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Waleed Aly with you. Hi and welcome to Big Ideas, In this edition of Short Cuts, this year's TEDx festival in Sydney. the last of the talks from

and neuroscientist We've got a philosopher, an engineer

and brilliance of bee populations. who also follows the habits Land Council, A member of the Sydney Metropolitan and an installation artist. Tim Soutphommasane. First up, philosopher He lectures at Monash University's for Australian Studies National Centre with the think tank Per Capita. and he's a researcher culture and political ideologies. His major research is on citizenship, my old neighbourhood, I'd like to introduce you today to the part of town where I grew up. Most of you are from Sydney, about Cabramatta. so you'll know a little might know more than just a little In fact, I imagine a lot of you about Cabramatta. who aren't familiar with it, For those of you along with its adjoining suburbs, Cabramatta, Asian migrant communities here, forms the heartland for South-East from Laos. from Vietnam, from Cambodia, For me, Cabramatta is representative multicultural experience. of the Australian are transformed It represents how migrants over time to fellow citizens in our community. from strangers in our midst

how we easily lapse But it represents as well is just about lifestyle. into thinking that diversity I want to lay down to you today - So here's the challenge we may all value multiculturalism - it's a TED audience after all, I imagine most of us will,

multiculturalism - it's hard not to like cultural diversity? but to what extent do we truly value Are we willing to recognise isn't just about consumption that diversity of citizenship but really about a test upon our values that requires us to reflect our values? and maybe even to transform These aren't idle questions. once again, As Australians, we're just beginning,

to reflect on our place in the world, an Asian century. particularly how we belong to if we are going to flourish, But I think in this century, if we are going to succeed

depend then it might just - it might just - the right lessons on whether we've learnt from our multicultural experience. to where I began, to Cabramatta. Let me take you back

in the early 1990s, Now, when I was growing up Cabramatta was considered a ghetto. A troubled badland. A place of cultural disfunction. was well earned. It was a reputation that when I was growing up The Cabramatta I know was a pretty sketchy place. of Australia, It was the drug capital of organised Asian crime. the undisputed home brazenly on street corners, I remember drug deals taking place on bus stop benches. I remember junkies overdosing

being littered with syringes. I remember parks and playgrounds with vomit. I remember the footpaths splattered Cabramatta is much changed. Over two decades on, that old Cabramatta. It's hard to recognise

that even locals would fear treading, From being a place that attracts visitors it's now become a place after a taste of an authentic Asia. some visual samples here I went and found you earlier this week. a typical Saturday, like today, But if you go to Cabramatta on and noodle houses are busy, you'll find that the restaurants you'll find that the bakeries, the hot bread shops, are very busy or as they're called, or the pork roll. selling their banh mi, Now, there's an aspect to Cabramatta though, that's very different from all this that you may not recognise.

is this - For me, the real story of Cabramatta main street of Cabramatta, just off John St, the main bustling there stands the Freedom Gate. It was erected in the early 1990s, it's built of white marble and teak. On it you'll see some inscriptions describe as the high classical style which are written in what I'll of late 20th Century Chinglish. (Laughter)

and to respect.' 'The world is for us to share

'To understand illustrious virtue.' But jokes aside, that I think sums up there's one inscription the experience of Cabramatta. 'To be renovative and integrate.' (Laughter) (More laughter) 'to be renovative and integrate' OK, Chinglish jokes aside, of Cabramatta. this for me is the real story it's about integration. It's not about food, on a typical weekday, And if you were to go to Cabramatta catch a train to the city, are filled you'll find the train carriages commuting to work with young professionals their heads buried in their textbooks or with university students with and the sound that you will hear of south-west Sydney, is the distinctive accent

