u3a research database

Projects with topic Talks

There are now 51 projects under the topic Talks.

Click on ID for more information on a project.

548Georg Christoph Lichtenberg and Étienne Léopold Trouvelot worked on the same subject and published scientific papers on it, but lived a century apart and never met. What they both worked on are called to this day Lichtenberg figures, the strange, beautiful, almost organic shapes formed when a pulse of high-voltage electricity passes over the surface of an insulator. Lichtenberg was the first to describe these figures, and Trouvelot one of the first to record them photographically. I have researched the history of two men who were interested in both science and art, and have also created Lichtenberg figures myself.
549Doves and Fairies - using bottles of Dove shampoo and Fairy Liquid, the chemistries of colours, plastics and the ingredients are explained. The talk includes: history, for those who like to study the past; science for those who like to know how the world works; cleaning for those who like washing and housework.
550The life and times of George Croydon Marks, a Victorian engineer who designed and built cliff railways and founded a patent agency still running today. He was also president of the Sunday School Union and a director of EMI and Columbia pictures, through his friendship with Thomas Edison. He was one of the first Labour peers appointed by Ramsay MacDonald.
551The Bible and the Rise of Modern Science – there was a crucial shift in the worldview of northern Europe, partly brought about by the work of 16th century humanists. They brought a study of 1st century classical texts to the translation of the Bible into European languages. They promoted a shift in authority in matters of religion. The invention of printing spread these ideas and sparked the Protestant Reformation. This, in turn, facilitated a shift in science from trust in ancient authorities to trust in the experimental method. I particularly looked at the effect on the rise of science in Britain by the translation of the Bible into English.
552The Perceptive Plant - plants or plant parts are often busy monitoring their environment, checking where they are, what time it is, where other plants are, smelling and seeing, often using mechanisms as sophisticated as those in us and other animals.
358A novel hypothesis for atherosclerosis as a cholesterol sulfate deficiency syndrome
359Sugar-Damage in the Lipid Nutrition Cycle
554In Search of Echoes: Distinct echoes are often heard when sound is reflected. In this talk it's explained how echoes come about and describes some unusual examples including flutter echoes, musical echoes, culvert whistlers, whispering galleries, reverberation, as well as how to have a dialogue with an echo and much more.
555The Wellcome Trust - The life and legacy of Sir Hanry Wellcome' The story of two 19th Century American salesmen establishing the first pharmaceutical firm in Britain to do original research, resulting in a fortune endowed and developed as the Wellcome Trust, the second largest funding charity in the world.
290Is Seeing Believing?: The Art and Science of Visual Illusions. We sense with our eyes and perceive with our brain- Psychologist and Neuroscientists still don't know quite how, and visual illusions both clarify and mystify our understanding of the processes.
556James Clerk Maxwell is considered to be the greatest 19th-century scientist, as important as Newton and Einstein, but his ideas were ahead of his time. Can we imagine modern life without radio, TV, X-rays and more? They all have their origin in his work, as do ideas that led to the theory of relativity and the birth of the quantum theory
558Best Foot Forward: The science of how we walk (and run!). As a result of disease or accident, some people have difficulty in walking. Gait analysis is the scientific method used to analyse their walking but can be applied to everyone, not just those with walking difficulties. This presentation describes the gait analysis method, details the underpinning mechanisms of gait and applies them to areas of interest to U3A members. Applications include the benefits of walking; the effects of ageing; demands of uphill walking; the advantages of walking poles and the mechanisms of running.
643Stem Cell Research This is a brief overview of “the State of the Art” regarding stem cells and their role in medicine in the 21st century, introducing what stem cells are and where they originate. Stem cell classification covers totipotent, pluripotent and multiple potent stem cells and their origins. What adult and embryonic stem cells including cord blood cells can provide to medicine is covered and the stem cell bank and some of the diseases potentially helped by treatment with stem cells is discussed. The talk includes the challenges posed by an ageing population and the use of stem cells in diseases that are becoming more prevalent, as the life expectancy of individuals increases, e.g. Parkinson’s disease with all its associated morbidity. Where research is likely to develop next for stem cells concludes the presentation.
644Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing The talk is an introduction to the very diverse and rapidly expanding area of 3D printing, which seeks to produce products by building them up layer by layer rather than by the more traditional methods or cutting, shaving, removing material and then joining parts together. 3D printing is beginning to impact many areas. It is possible to print metals, plastics, human tissue, and food amongst many materials, so it can be used for a new ear or a fancy chocolate! The talk covers the history and basic processes of 3D printing and looks at the diverse materials which can be used and gives examples of some of the revolutionary products produced. The talk also covers the benefits, drawbacks and future of 3D printing.
645Florence Nightingale and Medical Statistics - this presentation looks at the position in the early 19th century as the background to Nightingale’s life and work, including medical knowledge and practice, statistics and their use and education. It considers her life and work against this background – family, friends, contacts, beliefs - leading to her well-known role in the Crimean War, and explores the way in which she used her fame politically. It shows that she was very much more than “the Lady with the Lamp” and evaluates the lasting effects of her life and work.
