Gary Schofield - Public Speaking

  • Delivered the ANZAC lecture on the topic of Gallipoli at Georgetown University, 2005.
  • Delivered Gallipoli lecture at the Australian Embassy and the U.S. War College, 2007.
  • Addressed American veterans of five wars, including the current conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan, at the Veterans Medical Center Washington D.C., 10th September 2004 on the topic of “Those Who Served Honoring Those Who are Serving”.
  • Wrote and delivered “The Big Picture”, a multi-media production at the New Zealand Embassy on behalf of film producer Roger Donaldson in 1994.
Understanding War and Peace  "A journey through recorded time to the future"
 
Understanding war and peace is the civic duty of every American. There is little else that shapes the course of a country's future than these colossal issues and yet little time is spent upon their explanation.
 
This current generation will definitely be asked to make decisions that reflect directly on either the country's peace or war. Our Bill of Rights underscores that an educated public is vital to the future of the Nation. This program is a child friendly lesson from a military academy together with insight from the book Future Vision "Avoiding the Future of War."
 
American Civil War, Revolutionary War and Mexican American War examples are used.
 
Be mindful a generation of adolescents spend their time aimlessly shooting  in Wii and PC games. This program bridges that gap between repetitive and vacuous firing to understanding the very real, fascinating, tactical elements of combat in history.
 
The program is complete with Teachers Lessons and Study Guides with a discussion group following.

Content Outline

There is a direct correlation between the love a student has for History and the way it is taught. What could be more engaging and fascinating than the real lives of exceptional people who have shaped nations?. What could be more interesting than the humanity and decisions both war and peace bring? Nothing compares to the immediacy of war or the fragility of peace.
 

Program comprising:

1 Primate Combat  "Line Up!

2 Out Flanked  
"lines overlap "
 
3 Terrain "Taking the high Road"
 
4 Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery "rock, paper, scissors"

5  King on the Battlefield  "My right hand man"
 
6  Logistics "the real victor and how do I feed my army?

7  Accountability  "May it rain on your parade, not mine"

8  The Real Nature Of Civilization
"Driven to expand"

9  War on a Massive Scale   "When it all goes horribly wrong"

10 Peace, the Final Frontier "The possibilities are endless" 

Graphically and simply the show benefits from the US Army Military's historian Dr. Andrew Birtle and his simulations of conflict through history. We have available to us not only military miniatures from every period in history but also terrain and topographical features from all the battles of history. We could show, in an entertaining way, all we wish to illustrate.
 
  

1 Primate Combat  "Line Up!
 
We Americans pride ourselves on our rugged individualism (cut to John Wayne), and so we should, but that makes us think individual survival of the fittest and competition are the keys to success. In fact the militarily successful animals on the planet are those who can cooperate. From the insects to the primates animals with a sense of community rule the Earth.
 
You may be surprised to learn that many animals go to war. There is nothing special about war and us and even more fascinating is that they engage in war the same way we do.
 
Let's represent an angry mob as a group of dots. They could also be a tribe or they could just as easily be a group of chimpanzees.
 
This bunch of dots can project power in all directions but when they meet a formed straight line they engage one or two dots, one after the other.
 
(graphic)
 
The mob loses because of mathematics. They do not engage with all dots together. At any one moment 1 mob dot engages several points of the straight formed line.
 
They are defeated one after another in succession. This is called defeat in detail  in military academies.
 
What is worse for the mob is that when they do engage one mob dot is fighting several line dots shoulder to shoulder.
 
So guess what? Chimpanzees also know his and so they form line for battle! (Jane Goodall et all references) Just like us, just like the ants.
 
The contacted line is called a front just like the weather front. Actually that is from where the term comes.
 
We have been doing this from our earliest history, back through prehistory, back to the primates:
 
Forming line for battle.
 
It is a matter of math.
 
 
2 Out Flanked  "lines overlap "

So we have a line here and a line there facing each other.
 
Somebody's line will be longer than the other.
 
The lines engage and each dot is matched all the way along till we come to the end.
 
Let's look at the mathematics in the region where one line is longer than the other.
If we have an overlap in the line the poor dots on the end are fighting dozens of extra dots.What is worse the long line can move forward and wrap around the shorter line.
 