with the residual tones and cadences an Australia English laced

of Chinese and Vietnamese. I'm going to bring it up again - That mission - that mission of integration, on the Freedom Gate, emblazoned as it is been accomplished. has for the most part you get in multiculturalism, Now, this isn't the usual story even when the story's a positive one. goes a little something like this - The orthodox tale well, a few decades ago - once upon a time - mono cultural place. Australia was a monochrome, brought colour to Australian society, Successive waves of mass immigration enhancing our lifestyles. multiculturalism Now, the story of Australian a cultural one. is obviously a cultural one, that's how national cultures develop. We mix and we evolve, We borrow from other cultures. But here's the thing - on the cultural transformations, if we focus too much I think we can miss a bigger story. like lifestyle and food, Because if you focus only on things

a culture you can lapse into thinking that has value, should be respected, your lifestyle. only insofar as it enhances

that perspective, And I think if you lapse into you can actually end up doing more harm than good. Let me give you an example. I'll give you the case of yoga. Now, many in the West practice yoga but I wonder just how many practitioners of yoga pause to consider whether they may in fact be complicit in a form of moral theft. Now, this is a charge that some Hindus,

particularly in the United States, have been leveling. They've been saying that divorcing Hinduism and its - divorcing yoga, rather, from its Hindu roots amounts to a form of cheapening. It cheapens Hindu culture, they say. Whether you agree with this

depends on how seriously you take your yoga, I think. For the purists, yoga is about achieving moksha, or a form of spiritual liberation. It has its foundation, its philosophical basis, in the Yoga Sutras, which were compiled by Patanjali, pictured here, represented here in the 2nd century BC. But there are some modern practices of yoga that challenge this spiritual element. And I'm not just referring here to those who take up yoga as a form of exercise. In the United States, for example, there are many Christian and Jewish yogis these days who practice yoga, introducing a non-Hindu spiritual component to it. For example, you have Christian yogis who declare that 'Christ is my guru.' In some cabala yoga classes, practitioners chant 'shalom',

rather than the usual 'om'. (Scattered laughter) Don't know if you're anything like me but I sense there's something just a little off about that. And the reason that it implies that a culture is only valuable only insofar as it can enhance your lifestyle, only insofar as it can enhance your lifestyle. So why should we value a culture? Many of you will say that it's great to value a culture because it's good to be a cosmopolitan, it's great to sample another person's food, it's great to experience another person's tradition, it's great to be able to step into someone else's shoes. It allows us to transcend our traditional identities, whether that's national, religious or social. Now, I think there's a danger in going down this route. Because if we're not careful we can separate cultural value from citizenship,

from citizenship. What do I mean by this? Well, very simply, I think we should value and respect another person's culture because they are a fellow citizen of our community. Let me give you an example. Consider the case of a newly arrived immigrant who reaches Australia, bringing with her all of the richness of her native traditions. I think you can say that we should extend the hand of friendship to her and I think we should. Many would say we should do so because she's a fellow citizen of the world. But I think it's important that we do so in a different way. We should extend the hand of friendship to her but because she has become, or will become, a fellow citizen of an Australian community. Citizenship, this idea of citizenship. What do I mean by it? It's about ethos. It's about ethos and it's about rights, but it's mainly, in this context, about ethos. I think it's important that we reflect on these questions today because if cultural learning,

of the fusion of horizons is the test of multiculturalism, how truly multicultural are we? I think it's open to say that Australia, perhaps, has not been as open to this kind of cultural learning as it might think it has been. Think of the Asian century. We've heard a lot about the Asian century recently but I ask you, to what extent has Australia truly opened itself

to learning culturally from Asia? You know, when I hear about the Asian century and I listen to our political leaders and our economic leaders, the story usually goes a little something like this - engaging with Asia is about ensuring that we can maximise the returns from our investment in the region. Or it's about maximising the economic rent we can extract from Asia. The language that we use to discuss Asia is very ruthlessly mercantilist, it's mercenary. Can we do better, I ask you? Instead of seeing Asia as just an economic opportunity, should we, for example, stop and pause and ask whether we might learn something culturally from the region. Might, for example, looking at the youthful democratic cultures of the region, teach us something a little about our own democracy. Might, say reflecting on Confucian values help us think through the evolving nature of the family? Or the moral challenges involved in an aging population. And might thinking about Asian concepts of communal obligation and reciprocity help shed light on that Australian value of mateship? Think about it.