646Shops, Slums and Sanitation - Watford 1849 and beyond. The 1848 Public Health Act was the first step to improved public health and to stemming outbreaks of cholera, which were to claim in excess of 52,000 lives in the 19th century. Many towns set up Local Boards of Health which assumed responsibility for drainage, water supplies, removal of nuisances, and setting down new paving. Watford is presented as a case study, and illustrations with archive photos and drawings of some of the slum dwellings allow you to 'savour' conditions. Quite radical and surprising changes came about in terms of local governance, and in how High Streets looked and operated, as well as huge improvements in health and welfare.
647Bats, A Unique Evolution. Bats have been around for over 50 million years. Currently there are over 1300 species, filling ecological niches on almost every continent. For centuries these ‘creatures of the night’ were rarely seen, often feared and barely understood. This talk aims to explain what's so special about the physiology and lifestyle of bats. With equipment able to render ultrasound audible to humans, awareness of their presence and how they live has grown. With the advent of DNA analysis, more and more species have been found. This talk will look at speciation as well as the three key characteristics that make them special: flight, echolocation and longevity.
648Horology - the art & science of timekeeping. The development of increasingly accurate time keeping devices has been one of the great achievements of mankind which has stretched the ingenuity of scientists, engineers and craftsmen. As civilizations developed, there was a need for more accurate devices, leading to the development in the last millennium of mechanical devices, then electrical and currently atomic.
649The New Physics – An account of the revolution in physics in the early years of the 20th Century. In 1905 Albert Einstein published a paper that started a revolution in thinking about how fundamental particles behaved and made possible all the modern electronic technology we now have available. It was this paper on “The Photovoltaic Effect” that eventually earned him the Nobel Prize and launched the new “Quantum Mechanics”. By reading a number of popular science books that have been published recently, I feel I have a glimmering of understanding of what it is that I don’t understand.
655The Colour Blue - We know that, in mediaeval and classical art, the only thing that was really blue was the cloak of the Virgin Mary, because blue pigment was so very expensive. In this talk we look at the science of colour – what it is, and how it is perceived – to show that blue is something of an outlier in the spectrum. Then considering the history of the use of blue pigments and the scientific, technical, economic and even political factors driving their development, we show that the colour blue is indeed special.
656The Story of the Chariot; we consider the geography of the Steppes, the materials and technologies involved in the development of the wheel and of weapon systems and the domestication of the horse, to trace the rapid rise of the chariot to its role as the dominant military machine, across Eurasia, for more than 1000 years, then its descent into its now familiar role as sporting vehicle and status symbol.
684Face blindness is a neurological condition which is little known but surprisingly common - about 2% of the population have it at a severe level. This talk explains the impact of it on daily and social life for the million people in this country who have the condition and looks at current research by universities.
687We are all fascinated by how our memories work. Why is it we cannot remember where we put the car keys, but have no problem remembering how to drive the car? This talk looks at how memory works, how reliable it is and what we can do to improve it.
792Painting Time: time passes; a fleeting moment, the hours of the day, the seasons of the year, the ages of a person's life, the epochs of history. This talk examines some of the ways by which it has proved possible to capture the passage of time in images which are by their very nature motionless.
789Antoni Gaudi was an extraordinarily inventive architect from Spain, using Gothic and Moorish styles coupled with tiles, mosaics and the colours inspired by the Mediterranean tradition. His most famous works are the Park Guell, Casa Mila and the still unfinished Sagrada Familia
793Suffragettes or Suffragists? the campaign for women's franchise. Millicent Fawcett's National Union of Suffrage Societies (1897) advocated peaceful means of protest like leafletting and petitions, whereas the Pankhursts' Womens' Social and Political Union (1903), favoured violent tactics like hunger strikes and damage to property. Historians are divided as to which methods led to success in 1918.
797How To Be a Photon - We will learn how to be a wave and a particle (at the same time?) and something about the speed limits we have to obey. We will learn how to make rainbows, stripes and sparkles and how to paint the world. We will learn how to obey the simple laws of optics we learned at junior school and which seemed so obvious. But when you are VERY small, things don’t always behave as you expect them to!
799Earth’s atmosphere evolved from its beginning with 95% carbon dioxide and no oxygen to the current day composition of 21% oxygen and 0.04% carbon dioxide 4.5 billion years later, but those of Venus and Mars stayed very much the same, at least in composition. My talk attempts to provide an explanation for this observation in three parts: 1) The evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere during the past 4.5 billion years and the important interplay between the atmosphere and the evolution of life. 2) The carbon cycle and greenhouse effect that control the small variations in the present day atmosphere (nevertheless a potentially serious threat for humans). 3) The contrast between the destinies of Venus, Earth and Mars.
798The happy accident – the adrenal gland and asthma treatment - this talk traces the history of asthma therapy and discuss how a happy accident paved the way for all our modern medicines for asthma. Scientists isolated a substance from the adrenal gland which they called adrenaline – asthmatics inhaled it and felt better. Adrenaline was transformed into Ventolin (Salbutamol) – the first effective treatment for asthma, but this was 70 years after the discovery of adrenaline – why did it take so long? But it was all a mistake as adrenaline is not absorbed from the stomach and intestines following ingestion so it can’t have been adrenaline in the adrenal gland extract that improved asthma symptoms in the Victorian era. What was improving asthma following eating of adrenal gland extracts?
