Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Big Ideas -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) To keep receiving free-to-air TV are switched off, after the analog signals you have two main options. or similar device You can either get a set top box for each analog TV you have. with a built-in digital tuner. Or you can upgrade to a TV you don't have to buy a new TV. Most importantly,

To find out how to get ready

area, in your happening it's and when

website visit the

10 13. 1800 20 or call This Program is Captioned Live. THEME MUSIC I'm Tony Jones. Hello and welcome to Big Ideas, On today's show - learn from the military? what did the pornography industry of our galaxy. And a look into the farthest reaches Is there really life in space?

I should mention Of course, as a digression, who think they know the answer. that there are some people who think they've been visited In fact, I get letters from people by aliens. to write to each other. Um, and I tend to get such people LAUGHTER have just enjoyed a long weekend - But first, people around Australia

or played two-up at your local pub you might have gone to a dawn service our troops landed at Anzac Cove but it's 95 years since of the physical reality of Gallipoli. and few of us have any real image the Australian War Memorial Dr Janda Gooding from and paintings has released a book of photos collected during a mission of Gallipoli back in 1919. to document the battlefields at the Sydney Institute last week, In this richly illustrated talk behind the legend. she takes us to the place spent just over three weeks The Australian Historical Mission on Gallipoli in early 1919. that this was a place And it's worth remembering by Anzac forces three years earlier. that had been abandoned in 1915 to bury bodies There had been few opportunities due to the rugged terrain of the fighting. and the intensity and closeness And during the intervening years, thoroughly by marauding dogs. the site had been scavenged and it was a real mess. Human remains were everywhere only a month before the mission An Australian graves unit had arrived Australian bodies, identify them, and was doing its best to locate in marked graves. and then reinter them But the work was really appalling of the place affected everyone. and the sad and melancholy atmosphere Next slide, please. spent most of its days The Historical Mission criss-crossing the battlefields, drafting maps making sketches, taking notes, of photographs. and taking a large number were picked up, documented, Relics of the fighting

and packed for shipment to Australia. Next please. Charles Bean, Wilkins worked alongside that had Bean noted as important photographing places to Australia's military history. delicate glass plates. Wilkins used a large camera that took It was cumbersome

by today's standards. and certainly not very sophisticated and highly detailed images. But it produced beautiful to document the marks and evidence The photographic record was intended that remained on the landscape. be as accurate as possible. So it was essential that the images in an actual landscape, By locating an event or an object supporting evidence Wilkins' photographs provided for Bean's historical interpretation. see where something happened His theory was that once people could how it had happened. they might more easily understand that served this purpose To achieve images pretty straightforward - Wilkins made his compositions usually in the centre. with the focus of attention easily understandable, This helps to makes the photographs for the official record - and this is exactly what Bean wanted as reliable documentary records. images that viewers could trust They would be, as Bean said, standing for future generations "A sacred record,

the plain, simple truth." to see forever This is a photograph of Quinn's Post of the fighting lines. and you can see here the proximity that seem to fold into each other The deep gullies and steep ridges than elsewhere. are here even more compressed those of the Australians. Here the Turkish trenches adjoined a number of times, In 1915, this area had changed hands eventually remaining a position covered the Australians. from which Turkish snipers The photograph, taken by Wilkins, prospective, was taken from the Turkish looking back across Australian lines would have had to indicate the clear view a sniper of Australian positions - the head of Monash Gully, and these include Pope's Hill and Quinn's Post. Russell's Top, in what seems a very simple This sort of viewpoint is replicated and evocative image but indeed a very powerful on Rhododendron Ridge. of a British sniper's position

the sniper would have been hiding. Wilkins' camera was placed where the spiky bushes on either side The photograph shows that constricted the view of the Turkish positions so as to give only a glimpse across the valley. A shallow depression in the soil may have lain in wait marks where the sniper across the narrow gap and it's easy to imagine him peering anxiously watching for movement. the sniper's trade is clearly visible Further evidence of lying in the depression. with the spent .303 cartridge cases of the landscape Human bones lying on the surface were more tangible markers of trauma in Wilkins' work. and these became an important motif The brief cease fire on May 24 1915 to be buried had allowed the bodies of some men in no-man's land but those that had been killed

during the rest of the campaign lay where they fell started its gruesome work. until the graves unit

