Science & Technology Group

The Science & Technology Group meets once a month to listen to – and question – a speaker talking about an S&T topic. Sometimes our speakers are experts from companies and research organisations, at other times the speakers are group members talking about their own experience and interests.

While the Coronavirus restrictions are in place we will be holding virtual meetings using the Zoom meetings app.  If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, please click here for a description of Zoom and instructions for installing and using the app.

Group members will receive a Zoom meeting invitation before each meeting and will be able to join the meeting by clicking on the link in the invitation e-mail.  If anyone else in CU3A would like to join these virtual meetings, please e-mail and Ian Stewart, the group leader will add you to the meeting invitation list.

Some presentations will be recorded and the recording on this page a few days after the meeting.  In other cases copies of any slides that speakers provide will also be uploaded here.

Autumn term 2020 meeting programme

Monday 7 September at 2.00 pm

Speaker: Professor Kimberly A. Watson, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading

Topic: Research at Diamond Light Source (the UK’s national synchrotron science facility)

The group enjoyed a very interesting talk from Professor Kim Watson at our September meeting.  She started her talk by telling us about how x-rays can be used to see inside the structure of crystals and then explained how this can be done using a synchrotron, which is a type of particle accelerator.  The majority of the experimental work on synchrotrons is on life sciences with more than 60% on structural biology which is the study of biological macromolecules such as proteins.  Professor Watson’s main area of research is around the links between the micro-organisms in the human gut and the health of an individual, and she ended her presentation by telling us about some of the practical uses of her research, including the research her team had done for a company which produces prebiotics which can be used to increase the good bacteria in the human gut.  A copy of Professor Watson’s slide pack is available here. Camberley Talk Sept2020 KAWatson

Monday 5 October at 2.00 pm

Speaker: Martin Eales

Topic: The Unification of the British Isles: a Lesson in Geology.  How England and Wales collided with Scotland, then Europe with Britain and finally the breakaway of America.

Martin Eales, who has worked as a petroleum geologist for 40 years, gave the group a fascinating talk about geology and the geological history of the United Kingdom.  In addition to giving us an overview about geological eons and plate tectonics, Martin explained that some 500 million years ago, Scotland was situated near to the equator.  It was separated by a vast ocean from England and much of Europe, which lay close to the South Pole with ice sheets over the Sahara and Amazon.  He then told us that England headed northwards and collided with Scotland around 400 million years ago, together with North America, to form a vast Himalayan-style mountain belt. Southern Europe and Africa joined a little later (some 100 million years after) to form the super continent of Pangea.  Relatively recently in geological terms (circa 50 million years ago) North America decided to break away and is currently hurtling westwards (at the rate of about 2cm/year) forming the growing Atlantic Ocean. America tried to take Britain along for the ride, initially causing a lot of volcanism but failed, leaving Britain perched on the edge of Europe.  Martin ended with some speculation about how the continental masses will move in future suggesting that Britail might end up near the North Pole in about 250 million years from now.

A copy of the slides which Martin used at his talk, which contain a lot of interesting geological information, is available here.Unification of British Isles Camberley handout mhe 051020

Monday 2 November at 2.00 pm

Speaker: Francis Vary, National Grid

Topic: Electricity Transmission

Monday 7 December at 2.00 pm

Speaker: Dr Krzysztof Szymaniec (National Physical Laboratory)

Topic: National Physical Laboratory work on atomic clocks

Summer term 2020 meeting programme

Monday 4 May at 2.00pm
Speaker: Alan Briggs
Topic: The Hubble Space Telescope and its successor; and Edwin Hubble, the man

The first meeting was held successfully on 4th May.  Alan Briggs gave talks on the Hubble Space Telescope and Edwin Hubble.  A pdf of Alan’s presentation can be viewed by clicking here.  At the meeting, Alan answered a question concerning the successor to JWST, the Hubble telescope successor.  Alan has provided these links which contain some overview information on WFIRST:

… and LUVOIR – the next one after that:

Monday 1 June at 2.00 pm
Speaker: Andrew Pepper
Topic: Floods – Causes and Cures (…maybe)

Andrew Pepper gave us a fascinating talk on 1 June about the various causes of flooding and what can be done to reduce flood risk. His talk can be seen again on

To supplement his response to a question at the meeting about the Thames Barrier, Andrew has provided the following information about the Thames Barrier.  The Thames Barrier has been closed 186 times since it became operational in 1982 (correct as of October 2019).  Of these closures, 99 were to protect against tidal flooding and 87 were to protect against combined tidal/fluvial flooding.  Fifty of these closures were in the 2013/14 winter.  Further facts about the Thames Barrier – including number of closures, operation etc can be found here

Monday 6 July at 2.00pm

Speaker : Mark Zymela
Topic: Lymphoma – what it is, and how it’s treated

Mark gave us a very interesting and informative talk about lymphoma, which is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, and the various treatments that are available.   A recording of his talk can be viewed by clicking here

Alan, Andrew and Mark  are members of the Science & Technology group – many thanks to them for offering to give these talks.