The Science Behind the First Nuclear Chain Reaction, Which Ushered in the Atomic Age 75 Years Ago – Artemis Spyrou and Wolfgang Mittig. 

That fateful discovery helped give us nuclear power reactors and the atomic bomb. 

Over Christmas vacation in 1938, physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch received puzzling scientific news in a private letter from nuclear chemist Otto Hahn. When bombarding uranium with neutrons, Hahn had made some surprising observations that went against everything known at the time about the dense cores of atoms – their nuclei.

Meitner and Frisch were able to provide an explanation for what he saw that would revolutionize the field of nuclear physics: A uranium nucleus could split in half – or fission, as they called it – producing two new nuclei, called fission fragments. More importantly, this fission process releases huge amounts of energy. This finding at the dawn of World War II was the start of a scientific and military race to understand and use this new atomic source of power.

The release of these findings to the academic community immediately inspired many nuclear scientists to investigate the nuclear fission process further. Physicist Leo Szilard made an important realization: if fission emits neutrons, and neutrons can induce fission, then neutrons from the fission of one nucleus could cause the fission of another nucleus. It could all cascade in a self-sustained “chain” process.

Thus began the quest to experimentally prove that a nuclear chain reaction was possible – and 75 years ago, researchers at the University of Chicago succeeded, opening the door to what would become the nuclear era.

Harnessing fission

As part of the Manhattan Project effort to build an atomic bomb during World War II, Szilard worked together with physicist Enrico Fermi and other colleagues at the University of Chicago to create the world’s first experimental nuclear reactor.

For a sustained, controlled chain reaction, each fission must induce just one additional fission. Any more, and there’d be an explosion. Any fewer and the reaction would peter out.

In earlier studies, Fermi had found that uranium nuclei would absorb neutrons more easily if the neutrons were moving relatively slowly. But neutrons emitted from the fission of uranium are fast. So for the Chicago experiment, the physicists used graphite to slow down the emitted neutrons, via multiple scattering processes. The idea was to increase the neutrons’ chances of being absorbed by another uranium nucleus.

To make sure they could safely control the chain reaction, the team rigged together what they called “control rods.” These were simply sheets of the element cadmium, an excellent neutron absorber. The physicists interspersed control rods through the uranium-graphite pile. At every step of the process Fermi calculated the expected neutron emission, and slowly removed a control rod to confirm his expectations. As a safety mechanism, the cadmium control rods could quickly be inserted if something started going wrong, to shut down the chain reaction.

They called this 20x6x25-foot setup Chicago Pile Number One, or CP-1 for short – and it was here they obtained world’s the first controlled nuclear chain reaction on December 2, 1942. A single random neutron was enough to start the chain reaction process once the physicists assembled CP-1. The first neutron would induce fission on a uranium nucleus, emitting a set of new neutrons. These secondary neutrons hit carbon nuclei in the graphite and slowed down. Then they’d run into other uranium nuclei and induce a second round of fission reactions, emit even more neutrons, and on and on. The cadmium control rods made sure the process wouldn’t continue indefinitely, because Fermi and his team could choose exactly how and where to insert them to control the chain reaction.

A nuclear chain reaction. Green arrows show the split of a uranium nucleus in two fission fragments, emitting new neutrons. Some of these neutrons can induce new fission reactions (black arrows). Some of the neutrons may be lost in other processes (blue arrows). Red arrows show the delayed neutrons that come later from the radioactive fission fragments and that can induce new fission reactions.

Controlling the chain reaction was extremely important: If the balance between produced and absorbed neutrons was not exactly right, then the chain reactions either would not proceed at all, or in the other much more dangerous extreme, the chain reactions would multiply rapidly with the release of enormous amounts of energy.

Sometimes, a few seconds after the fission occurs in a nuclear chain reaction, additional neutrons are released. Fission fragments are typically radioactive, and can emit different types of radiation, among them neutrons. Right away, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner and others recognized the importance of these so-called “delayed neutrons” in controlling the chain reaction.

If they weren’t taken into account, these additional neutrons would induce more fission reactions than anticipated. As a result, the nuclear chain reaction in their Chicago experiment could have spiraled out of control, with potentially devastating results. More importantly, however, this time delay between the fission and the release of more neutrons allows some time for human beings to react and make adjustments, controlling the power of the chain reaction so it doesn’t proceed too fast.

