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PROGRAMME  2018-2019

Sept 5th 2018

Dr David Morgan

A Review of the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)


This talk looks realistically at the prospects that extra terrestrial intelligences may exist and be able to be discovered in the Galaxy. It analyses the problems of communication and explores the idea that technological civilizations capable of communication may not exist for long enough to be discovered.

Understanding of the possible technological "Choke Point" that dooms civilizations to a short life span is investigated with reference to our development on Earth.


Oct 3rd 2018

David Green

The Geological History of Ross-on-Wye

700 million years ago, our small part of the earth’s crust emerged from the sea for the first time, as part of a chain of volcanic islands, rather similar to Java and Sumatra today. These islands lay near the Antarctic Circle, off the northern coast of a large supercontinent, known as Gondwana, under which the floor of an ocean – the Iapetus - was being destroyed down a trench. This talk will aim to chart the geological “adventures” of this small section of the crust as it moved northward to its present position over hundreds of millions of years, and to outline the evidence contained in local rocks that allows such a story to be constructed.

Nov 7th 2018

Physics of Thunderstorms

Prof Paul Hardaker, FInstP, FRMetS, CMet

Chief Exec Officer of the Institute of Physics.


Thunderstorms are ever-present across the globe and for centuries have had a strong cultural influence.  The talk will explore what we know of thunderstorms and how this has helped us understand how and where they occur; how to mitigate the weather hazards they create and how we can use this knowledge to make predictions or warnings.

Dec 5th 2018

Brian King

Islamic Science

Islamic Science was the science developed and practised during the Islamic Golden Age under the Umayyads of Córdoba, the Abbadids of Seville, the Samanids, the Ziyarids, the Buyids in Persia, the Abbasid Caliphate and beyond. Brian's talk will amplify how Islamic scientific achievements encompassed a wide range of subject areas, especially astronomy, mathematics, and medicine.


Jan 9th 2019

Note 2nd Wednesday in Jan




Prof Averil Macdonald OBE

and Prof Alun Vaughan


University of Southampton




Are we ready for electric cars?


Everyone seems to think that electric cars are an excellent way to reduce pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels. But it's not that simple. Averil will explain the serious difficulties and threats that electric cars could bring, and consider the choices and life style changes that we will all have to adopt to move to a totally green electric world while Alun will describe the huge technological challenges in generating and transmitting the electricity we will demand and the current research being undertaken to achieve this.

Professor Averil Macdonald is Emeritus Professor of Science Engagement at University of Reading. She was awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015 for Services to women in Science. Professor Alun Vaughan is Professor of Dielectric Materials at University of Southampton having previously held roles a Head of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Deputy Head of School of Electronics and Computer Science

Feb 6th 2019

 Jeff Williams - BSc Electrical & Electronic Engineering, MSc Instrumentation. (Swansea)

Internet and the Silicon Chip
The growth of the Internet was only made possible by advancements in the Silicon Chip. The presentation shows how a fundamental change in communications technology fuelled the silicon chip development and in turn the growth of global communications. How do you design such a piece of technology and how small can a Transistor get?

March13th 2019

Note 2nd
Wednesday in March

Dr Brian Williams

Wandering Continents
.... the evolution of the Atlantic Ocean
We live on a dynamic planet. Continents and oceans have come and gone throughout Earth's history.  Early ideas on "Continental drift" formulated from the southern hemisphere, were met with great scepticism.  However, evidence from the Gondwanan land masses of Africa, South America and Australia (and Atlantic Ocean) ultimately provided a compelling argument for what would become the unifying concept for planet Earth - Plate Techtonics.

April 3rd 2019

Cars for the 21st Century

Dr Nico Sergent

Powertrain architect at Riversimple. Before joining Riversimple in 2010, I was working on braking systems for WilliamsF1 for my PhD. I have developed the Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell powertrain and been involved in all aspect of car development and testing.

Dr Nico will be talking about the various powertrain we see in current cars, from pure petrol and diesels, to various forms of hybrid, to battery electric and hydrogen cars. I will explain why and how the current business model used by the auto industry has shaped the cars we drive. I will go into more detail describing the Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell car, and why we think hydrogen cars might be more appropriate than other alternatives for mass deployment.