When the Historical Mission arrived, Turkish mass graves several hastily filled-in had been eroded by recent rain and the wild dogs. and the bones exposed to the elements the southern-most end of Anzac One of these pits was on near Leane's Trench to break the Australian line. where the Turks had repeatedly tried The bleached bones could be seen a mile away as a broad, white streak running down the ravine. The photographic record that Wilkins made on Gallipoli in 1919 was intended to provide visual evidence of the military events of 1915

and to support the historical narrative that Charles Bean was developing. Even though nature had started to reclaim the scarred earth, and the trenches were being eroded,

the signs of battle were still everywhere. Wilkins' Gallipoli photographs stand as an eye-witness account of the traces of battle that remained on the landscape. Importantly, they locate individual objects and stories and the work of the historical mission

within a specific landscape. In addition, these photographs were part of the primary resources being gathered for the planned official histories and would be used in a range of publications produced by the Australian government during the inter-war years. The photographs were also available for purchase

by the Australian public, and they needed, as Charles Bean always highlighted, to be scrupulously accurate as a photographic record of the campaign. Bean believed that the work of the Australian official photographers should have proper regard for the great sacrifices and the sacred memory of the great men to whose bravery these pictures should be a monument. In fact, all of the material collected by the Historical Mission was intended to serve as a memorial to Australia's involvement in the First World War. Apart from later developing and then printing up his plates, Wilkins' work was pretty-well done when he left Gallipoli. For the artist, his work was only just beginning, and with the commissions for the very large studio paintings, it would continue for some years. While on Gallipoli, though,

Lambert needed to capture the light, atmosphere and feel of the place. The small oil sketches he produced on the spot served as memory notes, and if you haven't seen them, they're about this big. These memory notes reminded him of the colour, light and character of the landscape.

But they were finished paintings in their own right, and not studies for the large battle pictures. Lambert sketched and painted directly on to small, wood panels, often allowing the wood grain to remain as part of his composition. The weather was bleak and cold, and there was even a substantial snowfall when they arrived. Lambert's hands and fingers were frozen, and yet, he still produced such extraordinarily fine work. This is one of the first paintings he worked on - The Sphinx from Plugge's Plateau, the site of intense fighting on the morning of the 25th April.

Perched high on a precipice, in cold and windy weather, Lambert painted the razor edges of sandy clay that lead up to the distinctive peak of the Sphinx. A main priority for Lambert was that he should make all elements of his paintings as authentic as possible.

He was aware that veterans of Gallipoli would expect the details to be right, and to achieve this, he would get up at dawn to get the effects of the dawn light, or if an event had happened in the evening, he would paint as late as possible. With such a determination for truthfulness in his work, it was always a great disappointment to him that the mission visited Gallipoli in February, and not April. Painting up at the Neck, a fierce wind forced him to work very quickly, and he laid in areas of sky, ground and churned earth, where the trenches still remained. This was the place where four successive lines of Australian men had charged across the narrow stretch of no-man's land

only to be met with a perfect sheet of flame, cut down by Turkish machine gun fire. The melancholy mood is accentuated by a lone soldier looking across the narrow field and at his feet, a skull and a human thighbone poke out of the earth. Lambert's insistence for authenticity was absolutely paramount.

On 6th March, he rose before dawn so as to synchronise this painting session at Lone Pine

with the same time of the charge of the Light Horse Brigade at the Neck in August, 1915. He had the right light for the painting. The difference in 1919 was, of course, that the ground was still littered with human bones that stood out white in the early morning light. He commented to his wife that, "The worst feature of this after-battle work is that the silent hills and valleys sit stern, unmoved, callous of the human, and busy only in growing bush, and sliding earth to hide the scars left by the war disease."

Our next slide, please. The same silent hills and valleys confronted him when he traveled south, down the peninsula to Cape Helles,

where he painted Achi Baba from Tommy's Trench. The vegetation was different, the colours were muted, and there were greys and greens, and sage browns.

Lambert's mood was sombre and made more so by the plenitude of bones that provided physical evidence of the huge loss of life in the area. He said, "The dead, or rather, their bones, spoil it, of course, and the melancholy is ready for him who lets his thoughts wander." Finding the place sad, yet very beautiful,

he wrote to his wife as he was leaving Gallipoli, "I can not tell you how pleased I am at getting clear of this graveyard, beautiful as it is, nor can I explain how satisfied I am to have done the work I have done." That was Janda Gooding with some extraordinary images from Gallipoli, and if you'd like to see the rest of that talk, go to our website:

Space - the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Big Ideas. Well, thanks to rapidly developing technology, we now know more about the outer reaches of our galaxy than ever, but that leaves unknowns. Does the Universe have any limits? Are there any other Earth-like planets out there? And the big one - are we alone? Addressing the University of Melbourne recently,

Britain's Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, reports on the latest research. 20 years from now, we hope you will be imaging earth-like planets, but will there be life on any of them? We can't answer this question, because we know too little about how life began here on Earth. We don't know how life began on Earth,

although we know, once it did begin, how it evolved. So we can't, therefore, say whether life is something which always happens given conditions like those under young Earth,

or whether it was a rare fluke that wouldn't have happened. But the quest for alien life is a fascinating challenge, and its outcome will influence our concept of our place in nature as profoundly as Darwinism has over the last 150 years.

But we shouldn't hold our breath for success. What about in our own solar system? 100 years ago, many people thought that Mars was inhabited. And 200 years ago, some people thought the Sun was, as well. In fact, there was a prize given by a French foundation in the year 1900 for finding evidence of life elsewhere, and in the conditions of the prize, Mars was excluded - it was thought too easy to find life on Mars. LAUGHTER We've now become more cautious - there could be some freeze-dried bugs on Mars.

There could be some life beneath the ice on Europa, the moon of Jupiter. But we're not hopeful about any life, and certainly, nothing beyond very simple life anywhere in our solar system. To look for complex life, we need to look far beyond,

to the other planets orbiting other stars. And in our current ignorance, it would make sense to focus on Earth-like planets, the kind which will be discovered quite soon, simply because we don't know - we know it happened once here, so one should look for similar conditions. Now, many people have noted that the Earth is rather special,

and that's a list of special things which have been deduced as necessary conditions for the evolution of life. I would urge not to take these conditions too seriously. It may be that life can exist under a wider range of conditions. We've evolved to cope with these conditions, but that's because that's where we are. It's like saying, "Isn't it amazing that our legs are just long enough to reach the ground?" LAUGHTER You know, that's not amazing. And it may not be amazing that we fit the earth's environment so well. And perhaps there are balloon-like creatures floating in the dense atmospheres of Jupiter-like planets and of course, science-fiction writers have other ideas. And incidentally, it's better to read first rate science-fiction like Arthur C Clarke's, than second-rate science. I advise my students of this. Second-rate science is no more likely to be true and it's much less interesting. Well, as regards where to look for life and how likely it is, then,

we just don't know. The biological issues are much more complicated. And even if simple life is common, even if life gets started in any Earth-like environment, it's, of course, a separate question, whether it's likely to evolve

into anything we might recognise as intelligent or complex. There's a lot of debate about if evolution were re-run on the Earth, would we end up with humans or just reptiles or just insects, or something. There's a big debate about whether evolution is convergent or not. And so we don't know whether advanced like would exist, even if simple life does. Of course, as a digression, I should mention that there are some people who think they know the answer. In fact, I get letters from people who think they've been visited by aliens. LAUGHTER Um, and, ah, I tend to get such people to write to each other. LAUGHTER Or if I write to them, I say, "Well, if the aliens had made the tremendous technological effort to come here across interstellar space, what a pity they only made a few corn circles and went away again, and what a pity they only met a few well-known cranks." Seems such a pity. LAUGHTER Well, I don't think that the aliens have visited. But perhaps one day we will detect a signal from space that's clearly artificial. Even if it's rather boring - A list of prime numbers, or the digits of Pi, it would carry the momentous message that concept of logic and physics, if not consciousness, aren't limited to the hardware in human skulls. But if we did detect such a message we would have some kind of common culture. Because even if the aliens lived on Planet Zog and had seven tentacles, they would be made of the same kind of atoms as us, they'd gaze out, if they had eyes, at the same cosmos as us, they'd trace their origins back to the same Big Bang. But even if we could make contact, any aliens would be so far away that signals would take many years to travel each way. No scope, therefore, for snappy repartee. On the other hand, perhaps such searches will fail. Perhaps there's no galactic community to plug into.

Moreover, even if intelligence were widespread, we may never become aware of more than a small and atypical fraction of what's out there. Some brains may package reality in a fashion that we can't conceive. Others could be leading contemplative lives, doing nothing to reveal their presence. Absence of evidence wouldn't be evidence of absence because the only type of intelligence we could detect would be one that led to a technology

or some type of artefact that we could recognise as such.