800This presentation explains what a genome is and introduces the 100,000 Human Genome project. Chromosome abnormalities and genetic defects will be discussed and the way that modern medicine is starting to tackle these issues shown. The ethical, social and legal implications of these new technologies will be raised. Issues include 3 parent babies, designer babies, eugenics, possible eradication of disease, personalised, targeted treatments and the technique CRISP-R which uses “genetic scissors” to edit genes.
801Averting comfortable lifestyle crises - How have climate change and diet shaped the evolution of human energy metabolism, and responses to Vitamin C, fructose and uric acid? Studies have revealed the flexibility of human metabolism in response to partial and total starvation and demonstrated that type 2 diabetics were better adapted than healthy subjects to conserving protein during fasting. The industrialisation of food processing in the C20 has led to increases in palatability and digestibility with a parallel loss of quality leading to overconsumption and the current obesity epidemic. New approaches are needed to the chronology of eating, the health benefits of intermittent fasting and the role of diet and exercise in the maintenance of a healthy human microbiome.
802This presentation shows the power of the graphical representation of data to dramatise and clarify information - often that we probably think we already know - making it more real and relevant. An important source of data and graphics is "Our World in Data". Examples come from a variety of fields including Geography, Agriculture and Food, Energy, Demographics and Sport
803The talk will start with a 'Damned Lie' and finish with some 'Damned Tricky Statistics'. In between the talk will cover some simple statistical concepts: Averages (mean or median), Percentages (relative or absolute) and Probability, Chance & Risk and will aim to explain them clearly with interesting statistics taken from everyday life as examples. However, statistics are frequently misused and examples will be given of their misuse in medicine, politics and the law.
804Caroline Herschel, the Comet Sweeper - often overshadowed by her brother, Sir William Herschel, this remarkable lady had an astronomical career of her own. For years, her brother‘s assistant and support, she was highly respected by the scientific community of the day. This presentation will show how she coped with the restrictions and culture of her day and her ultimate achievements.
805History of microwave generators and invention of cavity magnetron used for radar in WW II. What is Heat? What causes substances to rise in temperature? Infra-red radiation and radiofrequency/dielectric heating. How microwave ovens work with a short video looking at a modern microwave oven.
907The Science of Frankenstein - a look at the novel against the background of the Enlightenment
908Liquid Amps - Some highlights of electrochemistry, how it works and its importance in daily life. The story ranges from silver plated cutlery to the battery that powers your devices, and is of ever-increasing impact on society, as well as having a strong historical connection with the Birmingham area.
909Scare stories; risk and perception - a look at how we assess risk, what we base that opinion on and whether the alternative in some cases may be worse.
910Why doesn't your nose grow an ear? - a talk on why cells grow into the various parts of the body
991A New Narrative for Ageing - are we ready for the 100 year life?
992U3A's 5th decade - Quo Vadis?
993Age Friendly London - an account of the U3A's involvement in the Mayor's initiative for London to become an age friendly city.
1029A talk on on Darwin the Geologist, highlighting a lesser known but important aspect of Charles Darwin's work.
1030A talk on the creation of the vaccines, covering - What is coronavirus? Vaccines, what they are and how they work; Details of the Pfizer and AstraZenaca vaccines; Clinical trials; Current issues.
1031We hear a lot about chocolate and its flavour, but what about its physical attributes – why does it do what it does?
1045Flint; a geological explanation of how it is formed, as well as where to find it, how to recognise it and its uses.
1046SETI – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and having fun with the Drake Equation – is anybody out there? And if they are, then where are they, and how many civilisations are likely? Are we alone; one of the most fundamental questions we can ask? This presentation covers the SETI search and the attempts to estimate the number of intelligent, technologically advanced alien civilisations in our Milky Way galaxy. We will look at the Drake Equation and its various parameters, and the range of estimates it predicts.
1047For over a hundred years, the ultimate recognition of ground-breaking scientific research has been the award of a Nobel Prize. But there’s another series of annual awards, less prestigious but no less cherished, which honour, not the greatest achievements in science, but the funniest. They’re called the Ig Nobel Prizes, and, since their launch in 1991, they’ve provided a humorous insight into the quirky side of scientific research. This light-hearted presentation takes a look back at some of the most improbable of prize-winners.
1048The Science of Drug Abuse in Sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency may state that “Doping is Fundamentally Contrary to the Spirit of Sport”, but reports of sportspeople caught using drugs have been common for at least 50 years. This presentation will cover the mechanisms of action and the performance effects of a number of drugs commonly abused in a range of different sports, including those used to enhance endurance, for increasing strength, and for reduction of pain and fatigue. The side-effects of these drugs, ranging from acne to death, will also be discussed.
1056A review of the size/sale of our universe, with details as to how distances to objects in our universe are measured.
1057The science, history and politics of the Manhattan Project: the Atomic Bomb