Armchair science is coming!
|Scout & Guide HQ|
|1st Wednesday of the month|
|2.15 - 3.45 pm (Refreshments at 2 pm)|
- Jack Brettle - 01695 422912, Alan Nolan - 01695 423442
- Marguerita McBride - 01695 423593, Patsy Colvin - 01695 722736
We’re not going to let Coronavirus shut us down completely!
Though we may not be able to have visiting speakers or arrange visits, we hope to bring you some armchair science:
- links to interesting science articles or lectures
- science quizzes
- science question and answer system
- online science discussion
so stick with us.
If you have any ideas for how we can keep this popular group going during the “suspension of activities”, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us.
Scroll down to see more
Here’s another short quiz, 10 more questions – again, don’t google the answers – at least not until you’ve tried the quiz!
Do let us know how you get on by email to email@example.com.
To get you started, here’s a short quiz, just 10 questions – why not try it without googling the answers?!
Let us know how you get on, whether you enjoyed it, whether you want more of them. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday 4th March 2020
Ever wondered how clothes, furnishings, home decorations, cars etc. get their colour? Our own Marguerita McBride gave us a wide ranging talk, with illustrations from history about dyes and pigments, and more recent details of their chemistry, how they are used and how they get their colour.
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Thomas Brown [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Fiona Sunners is the project manager of “Gems in the Dunes
“, a Heritage Lottery funded project focused on protecting the plants and animals of the Sefton Sand Dunes, an important habitat for rare amphibians and reptile species.
Fiona talked about the efforts to preserve the natural habitats of this local environment for the rare species of the Sefton coast such as the Natterjack Toad and Northern Dune Tiger Beetle.
Wednesday 4th December 2019
On the 4th December we had our traditional Christmas Cheer event which started with short talks on the theme of the deep mid-winter: the effects of freezing, when is it actually winter?, the effect of day length on plants and a new slant on the birds of the twelve days of Christmas; plus a quiz and of course Christmas refreshments with mulled wine. A good time was had by all!
Wednesday 6th November 2019
The full title of the talk was “The global stroke tsunami related to an irregular heart rhythm: A focus on atrial fibrillation” – which really says it all. Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition which affects 7 in 100 of over 65s and we were lucky to hear all about it from two experts Dr. Deidre Lane and Professor Gregory Lip from the Liverpool University Centre for Cardiovascular Science. Not only did we have a fascinating presentation but Dr. Lane and Professor Lip then tested those interested with a Kardia electronic device to determine if they had atrial fibrillation and give them advice on what they should do next.
We were due to have a talk on “Age Related Macular Degeneration: Causes and Future Treatments” in September but this had to be cancelled because the speaker, Dr. Simon Clark, had to go to Germany at short notice but hoped to give us his talk a few weeks later. However the visit to Germany was very productive in that Simon has been appointed an endowed professor at the renown Tubingen University to lead the macular degeneration work there. Sadly he has left the UK and will not be able to give us a talk but Ormskirk’s loss is Tubingen’s gain: we wish him well in his exciting new post.
Wednesday 2nd Oct 2019
Nuclear war is perhaps something not thought about as much as it should be nowadays but was an important topic when we were younger. Edmund Moynihan gave us a sobering account of the early development of these weapons, the science and technology behind them and the possible results of their use. A talk which was not only about science but also politics and ethics. The talk generated much discussion as one might expect, which was followed by a 10 minute clip of a film for US schools from 1952 on the theme of “protect and survive”. Takes you back!
Wednesday 4th Sept 2019
Achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is perhaps one of the greatest challenges now facing us. The talk by Jack Brettle covered the basic science behind energy generation and use (we even had some thermodynamics!), comparison of the sources of energy, what we use it for and what actions we might take to achieve the 2050 target. As might have been expected the talk generated a lot of audience questions: we can’t say we know how to solve the problems but at least we now have a better background to critically appraise all that we see and hear in the media on the topic.