In military terms this is called out flanking.
 
Next, every successive dot on the short end is hopelessly facing dozens of enemy dots from all directions. A sensible dot would run away!
 
This is called rolling up the line in military terms.
 
So from these simple mathematical ideas entire nations have been won or lost and we have been playing this little game with few variations for hundreds of thousands of years.
 
Some variations on the theme:
 
Take a line and instead of lining up in front of the enemy line we are smart enough to line up at right angles.
 
(graphic)
 
When the lines engage several of our dots will engage only one of theirs and we will roll up the entire line, win medals, save the country, have clever things written about us in history.
 
What if we had a shorter line than the enemy" Are we doomed? What if we divided our line in half and placed it at right angles on each side of the enemy line.
 
We win the battle by rolling up the line from both sides!
Think that is unbelievable??
 
If you think that then read about General Robert E. Lee at Chancellorsville.
This is called in military terms double envelopment.
 
Now let's take our enemy's side for a change. After all throughout history we have not gone to war with people that are different to us but usually our neighbor. Usually the enemy is very similar to you. It is only in times where countries can project force far away (Crusades) or in more modern times (where alliances and colonialism spanned the globe) that enemies are of different races, religions and cultures.
 
The story of humanity was mostly spent fighting for your tribe or city state in regions we would barely consider today big enough to be a county.
 
So what do we do knowing the enemy will out flank our little line?
 
Well, we have several choices:
 
a, Resist a larger power with asymmetrical warfare. We would call that not fighting fairly but then morality and war rarely sit together.
 
(American resistance against the Red Coats with militia, sabotage.)
 
 
b,We could refuse our flank
 
In military terms instead of forming a straight line we bend our line back into a horseshoe and it is harder for all those enemy dots to get around our flank.
 
We therefore have interior lines of defense.
 
c, We could keep a reserve to strengthen a flank or a part of the line that has collapsed and we have a shorter distance to travel. The enemy must travel further on the outside of our position (exterior lines) and we can get there first to defend.
 
The defender has always had the advantage throughout history.
 
General Jackson said "Get their first with the most:"
 
 
 
3 Terrain "Taking the high Road"
 
...or
 
d, We could find some terrain to anchor our flank
 
In other words we can place our line between two mountains or lakes or something no one can get around. Hence we have a sold straight line that a much greater army can not defeat.
 
(graphic)
 
Just look at the famous battle of Thermopylae with the Greeks and the Persians! That is exactly what happened there.
 
Of course on the battlefield there is all kinds of terrain and the terrain has made enormous difference.
 
How would you like to fight a battle on this terrain?
(WWI Gallipoli graphic.)
 
Burnside had to defeat an army up hill in Fredericksberg.  Meade was up hill at the battle of Gettysburg.
 
Teutoburg Forest where  the German tribes were able to wipe out the Romans by ambushing them in the forest.
 
Taking the high ground is an advantage. If I have to throw a spear up hill it will not travel as far while a throw from a hill can travel far. In a melee I would be disadvantaged puffing and struggling up a hill to have a smelly, giant towering above me with a big smile.
 
So a good general takes the high ground and makes use of the terrain.
 
Battle of Hastings (English Anglo Saxons on the hill) Battle of the Trebbia (Romans had to cross a freezing river to engage Hannibal) Agincourt  Armored heavy knights had to charge through the mud against armor piercing longbowmen..
 
Centuries pass and we gain even higher high ground by being able to fly!
 
The battle has the same principles but the battlefield is now 3D
 
Now we can travel in space.
 
Space is the ultimate high ground. There is the pressure of thousands of years of military history to militarize space.


4 Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery "rock, paper, scissors"
 
What was needed was a fast moving force that could secure the ends of your own line or wrap around the opposing line.
 
aha !
 
cavalry on each wing. !
 
that is why, of course, cavalry are on the wing or the flank.
 
Cavalry are perilous when they out flank infantry as we have seen. So through the ages infantry have tried to protect themselves by not having an exposed flank at all when dealing with cavalry.
 
(graphic Waterloo, infantry square)
 
...and now you know why infantry form square when facing cavalry. There is no flank in a square!
 
