Weymouth and Portland U3A Science Club
Talk Programme from January to December 2018
All talks on second Tuesday of the month at 1000h in the Church Centre, St Aldhelm's Church, Spa Road, Weymouth
(£1 payable at the door for U3A-controlled expenses plus voluntary 20p for Tea/Coffee and biscuits)
Organised by Alex Scott (contact number 01305 760748; email@example.com)
January 9th Population ecology and behavior of the European barbel, a recreationally important translocated fish by Catherine Gutmann Roberts
Catherine is in the final stages of her PhD at Bournemouth University and relishes the opportunity to present her research to a mixed audience. She will talk about the background to her research as well as sharing with us some of her original data on angler catch data, reproduction, growth, diet and movement. It is a fantastic chance for us to hear from and to interact with a young scientist at the cutting edge. [This is the talk that we supposed to have this September, but which I cancelled]
February 13th A future for the UK Livestock Industry by Maurice Bichard
Maurice was born in Guernsey a long time ago, read Animal Production at Reading, then researched and lectured in livestock genetics at Newcastle for 15 years, before helping to build what is today the world's premier animal breeding company (Genus). Since retirement he has tried to keep up to date with an agriculture which today allows you to spend only one third as much of your income on food (10%) as did your grandparents after WW2.
The UK is expecting a new Agriculture Act in 2018, with a White Paper in advance, and Maurice has spent months putting together a Report, addressed to Government and others, trying to provide an informative background to future policy. This report is based on a Workshop he organised in London in September 2017. Basically, after Brexit, the Department of the Environment, within which Agriculture now sits, despite being free from EU constraints, will have to try and reconcile a need for affordable food while at the same time preserving wildlife and keeping up a high standard of animal welfare.
To those who would like to watch Maurice talking about the genetic improvement of livestock, please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogmuQ9SSOdw
March 13th Production, Processing, Performance by Tony Fisher
Tony, a member of Dorchester U3A, used to run a small company which provided software services to the steel industry. Luckily, what went on in that industry, for example dunking a 10-tonne charge of white-hot steel into water, fascinated him because he soon discovered that to sell software to bluff Yorkshire steel-men you had to know almost as much about steel as they did. This talk and video is an introduction to the materials used in demanding applications; how they are made, processed, heat-treated and tested. It concentrates mainly on alloy-steels used in offshore oilfield applications but similar principles apply to other alloys (eg nickel-alloys or aluminium-bronzes) and in other application areas (eg nuclear, aerospace).
(Alex says: This is not a field with which I have even the slightest familiarity and thus I am very excited about what Tony will tell us.)
April 10th The Development and use of airborne Remote Sensing and hands on 3D visualisation of that data. By Nick Holden
Nick lives locally. He was the Development Manager of the National Centre for Environmental Data and Surveillance (Environment Agency) in Bath. He started his career analysing drinking water in Dorset to ensure it was safe to drink. He then moved on to analysing effluent waters and then to developing new methods of sample collection and analysis. This progressed to planning and carrying out of large scale surveys on both land and sea. As the areas involved became so large the EA had to employ new remote sensing techniques to achieve its goals (one of which was to answer the question about whether England and Wales really were, as once claimed, 'the dirty man of Europe').
The talk will cover techniques such as LIDAR (laser RADAR), synthetic aperture RADAR, satellite RADAR, CASI (multispectral imagery), digital spectral analysis, bathymetric systems and survey platforms (planes, boats and vehicles). After the tea break there will be audience participation in a 3D fly around Dorset and the near shore environment.
May 15th 'To Boldly Go' - looking for life and our place in the universe - By Richard Doney
In 1950 Enrico Fermi asked "where are they?" He was wondering why, if there was life elsewhere in the universe, we hadn't seen it. This talk considers that possibility and looks at the missions that have been gathering evidence for the existence of life elsewhere and of the nature of the universe.