What does it say about Australia that we've rarely even paused to pose these questions, even though we say that we're poised to benefit from an Asian century? Perhaps it's because we treat multiculturalism as just merely a matter of lifestyle. we regard diversity as something from which we can extract benefit but not necessarily as a source of cultural learning. I want to conclude this afternoon on this note of cultural learning and citizenship. I think that's the real challenge with multiculturalism. If multiculturalism is about making us into good citizens, then I think in today's Australia, it's about ensuring that we're well equipped to be Australian citizens but in an Asian century. That we're open to learning from our Asian neighbours. But I bring you back to Cabramatta and that wonderful inscription, 'to be renovative and integrate'. To be renovative and integrate -

they sum up for me what multiculturalism is all about. It's about renovating, about renewing traditions, it's about integrating into a community. It's just that today we can no longer assume

who it is that has to do the cultural learning and what it is that we have to integrate into.

Thank you. That was philosopher, Tim Soutphommasane, in this year's TEDx in Sydney. Next up, engineer and neuroscientist, Mandyam V. Srinivasan. His research focuses on the principles of visual processing in cognition in simple natural systems. Hence his wonderful examples of the extraordinary eyes of bees. He's currently the professor of Visual Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute. Have any of you actually tried to train a bee? (Laughter) I train bees for a living, that's my job. I don't make a lot of money, but I sure have a heck of a good time doing it. (Laughter) So, how does one train a bee? Don't want to move forward? There we go. It's very easy, you can do it in your backyard or you balcony. All you have to do is set out a sugar water feeder out there. Wait for a while, a passing bee comes by, and lands and notices that the food is really good. It goes back home, tells the other bees via its dance, which I'll talk about later, that there's some really good stuff over there. Then other bees come to check it out and of course pretty soon you've got more and more bees accumulating at the feeder over there. And then of course you can move the feeder, step by step, into the lab, and the bees will of course follow, because sugar is good. And eventually you can begin to expand like we've done. Now, of course, the number of bees is actually building up exponentially, the food source is very good. And you don't want all the bees in the hive to be visiting you. There's about 40,000 bees in a hive and of course you have to keep it so the way you keep it under control,

is once you have the bees coming inside, you put an additional feeder outside on the balcony, this is a decoy feeder, which has a much weaker sugar solution. So what happens is the new recruits who come on there, come and land on this most obvious outside source which turns out to be a rather weak, flat solution,

and they say 'Urgh, false alarm. This is not good. This is not all it's cracked up to be.' So they are disappointed, go away and don't come back again. So it's only the bees who know the secret of where the good stuff is that keep coming again and again to inside the lab.

So now that you've got this captive cohort of bees, by the way I shouldn't say captive cohort, because they're coming there of their own free will. (Laughter) There's no coercing. The only reason why they're coming to you is because the food that you're offering to them is much better than what they can get outside. OK, that's the only reason why they're coming in. OK, you can then interestingly mark them, colour code them if you want, while they're drinking the sugar water. They're very peaceful, by the way, bees. When they're in a foraging state of mind, they're actually very peaceful.

You can reach over and stroke them while they're drinking, so they're lovely creatures. So you can colour code them in your uniform, they aid with your learning performance if you will and so on. OK, what can you do with these bees now that you've got a cohort of bees? For example, can bees learn to fly through mazes and labyrinths? We know that humans can, most humans can. We know that rats and mice can, lots of experiments have been done with that. But can a lowly insect learn to navigate it's way through a maze?

Well, it can do this very simply. Here's this for an example, a thing where the bee has to actually come into this entrance here, and fly through this array of boxes. Some of these boxes have more than one exit, so they have to work out which exit is the right one. And find it's way to the end goal there, where it actually finds a reward. With this first kind of experiment, we make life simple for the bees - we give them a hint. And the hint is to follow a green tab placed at each one of these exits. So it gets to go to the goal by learning to follow the green tag. Every time where there's two exits, one of them, the green tag, labels the correct exit, and the other one is obviously the wrong exit. So you can train a bee step by step, by taking a sugar water feeder and placing it step by step through this thing. Taking them through all the way to the end. The training takes them back half a day. And by the end of it they learn this thing beautifully. This histogram here, don't worry about the details there, but it's showing you that the bee's are performing with very few errors. And the next slide shows you a video of the bee going through it. This happens really fast, you'll have to - see it following the green tag? It zips right through and gets to the goal, there you go. That was about about six or seven seconds. (Applause)

So, once a bee has learnt that the name of the game is to follow the green tag, you can take it through any other maze. A marble maze, it just learns to follow the green tag. If you want to make her go round and round in circles in the maze if you want to, but we never do that. That would just be too cruel. We never do that. (Laughter) Here's a slightly more abstract task here, in this one the bee is not simply dumbly following the green tag, it's got an abstract sign post that it has to read and understand. So in this case, the bee enters each one of these chambers, and it sees a colour on the back wall. If this colour is blue it means the bee has to turn right, and if it's yellow, she has to turn left. OK, this is a very abstract, symbolic representation of the route through the maze. Can bees learn to do this? And it turns out they can. In fact they perform just as well as in the earlier task. They learn the task just as rapidly and they perform just as well. Which is pretty amazing I think. And here's the next task, which is even more complicated. And this of course is the classical unmarked maze, where you have no cues whatsoever, you really have to learn the route. Step by step, as you are taken through the maze with the feeder. And learn the right turns and the left turns as you go through. And bees can learn this too - not as well as in the other cases where they've been given guide posts and signs. But certainly they're performing much better than random chance. But what is interesting is that this is the only situation where the bees learn the route through the maze. In all the other cases, for example, you start by training bees to follow a green tag and you then remove the green tag, the bees are completely lost. They have no idea where to go. In that way, bees are very human. Just say you're driving somewhere and your passenger is navigating, you never learn the route, do you? So bees are very human in that way, they're like us. So they learn things early when they're forced to learn, otherwise they rely on whatever other aids they have available to them. Here's another kind of experiment you can do. I don't know if some of you have already seen this kind of image before, but if you look at this image, what can you see? You can probably see the young lady You can see these birds up there. You can see the distant mountains. But if you look a little more carefully, you might see this flute. And maybe these fingers and the two hands out here, and eventually maybe the face. Does everyone see it now? So once you've seen this picture and detected these hidden objects, you will never look at this image in the same way again. Every time that this picture is presented to you later on, your brain will immediately grasp on to those hidden objects and locate them right away. So we've got this amazing process called top-down processing, where once the brain knows what it wants to see, it will reach down there and pull out the signal, even when it's buried in noise.

OK, so we've got this amazing thing called top-down processing. Prior knowledge and how it aids recognition. So, do lowly creatures like insects and bees also have this thing called top-down processing? And you can look at this in an experiment like this, where you train bees to come into what's known as a 'Y Maze', where they have a choice between two different visual stimuli.

Both of which are now camouflaged. One of them, as you can see in the top panel, is actually a textured ring presented against a similarly textured background, 'cause you can't see it, because it's camouflaged. But actually it's got that shape. OK, and the other one is a textured disc, presented again a textured background, OK? Now, you can try and train bees to see if they can distinguish between these two stimuli by rewarding them, on, for example, the ring. And you can train them for as long as you like, you can train them until the cows come home, five days,

which is a long time in the life of a bee,

because bees don't live for more than a couple of weeks. They will never learn this task, OK. However, if you start by giving them a hint, and you train them on the uncamouflaged version of these stimuli, they will learn this very fast. Now, you see, they go through the ring very quickly. And then when you expose them to the camouflaged stimuli, bingo - immediately they've got it. So, prior knowledge which is instilled in these bees, tells them what to look for and how to break the camouflage.

And once they've learnt to break the camouflage, you can even give them new patterns, for example, this is a horizontal bar, that's a very good bar, which we again cannot see. But once they know the secret of breaking the camouflage, they can move on to new objects and work with them almost immediately. So, you can train bees to look at the world in new ways, which we never thought we could do. So, these bees are actually pretty smart. OK, another thing. When you look at this image, do you smell lemon? It worked for me, it's associative recall, you know? These powerful associations that we have, for example, it's a bit like if you listen to a piece of music it might remind you of something you did a long time ago in high school. Or if you get a whiff of perfume or cologne,

it might remind you of someone you knew a long time ago, but don't necessarily want to talk about anymore. (Laughter) Associate recall is a very powerful phenomenon, it's there with all of us. And the question is, is it there in these lowly creatures, bees as well? And does it help them in any way, in their everyday life. To look at that, we look to see if a whiff of scent can trigger a memory of a previously visited place in a bee. So the experiment is actually very simple, we place a sugar water feeder, scented with the scent of rose in a particular location in a garden,

and we train bees to come and visit it, with these bees, they're individually marked, so we know which bee is which and which ones are visiting that feeder. Then we take that feeder away and place another feeder... a different location laced with the scent of lemon.

And the same bees are now trained to visit that feeder and then they alternate back and forth everytime the feeder is in this location, it has the scent of lemon and every time the feeder is in this other location, it has a scent of rose. We want to know whether bees can associate the scent with the particular feeder location. OK, so, we do this experiment, we train them for a couple of days and then we go away for the weekend. The bees, by the way, the bees don't go away for the weekend, they continue to work, they don't have other feeeders there but they visit other sites during the meantime. But come Monday morning we're back there at our experimental station. It's very cool, it's early in the morning, there is no bee traffic at all, no bees coming out. We place two feeders, two dummy feeders now, these are not real feeders, they're dummy feeders. There's one empty feeder where the former rose-scented feeder used to be. It's empty and it has no scent.

There's another feeder here where the former lemon feeder used to be. It's also empty, no food, no scent. And then we simply blow rose scent into the hive here, there's no traffic, but as soon as we blow the rose scent these marked bees who have been trained emerge from the hive and most of them end up looking for food where the former rose feeder used to be. On the other hand, if you now blow lemon scent into the hive the same bees emerge and this time most of them end up looking where the former lemon feeder used to be. So clearly, what's cool about this experiment is that, remember in the test,

if there's no scent in the feeder, there's no food. All we we doing is injecting a scent into the hive and the scent is triggering memories recall of where that food was. So, 'I know what that is, that's the rose scented thing that's where I'd like to be, whoops, what happened there?' And they shoot off right away there. So, even lowly bees have very complex associated recall which helps them navigate and find some food sources very reliably. Now, if we could run this video. How does this help them in their real life? As many of you probably know, bees that have found a good food source come back and do this famous waggle dance. This is where this marked bee now is doing this waggle,

every time, it comes down at this oblique angle there.

And the direction of this waggle is telling other bees how far away the food source is

and the orientation of the waggle axis is telling them what direction they should fly in with the respect to the sun to get to the food source. So I would say looking at this dance that the food source is about 500 metres away. (Audience laugh) And about 120 degrees away from the sun. So if you look sometime later you will find this bee at a particular bush right over there. What is neat about this and you don't see this in this particular video is that quite often you see other cohorts of bees hanging around this dancing bee and they're actually begging her for nectar samples. So every so often the dancing will stop and they pass out nectar samples to the other bees, potential recruits, and they can decide for themselves whether it's really worthwhile or not to get to the food, right? So, that's what's happening over there. So, if a bee happens to pass on a sample of nectar, which the other bee recognises in terms of its scent, then the other bee will say 'uh-huh! I know where that is, I don't really need this dance information, I've been there before,' boom, off she goes. So this additional information on top of the dance information will expedite the journey to the food source and of course enable the hive to collect honey much more efficiently. But not only this, there's some really cool stuff done by James Nieh,