The other important military component began simply with slingers throwing rocks and has now become the most important aspect on the battlefield: missile fire.
 
From the Roman ballista (graphic) we now have artillery that can reach entire continents away (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).
 
Missile fire has now dominated all the weapons on the battlefield.
 
Each one of the three, through history, was vulnerable to the other, much like when we play rock, paper, scissors.
 
Rock is Artillery
Paper is Cavalry
Scissors   infantry                          try it:
 
In WWII artillery, in the form of mortars, was devastating to infantry. (That is why the formations have changed. Instead of having the tight sold lines infantry have to disperse or be vulnerable.)
 
Artillery was vulnerable to cavalry. Usually the artillery or canon was placed back and secured by the infantry but when it was too far forward. (as in the Battle of Bull Run) or when cavalry had out flanked the position, artillery was easily overrun by cavalry.
 
Charge of the Light Brigade when the cavalry charged, by accident, through the strongest part of the line under fire from all sides and overran the artillery in the Crimean war.!
 
Cavalry on their own were vulnerable to infantry. In the Civil War men on horseback, even charging, were no match for the powerful muskets of formed infantry.
 
...but now, through the centuries, the heavy cavalry has become the tank.
 
 
5 King on the Battlefield  "My right hand man"
 
Don't you miss those days when the King or Queen was there in person on the battle field?!
 
Yes, hard to believe but that really is the way it was. Not like today when war is engaged behind a desk the King was actually there;
 
Most troops had a shield in their left hand and a sword in the right,
 
(Line up the students with fake shields and swords to illustrate)
 
This meant that the right side was the unshielded side, the vulnerable side.
 
So from the King's or Queen's perspective whoever you place on your right you had better trust!
 
One sneaky little stab from the right and we have a new monarch!
 
So from that the right side has become the place of honor. When you sit at the table the right side is the honored place. Biblically; the right hand of God, the preferred place.
 
The flag bearer (called an ensign and we still have that left over term today in the Navy) would be there to show the colors of the army but also so that you would know where you SHOULD BE on the battlefield. Everyone knew their place relative to the flag and so it was used to keep formation.
 
The highest and lowest sounding instruments were also there, as they are today. The high pitch flute or fife and the lowest sounding, drum. These extreme frequencies travel the furthest so they can command or inspire over long distances.
 
(Revolutionary War graphic)
 
Just look at those beautiful bright colors of uniforms through out history and those hats! What on earth were they thinking?
 
Well they wanted to be seen! They wanted to be squarely on the right ride. (just look at what happened in the Civil War where the uniforms were not uniform! Very confusing, very deadly.
 
(First Manassas graphic, Zouaves)
 
...and those hats well, why do you think a London Bobby wears a huge hat?
 
(graphic) So he looks a lot bigger. Yes, it is intimidating to have an enemy looking bigger than you are!
 
In modern times (since missile fire has become overwhelming) it is clever NOT to be seen and so uniforms disappear into the background as camouflage with greens and browns for the field, white and grays for urban environment..
 
 
6  Logistics "the real victor and how do I feed my army?
 
The history books are filled with wondrous stories of battle and genius but really who could feed the largest army was the key to victory.
 
OK, let's assemble a huge mighty fighting force  and conquer the world.... after only a few hours you will hear... "I'mmmm hungry!!!"
 
O hmmm didn't think of that in my greed for world conquest.
 
Did you bring any sandwiches Julius?
 
Have you ANY idea how much food an army like that is going to need!!? We are going to be on the march for MONTHS sometimes years. Logistics are going to be more important than anything.
 
When the army of Xerses marched by on its way to conquer Greece you could stand and watch the baggage train go by for three days.
 
The historian Hans Delbruick calculated the possible army sizes by what a country could feed and support.
 
The mighty army of Alexander the Great was defeated not by the clash with the elephants or the cataphracts or the chariots of Persia but by the desert of Gerdrosia!
 
Rommel in the desert couldn't fight because he didn't have gas for the tanks!
 
Furthermore the tactic of battle is to outflank the enemy and attack his rear... at the rear is the food! Cut off the food and everyone goes home.
 