Well, so much for life for the moment. Let me now turn back to the inanimate cosmos, and let me enlarge our horizons further. If you could get two million light-years away from the earth, and look back, we'd see something like this. This, as many of you probably know, is Andromeda the brightest external galaxy to our own. It's a spinning disk, viewed obliquely, containing about one hundred billion stars all spinning around a central hub. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is like this, the Earth being about two thirds of the way out from the centre. And this is just one of the many galaxies we can see with our telescopes. Here's another nearby one. Now, of course, astronomers are frustrated because they can't do experiments on their subject matter, they can just observe. But they can do experiments in a virtual Universe in their computer. They can ask, "What would happen if we crashed two galaxies together?" And in their computer, they can calculate it. And this is what would happen - each raises tides on the other and the gravity shears it out into a very complicated pattern.

We then look into space and we see not just galaxies like the first two I showed you, but systems like this. And, having done a lot of computer modelling, one can infer that this is a case where two galaxies got dangerously close,

each has raised tides on the other, leading to that filament of ejected material. And so, by calculations of this kind, we can infer galaxies' dynamics - what they're made of, what they're mass is etc. And for that reason we can be quite confident even though we can't do direct experiments in our understanding of galaxies.

And huge numbers of galaxies are available for study. This is a map of the nearest thousand million light-years

of all the galaxies around us. And this is done by the Anglo-Australian Telescope and what you see here is the galaxies out to a distance of about one billion light-years. They're not uniform - they're grouped together in clusters, but they go as far as you can see, and of course, they fade away,

they're too faint at great distances. One thing we do know, and we've known since the 1930's, is that distance galaxies are moving away from us and the further from us they are, the faster they're moving. It's rather like this system of arrows,

the further away the galaxy is, the longer the arrow, the faster it's moving. This is the so-called Hubble Law, discovered by Edwin Hubble, heavy smoker, as you can see in this picture. LAUGHTER He discovered that galaxies are receding at a speed proportionate to their distance. Now, at first sight you might think this implies we're in some soft of central position, but it doesn't, as I can illustrate from this picture. Imagine that all the rods on this infinite network lengthened. And if you sat on one vertex you would see the other vertices moving away at a speed proportional to the number of intervening links. The whole thing would expand. And there would be no special centre. Now, this is a good picture for the expanding Universe, although, as you saw, the galaxies weren't in a regular pattern. If you imagine clusters of galaxies all joined by rods, the rods all lengthen at the same rate, and that's a good picture for the expanding Universe. It's good, except that is misses out one feature, which is exemplified by this second Escher picture, Angel and Devils. The feature that the early picture missed out is that when we look a long way out into space we are looking far back in time to an era when the Universe was more compressed, when the rods were shorter. So what we actually see, if we look back out along our past life, as it's called, is we see the distant parts of the Universe as they were when they were more compressed, rather like as depicted here, when we look towards the horizon and everything gets smaller and more closer packed. That was Britain's Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees speaking at the University of Melbourne. If you'd like to see the rest of that fascinating lecture, then join me tomorrow at 11am right here on ABC1 for Big Ideas Extended Mix. Next up, Australia's a famously multi-cultural nation.

However as the immigration debate continues to rage,

so does the argument about how best to integrate different religious and cultural practices

into our society and legal system. Here in a panel organised by The Graduate Centre at City University in New York, a group of international academics gather to discuss the problems

raised by increasing global migration, especially as it relates to Muslims entering the west. The panel was hosted by Chase Robinson. It's probably about 1989 -

I haven't discussed this with my colleagues here on the stage - but perhaps it was in 1989

with the publication of Rushdie's Satanic Verses that the west became aware of the fact that Islam and integration

might have real political and cultural significance. That was the year in which the book was not only published, but of course the year in which there were some fierce responses on the part of at least some of the more vocal members of Muslim communities in the UK and elsewhere. Subsequently, a series of events - one thinks of 9/11, one thinks of the Madrid bombings in March 2004, one thinks of the London bombings in July 2005. events such as those have brought into even clearer focus that we have a number of issues that seem interrelated, issues such as Islam, integration, citizenship, how one balances the rights of religious communities in general, not just Muslim ones, with those values of liberal societies. Rowan Willams, the Archbishop of Canterbury in February of 2008 suggested, and he was roundly criticised in some circles for having done so, that perhaps elements of Sharia might be considered an alternative within the British legal framework. So we have a very topical event, we have a significant event, it's one that I'm grateful to my colleagues here on the stage for helping us understand.

