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Spire University of the Third Age




ISSUE No. 71 www.salisburyu3a.org.uk SEPTEMBER 2010

U3A Science Technology and Society Conference Visits 2010

From the 9th to the 12th August 2010 about 50 U3A members met in Abergavenny for their annual conference.

After our arrival and settling into our rooms Chris Penfold and I went to the first talk about How Aeroplanes Fly. This was followed by a fascinating talk on Building an Eco House for Retirement. Here Peter Brown of Yealm U3A told us how he has converted his house in Devon. He now has underfloor heating, an Ground Heat Pump, Solar Panels from which he now raises £1000pa for an outlay of £10,000 by selling excess electricity at 42p/kWh.

Second day we started with a talk on the Message of Starlight and then Glyn Wainwright told us the Cholesterol – No More Mr Bad Guy. He contends that cholesterol is very necessary to the functioning of the body and to use Stains to reduce it is not a good idea. You can check out what he means in more detail on the web site The Wonder of Cholesterol.

In the afternoon we were privileged to have a guide to two Ironworks. The first was Clydach Gorge. It is now sinking back into nature in a beautiful valley. It was hard to imagine the scene 200 years ago when blast furnaces were going 24/7 and 1000 people working day and night.

The second ironworks was at Blaenavon. Here our guide Frank pointed out the methods used in the past to make pig iron. Life was definitely very hard and dangerous. Health and safety was not around here then.

In the evening Colin Mitchell gave us an illustrated talk about Marc and Isambard Brunel not forgetting Sophie Kingdom who married Marc.

The third day we had a talk from Geoff Meadows on Codes for Living – Computers and DNA

Then after some refreshments we set of by coach to Swansea National Waterfront Museum. This was a bit of a let down. It is full of whizzo technical displays but somehow lacked excitement. The best part for me was watching the rope making demonstration. Outside, however, there was a Lightship that we were able to explore as well as the huge dock area. Nearby is the Dylan Thomas Little Theatre and the Swansea Museum. In the afternoon we went to the Cefn Coed anthracite mine. We went underground to see the working conditions and we noted the huge air pump used to power the pneumatic drills half a mile below.

In the evening we had the Big Debate on the motion the Zero Waste is better then High Tech Disposal. Well this was a slightly one sided discussion but many interesting points came to light. Both sides are unattainable ideals of course. The chat on this topic went on over glasses of wine for the rest of the evening.

There were two more talks on the final morning the most contentious was on the topic of Replacement of Testing on Animals by In Vitro methods by Malcolm Wilkinson. Animals are expensive to keep and they do not really represent the way humans react to pharmaceuticals. By using small petri dishes, linked by tubes, each containing different pieces of live human tissue. The pharmaceuticals flow from one dish the next to emulate more nearly how the human body works. Results so far seem to bear this out.

The last talk was called The Divine Proportion and Friends by Derek Bissell. This a swift look at the Golden Section, Pi and √2. For the latter for instance he showed how the A paper sizes are dependent on √2. The ratio of the length of the sides is √2. This allows you to cut say an A4 sheet in half and produce an A5 sheet. Then this can be halved to make an A6 sheet.

On the two trips I took some photographs and these can be seen on our web site on http://www.salisburyu3a.org.uk/SciTech/Abergavenny/Sci-Tech2010/index.html

Peter Read



This group will cease to exist in the coming season unless someone volunteers to assist me. I need help with ideas for subjects and lecturers. And I need help in contacting such lecturers.


Monday 27th Sept Chemical Around Us Alan Carter( Devizes U3A)
Monday 25th Oct Aviation History Ted Mustard
If you wish for this group to continue then contact me immediately.
Tel: 01722 501 218
E mail: Thank you.


Please welcome the following new members to Spire U3A

Mrs Barbara Barbour, Mr Keith Bateman, Mrs Caroline Carlton

Mrs Angela Dunn, Mrs Julia Mason, Mrs Margaret Poole,

Mrs Christine Rimmer and Mrs Margaret Staniforth



Monday 8th Oct. Puppetry Alix Booth
Monday 13th Dec Christmas Meeting

Remember there is not going to be a film or entertainment, but there will be some Christmas fayre

Articles for December’s newsletter please, to be received by me, Joanna Woodd by Monday 6th December.

They can be sent to 94 Harnham Road, SP2 8JW, or email

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