An army marches on its stomach (animation).
 
 
7  Accountability  "May it rain on your parade. not mine."
 
 
As the city states grew more prosperous and the king could delegate nobles to raise and pay for his armies it became important there was some kind of accountability.
 
"You have 8,000 pike men and 2,000 cavalry. Here is your bill Sire."
 
"60,000,000 Bizants please"
 
 
"What? I want to see them!
 
 
...and so the military parade was born as accountability from the beginnings of the bureaucratic world.
 

8  The Real Nature Of Civilization "Driven to expand"
 
The new sophisticated societies now needed to project their power and with help of philosopher tacticians, like Sun Su of ancient times, pragmatists like Machiavelli of the Middle Ages and insights into the study of the nature of war itself by Clauswitz and the principles of War, in modern times, strove for new heights as expanded nations, and expand they did.
 
Incidentally if they had not expanded, they themselves would have risked been overrun.

The word civilization itself conjures up all kids of noble deeds and aspirations.. and that is all true but I have a philosophical challenge for you:
 
Take a history book and remove every name from it... So those individuals never existed and were never born. (no, in your mind leave the book alone.)
 
Phew, so nothing happened in history? or did everything happen just the same?
 
Well, we would not have the specific wondrous music of Bach and Beethoven (da da da dar) but without Ford we would still have the car. Actually we would have all the technical inventions just the same!
 
Civilization reaches a technical threshold within which somebody will make a discovery. If not this week, next week but about the same time in history.
 
(The steam engine was invented by the ancient Greeks to open the temple doors but, with slaves to do it, they saw no use for it.)
 
That is why there is a race to discover technologies and breakthroughs often happen simultaneously among countries with the same levels of research.
 
(Flight occurred at Kitty Hawk and in France almost simultaneously and independently.)
 
We like to think it is the leader that runs the country but in fact the leader is driven BY the country.
 
So what is the nature of this force that drives our countries? In fact we set up the basis of civilization thousands of years ago and have done little to shape it since. We have designed our communities to expand and blindly seek greater and greater resources.
 
This is certainly man-made but is it the nature of mankind? We humans have a compassionate nature. Our first instinct is to help those in distress we find injured on the side of the road. A country however, and history is the judge, will take advantage of a faltering neighbor, take its resources and dispassionately divide up its territory.
 
We as people, even though we probably will not take this choice, HAVE a choice to be happy with our success. Countries, and companies (another man made creation) can not . They do not have that luxury.  They are compelled, by their very existence, to expand and seek further growth.
 
Guess what.... they collide and we have wars.
 
Wars are not the exception but a product of that system.
 
In other words  we like to place a human face on history and have individuals shape its course. In truth even without Queen Victoria Britain was going to militarily forge an Empire. If Kaiser Wilhelm had never been born Germany would just have another leader drawn into WWI.
 
Victoria and Wilhelm were family and that still didn't make any difference. 
 
Countries expand because they can. In the course of that religion, culture, economics and forces of community bind the country together for that purpose.
 
 
9  War on a Massive Scale   "When it all goes horribly wrong"
 
From the simple ideas we began with and battles not much larger than your school yard we have now applied these principles to a planetary scale with battlefields the size of the Earth.
 
Through expansion, influence and alliances over centuries countries' interests draw them into conflict. Countries do not form alliances because they are behaving like friendly people. These alliances are formed, like a game of chess, out of mutual self interest in the continuing quest to become even greater. It is a mistake to personify countries. They are not people. We give them the attributes of people but in fact they are ancient structures. 
 
Let's look at WWI as an example, The front of the Western front , dug in entrenched two sold lines was hundred of miles and countries long and so Winston Churchill devised a plan to outflank all of Europe! attack in Turkey at Gallipoli..
 
My grandfather was sent into Gallipoli, Turkey against machine gun fire and terrible terrain.
(graphic)
 
Schleiffen Plan; WWI caught the French playing Rock, Paper, Scissors and lost France in WWII.
 
(The Shleffen plan was a weighted military hammer swinging down through the flat counties of Holland and Belgium straight to Paris. After the Germans lost in WWI because they watered down the Schleiffen plan everyone thought "well; they wont make that mistake again next time."
 