Wednesday 7th August 2019
There was no meeting on 7th August as we had our usual summer break.
Wednesday 3rd July 2019
Older people (us?) often have strong views on digital games, social media, emojis, mobile phones etc. particularly their use by younger people (grandchildren?). Are these views well founded? Dr. Linda Kaye, a Edge Hill University psychologist, specialising in understanding the social effects of digital media (a cyberpsychologist no less), came to give us some background to the topic including her own research work in the area. It became clear that much of the negative views on digital games etc. were based on media reporting of particularly aggressive games, often played by aggressive people and that most of digital gaming was fairly benign. Linda had many questions put to her both during and after her talk which was a measure of how interesting our audience found it.
The Science Group meeting in March heard from Helen Greaves about the restoration of some local marl pits, including those at Molyneux Kale Farm, Halsall. If you are interested, the farm is participating in Open Farm Sunday again on 9th June. Click for further details.
Wednesday 5th June 2019
We had a return visit by the NHS North West Innovation Agency with presentations and demonstrations of novel healthcare products. organised by the NHS North West Innovation Agency who are tasked with making the NHS better, safer, faster and more cost effective by introducing new healthcare devices, often for personal use. We had demonstrations by Alertacall, with an improved personal alarm system; Fastroi, a care management software system; and Hospify, a healthcare communication system similar to WhatsApp but which is compliant with the new GDPR regulations. The cream teas provided by the Innovation Agency were also gratefully received!
Wednesday 15th May 2019
On the 15th May 37 of us set off to Heysham to visit the nuclear power station. After a tour of the displays at the visitor centre, a talk on nuclear power generation and a safety and security briefing we were kitted out with our high vis jackets, safety spectacles, hard hats, ear defenders and electronic security passes. We were then split into groups and shepherded through the security systems by our 8 guides (no opportunities for wondering off or dallying) and finally were were in Heysham 2, which housed one of two nuclear reactors on site. We were not disappointed – a visit to the reactor top to see the refuelling system was followed by a visit to the control room and the turbine hall with our expert guides fielding all the many questions fired at them. After shedding all our gear 37 rather tired U3A members happily snoozed their way home on the coach.
If you want a fascinating trip run by highly competent staff who are dedicated to their jobs – visit Heysham Power Station!
Wednesday 1st May 2019
Professor George King, Manchester University physics department, explained how solar energy from its birth in the sun through its journey to earth can be harnessed and how we can store this solar energy when the sun isn’t shining. We had everything from atomic physics to the economics of different forms of renewable energy generation. A very topical talk considering the current concerns over global warming. Since the meeting, one of our members, Brian Bennett, has reminded me that a book George King referred to “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” is available to download from https://www.withouthotair.com/download.html , alternatively Brian, email@example.com , will lend you his copy of the book!
Wednesday 3rd April 2019 – What is Science and How do we Use it?
In April our own Professor Bill Hale discussed the topic of “what is science” based on his work with government and academic research councils and involvement with many research laboratories. With a wide range of examples, and a number of the more amusing aspects of his global scientific wanderings, Bill entertained and engaged the audience for a full two hours.
Wednesday 6th March 2019
Many Lancashire farms have a pond at their field boundaries or in a quiet corner; these are often overgrown and neglected. Helen Greaves came to tell the Science Group how these lifeless ponds may be restored to health in partnership with local farmers to improve biodiversity and aid wildlife conservation. Helen is a great enthusiast for this work, this came across strongly in her talk with the result that many in the audience are now much more interested in what can be done in this area. We expect shortly some “advertising material” which will tell us how we can volunteer and get more involved: so watch this space!
Wednesday 6th February 2019
Our speaker on 6th February was Dr. Kris D’Aout, a lecturer in musculo-skeletal biology at the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, Liverpool University. He studies the mechanics of walking on complex surfaces, the effect of footwear and how gait is affected during healthy ageing as well as in disease. His talk proved very popular and provided us with a record turn out which meant that unfortunately we ran out of chairs! Many questions followed the talk and many high heels and sport shoes will be thrown out as a result. We have spoken to Kris since regarding his need for older but healthy people to take part in his research trials and we might expect an invitation for volunteers to go to his laboratory to take part in these: watch this space.
Wednesday 5th December 2018
We had our traditional Science Group Christmas Cheer event with quizzes and refreshments of Christmas cake, mince pies and a variety of nibbles, biscuits and chocolates. Proceedings got off to a great start with Patsy’s famous mulled wine which helped everyone’s confidence in doing the quizzes if not their success! We started with a World Knowledge Quiz which helped everyone decide that they did not know as much about the state of the world as they thought and followed this with a quiz based on the BBC TV show “Impossible” but with science orientated questions.
If you want to try Jack’s World Knowledge Quiz, you can download the Questions, Choices and Answers below:
Some members were interested in more background information on the World Knowledge Quiz and this is given below:
If you would like to have a go at doing Alan’s “Impossible” Quiz, you can download the Questions and Answers below.
The quiz is [very] loosely based on the TV quiz show, “Impossible”, where you have to identify both the ‘correct’ answer (for 3 points) and the ‘impossible’ answer (1 point).
Wednesday 7th Nov 2018
Dr. Michele Siggel-King, a research associate from the Physics Department of Liverpool University explained to us how ALICE, a unique and extremely powerful infrared light source based on a free electron laser facility at the Daresbury Laboratories is being used in to identify changes within and surrounding cells which indicate the beginnings of a tumour. The University of Liverpool has been awarded £3.2 million to develop new diagnostic tests for cervical, oesophageal and prostate cancers which are difficult to detect at an early stage as symptoms only become apparent when the tumours become large. The talk was a fascinating mixture of high energy physics and biology which emphasised the collaboration between physicists, engineer, analysts and clinicians in government laboratories, universities and hospitals in the North West.
Wednesday 3rd Oct 2018
Digital Healthcare is being introduced into the National Health Service to make it safer, faster and more cost effective. This Science Group meeting was hosted by the NHS Innovation Agency, whose job it is to promote innovation and so improve health care in the region. After some presentation by agency staff explaining their work, five small companies developing these innovative devices explained and demonstrated them and members had the chance to try them out and give feedback; this is important to the companies involved to ensure that their products meet our needs. The companies involved were: Continue reading
Wednesday 5th Sept 2018
We hear a lot about artificial intelligence in the media but with Dr. Louise Dennis’s talk we had the opportunity to listen to, and question someone who really knows; Louise is a researcher in the School of Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science at Liverpool University who has a background in artificial intelligence, robotics and automated reasoning. We started from scratch, with a teach-in on Turing’s Universal Machine, followed by machine learning and neural networks to finish with the ethics of artificial intelligence; all deep concepts very well explained by Louise – not surprisingly there were many questions at the end of this fascinating talk.
There was meeting on the 1st August as we took our usual summer break.
Wednesday 4th July 2018
What else did we have on the 4th July, but an Independence Day quiz and a series of 10 minute snippets by some of our members on science related events which happened on that date throughout history: american astronomy, Benjamin Franklin, Antoine Lavoisier, Giovanni Schiaparelli, Madame Curie and the beginnings of modern geology. A mixture of puzzlement, science and history to entertain and amuse us all.
Wednesday 6th June 2018
A Vision of the Future was the title of the talk given Neil Heyes, a well known local ophthalmic optician. He told us about the latest developments in ophthalmology and optometry equipment such as Optical Coherence Tomography used to examine our eyes to detect and monitor any problems which may be developing. Things have moved on apace from basic eye testing and prescription of glasses; the modern ophthalmologist is becoming the first line provider of general eye care and diagnosis.