It might be useful to start to think about some definitions and some terms. We're all aware that Islam is a religion, of course. But what we understand by region sometimes doesn't command complete support or assent. It's not clear, for instance, the degree to which one can think of religion as separate of culture or part of culture. To what extend is religion portable? To what extend does it matter when a believer moves? Does he bring or does she bring a religious tradition with him or her? To what extent does he or she invent one? So perhaps we could start by thinking a little bit about immigration, emigration and beyond a definition

that would posit that migration is the movement, be it interstate or intrastate, of peoples. What can we say with a bit more precision?

So perhaps we can start, Ari, with just some broad overview of the history, at least of the 20th century, of immigration in the United States, So, what they're learning though, with the military, which has really become one of the liveliest intellectual centres in New York city in the last few years. So it's really a pleasure to be here instead of listening, although I'll be listening to my colleagues, to also get a chance to speak. In response to your question -

immigration has been in many societies sort of a major contributor to some greater diversity - racial, ethnic, linguistic as well as religious. And we have to remember, for one thing it sort of reveals the arrival of different people, reveals to the receiving society sort of things that it didn't necessarily take very seriously. For example, the United States took itself very much as a sort of religiously diverse society until Roman Catholics started arriving in the 1830s

in large numbers. Samuel F.B. Morse, besides inventing the telegraph, wrote vociferously about the arrival of Catholics and he was sure that within a few years, the Pope would move to New York city. That hasn't happened yet. LAUGHTER But it could, maybe. And I don't think much needs to be said about what happened when Jews started moving from Eastern Europe in large numbers to both Western Europe and to the United States. That's when the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was invented in response to this danger. So I think the fact that Islam is sort of a disturbance is by no means a unique phenomenon in relation to immigration. But I think, if I may, I just want to add a couple of words about why it is that religion, that diverse religious, that diversity is such a... such a traumatic kind of event for the receiving society. Because religion, although it is - I mean it's not just a private matter, it's inherently a public affair. People need places of worship, so that - for example, Muslims need Mosques, and as you probably know, the presence of a Mosque and muezzin,

who doesn't ring a bell, but a call to prayer. It's a public event which the Swiss, for example, find very disturbing recently.

And, ah, things like that, so that religion has an inherently public dimension. People eat different things. For example, in the United States the word "kosher" is not totally familiar to everybody

and "halal" is very similar to that, but it still come as a surprise that people won't eat certain things. Although in the United States, over time, it's really become a sort of taken for granted, it's not a disturbance.

But in France it's a - which also emphasises secularisation, the fact that people want to insist on not eating pork for example, in school lunches and things like that - is viewed as interfering with secularism. Even though French schools still tend to serve fish on Friday, it's no longer a requirement of the Catholic church, except during Lent. And in France it's considered not to be a religious fact, but rather just a French tradition.

But if you examine where the tradition comes from, it's pretty obvious. So I think we have to keep these things in mind. This is - Islam is sort of the most recent version of this. But it's by no means a unique phenomenon. Tariq, do you agree with the proposition

that one of the functions of immigration is to make the home, host country, the receiving nation

more alert to these differences, as Ari suggested? Yes, well I would like to say that it's a privilege and an honour to be here, too. Thank you very much for this invitation. It's actually my first visit to your university and I'm very pleased to be here, as I say. I think that just as Ari has emphasised the historical context

for current fears and concerns, we have a very similar history - similar and different, of course, in Britain. You'll know that Britain, in particular England, isn't a particularly religious country by which I mean people don't wear their religion on their sleeve, or very few people do.

But interestingly enough, migrants do tend to wear religion on their sleeves, when they arrive especially. So virtually every migrant group that has come to the British Isles in the last, say, 150 years, has been more religious and more visibly religious than what one might call the native population, than British people.

This is true of some of the groups that Ari was mentioning - Irish Catholics, definitely so, Jewish people from Eastern Europe, yes. And more recently it's true of Hindus, Sikhs as well as Muslims from South Asia and the Middle East and so on and it's true of black Caribbean people and among the most recent migrants, it's true of black Africans, who are mainly Christians and Poles.