sorry, didn't mean to start the video again, but you can have it if you like. (Laughter) James Nieh, and it's called danger - he found that bees can actually signal danger. So, let's say a bee is dancing over here and advertising a particular food source and another bee watching the dance is actually experiencing danger at that food source, in terms of a spider, for example, lurking over there. And it's had a fight with that spider. OK, that other bee will head butt this dancing bee and stop it from dancing. (Laughter) How about that? I mean, and this head butting

is very specific to that particular food source. So the bees signaling some other food sources, from another location, there is no head butting. It is only for that particular food source, that dangerous food source. Now, how about that, that's amazing. It makes you stop and think, these creatures are not just simple reflexive dumb automatons. They really are thinking creatures. And they deserve a lot of respect, alright?

If you look inside the brain of an insect, they seem to have all the essential building blocks of higher creatures like invertebrates and us. For example, if we can run that video - we should be able to run that video. They have an antennal lobe, which is very, very much like your factory lobe in ourselves.

There are neurons there that analyse scents. There is the medulla, which has neurons much like our own cortical visual neurons. There is the lobella, which has circuits that analyse the colour of objects and the movement of scenes. And there are the mushroom bodies, which make associations between colour and scent and so no,

and they're very much like our own hippocampus. They also have a spacial map that allows them to navigate very much like the hippocampus that we have.

So, all the essential ingredients that our brains have are actually there in these simple creatures and they have just a million neurons, fewer than a million neurons, whereas we have a million million nuerons, right? So, all of the fundamental processes of cognation can probably analyse much more easily by looking at these creatures who obviously have simpler neuro circuits. The next point is, in my opinion anyway, when studying these beautiful creatures is, can simple creatures experience emotions? So, for example, we know that bees are aggressive, but does that turn into anger when they're trying to defend their hive? Can bees experience joy?

You can, for example, condition bees, in the same way as you can condition the Pavlovian dog. Dogs can be conditioned to salivate in response to the ringing bell if they learn to associate that ring with food. Similarly, you can condition a bee to extend its proboscis, it's tongue, in response to a scent puffed at it when it expects a food reward to come later on. So there could be this anticipation when it's been trained, anticipation of the reward, so it would have anticipation. You can measure heart rate by the way in these bees, we have a heart, you can actually measure their heart rate, and see that it goes up when there's anticipation. There is joy when you get the food. Can you measure some physiologically correlated joy. There's disappointment when they expected food that does not get delivered, right? All of these things can be tested by measuring physiological parameters. And there's also, for example, fear. You can condition them to expect an electric shock after a certain scent has been delivered. So, what happens then? Do you get an increased heart rate, what happens then?

All these things can be studied. And I wouldn't be surprised if even simple creatures do display even some level of emotion. Finally, the other interesting question is can simple creatures experience pain? I mean, you and I would agree if you jab a dog and it flinches, you say, OK, it's got pain. But if you jab and insect and it shows the same kind of responses, you say 'ah, that's just a reflex.' Are we really sure about that or are we just kidding ourself? Thank you. (Applause) That was engineer and neuroscientist, Mandyam Srinivasan. Next Up, Michael West. He's a member of the Stolen Generations and also a member of the Gamilaroi Nation. He's also a member and cultural representative

of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

(Aboriginal clap sticks)

