Science & Technology

Welcome to the Science & Technology Group. Its aim is to cater for those with a general interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (past, present and future!). We hope our talks and visits will be interesting and accessible to everyone and not just those with a technical training. Offers of talks and suggestions for future activities are very welcome.

Our trip to Jodrell Bank
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Taylor

Meetings are usually held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2.15pm in the Studio Room at St Elphin’s and should generally last about two hours. Those attending will be asked to make a contribution toward the cost of the meeting room, tea and coffee. Meetings will normally include a presentation by a member of the group plus some related DVD or other audio-visual material.

Every so often we hold a session where everyone attending is encouraged to bring along a short item (no more than one or two minutes) from the press / radio & TV / internet that has interested them over the last month and stimulating discussion usually ensues. You may like to check out the following websites for items of interest.


BBC Science

BBC News – Science and Environment

BBC News – Technology
Science DailyScience MusuemTechnology, Entertainment and Design – TED

If you need more information or would like to join the group, please e-mail the coordinators, or by telephone:-

Keith Bailey 01629 736795

Mary Mellor 01246 591181

Mike Steel 01246 591371

U3A SciTech 2001 Autumn programme

St Elphin’s Studio, 2 – 4 pm

September 28th 2021

Revolutions in Time

Ray Essen

Last year I published a book ‘Revolutions in Time’ which explores the world of precision timekeeping from its secret military origins to its emergence as a multi-billion dollar industry. The story centres on the work of my late father-in-law, Louis Essen, and his quest to build the most accurate clocks in the world. My talk focuses on the race to build the first atomic clock and the changeover from astronomical time to atomic timekeeping in 1967.

October 26th 2021

How do plants know when to flower?

John Barnett

Flowering is a key stage in plant reproduction and must occur when conditions are right to ensure successful pollination.  We take it for granted that certain plant species flower briefly at particular times of the year, while others flower continuously over a long period. Some flower once and die, others wait many years before flowering. These differences are under the control of signals from the external environment together with suitable conditions within the plant. This talk will look at some of the pioneering research which led to an understanding of how these factors combine to induce flowering and how some plants seem to “know” for example, how many leaves they have, the length of the day, and whether they have passed through a winter.

November 23rd 2021

Temporal Brevity

Phil Jones

The 1980s saw the publication of a book on theoretical cosmology, aimed at a general reader with no prior knowledge of the subject. Over the following 17 years, several revised editions were published, in part to reflect new issues that had arisen following further scientific developments in the field. The book was to become a best seller, eventually marking up over 25 million sales worldwide. Despite this apparent popularity, however, it was once identified in the Wall Street Journal as one of the most unread books of all time. A paradox, perhaps – ironically reflecting the paradoxical nature of the subject that the book itself addressed. Taking this book as a starting point, my talk will explore a subject that has challenged both philosophers and scientists throughout the ages. If you haven’t already guessed, the book in question is A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking