Home Next Meetings Venue & Times Joining Group Programme Articles Committee Purbeck U3A Links
Science Technology
Registered Charity No 1075342
Home Home
Details of our Next Meetings
Meetings start at 10:00 am
Please note that Speakers and Presentations may change at short notice
so, to see the latest details, it is important to refresh your browser when viewing this page
For future meetings programme please Click Here
Details will be published on this page as they become available
See HERE for our schedule & below for details
All Meetings will be on the
Third Wednesday of the month
Doors open at 09:45 - Presentations start at 10:20 am
with Refreshments between 09:50 and 10:20
All meetings are at 
Harman’s Cross Village Hall
Also Live-Streamed on Zoom
(details sent to members a week before meeting)

19th June 2024 - John Ives

Astronomy from Space

Up to the 1930’s, astronomy was restricted to observations within the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Then in 1932, a young engineer at Bell Laboratories named Karl G. Jansky tackled a puzzling problem: noisy static interfering with short-wave radio transatlantic voice communications.

After months of tracking the source, he noticed that it shifted slowly across the sky. What could this be? Stumped, he consulted with an astronomer and came to a startling conclusion: It must be coming from beyond our Earth. This was the birth of radio astronomy. Then in 1967, Jocelyn Burnell discovered radio pulsars, really emphasising the importance of observations at wavelengths other than the optical ones.

Our atmosphere is opaque to many of the wavelength ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, including gamma rays, X-rays, the shorter wavelength ultraviolet, and the longer wavelength infrared rays. So the only way of extending our astronomy observations into these ranges is to place our corresponding telescopes above our atmosphere, for example, in orbit around the Earth.

There are also advantages, that we will talk about, for optical telescopes to be placed above our atmosphere; one example of such a telescope is the Hubble Space Telescope.

Alongside is a composite image of Centaurus A, with images overlaid from optical, X-ray and radio observations, demonstrating how each wavelength brings new information to the overall view of this celestial object.

John’s talk will discuss some of the technical difficulties associated with space-borne instrumentation, together with some of the ways in which observations made in each wavelength range can contribute to our overall understanding of our universe.

17th July 2024 - Richard Cottrell

Food Fraud

It is widely guessed that about 10% of the food and drink we buy is not exactly what we think we are paying for. There is no definite estimate because so much food fraud is difficult, or impossible, to detect. In most cases the result of fraud only hits our wallets, and then not by much. However, invariably, criminals make money. In rare cases the results can be serious, or even fatal for the consumer.

This talk will outline three examples from Richard’s own experience, two of which he researched in depth. One, natural Vanilla, results in murders of farmers in Madagascar; a second, Orange Juice, provides an excellent income for the Sicilian Mafia; and a third, fake Olive Oil, resulted in the largest outbreak of fatal food poisoning in history.

21st & 28th August: Summer Field Trips

18th September 2024 - James Fradgley

Astronomical Influences on Climate Change:

16th October 2024 - Chris Morris

Plastic Bicycles

The Itera Plastic Bicycle was conceived in the early 1980s by ex-Volvo employees, with encouragement and loans from the state-owned bank PK-Banken. Volvo had been experimenting with a plastic mini car at the time. The idea here was to design a revolutionary new bike in Gőteborg (Gothenburg) and mass produce it inexpensively in Vilhelmina, Lappland (Lapland), where employment was needed up in the far north. This was the first time in the world a plastic injection moulded bicycle was mass-produced.

Launched in 1982, with a clever advertising program, the Eternal Machine (Evighetsmaskinen in Swedish) alluded to the fact that the frame could never rust. It was marketed as a mail order flat-pack which the owner assembled IKEA style.

So far so good so what could possibly go wrong?

Chris Morris became interested in the details of bicycle technology in the last decade or so. He first volunteered in 2011 at the Pedal Depot (a not-for-profit bicycle cooperative) in Vancouver, Canada, overhauling many older bikes for sale.

In 2015 he was appointed a director and over time he wrote, presented and had published over a dozen international papers on various aspects of bicycle design. The presentation locales included the United States, UK, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Since retiring to Swanage in late 2019, Chris has had several papers published in English and Italian cycle magazines and participated in various local bicycle-themed pop-up stands at cultural events in Corfe and Swanage. Last Spring he was in Cremona, Italy to present a paper entitled A Shifty Business on the varied approaches to shifting hub and bottom bracket gears.

What could possibly
go wrong?