Thornbury u3a

Past topics

Science and Technology group has been running since the start of Thornbury u3a. After a short break due to Covid lockdown, the groups re-started in October 2020 initially on Zoom. These are the topics covered since our re-start:


  • Oil & Gas Exploration (including how to drill around corners)
  • Harry Grindell Matthews – a local Genius or Charlatan?


  • Colour - what makes grass look green?
  • Gut Biome - bacteria that keep us healthy
  • Digital Computing - how it all started
  • Playschool and a Plague of Rabbits - the ubiquity of the Golden Ratio
  • Can we ever communicate with extra-terrestrials?
  • Letter from America - the technology of retired life in Florida
  • History of numerals - we've not always counted like we do now
  • Batteries - how long can they keep going?
  • "Ingenuity" - flying over Mars
  • Sulphur - a most intriguing element


  • Calendars - how long are the days, months and years?
  • How long (statistically) will you live?
  • Aviation in the 19th Century - flight before the Wright brothers.
  • Renewable energy and the Grid - are they compatible?
  • Controlled flight; a practical demonstration.
  • Carbon - from soot to mad cows.
  • The Sound of Music - why we all like different music.
  • Victorian Filth - is it still around today?


  • Open discussion on the science of Climate Change
  • The Hydrogen Economy - is it a realistic prospect?
  • Behavioural Economics - following mental "Rules of thumb" can leave us poorer
  • Epigenetics and Human Health - Life's much more than just DNA
  • Technology in Commodities Trading - a bit like changing from Riddiford's to Ocado
  • Vertical flight - getting airborne
  • Anti-tank weapons - making an impact
  • Navigation - an innate capability aided by technology
  • Matthew Boulton - industrialist
  • Heat Pumps - blowing hot and cold


  • Open discussion on the role of science and scientists in today's society
  • Artificial Intelligence I - Large Language Models - getting an answer to your query
  • Artificial Intelligence II - Media - not just a pretty picture
  • The UK Space Agency - yes, we do have one!

All our speakers and contributors are from within Thornbury u3a. Many thanks to them all.