Sorry. TED is gathered here on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. (Clap sticks double time) This land has a heart beat... ..of the Gadigal people. The ancestral land. Also today, is Sorry Day. Tomorrow starts Reconciliation Week. My name's Michael West, I'm a cultural representative

of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. I'm also on the board of the National Sorry Day Committee, so it's - I'm also a member of the Stolen Generations. I love coming here to TEDx, it's a great way to share ideas isn't it? And, all Australians that are here, I believe, have a great heart. This beautiful land, as I said, is the land of the Gadigal people. It's important we do respect and to understand the rich history of this land. It's the oldest continuing living culture in the world today. So in all Australians the onus is on you to learn about your country that you live on, the Aboriginal people there, about reconciliation. It starts with going down, having a cup of tea, having a yarn, holding your hand out and sharing stories, sharing ideas, working together, walking together. Not only for a better community where you come from, but a better country. A better world. Let's show the world how we can work together. It's also important that we do take a moment's silence to pay our respects to not only Gadigal of the Eora here, but to all Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, traditional owners, custodians and elders. And we should also pay respects to those who have passed back to mother earth. Many cultures celebrate the ancestors and we should do that. We're all going to become part of this earth. You walk around here, the ancestral spirits are with us here, all around Australia.

Also, I'd like for you to reflect your journey, wherever you come from around this wonderful world, we share this humanity. So if we just have a moment's silence to pay our respects and to reflect, thank you. To any of my Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island brothers and sisters out there, I warmly welcome you from the lands, clan, tribe, nation you come from. To my non-Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, my fellow Australian brothers and sisters, and our friends from across the seas, I warmly welcome you,

from the land, the family, the neighbourhood, and the community you come from, to this land, the land of the Gadigal people, Eora land, Aboriginal land. Always was, is, and will be Aboriginal land until the end of time. Whether you've journeyed just from Sydney town to be here or across this wonderful Waratah state, this amazing country we share as Australians. or across the globe we share this humanity coming from other lands, across the waters, on behalf of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, I welcome my brothers and sisters to this land. We have a few rules, that you respect the land, respect each other, have a great stay on the land, a safe journey home to your family and loved ones, and to look in your heart and work together for reconciliation. Let's show the world what we can do with respect, collaboration and, I think, as words from a mop top group is all you need is love, love is all you need. (Applause) That was Michael West at this year's TEDx event in Sydney.

Last up today, installation artist Lynette Wallworth. She works in video installation, film and photography, and has exhibited nationally as well as internationally. I'm gonna show you a couple of clips from the film Coral Rekindling Venus, that actually launches in ten days' time. Aligned to an astronomical event. It's a film whose content is completely based underwater. So even though it's going to be in planetariums, actually what it's about is a coral reef, and the community that exists in a coral reef. And it's a work that has its seeds many years ago,

when I took two small photographs with me to visit astronomical photographer David Malin. One of those photographs was an image that he had taken of the birth of a star. The second image was macro-spawning shot of coral taken on the Great Barrier Reef, an event that I had experienced. And I felt there was something between these two images. But it was David Malin who that day told me the story that I want to tell you, about the observation of the Transit of Venus in the 1700s. Because that's what's brought me here - about to release a film about corals, in planetariums, linked to that event. But first off I want to explain a little bit about what the experience of the film will be because digital planetariums are incredible, immersive spaces. You lie back in your seat and the dome above you fills with the image. It's a lot like looking up at the infinite night sky. So, here we'll see imagery in the mask of a circle. But in the planetariums when you experience the work, you feel humble and you feel small, in relation to this imagery. So, I might show you a little bit of that now.

And imagine looking back at the night sky, except in this work, it's the corals that are the stars. (Striking classical music)

(Music climaxes) (Applause)

So I mentioned that I want to tell you a little bit of the story of the Transit of Venus that has obsessed me in order to make this film to go into planetariums

and part of the story really is about Edmund Halley, the astronomer - we all know of him. Halley was working on a key scientific problem of his age. He wanted to know what is the exact size of the solar system. And in order to work that out, Halley imagined that it might be possible if you were to watch Venus passing in front of the sun

from extreme places across the Earth that you could come to that calculation - a thing that was known as the astronomical unit.

