U3A at the Ri

1.45pm to 4.45pm, Monday 19 March

The Theatre

This event has already taken place

  • The Ri Theatre

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson


Standard £20

U3A members can only book directly through U3A National Office events in the members’ area.

Event description

U3A members and other members of the public join us at the Ri for an afternoon of talks on subjects ranging from materials science to calculating colour

Andrew Hanson will elaborate on his own area of work – colour measurement. Colour informs, influences consumer choices, warns us and comforts us. As with every aspect of life, it needs to be measured to ensure good communication and confidence in manufacturing processes for a diverse range of goods from pills to paints. But how do we ascribe numbers to a human perception which is incredibly versatile and variable? The challenge is enormous and human colour perception science is still a lively topic today. Be warned! This demonstration talk will contain surprises – there is a lot more to colour than meets the eye.

Anna Ploszajski: Smart materials

You’ve heard of smart phones, smart meters, smart watches… Well now it’s the turn of smart materials. In the future, solid objects will react, sense, change and move according to their surroundings. This won’t be a result of clever robotics or electronics, but rather the fundamental properties of the stuff itself. In years to come, we will be living in self-regulating houses, riding self-fixing bicycles, and driving on self-illuminating roads, all thanks to these so-called ‘smart materials’. These are metals, plastics, fabrics and fluids that react to the outside world without any human involvement, and they promise to change the way we live. In this talk, award-winning materials scientist and engineer Dr Anna Ploszajski will show you the smart materials that will make the material world around us smarter. Expect to see matter doing things you’ve never seen it do before!

Jack Ashby: The unnatural nature of natural history museums

Natural history museums are magical places. They inspire awe and wonder in the natural world and help us understand our place within the animal kingdom. Behind the scenes, many of them are also undertaking world-changing science with their collections. But they are places for people, made by people. We might like to consider them logical places, centred on facts, but they can’t tell all the facts – there isn’t room. Similarly, they can’t show all the animals. And there are reasons behind what goes on display and what gets left in the storeroom.



U3A members can only book directly through U3A National Office www.u3a.org.uk events in the members’ area.

About the speakers

For 25 years Andrew Hanson has been professionally measuring colour, from evaluating the appearance of ornamental plants, to building the world’s first national standards telespectroradiometer to calibrate the colour of visual display units and a machine to measure the shininess of cats. He is currently Outreach Manager and Occasional Senior Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory, the UK’s National Measurement Institute and is past Chairman of the Colour Group of Great Britain.

Anna Ploszajski is an award-winning materials scientist, engineer and communicator, and in 2017 was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Royal Academy of Engineering. She is a proud member of the Science Showoff Talent Factory and regularly performs stand-up comedy about materials and engineering as part of Science Showoff at venues from the local pub to the Edinburgh Fringe. In 2017 she was a FameLab national finalist.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

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