The events of December 2, 1942 marked a huge milestone. Figuring out how to create and control the nuclear chain reaction was the foundation for the 448 nuclear reactors producing energy worldwide today. At present, 30 countries include nuclear reactors in their power portfolio. Within these countries, nuclear energy contributes on average 24 percent of their total electrical power, ranging as high as 72 percent in France.

CP-1’s success was also essential for the continuation of the Manhattan Project and the creation of the two atomic bombs used during World War II.

Physicists’ remaining questions

The quest to understand delayed neutron emission and nuclear fission continues in modern nuclear physics laboratories. The race today is not for building atomic bombs or even nuclear reactors; it’s for understanding of basic properties of nuclei through close collaboration between experiment and theory.

Researchers have observed fission experimentally only for a small number of isotopes – the various versions of an element based on how many neutrons each has – and the details of this complex process are not yet well-understood. State-of-the-art theoretical models try to explain the observed fission properties, like how much energy is released, the number of neutrons emitted and the masses of the fission fragments.

Delayed neutron emission happens only for nuclei that are not naturally occurring, and these nuclei live for only a short amount of time. While experiments have revealed some of the nuclei that emit delayed neutrons, we are not yet able to reliably predict which isotopes should have this property. We also don’t know exact probabilities for delayed neutron emission or the amount of energy released – properties that are very important for understanding the details of energy production in nuclear reactors.

In addition, researchers are trying to predict new nuclei where nuclear fission might be possible. They’re building new experiments and powerful new facilities which will provide access to nuclei that have never before been studied, in an attempt to measure all these properties directly. Together, the new experimental and theoretical studies will give us a much better understanding of nuclear fission, which can help improve the performance and safety of nuclear reactors.

Both fission and delayed neutron emission are processes that also happen within stars. The creation of heavy elements, like silver and gold, in particular can depend on the fission and delayed neutron emission properties of exotic nuclei. Fission breaks the heaviest elements and replaces them with lighter ones (fission fragments), completely changing the element composition of a star. Delayed neutron emission adds more neutrons to the stellar environment, that can then induce new nuclear reactions. For example, nuclear properties played a vital role in the neutron-star merger event that was recently discovered by gravitational-wave and electromagnetic observatories around the world.

The science has come a long way since Szilard’s vision and Fermi’s proof of a controlled nuclear chain reaction. At the same time, new questions have emerged, and there’s still a lot to learn about the basic nuclear properties that drive the chain reaction and its impact on energy production here on Earth and elsewhere in our universe.


Artemis Spyrou, Associate Professor of Nuclear Astrophysics, Michigan State University

Wolfgang Mittig, Professor of Physics, Michigan State University

Smithsonian Magazine 

We’re being hurt by the fixation on economic growth at all costs – Larry Elliott. 

There had never been anything quite like the thick “pea-souper” fog that blanketed London 65 years ago. The wind dropped and the air grew damp. For five days, smoke from coal fires and power stations was trapped, making it hard to breathe. For the frail and elderly what became known as the Great Smog was deadly. Initial estimates put the death toll at 4,000.

The coal burned in the capital in 1952 turned the city into a deathtrap, but it was good for growth. It was cold and damp as well as foggy, and the more fuel that was bought, the better it was for the economy.

The same applies today. A thinktank, the New Weather Institute, estimates there will already have been 8,700 premature UK deaths this year caused by air pollution by the time of next week’s 65th anniversary. Some of them would have been avoided had more people worked from home or shared cars to the office. That would have meant fewer cars on the roads and less money spent at petrol stations. It would be good for the nation’s health but would reduce gross domestic product. As currently calculated, it would be bad for growth.

This is perverse. It is clear from the great smogs that engulfed Beijing in 2015 and New Delhi earlier this month that not all growth is good. Globally, one person dies ahead of their time every five seconds due to poor air quality. Yet the idea that success can only be measured by gross domestic product has become a fetish. When growth accelerates, it is a time for national celebration. When growth remains unchanged it is a cause for concern. When growth falls it is a time for the newsreaders to put on a long face.

Hence the response to last week’s budget, in which the Office for Budget Responsibility shaved around half a percentage point off its growth forecasts in each of the next five years. This was seen, unambiguously, as a very bad thing indeed. Commentators (me included, I hasten to add) vied with each other to find new ways of describing just how terrible it was.

Now, make no mistake, when it comes to the UK economy there is plenty to be concerned about. It is a worry that for the past decade Britain has had to work so hard just to stand still. It matters that people are taking on more debt to finance their spending habits. It is not a great idea to be investing so little and importing so much.