But there would need to be many observers But the Transit of Venus is a rare astronmical event. It occurs in pairs divided by eight years and then there's an expanse of 105 years before the next cycle begins, so Halley knew he would never live to see the Transit of Venus event. And he wrote a letter to the astonomers of the future, asking them when the time came that they would go in ships and they would do their drawings and bring them back together in the hope that this scientific problem could be solved. And the thing that's of interest to me about this story is that in 1761 and 1969 when those transits occured many of the countries who were involved in the observations were not friends. In fact some of them like Britain and France, in 1769, had only recently ended a war and there was no financial gain that could be accrued from this travel, but countries like France said they would allow for the safe passage of British ships into French territory, because this was an undertaking that was considered to be to the benefit of humanity. The Transit of Venus in 1769 is known as the first attempt at global scientific cooperation. That's an incredible piece of information. Joseph Banks, who was on James Cook's ship, which was sent to Tahiti to observe, came back an advocate for global scientific cooperation. In fact, he said it's possible, it's possible, for the science of countries to be at peace, while the politics of countries might be at war.

So, we skip forward to our present and a transit that's about to occur in our lifetimes. And we know that there are scientific challenges that face us that cannot be solved by one country, challenges that don't respect territories or boundaries,

challenges that require in their solution a communal response. And that brings me back to corals, because corals are communal creatures. (Classical music) (Music continues) So, corals require diversity in order to thrive. They are - coral reefs are complex communities where many species live in symbiotic relationship with one another. They need diversity, they're in cramped conditions. They're often called the underwater city. And they can handle very little temperature change. They really are the canaries in the coal mine of the world's oceans. So while we are trying to work out what we might do as individual countries in relation to climate change, coral reefs with warming sea surface temperatures could be wiped out. They have very little ability to survive the warming that is coming to them. The next Transit of Venus is about to occur and it's in our lifetimes. And I'm sending, instead of ships around the world, little hardrives into digital planetariums. In the hope of finding a global community. I want to model something on that community of the corals tonight. It's been a difficult process to put a work in planetariums about corals. (Laughter) It certainly has been challenging and there's been a lot of conversations with astronomers. However, I am really glad that, in ten days time in 25 different cities,

people will be seeing those creatures, because I think it should be as impossible to imagine a world without those colours as it is to look up at the night sky and imagine no stars. The evolutionary tactics corals have worked out to maintain their diversity is to send all their potential offspring up into the water column on one night of the year. It's really like a galactic frenzy. And that event is orchestrated by the moon. It's like clockwork. So corals too are repsonding to their place in the solar system. I want to model something on that today. Because it feels to me that everything is aligned and in honor of the corals and the launch of this film, while we're here today, I want to send a new song out into the world. It's a song that's been written for the film by Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons. Because there's no narration in this film, there's no-one telling you anything, it's a completely immersive experience. It's like lying on the sea floor. Gurramul's voice introduces you to the corals in the beginning of the work

and Antony's voice lifts you back up out at the end. I think Antony is singing for the corals,

so while we're here today I want to launch for the first time that song,

out into the world. I'm hopeful that it will find a community that is prepared to act beyond the politics of the day, as Joseph Banks imagined, a community that can think beyond the span of its own lifetime, as Halley did. A community that can act together in unison like corals. Here for the first time ever is Rise. (Piano plays) (Harp plays) # Rise for the ocean # Rise for the sea

# Rise for the coral # Rising humanity # You hold the heart of this world # Rise, let me feel alive # When the waters fall silent # My mother started to cry

# Crying for her children # Wonders that she once held in her arms # Rise for the coral

# Rise for the sea # Rise while there's still something left to lose # Rise while we still have a chance to choose # Choose. # (Applause)

That was installation artist Lynette Wallworth. You can find all these talks from this year's TEDx Sydney on our website.

You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. That's all for this edition of Big Ideas. I'm Waleed Aly, see you next time. Closed Captions by CSI This Program is Captioned


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