SCIENCE:

ASTRONOMY


Our January meeting was held on Monday 13th January at the Driftwood Spars Hotel, St Agnes. As usual several members had lunch, tea coffee etc. beforehand.
The meeting was well attended despite the stormy weather.
The talk was in two parts, firstly we discussed the planet Venus. We looked at what is known of the surface features of Venus and how they may be periodically changed by volcanism. We also discussed how the atmosphere of Venus was altered by a runaway 'Greenhouse effect' early in its evolution and how this resulted in the extreme pressures and temperatures of the surface.
The second part was a short introduction to Astrobiology which is the study of the origins, early evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology also considers whether extraterrestrial life exists, and if it does how we might detect it.
We will continue our discussions on this subject at future meetings.
The talk was followed by an interesting a wide-ranging discussion.
Our next meeting is on Monday February 10th. The subject of the talk will be the third planet from the sun our home the Earth. We will look at our understanding of the formation and geological development of the Earth from it's formation.
The venue as usual will be the Driftwood Spars Hotel at 2pm.


Bob Williams 01326 219334 Mobile 07773288341


 

SCIENCE MEETING.

At our next meeting on 13th February, Roy Fisher will talk on ‘Health, Diet, Disease and Death in mid-Victorian Britain’.
Life expectancy for the mid-Victorian working class in Britain at the age of 5 years was as good or better than today. Obesity and diabetes were rare and the incidence of chronic and degenerative disease was only 10% of what we see today. Cancer and cardiovascular disease were not the main causes of death. Being much more physically active, their calorie intake was up to twice as high as ours. Their diet had a high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and oily fish and contained levels of micro-nutrients around ten times the levels considered normal today. They had little access to tobacco and alcohol.
Although science has made major contributions to health care, our society is suffering from pandemics of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease, much of which can be attributed to our modern diet high in processed food, combined with a sedentary lifestyle. The multitude of drugs today mainly treat symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause of illness. Lessons from the past need to be considered if we expect to have better health and to avoid bankrupting our NHS.
Last month Bob Croxford gave an interesting talk about the history of the science of photography from the first pioneers in the early nineteenth century that included Wedgwood(1802), Niépce(1827), Fox Talbot(1835) and Daguerre(1839). However it was John Herschel in 1839 who first coined the terms photography, negative and positive and discovered ‘hypo’ that made photos permanent. He also invented the Cyanotype process. In 1851 the wet collodion process developed by Archer dramatically reduced exposure times and photography went global using portable darkrooms. In 1871 Maddox developed the dry plate process using gelatine containing silver halide which was taken up and automated by Eastman, eventually using transparent roll film in 1889. His company Kodak, with their Box Brownie, popularised photography as a hobby and then in 1935 produced Kodachrome, one of the first colour films, continuing their domination of photography in the first half of 20th century. The 1970s introduced the ‘point and shoot’ cameras. The talk finally ended up in the digital age based on the Bayer filter mosaic. This is a colour filter array for arranging red(25%), green(50%) and blue(25%) filters on a square grid of photosensors to create a colour image. Bob ended with a sobering fact that the electricity consumed globally by cloud computing, much of which is due the storage of the vast numbers of digital videos and photos from our smart phones, will soon overtake air travel in contributing to global warming. Slides from his talk are available on the website.


Our first talk of 2020 on 9th January was given by Bob Croxford on ” From Daguerrotypes to iPhones. How did we get here?” Here are the slides of his talk From Daguerreotypes to Mobile Phone Cameras
Photography has become ubiquitous. Millions of people all over the world have a camera in their pocket or handbag. I was at a wedding and a few of the guests wandered out onto the car park of the hotel where the reception was held and sent photos to friends in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Just a few yards from the spot where Marconi had sent a crude message across the Atlantic full colour images were sent from pocket sized telephones. None cared to wonder how their photos looked so good. Why they 'came out' so well.

Photography has pervaded many areas of science. Where would medicine and astronomy be now without the help of photography? It all started from the experiments made by amateurs years ago.
In November Dr John Hyslop gave a fascinating talk reflecting on his career in radiology. What had attracted him to this specialty was the exciting new scientific developments, such as the pioneering work on Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) in Aberdeen.
John started as a consultant at Treliske in 1985, at the time when the first Computerised Tomography(CT) scanner was installed, having been purchased through public funding. This transformed radiology; before then it was mostly chest X-rays and barium meals using standard film technology. The CT scanner was developed in the UK by EMI. It involves multiple thin cross-sectional body slice scans from which the computer generates a 3-D digital image. The early CT scanner took 4 minutes to take one sliced image compared to 1/3 second now, meaning many more images, with less radiation exposure. With injected contrast dye, CT scanning can look at blood flow to organs. It can also accurately guide tissue biopsies. Treliske now have 5 CT scanners, with a further 2 to come. Over the last 30 years there has been a 10% increase in the annual workload, reaching 40,000 scans by the time John retired 3 years ago, when there were 19 radiologists.
A major part of John’s early career at Treliske was in establishing the Obstetric Ultrasound service for accurately dating and assessing foetal development. Initially it was about one scan a day, compared to 80,000 a year now.
MRI has undergone a massive development. This body scanner involves the use of a very powerful magnet. The magnetic field generated causes alignment of the body’s protons( H+), most of which are present in water. A pulse of microwaves then causes the protons to absorb energy causing them to flip. These then revert back, giving off a detectable signal that varies according to the type of tissue. Cell biochemistry and tissue imaged simultaneously in amazing detail.
John’s talk was illustrated throughout with slides of clinical cases involving the head and spine. This gave us a good insight into the key role a radiologist has at the centre of diagnostics in the 21st century and to appreciate how much technological progress had been made since he started.

. New members are welcome to join us at our meetings on the second Thursday morning each month, at the Victoria Inn, Threemilestone.

Roy Fisher  01872 270528      raf59@talktalk.net

Psychology

HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY
We’re a small group, limited to ten members, who meet on the first Wednesday of every month, to discuss and try to understand how and why we respond intuitively at first to our ever-changing environmental experiences all the time.  The intuitive mind's 'the gift' and the rational mind 'the servant', yet society now seems inclined to 'honour the servant and forget the gift.'
John Faupel 01872-561628 johnfaupel@btinternet.com


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For all activities, please check our Google Calendar to confirm dates, times and locations

Pat Harrod & Wendy MorrisGroups coordinator