So the Germans fooled them all by feigning an attack in the North but really punched through the middle instead at the Ardennes, coming in behind the army racing to meet the blow from the north! War is deception The Germans were at Dunkirk and, with the armies cut off, France was lost.
 
To this day the Germans want everyone to believe it was the power of blitzkreig that won the battle of France and guess what?
 
....So do the French!)
 
History is mostly written by the people who were not there.
 
It is also often a victor's story.
 
Millions and millions died in these wars with far more misery than any glory. They were to be the "wars to end all wars".
 
Those kinds of failures and the cataclysm of two World Wars in one human lifetime shook the very foundation of our understanding of War and Peace. For the first time ever the nations of the World decided upon a framework broader than the self interest of any country. A framework that would unite the World in an era of peace and prevent war by inventing International Law and a United Nations.
 
It was not quite enough, but now for the first time in human history all the countries of the world, at the same time, have the same, one, common enemy. Climate Change.
 
It is the one uniting force on the planet other than our obvious humanity.
(1950s B&W movie/ Divided town/ suddenly the alien ship lands in the center of town and all work together against the aliens)
 
Now, unlike any time in human history, we have to manage the planet's resources wisely. Important military studies have found climate change will exacerbate conflict. Ironically war is a giant consumer of money and resources but it is also, of course, destructive. Not only that but our very might and power plays a role in the warming the planet itself.
 
Thought to leave the students;
 
If you can describe a future you want you will be one step towards making it possible.
                                                              .
Gary S.Schofield 2011

                      

    Climate Change                

There are two very important things this institution teaches you:

1, to learn how to learn.

This leads to life long discovery.

 and

 2 critical thinking.

This is so you will not go through life easily duped, swayed by every advertisement or slogan and susceptible to propaganda.

 You are constantly bombarded by money and power, financial and political agenda.

 Your critical thinking is your anchor in this storm and your protection..

 For example: Has anyone ever asked you;

“Do you believe in Global Warming?”

 There is no place for the word “belief” in Science. “Belief may belong in religion or opinion or myth but there is no place for it in Science. Global Warming is an established fact.

There was some debate in the 1960’s. Mostly disinterest but this is an unsettling thought to civilization, to say nothing of powerful energy and finance companies. As the evidence has become overwhelming “the deniers” have largely shifted their position from “Global Warming is not happening” to

“Global Warming is happening but IT IS NOT US…. It is something else… something natural.”

 Of course, in a sense, everything is natural, including us.

Failing to come up with evidence and science to support this claim has lead to all sorts of their bizarre theories such as Sunspots and the like. If we travel beyond Science we are in the realms of Magic. 

 There is no place for personalization in Science.

This issue is not about Al Gore. I have met Al Gore I find him a very honorable man. He was Vice President and was voted President of the United States but it doesn’t matter what any individual thinks, how passionate or how convincing they speak. It doesn’t matter what I say. All that matters is the science behind the words.

Geological Time.

Our atmosphere did not come with the planet.

It is easy to think it all came as a complete package. We look up and see the big blue sky stretching into infinity but it is an illusion created by the atmosphere scattering light in the visible spectrum.

Climb a mountain and it is colder because the air is thinner… go any higher and you are going to need oxygen. You can travel for thousands of miles around the earth but you don’t have to travel very far straight up to be in space.

The atmosphere is a thin veneer around a huge Earth and its composition has been changed by the evolution of life itself.

The Early flora created the O2 in the atmosphere and with a preponderance of flora and high O2 levels in the Carboniferous Epoch arthropods grew to be huge with some insects measuring feet across and with lightning storms that literally exploded.

                

Climate Change is the way in which we divide the Geological Time of the Earth into Epochs. You have probably heard of some of these:

Mesozoic, Cambrian, Cretaceous, Jurassic?

Catastrophic changes in Climate and atmospheric composition and mass extinction actually divide eras of time relatively stable over thousands and sometimes millions of years.

These catastrophic events are often linked to an extra terrestrial event (Yes, a UFO as I am sure they were not correctly identified at the time) or catastrophic volcanism.