Wednesday 2nd May 2018
How has the UK climate changed in the last 15,000 years? Professor Jim Marshall from Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences Department at Liverpool University explained how lake sediments preserve chemical and biological records of environmental change and help us identify abrupt changes in the UK climate since the last ice age which mirror similar events in Greenland and North America. We had the results of over 30 years of his research work delivered in 60 minutes with a fascinating insight into how research work is actually done.
Wednesday 4th April 2018
On the 4th April one of our own members, Professor Bill Hale, told us all about Martin Mere (the lake not the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre). The talk covered the science and engineering, over nearly 15,000 years, of how the lake was created in the first place and why it is trying very hard, with a little help, to come back. The talk was peppered with references to local landmarks and events so the audience could feel that they were really a part of the history of Martin Mere.
Wednesday 7th March 2018
The speaker for our March meeting was Julia Bate who has worked as a hospital and local pharmacist, in pharmaceutical primary care giving prescribing advice to GPs, and has run clinics for chronic disease management and medication reviews. Her talk covered how a pharmacist can influence prescribing in relation to safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness. The audience were kept on their toes as Julia asked questions of them in her “interactive” presentation. Pharmaceutical science is something which impinges on anyone who has prescriptions from their GP and so, not unexpectedly, we had a busy question session after the talk.
Wednesday 7th February 2018
On the 7th February we had an audience of over 100 (a record for a science group meeting) for a lecture by Rory Phillips from the Graphene Institute, University of Manchester, entitled “Graphene – Unexpected Science in a Pencil Line”. Rory was a last minute stand in for his colleague, Aravind Vijayaraghavan, who was due to give the talk but was called away at short notice. Graphene is a new form of carbon discovered in Manchester by two Nobel Prize winners and is generating enormous interest for applications in microelectronics, life sciences and engineering. Rory gave a fascinating presentation which generated plenty of questions from the audience – particularly on the potential applications of this exciting new material …….. and if you want to know what it has to do with a pencil line you will just have to come to science group meetings!
Wednesday 6th December 2017 – Christmas Cheer Event
Puzzles, odd one out quiz, who am I and what am I games, a table full of strange objects to identify – all part of the Christmas Cheer entertainment event, helped along of course by mulled wine, Christmas cake, stollen, mince pies. Lots of fun was had by all. No wonder we had a record turn out for a December meeting!
Wednesday 1st November – The Cleaning up of the Mersey Basin, 1980 – 2005 – David Moore
This span of time covers the period from when the Mersey was regarded as one of the most polluted rivers in Europe with virtually no aquatic life to when there are now over 40 different species of breeding fish resident in the river.
Having worked for North West Water/United Utilities from 1975 to 2010 in the Wastewater Management Section, David had first hand experience and knowledge of the issues involved in this major environmental improvement project and was able to give a very interesting account of the transformation after years of neglect.
The Moore Bridge, crossing the Bridgewater Canal
Wednesday 4th October – “Special Earth” – the Scientific case – Edmund Moynihan
Edmund prepared a version of this talk for Southport Astronomical Society, so we were delighted to receive a preview.
His Special Earth presentation covered:
- The Solar System
- Recent discoveries about exo-planets, etc
- The history of astro-biology
- Mars as a case study
- The special characteristics of Earth e.g. plate tectonics
- A quick survey of Earth’s geological history
- Earth’s biology e.g. the origin of life
- The scientific and philosophical conclusions of Earth’s special status e.g. the principle of plenitude is wrong!
As always, Edmund presented his talk with some superb slides and elaborated his points with a wide-ranging and well researched brief. We certainly enjoyed an interesting, informative, and thought-provoking afternoon.
Wednesday 6th September – “The Digital Revolution” – Dave Sutton
Dave Sutton is a major contributor to an initiative called “Southport 2030” aimed at helping Southport and Sefton prepare for the future as it is likely to be in 2030. This is the date when the “4th Industrial Revolution” is likely to be widely acknowledged by its effects on society: work, health, education and leisure. The drivers for this will include Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and automation, Big Data Analytics, and the Internet of Things.