But it is absurd to believe that GDP provides the best – or even an accurate – picture of how well the country is really doing. Since the financial crisis, GDP has been going up, largely due to the increase in the size of the population. GDP per head is a better measure, but even then takes no account of how the growth is being divvied up. In recent decades the fruits of growth have largely been snaffled by those at the top.

GDP acts as a yardstick for things that can be measured in monetary terms, so it goes up if the defence sector exports more arms, if the City embarks on an orgy of speculation, or if betting shops double the number of fixed odds terminals. Simon Kuznets, the economist who first came up with the idea of GDP, had a point when he said it should exclude harmful things, such as military spending and advertising.

Bobby Kennedy agreed. On the campaign stump in 1968, he famously said GDP measured everything except that which made life worthwhile. “It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armoured cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.”

The latest GDP figure shows Britain’s economy grew by 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017. The figure includes all the things Kuznets and Kennedy abhorred, but excludes quite a lot of good things that are not counted because they are done for free.

The government could increase the size of the economy by 50% at a stroke if it included all the cleaning, cooking, childcare and other tasks around the house that are done for free. If your neighbour pays you to mow his lawn, that counts as GDP. If you mow your own lawn, it doesn’t.

At one level, the strange way in which success or failure is measured doesn’t matter all that much. As the chief economist at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, noted in a speech earlier this week, only 10% of the public can actually define GDP. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to care too much about whether it is going up or down.

In the year or so since the EU referendum, the debate about Brexit has been framed by what the vote has meant for GDP. In the first six months, the Brexiteers thought they had the upper hand because growth averaged 0.5% a quarter. In the first half of 2017, remainers thought the pendulum had swung their way because growth slowed to 0.3%.

Both sides were assuming that people can differentiate between an economy growing by 2% a year and one growing by 1%, which they almost certainly can’t. A more relevant guide to attitudes was the recent official survey showing that the public (in England at least) got a bit happier in the year after the referendum. This probably has something to do with the continued fall in unemployment, which research has shown is more closely linked to personal wellbeing than inflation. It is, of course, possible that happiness would have been still higher had the referendum gone the other way.

But the constant use of GDP does matter because it creates a “growth at all costs” mindset. A report by the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School suggests that the upshot is the depletion of the natural world, which is not being measured or valued properly. “There is clear evidence of widespread ecosystem degradation and declining resilience in food and water systems,” it says.

In recent years there has been some recognition of the need to find a better way of measuring how things are going. There are now alternative measures of wellbeing, including national accounts that consider environmental damage. But they have not gone nearly far enough to challenge the tyranny of GDP, which is why the clincher in any argument about the economy is still that something is “bad for growth”.

As American writer Edward Abbey put it in his 1977 book The Journey Home: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” He could not have been more right.

The Guardian

The story of New Zealand – Tears of Rangi, Experiments Across Worlds – Anne Salmond. 

In the 21st century Pacific, the most iconic images of the Earth are those taken from outer space. A blue globe hangs in a pool of darkness, spinning in the sun.

When the Pacific Ocean comes into sight, its scatter of islands is barely visible. Edged by the continents of Asia, Australia and the Americas, the scale of this great ocean is impressive. Marbled by drifts of cloud, the Pacific covers almost a third of the earth’s surface.

In the far southern reaches, one can see the islands of New Zealand, the last significant land mass on Earth to be found and settled by people.

The ancestors of Māori invented blue-water sailing. As they sailed across the Pacific, stars, comets, clouds, the sun, the moon and birds appeared at different heights in the heavens. At night, successions of stars rose up in the sky, guiding them on their voyages. As winds blew and waves and swells slapped against the hulls of their canoes, it seemed that they stood still in the ocean while islands floated towards them.

The Brazilian anthropologist Viveiros de Castro has argued for the ‘ontological self-determination’ of the world’s people’s. Here, he is not talking about ‘world views’ (as though despite our different visions, there is just one world after all), or even ‘humanity’ or ‘the planet’, but suggesting that different peoples may explore different realities, and have the right to do so.

For the Polynesian voyagers, a layered, curved universe in which islands sailed across the sea and stars across the sky was not a myth, but based on experience. Their explosive migrations east to Easter Island and the west coast of South America, north to Hawai‘i and south to New Zealand were made possible by a navigation system based on deep knowledge of the sea, winds and stars; fast, resilient canoes; a portable suite of plants and animals; and kin-based forms of order that allowed them to transplant themselves in new and unfamiliar lands.

