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Evolution of life is a fascinating subject, with the first theories preceding any knowledge of genetics. The science of genetics only took off at the beginning of the 20th century. Applications of genetics, involving genetic engineering and tissue culturing, is a current controversial issue.
To explore aspects of these matters more fully Pembrokeshire U3A and Narberth U3A Science Groups invite members of their U3As and members of other U3As to attend a Special Study Day on Wednesday, June 4th from 10am to 3pm at the Crundale Community Hall, Haverfordwest.

9.30-10.00 am Reception at Crundale Community Hall – Coffee and Tea.
10.00-11.00 am – Presentation by Professor Anthony Campbell on Alfred Russel Wallace – the British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin’s writings in 1858. This prompted Darwin to publish his own ideas in On the Origin of Species. Wallace was one of the leading evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century and made many other contributions to the development of evolutionary theory besides being co-discoverer of natural selection.
11.00 -11.30am – Break for Coffee and Tea.
11.30 – 12.30pm – Presentation by Phillip Mahiques on The Origins of Genetics – the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms. Genetics is the process of trait inheritance from parents to offspring, including the molecular structure and function of genes, gene behaviour and variation and it can be applied to the study of all living systems.
12.30 – 1.45pm – Buffet Lunch, Coffee and Tea.
1.45 – 2.45pm – Presentation by Professor Tudor Thomas on The Application of Genetics to Plant Modification – The observation that living things inherit traits from their parents has been used since prehistoric times to improve crop plants and animals through selective breeding. This presentation will be concerned with recent research work on plant improvements.

The cost for this Study Day is £10 per person. This includes the buffet lunch, coffee, tea and biscuits. Bookings may be made by contacting Graham Goodeve and making payment by cheque (payable to Pembrokeshire U3A) to 10 Castle Rise, Spittal, Haverfordwest, SA62 5QW by Friday 30th May.
Please quote your name and telephone number or e-mail address or home address with your booking request to receive directions to Crundale Community Hall.

The Speakers
Professor Anthony Campbell is the Professor of Medical Biochemistry in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science at Cardiff University and he is the Director of the Darwin Centre.

Phillip Mahiques a former teacher of Biological Science and Head of Science at Wycliffe College, and now the Leader of the Narberth U3A Natural History Group.

Professor Tudor Thomas is also a member of Narberth U3A. Formerly he was Director of the Broom’s Barn Experimental Station, the UK Centre for Sugar Beet Research and was Head of the Weed Research Division at the Long Ashton Research Station.

Graham Goodeve 2nd April 2014



Prof Richard Davies, BSc, PhD, FGS
Dean of Knowledge Exchange and Impact in the Department of Earth Sciences
Durham University

Lecture presented by Professor Davies to an audience of around 150 U3A members and Sixth Formers in the Torch Theatre. The event organised by the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Schools Trust (PESST) on Thursday 13th March..

Fracking is a topic which may fill many with fear and loathing of yet another attempt by man to destroy the environment and all that is pleasant on our planet. On the other hand many consider that it will enable us to provide ourselves with our own viable energy supply for industry and our homes and tax revenues to pay for our ever growing needs and services in the 21st Century.

Professor Davies emphasised that his Department were unbiased in their assessment of Fracking, its development and impact and to provide advice to the Government and other agencies as well as to inform the public. Research papers are in continuous production and some can be accessed on line.

The potential resources of oil and gas that could be obtained from oil shales in northern England from the 1000 ft thick Bowland Shales and from Jurassic shales in south east England are enormous. They are estimated to be far greater than those obtained from the North Sea basin although possibly about 10% of this can be easily recovered. Being beneath the land they are more easily assessable by means of vertical drilling and then horizontal bores so that fracking, the use of high pressure water injection at a depth of around 3 km. can fracture the impermeable shales to release the oil and gas. These have been formed from algae and other organic remains which by deep burial, pressure and heat over millions of years have been converted to hydrocarbons. The injection of water, sand and chemicals in each bore would only be for about 2 hours to fracture the shale at depth. The fractures are confined to around the bores at a depth of over 3 km.

Drilling of 1000s of bore holes would be necessary but would occupy limited spaces and when completed the features left would not be unsightly towers or ‘nodding donkeys’ but only a 6ft high valve system connected to underground pipes. Each would be operative for up to 10 years and would then be sealed off and buried with concrete. Fracking on a limited scale has been used in the UK since before WW2.

Does Fracking cause Earthquakes? Earthquakes naturally occur with great frequency in the UK but the vast majority are very small and are only detectable by sensitive seismographs. Fracking would cause some of these very minor quakes. One quake of 2-3 on the Richter Scale was the cause of a recent minor quake in Lancashire which Geologists diagnosed as high pressure fracking water lubricating an ancient fault. Fracking should therefore avoid faulted strata.

Possible pollution of ground water held in aquifers can be avoided by only Fracking below 3km. since aquifers are only tapped at shallow depths of less than 1km. so they are isolated from Fracking. Water used in Fracking is ejected from boreholes by the escaping gas. This is treated to remove chemicals including any radioactive material and may be reused in Fracking.