Wednesday 5th July 2017 – COACH VISIT to the Lion Salt Works and the Anderton Boat Lift
We had a very successful visit to two local heritage attractions in the summer
History of the Lion Salt Works
Inside the partly renovated works
The Anderton Boat Lift
The top chamber of the lift
Wednesday 7th June 2017 – Martin Mere Wetlands Centre – Eileen Seabright
We were privileged to have one of our members, Eileen Seabright, a volunteer educational adviser at Martin Mere, come along to tell us about some of the history of the Mere, and the work of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust that goes on there. The wetlands are home to many species of ducks, geese, cranes, flamingos and swans from around the world, and provide a stopover for thousands of migrating birds – the arrival of the Icelandic Whooper swans in the autumn is a spectacle not to be missed!
Wednesday 3rd May 2017 – Connected Health Cities – Debbie Parkinson
(Debbie Parkinson is the Patient and Public Involvement Lead for the Innovation Agency North West Coast)
The Connected Health Cities pilot project in this area is being delivered by the Innovation Agency North West Coast, which is the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for the area.
It is one of 15 AHSNs set up by NHS England to act as catalysts for the spread of innovation; connecting businesses, NHS, academia, local authorities, third sector and other organisations to improve health and generate economic growth.
Debbie gave an interesting account of some of the work going on to bring novel health-related technology to help improve health outcomes. With examples including a very portable atrial fibrillation detector, and a fitness tracker app for smartphones, Debbie demonstrated the benefits of these developments especially within an ageing population.
Wednesday 5th April 2017 – The Genetics of Cancer – Ann Parker
Ann was a leading contributor to the “Understanding Tomorrow’s World” discussion group led by Jack Brettle last year, and particularly the Genome topic and the genetic mechanisms involved in the development of cancer.
Ann’s talk highlighted some of the research and developments in cancer therapies arising from the knowledge gained and improved techniques developed as a result of The Human Genome Project. Ann has provided some useful links that you may wish to explore:
Wednesday 1st March 2017 – 50 Shades of Grey: The Fascinating World of Radiology – Professor Gill Baynes
Gill Baynes of Lancaster U3A gave a fascinating talk about the difficulties of interpreting medical x-rays and problems in deciding treatments based on medical scans and diagnostics. Interspersed with scans of all types, this was a humorous overview of the various techniques used in Radiology e.g. CT, MRI and Ultrasound and their uses in Medical Screening, Veterinary Radiology, Forensic Radiology and detecting Foreign Bodies.
Wednesday 1st February 2017 – Britain’s Industrial Decline – Edmund Moynihan
Edmund, like many U3A members, had worked for some failed major British companies e.g. in textiles and polymers. Drawing on his experience with these companies, and his interest in historical developments in science and engineering, Edmund espoused his view of what actually happened and why. His talk was as entertaining as usual, though his views did provoke some lively debate afterwards.
Wednesday, 7th December 2016 – Christmas Cheer 2016
The Science Group finished off a very successful and enjoyable year with mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas cake and stollen, and some lighthearted Science thrown in for good luck!
After a warming glass of Patsy’s extra special mulled wine, Marguerita got the afternoon off to a convivial start with a “Piecing the Puzzle” game in which teams had to match up large jigsaw pieces to complete some chemical formulae. Alan followed that with a couple of simple science quizzes – simple if you know the answers, of course.
Following the festive treats, we met the “Three Kings”. To the theme from “Goldfinger“, up strode Edmund Moynihan to give a short, but fascinating talk on Gold, laced with cultural, historical, industrial and scientific references. Bill Hale followed with an amusingly embroidered talk on Frankincense and Myrrh.
Finally, Marguerita introduced a quick “Make an Origami Christmas Tree” game with the resulting decorative trees being raffled.
Many thanks to Christine for organising the refreshments and to everyone who has helped her during the year.
