Science and technology articles

Science and technology group articles

Science & technology group report

This group is open to all who wish to hear about anything science-related and for that there is a nominal charge of £2 on the door to help towards the hall hire and refreshments.

Venue: St Patrick’s Church Hall, meeting 4th Wednesday of the month.

There are 43 Members of this group and there is 50% average attendance.

This year we have had a presentations about:

  • Superconductors
  • Is this the Future of Farming? From the Laboratory and not the field!
  • A supercomputer in your Pocket: Mobile Phone
  • A Mathematical Story: Why Sunday walks around the city in 1736 became a new set of Mathematics

Coming up in the next session we have topics such as:

  • Wasps - love them or hate them, we need them.
  • he Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) space mission - Hitting an Asteroid Head On.
  • Radar: From its beginnings to current applications.
  • Electromagnetic radiation do we need to worry?

There is always an urgent requirement to find speakers to come and give us a presentation. Reaching out to the local u3a’s has given us another source of speakers, but they are also very limited. So if anyone has any contacts or topics they can present, then please contact me.

Bob Hornby

April 2022 S&T Update

The Science & Technology Group has restarted meetings back in October 2021. So far we have had 2 presentations from local u3a members on 'The Future of the Jet Engine' and 'Squaring the Green balance in the National Grid'. These were then followed by 'Why should you buy an Electric Vehicle' and the 'Hubble Space Telescope'.

The next meeting on 25th May will be a presentation on the James Webb Space Telescope, its development, deployment and what is is doing now.

Group report

At the time of writing the Group is still ‘grounded’ because the hall we use is not open to group meetings. This could all change after 19th July, but I feel some members may still wish to play safe and stay at home. We may have to use technology to hybridise the meeting and use a mix of the old and new and Zoom the event at the same time.

To help whet the appetite we have a group Newsletter being created, where all the latest technology is trawled from the Internet, currently 6 science and technology web sites' information is looked at, selecting items from Aeronautical, Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics, Automotive and Semiconductor disciplines, plus a fun section, answers to those silly questions that you were afraid to ask.

At the moment I have heard from some members that the acoustics in St Patrick's Hall makes it difficult for them to hear the speakers. So I am looking at an alternative site to see if that is any better, so watch this space for further updates on this.

A recent initiative for the SE Region u3a, was to look into shared resources, so I have asked Waterlooville u3a if they have any speakers but alas they have indicated that they are struggling to get speakers. So I will widen the net and see if I can get speakers, but you may have to be prepared to fund minimum expenses.

If you have any questions, speaker inputs, then contact me.

Bob Hornby

Group report

During lockdown the group has been largely dormant.
However there is a proposed u3a Exhibition at present planned for September. S&T will have a poster showing past talks and some ideas for the future. Our first meeting is also planned for September.
Unfortunately Brian Cox will not be giving that talk, but we are always looking for new speakers.

Mike Lynch and Ann Pearcey

This is an article published in the Spring 2021 edition of the Hayling Island u3a newsletter

Group report

The Hayling U3A S&T Group was invited to a very interesting activity by Waterlooville U3A Science Group on Tuesday 14th July at 2pm. They had arranged for a Zoom lecture from Greenpeace titled “Oceans and Super Trawlers”. The meeting itself had many aspects, and I list some of them below.

  •  It was the first zoom meeting I had attended; lessons learned from it include have good lighting to your face so others can see, and don’t have sun streaming through a window behind you, or the image will be blacked out.
  •  Attendees should arrive on time; late arrivals are disruptive
  •  The chairperson had to establish a protocol for speaking; Zoom may cut out others when one person speaks; a raised hand is a useful device.
  •  The speaker must be able to put across ideas in an informative but interesting manner because of limited audience feedback
  • There should be enough time for questions at the end

In this meeting I felt all the above were met – well done Waterlooville U3A and Greenpeace

Mike Lynch

This is an article published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter .

Group report

The Science and Technology group have had a fascinating lecture series over the past year or so. This has been augmented by a number of group discussions.

The programme over the period Jan 2019 to Feb 2020 is listed below

Date Topic Speaker
Jan 2019 The Future of Drones Group discussion
Feb Nanotechnology Group discussion
Mar DNA Group discussion
May Satellite Radar Images - What You See Is NOT What You Get!" Percy Phelps
June Climate Change Group discussion
Sep The Science and Engineering of the Honey Bee. Pt 1 Percy Phelps
Oct  The Science and Engineering of the Honey Bee. Pt 2 Percy Phelps
Nov The Paranormal Joint meeting with Portsdown U3A
Dec "Aerodynamic Characteristics of Reindeers" Merry Xmas
Jan 2020 The Internet Bob Hornby
Feb Boeing 737 Max And The Accident That Was Going To Happen Percy Phelps

Unfortunately the December meeting could not take place !

We have a membership in the region of 40, with an average attendance of 20. We meet on the 4th Wednesday of the month in St. Patrick’s Church hall. This venue has plenty of on-site parking so do come along and join us.

On a sad note, our founder member Paul Chapman passed away in January. He was a fine speaker and will be sadly missed.

Also realistically, it is unlikely that there will be any further meeting until September, as we normally take a break in the summer months.

Mike Lynch and Ann Pearcey

This is an article published in the Spring 2020 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter .

Group report

This is an article published in the Christmas 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter….

This season has witnessed a new approach for the S&T group. Instead of presentations on a broad range of topics, we have experimented with discussions on subjects selected by the members. The first to be considered was the progress and practicality of Electric Cars. With twenty members contributing to the discussion, the main conclusion was that the biggest benefit derived from moving particulates and carbon dioxide emissions away from the streets and over to the power generation units, where they can be contained. Moreover if the power is generated from solar panels or wind turbines then the pollutants are removed completely. Our second discussion was focused on “Driverless Vehicles” where it was thought that it will be many years before such a system can be universally introduced and there was concern that driven vehicles and driverless vehicles would not necessarily be compatible partners on the roads.

On two occasions recently we have joined with the Havant U3A S&T group on visits. Firstly, to the Farnborough Research Centre and secondly, to the Airbus organisation in Portsmouth. The contrast couldn’t have been greater with Farnborough displaying a replica of the Sam Cody’s plane, the first to fly in Britain in 1908 and Airbus showing the construction of the latest satellites. In both locations we were privileged to be shown around by very dedicated and knowledgeable guides and it really brought home the fact that in just over a century, the science of flight has advanced from barely getting off the ground to flying to distant stars. Surely one of the most impressive advances that mankind has achieved in all its history.


The Hayling and Havant Groups with a cut out of Sam Cody and his replica plane.




The S&T group meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month at St Patrick’s Church Hall and is open to all members of the HIU3A with a small contribution towards the cost of hall hire.

Paul Chapman

Group report

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.

Paul Chapman

Group report

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.

Paul Chapman

Group report

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.

Paul Chapman

Group report

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.

Group report

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.

Paul Chapman