U3A Science & Technology Seminar 2016

Only two Spire members attending this seminar that took place over 4 days in mid August  at the Harper Adams University near Newport Shropshire.  It is set in a wonderful peaceful campus.

On arrival we were straight into a demonstration of  the Camera Obscura from John Marriage [Lyme U3A]. Camera is Italian for room and Obscura means dark so John darkened out a lecture room. After telling us a bit about the history he opened a small hole in the blackout so that we could see a dim image on the wall opposite. This was upside down and reversed. Then he changed this for a lens. This gave a brighter sharper view. Very well done indeed. We were all impressed.

After a coffee break Geoff Boswell the Sci-Tech subject adviser for the U3A enlightened us about Nuclides by showing us a huge chart with 3800 isotopes of all the elements. A tiny part is shown highlighting Tin above white line. Tin has the most isotopes of all.  Black are the stable isotopes the rest are not.

This chart is from https://www-nds.iaea.org/relnsd/vcharthtml/VChartHTML.html


Stuart Blackwell took us on a tour of Los Alamos. This is a delightful holiday destination he said.

Next day Mahen Tampoe encouraged us to think the best of humanity in his talk 'A World fit for our Grandchildren' This provoked an interesting discussion in the evening slot.

On this day we visited the Black Country Museum. We enjoyed the pub. Here they sold 3 small glasses of beer for the price of a pint. A very convivially time was had by all. The Gentleman's outfitter was a performance worthy of the stage. Highly amusing and instructive too. We ended with a canal cruise through the tunnels under Dudley. All  made to move coal. See some photos of the trip HERE

The Colour Blue was an excellent lecture by Susan Slater on the colour. How blue was a rare pigment in the past. How pigeons have 5 types of cones compared to humans 3 cone types [Red, Green and Blue].

We also had stimulating talks by Gordon Woods on Henry Moseley the discoverer of the Atomic Numbers, and by Mike Gibson on Microscopes including the Origami Microscope. See TED Video https://www.ted.com/talks/manu_prakash_a_50_cent_microscope_that_folds_like_origami?language=en

Ralph Timms talk about Margarine was a con because margarine is now a spread made from Palm, Soya and Rape seed oils hardened using Hydrogen.  Reg Thirkettle told us about his involvement in the brewing industry making vats and coolers initially from aluminium then Stainless Steel.

Finally Ann Rattue enthralled us with Illusions such as German Truck Art and the Necker Cube.

As always a brilliant week spent in the company of like minded folk from all over the UK.  Thoroughly recommended. Next year the dates will be 8th to 11th August 2016 at Harper Adams University.

Peter Read - U3A Subject Adviser Photography.




Necker Cube