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Science Group Post

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Welcome Back

Our next meeting will be on December 4th . The debate about women in Physics continues so we will return to it briefly at the next meeting . I am thinking about talking about the Cell Biology an area in which I am particularly unqualified .So I will be learning on the job and it may that be those of you who have some background in Biology will be able to help me out . I hope to move one on in later meetings to DNA and stem cells.

December Meeting


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Earlier Meetings

“click and scroll ” in the area below


November 6th

We talked about the Nobel Prize winning work of Donna Strickland and noted that it is her work that enables the use of Lasers for eye surgery and other medical applications. We were bit surprised about the style of Evan Davis’s interview . We watched a video of Richard Dawkins talking about Physics .He postulated that our size leads to a lot of Physics appearing “counter intuitive”


October 2nd

We discussed the evolution of Artificial Intelligence from the fairly rudimentary start with “Expert Systems”.We noted that machine learning was the “game changer” .We discussed the ethical issues of healthy scans being used to train AI systems to spot anomalies in medical images .Laurence explained that he was really surprised at the progress which has been made in speach recognition

September 4th

We talked about magnetism in the context of Maxwells equations and a little bit about magnetic materials.I hoped to show the video below but failed .It shows Richard Feynman being a bit difficult with an interviewer but the point is well made.I have also found a podcast about J C Maxwell which is well worth a listen.

July 3rd

We discussed the survival of International Space programmes in the face of political tensions.We watched a video of the launch of a Soyuz rocket with three astronauts aboard and destined for the International Space Station,we also watched a video about some basic every day activities on the Space Station.We talked about the evolution of battery technology and the possibility of electrically powered flight.


June 5th

We talked about cyber security in very general terms and watched a video about the techniques which are used to influence us in cyberspace. It was claimed that these were used to influence the outcome of the US presidential election.We watched short video on “multiverses ” and then discussed whether we believed any of it.


Meeting May 1st

We talked about the encouraging trends in renewable sources of energy and then moved on to talk about GM crops. We watched the following video which argues the case against Science Denial quite powerfully.We talked about Science Communication and wondered whether  new technology provides an opportunity for “early exposure” to  difficult concepts .For example  would the video interest a twelve year old ?


Meeting April 3rd

We watched the following talk and most found it disturbing.

We also discussed fracking and the fact that there seems to be vast amounts of shale under Surrey.
We also looked at a clip from Richard Feynman talking about how we can describe gravity but not say how it works.

Meeting March 19th

We watched this video  and noted that this work seemed to provide a Scientific basis for many of the things which we see around us to do with ageing.

Whilst researching this video I was struck by the predominance of women Nobel laureates in the Biological Sciences.My daughter tells me that this is because they are “cleverer”,whilst this may well be true, I also remember that girls used to be pushed towards the subject in the 1960’s and wonder if this practice still lingers on. I will schedule some time to discuss items in the news and  to  discuss topics for future meetings. (I am thinking maybe one of us could go away and research a topic on our behalf.)


Meeting February 6th 2018

Due to some reckless diary management the meeting was cancelled ,instead a short video was posted with some “homework”,solution will be presented March 19th.

Home Work
I have made a short video which continues the theme of “symmetry” (Apologies for production deficiencies) . I have called it” Physics for Old People” because with age comes a certain guile and the ability to take short cuts to the right answer .No worries if you can’t figure out the answer to my question, a lot of real physicists would miss this trick .

To view video click on arrow in the middle of the image below, when the it starts click on square bottom right to go to full screen, you might need to adjust the sound .When video ends presentation “escape” to exit full screen

Meeting January 2 2018

We talked a lot about symmetry,a little bit about “In Our Time” and Gauss.

For anyone who wants to hear the programme in full,here is a podcast.

We went on to discuss Emmy Noether and wondered why she is not well known despite the importance of her work .For those who missed the meeting or for anyone who wants to see it again here is the talk by Marcus Du Sautoy.

( When viewing the video click the little box bottom right to go to full screen and press “esc” to get back)

Meeting November 2017

We talked a bit about “quantum entanglement” and used two identical coins as an example .This video does it another way, the argument here is quite “dense” but I think it does conveys the strangeness of the quantum world (and the enthusiasm of the presenter). I will return to the topic from time to time until someone tells me to refrain.

Updated by Laurence Sept 5th 2018

Art Discussion

Art Discussion

    Notice Board
    Science Discussion
    Art Discussion
There are two art groups Art Groups at Runnymede U3A,Appreciation led by Pat Kilminster and Exploration led by Maggie Alderman . This post has been set up to complement the activities of these two groups.
There is a wealth of material available on the internet which we can all access .What we are trying to do here is to initiate discussions around some of the video’s and perhaps engage with a wider audience than can be accommodated at the meetings .What we can’t do is serve tea. I think that we can however, generate some technical glitches of our own.

Here are couple of tips about playing the video.

To view the video, click on the arrow at the centre of the image,,to go to full screen click the [ ] symbol bottom right of video when it is playing, to return to normal size press esc key on your keyboard.

Posted by Laurence January17 2018

Getting Older

Things not to do as we get older

We are blessed with all sorts of advice on things to do as we get older, this post is about things not to do.

Author and Moderator:Verne

Not Just Books

Not Just Books

This post is the place to suggest books or other media which have changed the way you think about things.
The first contribution is Being Mortal: Medicine & What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande 2014.

Jo Corke

The second contribution is The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan 2015


This book, Fall down 7 times, get up 8, by Naoki Higashida who is a 24-year-old man with severe, largely non-verbal autism.

Jo Corke

This book, Do no harm, by Henry Marsh , covers material which is important to us all. It is written in somewhat paternalistic style which often grates with this reviewer.

Jo Corke


Author and Moderator:Jo


Calais to Carcassonne

Calais to Carcassonne

The Journey from Calais to Carcassonne will eventually be accomplished in stages each covered on a separate page, with our discussion focussed here.
The idea for this “Calais to Carcassonne”, arose from a trip through France and noting that many places, not just Calais, share British & French Connections; history, religion, geography and geology, science & maths, industrial archaeology, language, genealogy, sociology, politics – they’re all here so there is the opportunity for you to contribute if you want to do so. We hope that you will.

The route is not predetermined; we began the journey at Calais
in October 2016.

Page 1 Previously at Amiens
Page 2 Rheims
Page 3 Chemin des Dames
page 4 Troyes
page 5 Orléans
page 6 Le Mans

Posted: 31.10.16 Updated March 2018. The author and moderator of this post is is: Jo

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