Astronomy Group

Our February meeting was held on Monday 10th February at the Driftwood Spars Hotel, St Agnes. As usual several members had lunch, tea coffee etc. beforehand.
Thanks to the hardy group of members who attended despite the atrocious weather.
The talk was on the third planet from the sun our home the Earth.
We looked at the formation of the Earth from the solar nebula 4.6 billion years ago and it's development as far as the earliest forms of life about 3.8 billion years ago.
The talk was followed by an interesting a wide-ranging discussion.

Our March meeting is on Monday March 9th. The subject of the talk will be Mars. We will look at how the various Mars missions have revolutionised are understanding of the 'Red Planet'. We will also discuss future missions and the possibility of life on Mars.
The venue as usual will be the Driftwood Spars Hotel at 2pm.


Bob Williams 01326 219334 Mobile 07773288341



On 12th March, Dr Matt Witt, Exeter University, will talk about his research on Basking Sharks.     

In February I talked about the health of the mid-Victorian working class. Child mortality in the first five years was high and childbirth was far from being safe.  However, life expectancy after 5 years was as good as we see today and good health was maintained until quite late in life. There was a golden period between 1850 -1880 when the diet was at its healthiest, being rich in phyto-nutrients and fibre, eating essentially organic foods. There was little degenerative disease, with fewer people dying from heart disease and cancer. The three pillars of achieving good health are a nutritious diet, plenty of exercise and sufficient sleep. Unlike the mid-Victorians, many in our society today fail on all three criteria and as a consequence suffer chronic illness that causes a drain on NHS resources.
Although public health and modern medicine have made great progress in dramatically reducing deaths in childhood, as well as making childbirth much safer since Victorian times, they have not been able to stem the tide of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease that we have seen over the last 40 years. A 2020 report found that Britons are in poorer health for longer than thought, affecting on average their last 25 years, requiring increased levels of medication.
Consumption of a diet high in processed food, cooking with industrial vegetable oils and eating pesticide laden fruit and vegetables, are driving this pandemic of ill health. Fructose is the elephant in the room, with an average intake eight times higher than recommended, making it far more hazardous to health than saturated fat. Treating symptoms with drugs is not the answer, as it fails to address the root cause analysis of these illnesses, much of which is self-inflicted and potentially reversible. There is much that we can learn and adopt from the lifestyle of our Victorian ancestors. 

The talk 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


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


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

Pat Harrod & Wendy MorrisGroups coordinator