When the first star navigators arrived in New Zealand in about the early fourteenth century,  they had to rapidly adapt to plants and animals, landscapes and climatic conditions very different from those in their tropical homelands.

By the time the first Europeans came ashore perhaps four hundred years later, Māori had developed many new technologies, along with new dialects, art forms and philosophical ideas. Far from a static ‘traditional’ society, early Māori life was dynamic and rapidly changing.

In order to reach these remote islands, the first Western explorers, Abel Tasman in 1642 and Captain James Cook in 1769–70, faced similar challenges. They had to master the art of sailing for long periods across great distances, along with technologies (including projectile weapons) that allowed them to survive the challenges from island warriors.

At the time of the Endeavour’s arrival, life in Europe was also in a phase of explosive innovation. The settlers who arrived in the wake of the early European explorers brought with them new repertoires of plants and animals, habits of mind and ways of living, casting up realities that, like those of their Polynesian precursors, made it possible for them to inhabit places very different from their homelands.

Since the early nineteenth century in New Zealand, settlers from Polynesia and Europe (and elsewhere) have clashed and forged alliances with one another. In this remote, beautiful archipelago, debates over what is real, and good, and what matters in people’s lives have been fiercely contested. In these exchanges across the middle ground, ancestral Māori conceptions have been mobilised, usually but not always by Māori, and Western frameworks deployed, mostly but not invariably by Europeans. In the process, deep-seated assumptions and forms of order (so often invisible, or naturalised as ‘common sense’) have been brought to light, and challenged.

At times – when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Māori and the British Crown; or New Zealand became the first country in the world to give the vote to women; or the Treaty settlement process was established; or the Whanganui River was recognised as a legal person – these exchanges have helped to provoke new ways of thinking. Here, I want to explore the likelihood that like bio-diversity, cosmo-diversity (in the sense of multiple ‘worlds’) may be a force for adaptation and survival. For the old Cartesian dualisms and their fragmented dreams are no longer working – in science, in material matters, or in human affairs.

In order to find more adaptive ways of being, exchanges across different realities may be helpful, allowing new forms of order to emerge. In New Zealand, and elsewhere in the Pacific where ancestral insights remain vital, this can happen.

The first part of this book examines such ‘experiments across worlds’ through a fine-grained inquiry into the early period of encounters between Māori and Europeans in New Zealand (1769–1840), when collisions and exchanges between people holding different assumptions about ‘how the world works’ were particularly stark and vivid.

The second part of the book investigates such engagements in particular areas of life – waterways, land, the sea, and people; and asks whether these might help to open up new pathways to the future. Whakapapa (genealogy), for instance, a way of being based on complex networks that encompass all forms of life, interlinked and co-emergent, might assist in exploring relational ways of understanding the interactions between people and the land, other life forms, waterways and the ocean.

The idea of the hau, the wind of life that activates human and non-human networks alike, animated by reciprocal exchanges; or the spiral of space-time in Māori might help in devising non-linear, recursive ways of investigating the dynamic interactions among different life-forms (including people). This is fitting, because in Māori ways of thinking, knowledge itself is a taonga (ancestral treasure). As knowledge is given or received, hau passes back and forth across the pae – the horizon or threshold between sky and earth, light and dark, local people and visitors, life and death, past and present – reshaping realities and shifting the way that things happen.

The pae is a volatile, emergent space, now and then flashing out insights that create new kinds of order. As my mentor Eruera Stirling once said, ‘Knowledge is a blessing on your mind, it makes everything clear and guides you to do things in the right way …’ This book about experiments across worlds is written in that hope, and spirit.


Hau: The Wind of Life

He iwi kē, he iwi kē – One strange people. Titiro atu, titiro mail – Looking at each other. CHANT BY MERIMERI PENFOLD

In October 1796 in Uawa, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, the star navigator and high priest Tupaia sketched Joseph Banks, a wealthy young botanist, exchanging white cloth for a crayfish with a local man.

Tupaia and Banks had arrived on board the Endeavour, commanded by James Cook, and sent into the Pacific by the Royal Society of London and the British Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus, and to search for Terra Australis Incognita (the Unknown Southern Continent).

The ship had sailed from Ra‘iatea, Tupaia’s home island and one of the homelands of Māori. After a three-month stay in Tahiti, where Tupaia joined the expedition, the high priest escorted his Endeavour shipmates to the great voyaging marae Taputapuatea, where he had trained as a priest of ‘Oro, the god of fertility and war in the Society Islands. Afterwards they headed south across the Pacific, arriving on the east coast of New Zealand in spring, when the kōwhai trees were flowering.