Richard Doney, who is a retired chartered engineer with an undiminished interest in all aspects of science and technology and a member of the Lyme Regis U3A, has visited our group already to give us two highly informative, beautifully crafted and much appreciated talks about the development of the Internet and of the Atomic Bomb. (Alex says: For anyone who has heard his talks before, you won't want to miss this latest offering.)
June 12th The history of Pi by Colin Beveridge
Colin lives locally, has a PhD in Mathematics from St Andrews and is the author of Cracking Mathematics, an unreliable history of maths, as well as several books in the ‘for Dummies’ series see his webpages at: http://www.flyingcoloursmaths.co.uk/ and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Level-Maths-Dummies-Colin Beveridge/dp/1119078466/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
In this talk, he explores the history of one of the most famous constants in maths, why it’s so important, and some unexpected places it crops up.
July and August No talks!
September 11th Nuclear Criticality - Accidents and Control by Bernard Franklin
Bernard retired as a Principal Consultant on Reactor Physics and Criticality Safety in 2014 after 40+ years in the nuclear industry, based at Winfrith. His early work included measurement of Fast Reactor neutron spectra and developing subcritical monitoring techniques. This was extended to thermal reactor fuel storage accident simulations. In the early 1990s he worked, on secondment, for the CEA at Cadarache in Provence. After that he worked on criticality and reactor physics issues both within the UK and abroad.
Nuclear criticality safety is a field of nuclear engineering dedicated to the prevention of nuclear and radiation accidents resulting from an inadvertent, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. The talk will define what is meant by criticality, including the conditions and materials that can contribute to a criticality accident. It will also review some examples of criticality accidents and how they could have been prevented.
(Alex says: This sounds yet another very interesting topic that nicely complements the recent talk that we had on the atomic bomb).
October 8th Battery Development by John Gifford (further details to follow)
November 13th The light at the end of the tunnel: the challenges to make the first laser. by Peter Blood
Peter studied physics at the University of Leeds then worked for 20 years at Philips Research Laboratories, Redhill, during which time he spent a year at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell and 14 months at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill in the USA. He was appointed professor at Cardiff University in 1991, where he continued his work on laser diodes. In addition to teaching in Cardiff he has lectured regularly in the UK and overseas. While at Philips he co-authored two books with his colleague John Orton, and his textbook on laser diodes was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. He “retired” in 2011 ….but he’s still to be found in the physics department on Fridays with a group of students……
Semiconductor lasers are at the heart of modern digital information technology, optical fibre communications and optical disc systems, yet at one time they were not regarded as relevant to the telecommunications industry: a solution looking for a problem! Their operation rests upon a concept enunciated by Einstein in 1917 but thought impossible to implement. However, with determination, the principle was demonstrated in 1953 and the first laser made in 1961; the first semiconductor laser was demonstrated in 1962 but it was not until 1970 that a practical device operating at room temperature was made. Many of those who contributed to these advances faced discouragement and had difficulty in getting their work published, but two of them were eventually recognised with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000. The history of the laser is as much about the people as about the physics.
December 11th Marine toxin threats in the UK by Andrew Turner
As Principal Chemist in the Cefas Weymouth Food Safety Group, Andrew is responsible for the biotoxin testing in shellfish performed on behalf of the UK competent authorities. He oversees the development and implementation of new methods of food safety surveillance and leads the development of research activities of the chemistry team. He has over 18 years postgraduate experience delivering analytical chemistry in a commercial environment. Current research interests include the development of new instrumental methods of marine biotoxins, assessment of rapid testing methods and the impact of cyanobacteria on food safety. They also include the development and production of stable reference materials, risks from new and emerging toxins and chemical contaminants within UK waters.
The talk will include: background and detection methods; cause and implications of dog deaths following mass stranding of fish on East Anglian beaches following recent winter storms; the discovery of tetrodotoxin (the deadly puffer fish poison) in UK waters. Ciguatera fish poisoning from imported fish.
(Alex says: I am one of Andrew's admirers. While I was still at the laboratory he worked tirelessly to develop a method for detecting shellfish poisons that did not involve the use of live animals. This was an outstanding achievement.)
Accepting suggestions and offers for 2019