rarer ones. She also had a couple of cloud selector charts, which look like planispheres with clouds instead of stars.
The December meeting was held on Friday 6th at the Lopes Arms. Only two members were able to attend with even the group leader being absent. This report was prepared by Pat.
Only two present, Pat & Martin. Geoff was poorly, hope he is better soon.
Martin explained some of the features of his very up to the minute smartphone. Pat explained the differences between dry steam, flash steam and binary cycle power plants.
Martin spoke about his work in the nuclear power industry, and Pat spoke about her work on test sites in the British aircraft industry.
A good morning’s science and technology from mobile phones to Vulcan bombers.
The S&T group met at The Lopes Arms on 1st November. Every member had a short presentation prepared.
Pat gave a talk about geothermal energy and briefly explained the three main methods used. She mentioned an experimental project near Redruth which is being financed by EU grants, so may have to be closed after Brexit.
Ginny spoke about the Snellen fraction and explained what 6/6 (“six-six”) vision means. The other members where surprised to learn that only the USA uses the 20/20 vision system.
Alan spoke about digital cameras, specifically about how colour photos are produced by the camera using many individual sensors. Each sensor is sensitive to only one colour, but there are twice as many sensors for green light as there are for the blue and red light.
John, who was in the Navy for 10 years, talked about the principles of navigation at sea using celestial and land-based sightings. He also described the maps that naval officers must use.
Martin gave a talk about Project Loon, a way of supplying internet connection using helium filled balloons. This is proving very useful when natural disaster destroys regular internet connection. Both Pat and John expressed concerns about the environmental impact of using helium in this way.
Geoff spoke about solitary bees and their nesting habits. He explained how the bee put several eggs into each cavity in such a way that the males hatch out first and the females a bit later.
The October meeting was a planned field trip to the hydro turbine house at Castle Drogo. However due to circumstances beyond our control (weather and road works) the event was changed to lunch and a walk at Castle Drogo.
|Dates for your Diary|
|Fri Apr 3rd||Meet 11.15 in the Lopes Arms, Roborough. Cancelled due to Coronavirus Outbreak|
|Fri May 1st||Meet 11.15 in the Lopes Arms, Roborough. Cancelled due to Coronavirus Outbreak|