Wednesday, 2nd November 2016 – The Physics behind Global Warming – John Bradshaw
Dr. John Bradshaw is a Chartered Physicist, a Member of the Institute of Physics and a Member of Mawdesley U3A. His talk concentrated on the Physics behind Global Warming, rather than the social and political implications. Using his background as a physicist at Pilkington’s, he explained some of the simple physical ideas of thermal radiation, heat flows and atmospheric absorption which underlie our understanding of the “greenhouse effect”.
Wednesday, 5th October 2016 – The Greening of Birkdale Beach – Phil Smith
Phil is an expert on the ecology of the Sefton Coast, and has previously given us a beautifully illustrated talk about dragonflies.
He was due to give a talk about the protected Natterjack Toad, until his computer “had a meltdown” as he put it.
Instead, Phil gave us a wonderful talk about the way the beach at Birkdale has been changing in recent times. It began in 1986 as scattered patches of Common Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia maritima. These accumulated blown sand forming low hummocks, which grew forming embryo dunes which were then colonised by Sand Couch and later Marram Grass. Behind this dune ridge was initially saltmarsh but the ridge impeded drainage both from the original dune edge and the land drains taking surface water onto the shore from the coastal road and the golf course. This resulted in seasonally flooded lagoons which eventually developed into dune-slack, saltmarsh and swamp.
Illustrated by diagrams and photographs (before and after), Phil showed us what a diverse habitat has now developed and become home to many species of plant and animal life. An excellent substitute for the Natterjack talk! Thanks Phil.
Wednesday, 7th September 2016 – Chemistry, Colour, Paper and Cloth – Marguerita McBride
It’s a colourful world
Our colourful world is amazing and yet it took lots of experimentation through hundreds of years to develop techniques for colouring paper, cloth and, more recently, to have coloured plastics, even coloured bubbles. Modern techniques and materials have allowed for an explosion of colour. Dyes, pigments, heat transfer processes, clever use of Chemistry and of course, the development of modern synthetic fibres. We have come a long way since mauveine and Queen Victoria.
As you might imagine, Marguerita’s talk was both colourful and fascinating.
Wednesday, 6th July 2016 – The Development of the Road Racing Bike since 1945 – Bill Soens
Eddie Soens Memorial Road Race, 12th March 2016
Bill really does know a lot about how bikes have changed over the years, being not only a keen rider but having run his own bike shop called Eddie Soens, of Boaler St, Liverpool, where he hand built over 800 bikes over many years.
Bill gave us all a brilliant talk with lots of anecdotes and personal touches that brought to life a subject that could so easily have been rather dry.
He brought along a modern racing bike, some old racing shoes and an ancient rubberised fabric tyre to demonstrate the technical advances in racing bikes and equipment since 1945.
This is a repeat of the very successful course run in autumn 2012.
Chemistry is Magic is from 09:45 to 11:45am at the Scout & Guide HQ on Wednesdays as follows: April 13th/20th/ 27th / May 4th/ 11th/18th 2016.
If you missed out on Chemistry at school, but would like to know more, this course is for you. The course is designed for those with no, or very limited, knowledge of chemistry perhaps from school days and those for whom Chemistry is ‘rusty’ and would like to update. Continue reading
Wednesday, 1st June 2016 – Defying Dementia: from Compound to Clinic – Dr Penny Foulds
Dr Foulds, an Honorary Researcher at Lancaster University, gave a most interesting and useful talk about their efforts to develop a new treatment for dementia. Continue reading
Wednesday, 4th May 2016 – Lunacy about the Moon – Edmund Moynihan
“Ex Luna Scientia” (“Knowledge from the Moon”): this motto from Apollo 13 summarises Edmund’s presentation, in which he examined what we know scientifically about the Moon, and some of the crazy ideas about our only natural satellite.
Besides the basic science of the Moon, Edmund talked about
- The work of centuries of “lunatic” mathematicians
- Lunar geology and possible life there!
