Our December meeting, was as usual held at the Driftwood Spars Hotel St Agnes.
The talk was on 'Optics'. We learned how advances in the understanding of the nature of light allowed improvements of the optics needed for larger and better astronomical telescopes. We followed the development of spectroscopy in the early 19th century and its use by Astronomers to determine the composition and temperatures of the Sun and stars. We reviewed the types of telescopes used to study the cosmos by modern Astronomers and were shown some examples of the images taken by them. Three relevant short videos completed the afternoons session.
Our first meeting of the New Year will be on Monday 14th January at 2:00 pm. Members and potential members are welcome to join us for lunch,coffee, drinks etc. at the Driftwood Spars beforehand.
The talk is titled 'The Stars'. We will learn how Astronomers discovered about the formation and life cycle of stars and how the distance of stars from Earth was determined . We will also look at the processes providing the source of energy for stars and at stellar evolution.

Bob Williams 01326 219334

John Baldock
(, 01872 554241)


Please note that the time and day of the meetings for 2018 has been changed to 10:45 on the second Thursday of month at the Victoria Inn, Threemilestone Coffee is available from 10.00 am.

The Vic are offering us a special morning snack deal. A croissant + coffee for £4:00 or bacon bap + coffee for £5:00. Also if you are planning to have lunch and/or attending the quiz later, then reserve a table in advance on 01872 278313 and mention that you are with the science or quiz group. 

Last month Arthur Willis gave an excellent personal view of the history of nuclear power in the UK reflecting on his 45 years working in the industry. The early development work that took place at Harwell and Windscale was for the production of plutonium. The UK established the world’s first civil nuclear programme, using a Magnox reactor at Calder Hall, Windscale in 1956. The following year the UK’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Windscale (renamed Sellafield in 1981) when a pile caught fire releasing the radioisotope Iodine -131 into the locality.
Arthur explained how each type of nuclear reactor worked and how the technology improved efficiency and power generation at each phase, from Magnox in 1960s, then AGR in 1970s and finally PWR in 1990s. Privatisation and break up of the CEGB brought to an end further UK development and resulted in French(80% state owned) and German companies now providing most of our electricity while our government was left paying for the expensive plant decommissioning and fuel reprocessing programme. A resurgence of our nuclear future with building plants such as at Hinkley Point C (PWR), Oldbury and Wylfa (ABWRs) is now in the hands of foreign companies. However, Rolls Royce are looking into developing small modular reactors(SMR) based on their experience of building reactors for our nuclear submarine fleet. Many issues remain including waste management, security of supply, cost, investment and ownership.
Much more detail can be found on the World Nuclear Association website (
On 8th November Roy Fisher talked about the ‘Health Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency’. here is the presentation:
There is an epidemic of chronic disease in our society that requires high levels of medication. As the content of magnesium in our food crops has declined since WWII and the availability and intake of refined and processed food low in magnesium has increased, the majority of the population are now at risk of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential cofactor for the functioning of over 300 enzymes in human metabolism. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are now common conditions that increase magnesium loss by the kidneys.  Also some of the commonly prescribed groups of drugs add to this renal loss. Unfortunately measuring blood magnesium is an unreliable test to identify mild magnesium deficiency as most of our body magnesium is locked up in bone and muscle.
Having a subclinical magnesium deficiency increases the risk of numerous types of heart disease, which is mainly going unrecognised by doctors.  According to the authors of 2018 review paper in the BMJ this condition should be considered a public health crisis that needs to be addressed. Measures to improve our dietary intake of magnesium and when we need to take magnesium supplements will be discussed.
There will not be a science meeting in December.

Our first talk of 2019 will be on 10th January at 10:30 by Peter Ledingham on the ‘United Downs Deep Geothermal Power(UDDGP) Project’. Please note the earlier start time.
Peter is the UDDGP Project Manager at Geothermal Engineering Ltd(GEL) and was one of the original team that worked on the Hot Rocks project in the 1980s. The knowledge and expertise gained from this earlier research programme has enabled the development of this new project which aims to unlock the investment needed to build a significant geothermal sector in the county.
GEL is drilling two deep geothermal wells from its site on the United Downs Industrial Site and will build a 1MW pilot power plant to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of supplying both electricity and heat. Peter will be able to explain all aspects of the drilling and geology that’s going on.
Please contact if you would like to attend this meeting but are not on our science group list.

On 14th February 10.30 Dr David Hutchinson, Consultant Rheumatologist, Royal Cornwall Hospital will talk on ‘The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis’.

Finally I’m pleased to announce that Phil Carson has kindly agreed to help run the science group meetings.
Roy Fisher                  

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

Pat Harrod & Wendy MorrisGroups coordinator