 

We have one of these changes now on planet Earth: temperature change, mass extinction and a change in atmospheric composition but where is our extra terrestrial event?! Furthermore this is happening in only one human lifetime, not even a blink of the Earth’s eye.

We haven’t been hit by a comet so what can this catastrophe be?

 Perhaps it is a species that has changed the topography over the entire inhabited land surface?

The Milankovitch Cycles the natural cycles that largely determine glaciation and global temperature places us 6,000 years along a cooling period which should continue for another 23,000 years and yet we are warming! 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

 Incidentally I enjoy coming to enlightened schools like this one where I do not need to also explain evolution and that the earth is older than the biblical 4,000 years.

Here is something to ponder. Given that nearly every religion is based, in some way, on the natural world, how would religion be changed by a hostile changing climate?

Now we are living in a new era. We have global temperatures measured from space by NASA. The Earth is surrounded by a haze of satellites.

 We have measured  CO2 pouring into our atmosphere and it has been carbon dated. It is OLD carbon as in Fossil old, as in Fossil Fuels, as in us. We are responsible for pouring trillions of tons of CO2 into our thin veneer of an atmosphere.

Furthermore SCRIPPS Oceanic Research has measured a corresponding decrease in the amount of atmospheric O2.

     http://sio.ucsd.edu/

It is a scientific fact that CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb long wavelength electromagnetic radiation. They keep heat in. If we take a broader look we see the Earth in space with two neighbors orbiting the same order of distance from the Sun. Both planets are dead worlds. Venus, our sister planet, you would expect to have a climate not too different to the Earth and yet temperatures there melt lead!

Why? Because the greenhouse gases of methane and CO2 trap the Sun’s heat energy.

On the other side of us is the barren and cold Mars.

 Mars did have liquid water, an atmosphere and life but the loss of its atmosphere diminished all three.

 

The moon, we know now, has water but among these celestial bodies we are the only beautiful, blue jewel of life. If we are changing that AT ALL we can upset the natural balance.

 Here is the most absurd and difficult thing the deniers are asking us to BELIEVE and they want us to believe this without any supporting evidence to their claim that:

‘”we can pour trillions of tons of CO2 into our thin veneer of an atmosphere and it will do NOTHING WHATSOEVER.”

Changes in the atmosphere are nothing compared to changes in our mighty oceans.

 We are an ocean planet our weather comes from the oceans, life came from the oceans and the surface layer is measurably warmer.

 CO2, when it dissolves in water, becomes carbonic acid, H2CO3. The more CO2 the more acidic and the less alkaline the oceans become. Very low on the food chain, supporting all those above, are delicate creatures that flourish or die depending upon Ph.

For example; take any quiet stream. Just by changing Nitrogen levels a few parts per million kills many delicate organisms.

 You may have heard “we don’t have to worry about ice melting in water as the water level will not change”…. but what about ice on land, like Greenland for example? Or glaciers melting all over the world, ice thousands of years old thinning. The loss of aldedo; all that white no longer bouncing the Sun’s heat back into space.

All this has a direct effect on us. E.g.; There are billions of people at risk should the Tibetan glaciers, the source of the mighty Ganges in India and the Mekong and Yellow rivers of China, continue to shrink.

You have heard Al Gore’s graph shows global temperatures preceding CO2 levels and not following them.

 This can not be determined from that graph. The graph is at an angle. There is error within every date, within all experimental data. Sometimes temperature appears to precede others times to follow.

 All that can be said is that the graph shows is a definite correlation between CO2 levels and temperature.

If you would like to view graphs a few seconds search will show you increases in atmospheric CO2 levels since Industrialization, but dramatically since the 1960s. CO2 levels have even increased further since Al Gore's graph.

 

 

Now back to the Big Bang

Not long ago, about 13 billion years, the Universe began. That is not a lot of time when you consider that 4 billion years ago the Earth formed and life evolved 2 billion years later. Every molecule in you and me and all around us had to come from another star that had lived and died before us.

The Sun has only Hydrogen and Helium. We are made of heavier elements, the products of a nova, a stellar explosion.