About the largest migration in the shortest period of time we've had

is from Poland in the last ten years. People don't know the exact figures because they're members of the European Union and records aren't kept but it's estimated that the figure is probably in excess of a million. And I can't remember the exact year but Poland only joined the European Union less than a decade ago. So it was a very rapid influx and they are church-going Catholics unlike the majority of the people they settle amongst. And one of the things that's happened recently that I noticed, a statistic came out, is that counting Christians in London, not just our capital city but easily our most popular city

of 8 million people, black people, who are less than 10% of the population of London, now amount to, constitute more than half of church-goers in the city. 53% was the figure a couple of years ago. And the question is then what happens? Well, the historical experience so far is that migrants, both in their own generation but certainly their children and their grandchildren gradually come to approximate to the rest of the population, you know, give or take a few orthodox, ultra-orthodox sects. And who knows, that may happen with Islam. It's far to early to tell, I'm not predicting it and it may go the other way and there are some indications, if people want indications, that it could go another way. I was involved in a national survey in England in the 1990s, we collected the data in the middle of the 1990s of ethnic minorities, so that's not just migrants, it includes people born in Britain but, you know, of migrant stock. Non-white people, people coming from outside Europe.

And we found that, using a few measures like what people said about how important religion was to them, but also a couple of behavioural measures like attendance at place of worship, and so on,

that ethnic minorities, all of them, black or from South Asia, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, all of them were considerably more religious than the white population. What was interesting was that over time, they became less religious, by those measures - questions about how important religion is to you in your life and attendance at place of worship. But at the same time, there was another sociological fact, nothing to do with migration, and that is - at least it's true in Britain, I wouldn't be surprised if it's also true in the United States - is that people become more religious as they become older. So we had two counter-veiling trends. You had migrants coming very religious and their religion, kind of, as it were, mellowing over time, because they were becoming like the rest of the population, but they were aging, and as they were aging they were becoming more religious. So doing some logistic regression, we found that with nearly all the groups you had basically a kind of equilibrium that age and what we might call religious assimilation worked in opposite directions but more or less balanced each other out. But some more recent data, not collected by me and not, you know, not on such a large scale and not so systematic, but nevertheless, some data specifically about Muslims found -

this is more recent data - that amongst Muslims, the younger they were, the more, as it were, Islamic they were. The element of Islamic consciousness, the desire to display being a Muslim through dress and through behaviour and through regular attendance at a Mosque,

especially for a man, and saying the Muslim identity was important to them. Now, of course, as we all know, there's an enormous kind of political pressure on Muslims in Britain at the moment.

It's partly connected obviously with the war, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, international terrorist networks, and of course we've had bombings in London and elsewhere and various attempts that, thank goodness, were stopped in time, didn't come off or whatever. So there are definitely, you know, a security issue as well. So Muslims find themselves under all kinds of pressure - people complaining about Muslims, people frightened about Muslims, and any minority, nothing to do with religion, any minority that has that kind of pressure put upon it becomes much more aware of its own identity, and tries to project its identity through a kind of defiant confidence, a reactive defiance, you know, "You think we're terrorists, well actually we're not and we're proud to be Muslim, we won't go around hiding our Islam." And I think that's exactly where we are in Britain at the moment. That was Tariq Modood discussing the cultural impact of immigration It was at the Graduate Centre of City University in New York and if you'd like to see the rest of that excellent conversation, you'll find the whole thing on our website: Well finally today, what has the pornography industry learnt from the military? Well, quite a lot according to Peter Nowak in his new book, Sex, Bombs and Burgers. Many of the technological developments

that have become part of everyday life were first developed by the military like small video cameras, DVDs and increasingly, robots. Here, Peter Nowak discusses his observations at Gleebooks.

Yeah, er, Paris Hilton, I guess it would be six years ago now - she, of course, became famous for no real good reason - but this video of her having sex was circulating on the internet in 2004 and everybody was taking about it and I remember when I heard about it, I thought, "Who the hell is Paris Hilton?" So I looked up the video and when I first watched it -

I think most people who watched it watched it for certain reasons but when I watched it, the first thing I noticed was the fact that it was green. Which means it was filmed using whatever video camera they had, it was using night vision, the night vision mode and I just thought, where have I seen this before? Which is kind of the way a nerd would approach such things, right? And it struck me a few days later that it was actually the first Iraq war in 1991 when the US and all the other countries went to liberate Kuwait from Iraq's take over, and all the news footage was green, it was also using night vision. So that kind of got me started on seeing the links between - oh yeah, here's a technology that was invented and developed by the military and then, years later it ends up in this mass consumer technology, in this case video cameras. And then, you know as a side by-product of that too, here it was being used for, essentially pornographic purposes. So, I started looking into all these technologies that had military origins, and then I also, kind of, as a side hobby, I suppose, started looking at how a lot of the technologies the pornography industry was using - they all came from the military, too. So, whether you're talking about smaller film cameras or VCRs