- Lunar exploration
- Crazy projects and weird ideas about the Moon
- Comparing our Moon with other fascinating moons
- DIY astronomy
With his usual aplomb and wide-ranging knowledge of his subject matter, Edmund once again captivated the audience.
Wednesday, 6th April 2016 – the Internet of Things (IoT) – by Alan Nolan
We had hoped to have a speaker from another local U3A to talk about the “Internet of Things” but he had to withdraw. We then hoped to have someone involved in the burgeoning IoT movement in Liverpool to come and speak but didn’t manage to get him either. In the end, Alan gave a presentation, outlining what this new-fangled thing is all about.
In fact, the notion of the Internet of Things is about how everyday objects can communicate with one another (and with us) via the internet to enhance their usefulness. Alan explained this with a range of examples showing the current and potential scope of the IoT, and touched on some of the underlying technology.
Finally, Alan drew attention to some of the major challenges, including privacy concerns, security weaknesses, technology limitations and environmental worries that still need to be addressed.
Wednesday, 2 March 2016 – Radioactivity (or how to love the atom) – by Jack Brettle
Jack gave a highly informative and entertaining talk about Radioactivity. He explained just what radiation is, the different types of radiation, and where it comes from. We encounter it in many forms not only in reactors and bombs, but also in medical instruments such as x-ray machines and MRI and PET scanners. We are constantly bombarded with radiation from the sun and outer space, and from radioactive radon gas released by uranium-bearing rocks and soil as the uranium undergoes natural radioactive decay.
Addressing such questions as How dangerous is it? Can you avoid it? and Should I worry about it? Jack put the relative risks associated with different types and sources of radiation into perspective, finally dispelling the myth that eating too many bananas is a radiation health hazard.
Wednesday, 3 February 2016 – The Development of the Mersey Chemical Industry – Paul Davies
One of our own members, Paul was a senior manager in the Health and Safety Executive. Since retiring he has taken a great interest in the Chemical Industry on Merseyside. He illustrated his talk with nuggets of information that only a keen researcher would have known. Superb!
Paul has a ‘soft-spot’ for the Merseyside Chemical Industry. It was where he got his first proper job and where he met his wife, Sheila, when they both worked for Unilever at Port Sunlight. In the 1980s whilst working for the HSE, he visited some of the largest chemical works on Merseyside as part of his work to model the effects on the public of large accidental releases of toxic gases like Chlorine. It was then he realised how little he knew of why and how such a large industry came to be on Merseyside.
Wednesday, 6 January 2016 – Science in Art – Patsy Colvin
Although Science and Art seem to be diametrically opposed, with the advent of new techniques science can be used to study paintings and gain insight into the methods used in the past by artists. These techniques can also be used to detect forgeries or show that suspect paintings are genuine.
Patsy Colvin talked about how the use of pigments had changed over the years, and how spectroscopic techniques are now used in the National Gallery to verify a work’s authenticity.
We had our annual Christmas Cheer event on Wednesday, 2 December 2015, and it was a real feast.
The Periodic Table treasure hunt needed quick thinking
- mulled wine reception
- a 15 minute talk by Chris Procter on mistletoe
- a 5-minute quiz by Jack Brettle
- a Periodic Table Treasure Hunt – with prizes
- mince pies and cake, stollen, tea and coffee
- Edmund Moynihan (about the Star of Bethlehem)
- a “build a marshmallow catapult” game – with even more prizes!
Getting into the Christmas spirit
Our reputation for lively and entertaining events seems to be growing, as sixty people attended – a record for any December Science Group meeting.
Wednesday, 4 November 2015 – Mobile Phones and Sunbeds
Are you worried by what you see written in the press about the danger of radiation from mobile phones, or mobile phone masts?
Are you less worried about the possible dangers from sunbeds?
Those who attended the talk by Professor Peter Cole will have been reassured about one of these, and even more concerned about the other.
