Two groups thriving, both under own steam

Todmorden U3A science group members next to a replica of a Cockcroft-Walton generator at CERN in Switzerland - Cockcroft being Sir John Cockcroft of Todmorden
Todmorden U3A science group members next to a replica of a Cockcroft-Walton generator at CERN in Switzerland - Cockcroft being Sir John Cockcroft of Todmorden

Among U3A Todmorden’s special interest groups, Science and Philosophy are perhaps the most ‘academic’ subjects we study.

They both thrive without a ‘tutor’ and decide for themselves what they study: how do they manage it?.

The Science group first met in Richard White’s living room in Walsden where John Allison showed members the dual nature of light, as it behaves as either a particle or a wave.

While they now meet in the comfort of the Community Resource room, Todmorden, they still share the benefits of their own experience.

Debates about fracking and nanotechnology have interspersed some solid science learning using DVD’s from U3A’s Resource Centre and self-bought items.

They’ve also occasionally been out and about - to local places like the Weir Group in Todmorden to see metal being cast and massive pumps manufactured – and further afield to CERN in Switzerland to see the large hadron collider, and to Jodrell Bank for some inside information about what they’re up to.

Philosophy’s journeys have understandably been restricted to the imagination, albeit with the occasional visiting philosopher to stimulate discussion.

The meetings have ranged over the greats and not-so-greats of Western philosophy, often using videos as a starting point, from Bryan Magee’s old BBC interviews of philosophers, to TED talks and other amazing lectures available on the Internet.

Lately they’ve gone back to basics for an Introduction to Philosophy – but in a hi-tech way, undertaking a University of Edinburgh MOOC – Massive Online Open Course – along with a few thousand others.

It makes quite a difference having a ready-made discussion group compared to struggling to understand things on your own.

For both groups a couple of minutes of audio-visual information can give rise to a couple of hours of deep conversation. We have a lot to offer each other, and there’s so much still to learn!

The groups meet fortnightly at the Todmorden Community Resource Centre, Philosophy on Monday mornings, Science on Wednesdays.

Contact groups coordinator Gail Allaby (phone 07887827960) or check the website u3atod.org.uk for more details.