To ensure Fracking operations are safe and within the limitations indicated thorough and carefully monitored systems must be imposed on the industry. These are being designed to safeguard all aspects of the operations. One essential aspect of this control system must address the long term monitoring of possible leakages from sealed boreholes.

The Government policy for Energy favours the development of Fracking to fill our future Energy Gap but it is up to us as voters to appreciate the potential benefits and environmental impacts of Fracking and respond accordingly.

The Science and Technology Groups of the U3As who attended this lecture very much appreciated the clarity and excellence of Professor Davies’s presentation and have expressed their appreciation of being invited by Chris Evans and the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Study Trust to this event.

Graham Goodeve 14th March 2014.

“Julian Cremona visits New Zealand” – 6th March 2014

Julian CremonaJulian Cremola, retired scientific officer who worked at Dale Fort, presented a fascinating illustrated talk on the wild life and fauna of New Zealand – both the North and the South Islands. He and his wife spent many weeks travelling to remote corners of New Zealand to show the impact of human migration on this remote country as well and the wealth of native plants and animals that survive there today.

His collection of photographs was stunning, from wild and open beaches that went on for mile upon mile in the north to the forests and mountains and fiords of the South Island. Dramatic “Lord of the Rings” country with its connection with Pembrokeshire through a host of recognisable local place names in and around the dramatic Milford Sound!


A presentation at the February Monthly Meeting by Sophie Thomas, the Matron/Registered Sophie ThomasManager of Paul Satori.

Sophie talked initially about the Paul Sartori Foundation and its role in the community, before going on the describe the value of people developing an “Advanced Care Plan” as early as possible for their later years and their end of life care. She used the Hywel Dda Health Board Plan as an example, though in some respects she suggested it could be significantly improved. This is the link to the Hywel Dda Health Board page where electronic versions of the documents can be found:

Here is a link to another website full of ideas. It has an absolute plethora of excellent material on ACP, leaflets, stories, videos, posters and a lot more links:

Sophie also explained that they are a bit short-handed on the Clinical Management Team at the moment but hope to run more 3 day courses for anyone who is interested in knowing more. These are usually 3 x 10am-3pm sessions over about 6 weeks, with a follow up afternoon later on. There is no particular expectation of the participants, but they hope, at least they will spread the word in their own communities and groups.

Eventually she would like to have a group of volunteers, supported by a paid staff member, who will help people write ACPs, one to one, and also do talks.  Something for U3A members to think about!

Sophie discussed both the considerable advantages but also occasional the pitfalls of writing and using Advanced Care Plans, stressing that one should keep ones plan constantly under review. There was a considerable amount of interest in the hall as exemplified by the question and answer session at the end.


50 U3A members attended this excellent lecture at the Torch Theatre as guests of the Pembrokeshire Earth Science Schools Trust (PESST) on Monday 18th Nov. The speaker was Dr Carrie Lear, Reader in Geology at U.C.Cardiff. Her presentation on a perspective of Climate Change had a profound message for all of us.

50 million years ago in the Eocene Times the World was a much warmer place than today. Fossil evidence shows us that the ancestors of animals we now associate with the tropics roamed in the tropical forests covering southern Britain. Forests grew in northern Siberia and Antarctica where now it is covered by Tundra and Ice Sheets. Techniques involving the examination of the detailed chemistry of microscopic single cell organisms called Foraminifera, now entombed in ocean bottom deposits, have revealed to Geologists a full record of carbon dioxide levels and temperatures over the last 50 million years. This shows that the level of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide has declined causing the average World temperatures to decline by about 10C.

This decline reveals three distinct chilling periods. The first was 34 million years ago when mountain glaciation occurred in Antartica. The second some 20 million years ago when an ice cap formed over the whole of Antarctica. The third when the Pleistocene Ice Age began 2 million years ago. We (homo sapiens) are just living in one of the warmer interglacial periods of this Ice Age.

The causes of these changes in carbon dioxide and World temperature are complex, but a major factor is the effect of Plate Tectonic Movements that have left Antarctica isolated over the South Pole, while the southern continents of South America and Australia moved north, leaving an open Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. This isolation enabled Antarctica to develop extreme cold conditions which have impacted on the climate of the rest of the World.

However, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago the level of carbon dioxide in the Atmosphere has increased and now stands at approximately 400 parts per million. The highest it has ever been before in the last 800.000 years is 300ppm. Monitoring of this level of carbon dioxide in the Atmosphere reveals that the rate of increase is accelerating which in turn is increasing Global Warming. Warmer conditions, apart from changing our weather and climate conditions, mean that glaciers and ice sheets will melt.

The Greenland and West Antarctica Ice Sheets are now unstable and melting. The quantity of water locked in these ice sheets will mean significant rises of sea level. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will produce a sea level rise of 6 metres and that of West Antarctica a further 8 metres. If the East Antarctica Ice Sheet melts a further 60 metre rise of sea level will occur. This would drown those parts of Pembrokeshire below 240 feet above sea level. As for the rest of the World, coastal lowlands, major river lowlands and their cities would all be flooded completely.

The major questions for all of us are how long will it take for this to occur and have we the power and will to reverse the process?

Graham Goodeve – 19th Nov 2013