or DVDs, which of course were lasers, you know, came from lasers, and then, of course, finally, the internet. So, those are some interesting links I found and I guess we can get into the food part later. But, of course, the great thing is that if you've got a book with 'Sex' in the title as this one, you can research all the pornography you want and it's research. But you do maintain that this trio of the military, the pornography industry and the food industry work together. And most of the book concentrates on the post-war period,

yet you point out that as far back as 4.4 million years ago, there was a causal link between the three elements then. Yeah, that's a fantastic story, I think. I had to add it in late in the process. The book was written and then this discovery was made and I read the theories and I thought, "I have to get this in." And it was, I think it was back in, I want to say October, where some archaeologists discovered the oldest skeleton known to man. I believe the Latin name is Ardepithecus Ramidus. And so this was a skeleton that was apparently 4.4 million years old,

and the finding led scientists to come up with a new theory as to why people got up off of all fours to walk on two legs. And it's a great theory. Basically what it was was the way early man, men, used to attract mates was they would, of course, fight for them, right?

And it was the men who had the biggest and sharpest teeth and the biggest muscles they were the ones that got the females. But the lesser males, I guess, the ones that lost the fights, they also eventually attracted mates, and they did it by the other time-tested method, which was giving the women gifts. That will always work. Yeah, 4.4 million years ago there was really only one gift that mattered and that was food. So the theory goes that they had to go and get the food and then they had to bring it to the women and in order to do that they needed to get up and be able use their hands to carry the food. So here's a perfect confluence of the three things we're talking about - which is basically sex, war and food. It's interesting talking about that confluence,

because when you get to the end of the book, I kind of felt that you saw the next confluence of all three being robotics? So - how do all three tie in with robotics? Well, ah, I guess, in a couple of ways. First of all, so I think when people think of robots they think of what we see from Japan. So these are robots that play violins or kick a soccer ball, football whatever it's called. Ah, and these are really impressive, amazing robots, but the problem with them is they're really expensive, eg, these robots cost a few million dollars and at the end of the day they're not that practical, they don't really do much. The robots that are being built that are cheap and that are actually useful, are being done so for military purposes, strictly for military purposes. Um, now the companies that are making these robots for the military, they're long term goal is not to continue building robots for the military because relatively speaking that's a pretty small market. They ultimately want to be able to sell robots to you and me and to everybody, right? They want to have robots in everybody's homes, cause it's zillions and zillions of dollars of potential profit. So, what they're learning though, with the military, is they're learning how to make them cheap and they're learning how to make them useful. So one of the main companies that I talk about in the book, which I kind of consider the IBM of robots or the Microsoft of robots, is a company based in Boston called iRobot, and they build - their big military robot's called the PackBot

which can dispose of bombs or explore caves and that sort of thing and they're being used in Afghanistan and Iraq. But they're also the most successful consumer robot company, they make the Roomba, the vacuum cleaner, which is kinda the frisbee-shaped thing. And so when I spoke to the company they told me all about how the Roomba came about from lessons they had learned from the military and they said it's sorta the same principle,

which is that if you don't make a robot that's cheap, if you put any sort of fat into it, it's not gonna sell. And also if it's not useful, if it doesn't actually achieve it's purpose it's not gonna sell. And they've been successful with this vacuum cleaner - I've never tried it so I don't know if it's any good. No. But then to get to the sex robots - um, I went to, to, ah, to CES - we were talking about the Consumer Electronics Show,

which is the big show in January in Las Vegas where all of the new stuff - this year was 3D TVs. But every year right next door to CES is of course the porn convention and this year there was big news there and a lot of the mainstream media went to the porn convention - the New York Times was there - because they were there to cover the debut of the world's first sex robot which was something called Roxxxy

and, ah (LAUGHS) it was pretty much a let-down, essentially what this guy showed off was kind of just a talking sex doll. And so I think everybody was disappointed. But the fact that all this mainstream media was there to cover the sex robot is pretty indicative of what kind of mainstream interest there is in the sex robot. And there's a quote in the book from the head of the European Robotics Commission, or something like that, and he said something like, "If people are willing to pay to have sex with blow up dolls, anything that moves is going to be an upgrade," or something to that extent. But it was interesting, you then went on to argue that with the advent of robots, perhaps the first industry that will be dramatically affected by losing their jobs would be prostitutes. Yes. In Japan, actually, Japan and a few other counties -

