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PROGRAMME  2019-2020


Sept 4th 2019

Dr Keith Moseley

"How We Went to the Moon"

 Most considerations of the Apollo missions focus on the heroism of the astronauts and the narrative of their journeys. This presentation focuses on the technology of getting men to the moon and, briefly, the history that led up to it. There is also consideration of why the moon missions prematurely halted and the conspiracy nonsense that grew afterwards.

Oct 2nd 2019

Prof Maggie Andrews
Dr Emma Edwards

Spanish Flu

Spanish flu research concerns regarding the causes and characteristics of the "Spanish flu", a variety of influenza that in 1918 was responsible for the worst influenza pandemic in modern history. Many theories about the origins and progress of the Spanish flu persisted in literature, but it was not until 2005, when various samples were recovered from American World War I soldiers and an Inuit woman buried in the Alaskan tundra, that significant research was made possible.

 Prof Maggie and Dr Emma consider the medical science, and social and economic aspects of the Spanish Flu pandemic, in which many of us may have lost family members.  Could it happen again?  this question is also addressed.

Nov 6th 2019

Norman Pomfret

Introduction to Radio Astronomy

 Beginning with the accidental discovery of Radio Signals from our Cosmos that made front page of the New York Times. Development of Radio reception equipment and the important discoveries that have subsequently been awarded Nobel prizes.  Simple aids will be used to assist in demonstrating some of the physics of this young branch of one of our oldest sciences. Finally, introducing how citizen science can be applied to observations.

Dec 4th 2019

Mark Gibbons

Black Holes

As this is our Christmas meeting and as is our tradition, we will commence with Mulled wine and mince pies. 7pm for 7.30

 From being theoretical curiosities predicted by mathematics, to objects we now have direct observational evidence of: black holes. They have a surprisingly wide-ranging effect on the structures we see in the Universe. We have some idea about what goes on inside a black hole, and a better idea what goes on around one. This talk examines how we first thought of black holes, what effects they have and how they evolve.   


Jan 8th 2020

Note 2nd Wednesday in Jan


John Nichols




How will it be produced as we head towards a carbon neutral future

This presentation is principally concerned with the current trend towards decarbonisation.
This has to start with the current UK energy demand for all purposes, heat, power, transport, industrial, domestic, and how these demands are currently satisfied by electricity, oil, gas, coal,
Also we look at current generation capacities of nuclear, coal, gas, wind solar, etc.
Then moves on to what Decarbonisation is likely to mean and what changes will have to be made, or not, as the case may be
The possible introductions of alternative fuels like fracking gas and Hydrogen are discussed

Feb 5th 2020

Nick Oldfield

A race against time - the development of the atomic bomb

The discovery of the electron by J J Thomson in 1897 was the first indication that atoms were not the smallest (indivisible) particles in nature, but it was a further 20 years before Rutherford first split the atom and, in the process, discovered firstly the atomic nucleus and three years later the proton. The neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in 1932 and atomic fission was discovered by Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Straßmann in Berlin in December 1938. Scientists soon realised this made possible a new weapon, the atomic bomb, and as fission had first been discovered in Berlin there was real fear that Nazi Germany could already have begun development of this weapon.

In the early 1940s allied research into bomb development was being carried out by small disparate teams in Britain, Canada, France and the USA. In Britain, the “Maud Committee” first sat in April 1940 to consider how development of the atomic bomb should be carried out; at this point, pre Pearl Harbour, the USA were slower to address the challenge, and Britain took an early lead. But following the USA’s entry into the war in December 1941, research in the USA rapidly increased and the “Manhattan Project”, which began in August 1942, went on to pull these developments together and move them forward on a previously unimaginable scale, resulting in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki only three years later, in August 1945.

This talk will explore both the technical challenges that had to be solved to create the atomic bomb and also the organisation and scale of the project. It will also look at some of the political issues and their consequences; the withdrawal of co-operation by the USA and the subsequent development of the “independent nuclear deterrent”.

March 4th 2020

Bob Skelt

Breaking the Codes

 A light, non-technical approach is taken to the processes involved in breaking the Enigma and Fish codes at Bletchley Park and the impact it had on the various theatres of war. The difficulties encountered and overcome by the code breakers, and the painstaking and intense work by the ordinary people are described. I tell the story of the stroke of luck that resulted in breaking the code that Hitler used to talk to his generals, and how it resulted in the world’s first computer being invented.

April 1st 2020

Lawrence Beaumont


Engineering for success

How to build an electric motorcycle for the Isle of Man TT 

A story of an opportunity I couldn’t have dreamed of, and an offer I couldn’t refuse. “ The University of Bath’s student lead electric motorcycle racing team, Bath Zero, has been running for the last 5 years, facing different challenges throughout. Last year the team designed and built a new motorcycle from the ground up achieving their greatest success to date. Describing the year from design philosophy to build strategies and the ups and downs of motorsport
  The 2020-2021 season's programme is under construction and will be completed shortly... All registered members and guests will be notified by email upon release. If you are not registered and wish to be added to the mailing list, please contact our secretary.