Weymouth and Portland U3A Science Club
Meets on second Tuesday Monthly at 11am or 1pm via Zoom
Attendance Instructions: The talks will take place via Zoom at either 11am or 1pm on the dates shown. If you have already received emails from Alex Scott, then you do not need to do anything. Alex will send you a reminder email as normal for each talk and another ‘on the day’ giving you a Zoom link and a password that will enable you to join the meeting from either 10.30am or 12.30 onwards. If you are not a member of the Weymouth and Portland U3A, please contact Alex Scott via the U3A website so that I can put you on the mailing list. New members are welcome.
Please note: Talks may be cancelled or re-arranged under certain circumstances. If your name is on the contact list, you will be informed of these changes by email.
March 9th 2021 11am Nuclear Fusion...Power for the Future? by Robin Stafford Allen FIMechE
We are facing a growing problem with energy for the world population, which is growing at an astounding rate; and as the standard of living is also rising, the demand for energy is rising faster than the population growth rate. The vast majority of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuel. This cannot continue indefinitely as oil reserves are finite and Global Warming means we may face a serious food shortage if the climate changes radically. Renewables are providing only a few percent of the energy for the world and almost all renewables, with the exception of hydroelectric dams, are “in addition to” and not “instead of” power stations and so cannot be relied upon for continuous “base-load” energy supply. Nuclear fission has contributed a significant amount to the base-load supply but there are issues with this technology, and so researchers are examining using Nuclear Fusion, the process that keeps the sun hot as hydrogen is transmuted into helium releasing energy in the process.
The talk will cover this world energy issue and then move on to showing what Nuclear Fusion is, and how it is being researched using the machines in UK (JET) and the latest machine in France (ITER). The presenter aims to show the progress towards putting Fusion generated electricity on to the grid within our lifetime.
Robin Stafford Allen started his professional life in the Motor Industry with a branch of General Motors: Vauxhall/Bedford in Luton. After a Masters in Bio-engineering at Surrey (1976) he worked for several years on the engineering of the first generation of MRI magnets and cryostats with Oxford Magnet Technology, then part of Oxford Instruments. He joined the Culham Science Centre near Oxford in 1992, working on Cryogenics and on the Heating and Fuelling of plasmas. Five years ago he retired from working full time at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy on the mechanical engineering of the plasma-heating equipment for the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) machine in France, and the British fusion research effort MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) machine. Robin is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Since retiring he works part time for the
IMechE and lectures part-time on Engineering at Oxford Brookes University.
April 13th 2021 1pm How ‘ringing in the ears’ can help find Nemo – by Ewan Hunter
Ewan leads research into the behavioural ecology and spatial dynamics of commercially exploited and vulnerable marine fish and shellfish at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas, Lowestoft). He has developed novel techniques for measuring characteristics and connectivity of fish populations, with notable success in the application of archival (computerised) tags to estimate fish location, migration patterns and seasonal distributions, and in linking these to otolith chemistry (otoliths are the fishes’ ear-stones). The applied focus of his Cefas research has allowed him to clarify some of the complex relationships between fish behaviour, environmental change and fishing - such information being necessary for the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks in the future.
‘Today’s talk will highlight the difficulties involved in describing the movements and behaviour of marine fish, even for familiar species in UK waters. Using plaice in the North Sea as an example, I will describe how tagging technology has been developed to reveal seasonal long-distance migrations of mature fish between feeding grounds and spawning areas. ‘Natural tags’ such as the otoliths can further inform on the lifetime behaviour and activities of the same individuals. For over 100 years, annual growth rings in otoliths have been used to age fish, but learning to read the chemistry between those rings has been a relatively recent development. I will show some of the techniques (and difficulties!) that make otolith chemistry an increasingly go-to technique to address fundamental questions of fish provenance and eco-physiology.’
"When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming." — Dory
May 11th 2021 11am The Military Use of Space by Jim Squelch
Jim studied aeronautical engineering at Imperial College, London before moving, in 1974, into full-time service in the Royal Air Force as a pilot. Over his 36-year career, he has flown a wide range of aircraft, most of them during the Cold War and including both the Vulcan and the Tornado in the nuclear strike role. On retirement from the RAF in 2006, he joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels as a civilian, becoming the Deputy Director of Defence Planning for the multinational Alliance before retiring in 2016.
The talk (originally given to Easingwold U3A’s Astronomy Group) discusses how the military development of liquid-fuelled rockets during the Second World War made possible the continuing exploration and exploitation of space. In 1957, by launching the first satellite into Earth orbit, the Soviet Union triggered a 'space race' with the USA with each side struggling for strategic advantage through the development of ballistic missiles and other technologies with the potential for military application. The challenges of operations in this new domain will be illustrated by the history of military attempts to achieve dominance in near-Earth space from the Cold War to the present day. Finally, in accordance with the (slightly adjusted) adage of ‘what goes up, must come down … maybe’ the problems posed by increasing amounts of space debris will be highlighted.
Attendance Instructions: The talks will take place via Zoom at either 11am or 1pm on the dates shown. If you have already received emails from Alex Scott, then you do not need to do anything. Alex will send you a reminder email as normal for each talk and another ‘on the day’ giving you a Zoom link and a password that will enable you to join the meeting from 12.30 onwards. If you are not a member of the Weymouth and Portland U3A, please contact Alex Scott via the U3A website so that I can put you on the mailing list. New members are welcome.
July/August Summer Break No meetings/talks
|Dates for your Diary|
|Tue Mar 9th||11am Nuclear Fusion...Power for the Future? by Robin Stafford Allen FIMechE|
|Tue Apr 13th||1pm How ‘ringing in the ears’ can help find Nemo – by Ewan Hunter|
|Tue May 11th||11am The Military Use of Space by Jim Squelch|