Peter Cole is a Professor in the Department of Physics at Liverpool University and current President of the Society for Radiological Protection. Peter gave a stimulating and informative talk, laying to rest many myths about the dangers of radiation. It seems that radiological dangers relating to mobile phones have been vastly exaggerated in the popular press, while the much greater danger from unsupervised or incorrect use of sunbeds has been largely ignored.
Wednesday, 7th October 2015 – Space Weather and the Earth’s Magnetic Shield – Prof. John Shaw
The Earth’s magnetic field shields the Earth from the solar wind and high energy particles that are released from the sun during solar storms. Is the magnetic shield constant or does it change, can it collapse completely? What do we know about the behaviour of the magnetic field in the past? What could happen to civilisation if the field decreases? The answers to these and many other questions can be found in the ancient recordings stored in ceramics and rocks. John Shaw gave us a fascinating account of how the earth’s magnetic field protects us from harmful rays and particles ejected from the surface of the sun, and went on to explain what might happen if the magnetic field disappeared. He rounded off the talk by showing us how to make a DIY megnetometer, mainly using a handful of household objects.
Wednesday, 2nd September 2015 – Himalayan Medicine – Dr John Winter
Aiming High – Overland to the Himalayas
John Winter is the author of “Aiming High, Overland to the Himalayas” Aiming High – Overland to the Himalayasand a local member.
He travelled to Everest, Annapurna and Indrasan in the nineteen seventies as a newly qualified medic to help with the treatment of climbers suffering from altitude sickness.
With some stunning photographs, and sketch maps of the region, he gave an overview of the risks and medical problems associated with high altitude mountain climbing and trekking in the Himalayas.
Wednesday, 1st July 2015 – Predators in Liverpool Bay – Mathew Clough
Mathew Clough is Director of the Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust, and came along to tell us about the seals, cetaceans and sharks on our own doorstep.
Liverpool Bay is often forgotten in regard to its marine life and there is an image of it being polluted. Hard work and a lot of clean up programmes have bought life back to the bay though and Mathew described just how many of the large predators are now found within Liverpool Bay and where we see them.
Wednesday, 3rd June 2015 – Solar Eclipses – Phillip Pendred
Last year Phillip talked to us about ‘Time’, or the measurement of time to be precise, illustrating his talk with some wonderful slides. This year he gave us a very instructive talk about Solar Eclipses – how they come about, why they last for varying lengths of time, why they don’t occur more frequently at any one place on earth and more.
Illustrated with computer simulations of the movement of the moon and earth in relation to the sun, he explained the various astronomical cycles that ancient observers used to predict eclipses, even without our modern understanding of the solar system.
Wednesday, 6th May 2015 – “How do we know where we are?” – Prof Matthew Nolan
Matthew (Alan’s nephew) is Chair of Neural Circuits and Computation, University of Edinburgh Centre for Integrative Physiology, whose research is interested in the mechanisms used within the brain to mediate cognitive processes and guide learned behaviours!
Matthew gave an extremely interesting talk about how neurons interconnect and the mechanisms involved. He described some of the research methods his team uses to identify exactly which neurons are involved in the brain’s ability to keep track of location. Unusually, the talk was right at the cutting edge of scientific research yet it was delivered at a level that we could easily follow and enjoy.
Wednesday, 1st April 2015 – Forensic Geology – Dr Maggie Williams
Dr Williams, from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool, gave us an insight into the science of Forensic Geology and how it is applied in the investigation of crime scenes.
Wednesday, 4th March 2015 – Lovey Dovey – Graham Cawdell, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Whiston Hospital. Graham came along to tell us about breeding, egg laying, incubation, feeding, nurturing and fledging in birds. Many of these things vary greatly from one species to another, and there seems to be an almost limitless number of combinations, each designed to ensure the continuity of that species in its niche environment.
Graham’s talk was both entertaining and informative – and obviously delivered by someone whose interest in birds was kindled at a very early age. A thoroughly enjoyable session.