This is an article published in the Summer 2018 newsletter ….
Science and Technology plays a huge part in our lives without us even realising it, and this terms talks, given by our own members provided an insight into just three areas where technology abounds. The first was about Control Systems given by Mike Lynch who illustrated some of the mathematics (for those in the know such as the Fourier Series) as well as the various factors that have to be allowed for in any system. Control systems can vary from simple devices such as a thermostat which keeps your house at an even temperature to the most complex systems to ensure that rockets and satellites go where they are meant to go and do what they are meant to do! This was followed by a talk on lifts and elevators given by Pat Hulls in which he traced the history and development of machines that carry goods and people from one height to another. He also described the stringent tests that are made to ensure safety including cutting the cable and making sure that the fail-safe device, patented in the Nineteenth century, works and doesn’t result in the lift plunging to the ground when the cable breaks. Modern lifts owe much to control systems. At one time, one would feel a jerk as the lift started and an empty stomach feeling as it stopped. Nowadays, control systems allow lifts to rise hundreds of feet at a very fast speed without sensing either the acceleration or the de-acceleration on arrival. Another control system decides where the lift goes next when buttons are being pressed on multiple floors with people wanting to go both up and down.
By contrast, the third talk was about Modern Cryptography given by Bob Hornby. Every time we make a financial transaction or undertake activities on computers, cryptology is involved. It is all part of the technology that is required to keep transactions safe and secure from interference by third parties. The use of Private and Public Keys was illustrated and the use of complex mathematics to develop these keys such that they must, or should be indecipherable. The challenge for cryptologists is to stay two steps ahead of the criminal.
Our talks are designed to be interesting to a wide spectrum of listeners from those deeply involved in science and technology to those who would claim not to have any scientific knowledge. I am sure that our members in the future when they enter a lift, make a credit card payment or switch on the cruise control in their car will have a greater appreciation of the technology involved as a result of listening to the talks.
The Science & Technology Group meets on the 4th Weds of each month at St Patricks Church Hall at 2.30 pm. Any member of the U3A is welcome to attend for a contribution of £2 or alternatively, one can join the group for a fee of £5 which lasts for around 8 months.
This is an article published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter....
Since the last Newsletter, we have been treated to three fascinating but very different talks. The first was on the subject of encryption where the history of the technology was covered from elementary codes used by our ancestors leading up to the sophistication of the Enigma machine and the brilliant analyses that were applied to break the code, a state secret that remained secret for many years after the conclusion of the war. We are eagerly awaiting Encryption part two that will deal with the modern techniques of private and public keys. The talk is still to be scheduled so watch this space.
The second talk was on the science of business analysis that is now being applied in companies to resolve complex situations and to identify the best policies for future growth and survival in a very competitive world.
Our third talk was about Gunpowder Engines and covered the history of man’s attempts to create mechanical movement from gunpowder since the 16th century. Virtually all were failures but an amazing revelation was that many aircraft engines and even modern torpedoes have been started with a controlled gunpowder explosion! One remarkable coincidence was that one of the pioneers in the early 19th century was an ancestor of one of our members!
The S & T Group meets on the 4th Weds of each month at St Patricks Church Hall at 2.30 pm. Any member of the U3A is welcome to attend for a contribution of £2 or alternatively, one can join the group for a fee of £5 which lasts for around 8 months. Until now, we have relied upon our own members to give talks as many have great expertise having spent a lifetime in various fields of Science and Technology. But we have now reached the stage where most members have already presented and so we are liaising with all the other S & T groups within the Southern Central Network of the U3A to explore the possibility of exchanging speakers.
This is an article published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...
Whenever you see a container on the back of a lorry, have you ever wondered whether it has come from some exotic place around the world, what is inside it and what is its destination? Probably not, but the answers can all be found in a master programme that controls every aspect of a containers journey from its origin through to the final delivery point. The detail is astounding from the allocation of a specific container, to which lorry is to bring it to a dock, the position on the dock, its location on a ship, possibly the transfer to another ship, the order of unloading to a specific location and finally the lorry to take it to the end customer. When one considers the millions of containers on the move, the thousands of container ships sailing the seas and the multitude of ports around the world the enormity of the software programme that controls the operation can only be imagined. But this was the experience of Dinos Theophanous who gave a fascinating talk on the subject in September.
In November Maurice Winn gave us a detailed account of how the new container terminal on the Thames was designed and constructed from a green field site to a complex operational system.
On a different scale, but no less challenging, Bryan Bowen in October talked about the complexities of the Microsoft Access programme and how it has been applied to the Hayling Island U3A membership. It is this programme that ensures that you receive your local and national newsletters/magazines and allows us to claim back income taxes through gift aid.
Every meeting of the Science and Technology group is advertised at the monthly meeting and is open to all for a small nominal fee towards the cost of hiring the hall.
This is an article published in the Summer 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...
If diversity be the spice of life then we have very spicy meetings in the Science and Technology Group. This last term has witnessed talks about the "Complexities of Excel", "The source of Hayling's water", "Lifeboat design" and "Electricity - will the lights go out?" Already planned on dates to be advised we have "System Analysis", "MS-Access" and "Container control Systems".
Most of our talks are given by U3A members who have joined the S&T group. But given that our overall membership is now above 480 there must be many in our U3A who have had a lifetime involvement in a technology related business and have a story to tell. Sharing your expertise is a very rewarding experience and I look forward to receiving some volunteers to add to next year's programmes. An additional reward is the presentation of a bottle of wine!
Our meetings are held on the 4th Wednesday of each month in St Patrick's Church Hall at 2.30 pm and are open to all members of the U3A for a small fee towards the cost of the hall hire.
This is an article published in the Spring 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...
The range of talks that we have enjoyed in the Science and Technology group really does illustrate the huge scope of the subject. Recent topics have included the discovery of the new wonder material, Graphene, the development of model trains, flight simulators, the control of containers around the world, the drains of Hayling and earth observations from satellites. Our next talks will include the complexities of Excel, the source of Hayling’s water and the design of lifeboats. The majority of the talks are given by our own members who bring a lifetime’s experience and expertise to their subjects. We meet in the St Patrick’s Church Hall on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 2.30 pm and welcome visitors as well as regular members of the group. All the talks are presented in such a way as to appeal to the lay person as well as to the technocrats so techies and luddites are equally welcome.