Online Lectures

Your lecture programme team are consulting with members on the resumption of the monthly talks programme including the possibility of our returning to the Showroom from September or continuation online or via some form of ‘hybrid’ arrangement. There are of course issues and uncertainties. We will keep members posted of our decision as soon as possible.
Whatever decision is taken we are looking for a member to volunteer to take on the role of lecture / talks programme coordinator to manage the calendar and liaise with speakers and venues (Showroom).
We will also need additional people who are willing to host online events using the u3a licence involving registration, liaising with speakers (and potentially with the Showroom if ‘hybrid’ events are adopted), admitting attendees online, recording the event and uploading to our website etc. A process guide is available and training can be provided.
Please contact Philip Long if you are interested in helping us keep the programme going by volunteering to help out with these roles.


During this time of physical distancing we are arranging for some lectures to be delivered online. The ones we have lined up, so far, are shown below. Zoom has a limit on attendance so you need to register on the Wild Apricot site for each lecture. As you will see from below registration opens on the Tuesday before the lecture. Details of how to register are at the bottom of this page.

We will try and record the lectures and will give a link to the recordings below – you will need to login (with the email and password you use to register for events and renew your membership) to view these. As these are large files the recordings will not remain for ever!


Upcoming lectures

These lectures are all likely to be delivered via Zoom and are subject to confirmation.

  • October 1 at 11:00am – Capturing Movement – Kathryn Cooper
    Over the past few years Kathryn has become fascinated with photographing flocks of birds. Over the winter, tens of thousands of starlings migrate to roosts close to Sheffield and her aim is to depict the fluid-like movement and capture the essence of a murmuration. In this lecture, Kathryn will talk through her creative process, lessons to be learned from image makers through history and the benefits of working on a subject that is close to home.


    Kathryn Cooper is an artist and scientist interested in capturing the beauty of complex natural systems. After spending a decade developing technology for medical imaging, she is now exploring how to combine a love for the outdoors with an academic background through her photography.
    (Registration will open on September 28)


  • October 15 at 11:00am – Artificial Intelligence – David Barber

    Artificial Intelligence, generally known as AI, is constantly in the news. AI appears to be capable of solving all sorts of problems that previously we would have thought could only be solved by a human being. So what is AI, what sort of things can be done with it, and how does it work? AI performance has been significantly improved over the past few years and this talk will, hopefully, provide some clues as to how this has been achieved. However, most applications so far have only matched human level performance in very restricted areas and researchers are a long way from making an AI machine which can mimic general human intelligence. Existing AI applications already suggest there will be both negative and positive economic and social impacts on society. General AI, if it can be achieved, could represent an existential threat to humankind. The future of AI is likely to be very interesting indeed.
    David has a BA in Natural Sciences (Cambridge) and a PhD (Digital Computer Processing of Radioisotope Scans (Aberdeen University)). He moved from Aberdeen to the University of Sheffield in 1971 as James Morrison Research Fellow and in 1975 joined the NHS Department of Medical Physics as a Radionuclide Imaging Physicist. In 1994 he became Professor Associate at the University of Sheffield and in 1996 Head of Department of Medical Physics. In 2005 he retired from the NHS and took up a part time Research Fellow appointment at the University of Sheffield, working on European projects involving the extraction of numerical information from medical images for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and fully retired in 2012. He has an ongoing interest in machine learning algorithms and their relationship to the wider field of Artificial Intelligence.
    (Registration will open on October 12)


  • November 19 at 11:00am – Mark E Thomas – Author of 99%: Mass impoverishment and how we can end it
    Mark E Thomas is the author of 99%. He has spent most of his career in business; for many years he ran the Strategy practice at PA Consulting Group. During this time, he began to explore whether the tools and techniques of business strategy could be applied to understanding the health and stability of countries. This research led him to the uncomfortable conclusion that many developed countries – including the US and the UK – are unwittingly pursuing economic policies which will result in the unwinding of 20th century civilisation before we reach the year 2050. Hearteningly, he also concluded that this fate is entirely avoidable. Mark is also the author of The Complete CEO, and The Zombie Economy. Mark is a Visiting Professor at IE Business School and has a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University.
    (Registration will open on November 16)
  • December 17 at 11:00am – lecturer and title tbc
    (Registration will open on December 14)


To attend a lecture

  1. Register using Wild Apricot: You will need to log in (just click ‘Forgot password’ if you have forgotten it) and then click on Events and then click on the event for the lecture and follow the instructions.
  2. You will receive an email confirming registration and containing the link, zoom id and password for the lecture. Shortly before the lecture click on the link and, if need be, you will be told to download the Zoom app. You can follow the lecture on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. For the latter two you should download the Zoom app.
  3. Zoom are often updating their security. You will need the password as well as the meeting ID and you may have to wait in a ‘waiting room’ before the lecture – sorry no magazines or coffee available.

If you wish to find out more about Zoom, please read: Introduction to Zoom
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