I find this mind blowing - You can actually - sex robots are going to be the evolution of the dolls that are currently available. One of the big ones out there is something called 'The Real Doll' and these things cost about $7000 and they have fully articulated steel skeletons and latex skin and if you look at photos of these things, they're kind of almost indistinguishable from real people. I'm sure in real life they actually look a lot more fake. But, um, so the sex robots are going to be the evolution of that. So anyway, in Japan there are also several Japanese makers of these kind of sex dolls,

you can actually go to brothels and pay to have sex with sex dolls, which, I know - Only in Japan. No, but it's in a few other countries, I think, one of the Scandinavian countries you can do the same thing. It's just bizarre. So, yeah, if there's a market for that there's going to be a market for sex dolls. It was interesting, I met - Robot, sex robots - I met the engineer that was behind Sony's Aibo the robotic dog, and he claimed that in the Soccer World Cup in about 2024,

that there would be a robotic team. Now, do you see that between now and in 14 years, robots developing that much that they could be, in fact, part of a game like soccer? Ah, I think it's completely possible

and actually probably entirely likely because the way technology seems to work is, technology's ramping up. It's... ..in Canada we would call it Hockey-Stick Growth. Right. But probably a lot of Australians have never seen a hockey-stick. I don't know. Because what happens is that - let's say you have one technological innovation over here,

then you have another one over here and that takes many years to develop, then when you put the two of them together you have many other options that can spring from that. So what happens is that technology tends to stack on itself,

um, so that's why I don't know if anybody's noticed that - I'm sure that some people have had the observation where they think,

"It seems like there's more and more gadgets every year." And it's true, that's not just an illusion. It's true that technology is ramping up very quickly.

With robots, Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates, he wrote a recent article in a magazine

and he said that the robotics market now is a the same place where the computer market was at in the early 80s, so if you consider that within, I guess, 10 or 15 years of the 80s, computers were everywhere, robots are going to follow a similar trajectory,

and I think it's going to be even faster, actually, because of this whole stacking nature of technology. But the other element with that, with the development of that technology, because it's, a lot of that may appear as humanoid-type technology, we don't have the ethical structure yet, or the laws in place, for robotics. Do you see that as an issue?

Is that something that we need to address sooner rather than later? Yeah. Oh, this is where science fiction comes into play, because that's been asked in many, many different books, many of which you can buy in this fine bookstore, I'm sure.

You know, from things like I Robot, the book, or even on television - one of my favourite programs is Battlestar Galactica, and that deals a lot with, you know, what are robots? Are they people? Do we treat them as people?

There's another fantastic book that came out not too long ago, a few years ago, by a British fellow named David Levy, and the book is called Love and Sex with Robots. And he takes a whole look at how this is going to play out, and what he says, I think, is really interesting, because he talks about how humans are able to assign emotions to many non-human things, starting, of course, with pets. I mean, people are really emotionally attached to their pets. I love my cats. But they also tend to get attached to their cars or even their computers. So, and these are things that don't really interact with you back. So when you create a robot that can actually simulate a personality, I can't see how people are not going to fall in love with robots, so I think he's absolutely right. So when that starts to happen, you need to starting thinking about, you know, "What is a person?" or, "Should robots have rights?" and that sort of thing.

I don't think, really, there's any serious thought about that going on as of yet. Because it is still early, but I think in the next few years, we're going to have start thinking about that. That was Peter Nowak discussing his book, Sex, Bombs and Burgers. He was at Gleebooks. That's all for today. Hope you enjoyed the show. You can watch the rest of Peter Nowak's talk

along with the complete versions of everything else from today's program, on our website: And sign up for our newsletter while you're there, so you'll always know what's coming up in the world of ideas. I'll see you again tomorrow at 11am right here on ABC1 for Big Ideas Extended Mix and the rest of Martin Rees' fascinating exploration of the cosmos. I'm Tony Jones. Have a good afternoon. Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled

This Program Is Captioned

Live.

The ETS goes off the boil in

Canberra. The sacking of Troy,

has the WA Premier run out of

patience with his Treasurer?

Risking all to make that dream

product a reality. We should

just give it a shot and the

worst you can do is probably

financially lose some money.

And the top scientist says

aliens are out there and they

may not be friendly.

Hello. Welcome to

Australia's News at Midday. I'm

Ros Childs. The local share

market is back from the long

weekend with miners among the

leaders.

More finance later in the

bulletin. It has dominated the

government's first two years in