 So about 13 billion years ago our universe began and had been expanding ever since so the obvious question was will this expansion continue or will the gravity of matter in the universe slow this expansion and the universe finally crush back in on itself?

 Just as we discovered there was enough matter in the universe to slow down this expansion we also discovered the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate! What is this but the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy.

Einstein was trying to find one equation that defined the laws of the entire Universe. It was thought that magnetism and electricity were separate forces but they are part of the same force; the Electromagnetic force. This force in turn combines with the nuclear weak force at high energy. So scientists thought there may be an equation that would unify all laws and String Theory was created to unify these laws for the very small, Quantum Mechanics, to the very large in Cosmology.

String Theory mathematically proposed new dimensions to explain why gravity is so weak. One little magnet can defy the entire gravitational pull of the Earth!

This lead to an understanding that our universe is attached to a three dimensional membrane or 3brane. Gravity, the theory explains, not attached to this membrane, dissipates into the other dimensions…not only other dimensions but other universes and that we are one of a Multiverse of universes with different physical laws.

It was discovered our universe has a Cosmological Constant. It seems almost perfect and allows matter to exist but with only a little change to this constant, matter, (stars, galaxies and therefore us,) does not form at all.

 But of course it is perfect. We are looking at it. We exist and are here to perceive this constant.

Here is an analogy to ponder; A golfer hits the ball onto a huge green. There is nothing special or preordained in that from the golfer’s perspective, but from the one blade of grass’s perspective, hit by the ball, it is a miracle of chance and physics.

Wait for it:

A current cosmological understanding of the universe is the Anthropic Principle. We exist and so our universe had to have the correct Cosmological Constant for us TO exist.

 In a way we are the consciousness of the Universe.

 Man now can be found even in the cold, dispassionate understanding of Physics just as our species has created the Anthropocene; our current era in Geological Time.

We evolved in the last moments of Geological Time and our existence is very fragile. Our present and future is determined almost solely thorough the civilization we have constructed.

Civilizations work the opposite way you would expect. We tend to personalize everything even countries and give them human characteristics but in fact an individual behaves differently to a mob, a tribe and a country.

 We, as individuals, have the luxury of choosing to be happy. To be glad of what we have, appreciate it and be content. We may not but we have that option. Countries do not. They must always expand and take another’s resources. It is part of their 5,000 year design, much like a company. Countries expand and the thousands of years of wars and causes of conflict no longer seem such a mystery.

Humans have compassion. The first reaction to seeing your neighbor injured on the side of the road is compassion, to help. When a country’s neighbor falters the reaction is to “expand into the vacuum”, divide it up and take its resources.

 In fact most wars throughout history are fought against neighbors and people the same. It is only relatively recently, through naval power, that we have been able to go to war with people who are different.

For your Global Perspectives question ponder: Why is New Zealand here?

Two events made the British colonization of New Zealand possible:

The loss of the Spanish Armada (mostly accomplished by the weather)

and The Battle of Trafalgar.

All empires fall. We have developed a flawed system. This should not come as a shock. Furthermore we think the leader runs the country but actually the country runs the leader.

 Ponder this: take out every name in the history books so those people never existed and surprisingly history would be basically the same. Other that hearing slightly different music all the technology would be the same as would the collisions between nations simply because of these underlying principles we seem powerless to control.

I will leave you with a pressing Climate Change and energy dilemma I would like you to solve for me:

The well-meaning Green Party and the nuclear crisis in Japan have done away with Nuclear Power’s future in both Germany and Italy, with other countries likely to follow.

 

Nuclear Power does not create CO2 but currently we have no alternative primary, high energy fuel source. Nuclear power is far from perfect but we need a short term solution now before alternatives can be effective.

 We could not run a 900 Gigawatt civilization like the US on wind and solar power. Solar power is a finite resource per square meter. Panels would be the size of cities or larger to run cities and they themselves create ecological problems to say nothing of the loss of albedo from the panels themselves.

 Even the advanced solar powered Prius requires 8 hours standing in the sun to drive 30 or so miles down the road.

 

What are we going to do?  It may well be up to you.

 It has been a pleasure speaking with you on science and superstition and I will be happy to send the student concerned about the end of the world in 2012 an email after 2012.