Although Tupaia died in Batavia during the Endeavour’s return journey to England, Joseph Banks preserved the sketch made by the high priest in Uawa, along with others he had drawn in Tahiti and Australia. These were lodged in the British Museum, where many years later, art historians guessed that since many of these ‘naïve’ images were painted in watercolours, the artist might have been none other than Joseph Banks himself.

It was not until 1997 that these drawings were attributed to Tupaia. During his research into the life of Joseph Banks (later friend of George III, President of the Royal Society and impresario of British imperial exploration), Banks’s biographer Harold Carter noticed a passage in one of his letters that mentioned this drawing. In 1812, Banks wrote to a friend: Tupia the Indian who came with me from Otaheite Learnd to draw in a way not Quite unintelligible. The genius for Caricature which all wild People Possess Led him to Caricature me and he drew me with a nail in my hand delivering it to an Indian who sold me a Lobster but with my other hand I had a firm fist on the Lobster determind not to Quit the nail until I had Livery and Seizin of the article purchasd.

While the Uawa sketch shows Joseph Banks holding a piece of white cloth (almost certainly Tahitian bark cloth, highly sought after by Māori), rather than a nail, the description in his letter almost certainly refers to the image that Banks lodged (with others by the same artist) in the British Museum.

Far from being a ‘wild man’, however, Tupaia was a brilliant and charismatic leader in the Society Islands. When he joined the Endeavour, he was seeking to enlist Cook and his men in seeking to avenge the conquest of his home island, Ra‘iatea.

As a high priest and star navigator, Tupaia was a leading figure in the ‘arioi cult dedicated to ‘Oro, the god of fertility and war, famed for its lovers, artists, dancers, actors, scholars, warriors and star navigators.

After their departure from Tahiti, Tupaia piloted the ship through the surrounding islands, and worked with Captain Cook on a remarkable chart of the Pacific, centred upon Tahiti and based on relative bearings and distances in space-time (elapsed nights) between different islands. Later, the young naturalist Georg Forster would describe Tupaia as ‘an extraordinary genius’.

Like his charts, Tupaia’s sketches were revolutionary. During his time with the Royal Society party, he often sat with the ship’s artists, drawing the same subjects but creating new kinds of art works, using European techniques with a quintessentially Polynesian vision. Painted in the colours of bark cloth –black, brown and red-brown –his image portrays two men, one European (Joseph Banks) and one Māori, standing face to face, offering gifts to each other.

In New Zealand, as in the Society Islands at that time, life was ordered by relational networks, and driven by exchange. If a taonga (treasured item) was handed over, it carried part of the vital force, or hau, of the donor and his or her kin group, tangling the lives of donor and recipient together.

In 1907, when Elsdon Best, a New Zealand ethnologist who had spent a lifetime studying Māori customs, wrote to an elder called Tamati Ranapiri, asking him to explain the concept of the hau, Ranapiri replied: As for the hau, it isn’t the wind that blows, not at all. Let me explain it to you carefully. Now, you have an ancestral item (taonga) that you give to me, without the two of us putting a price on it, and I give it to someone else. Perhaps after a long while, this person remembers that he has this taonga, and that he should give me a return gift, and he does so. This is the hau of the taonga that was previously given to me. I must pass on that treasure to you. It would not be right for me to keep it for myself. Whether it is a very good taonga or a bad one, I must give to you, because it is the hau of your taonga, and if I hold on to it for myself, I will die. This is the hau. That’s enough.

The hau is at the heart of life itself. As Ranapiri explained to Best, if a person fails to uphold their obligations in these transactions, their own life force is threatened. As good or bad taonga and gifts or insults pass back and forth, embodying the power of the hau, patterns of relations are transformed, for better or for worse.

When Elsdon Best wrote about Ranapiri’s account of the hau, it captured the imagination of a French sociologist, Marcel Mauss. In 1925, Mauss published The Gift, a classic work exploring gift exchange in a range of societies, including his own. Quoting Ranapiri, he contrasted the Māori concept of the hau of the gift with the assumption in contemporary capitalism that all transactions are driven by self-interest, arguing that this gives an impoverished view of how relations among people generate social life.

For Mauss, the hau, or the ‘spirit of the thing given’, impels a gift in return, creating solidarity. His discussion of the concept is perceptive, but in fact, it only scratches the surface.

In Māori ways of thinking, hau drives the whole world, not just human relations. It goes far beyond the exchange of gifts among people. According to the tohunga (experts) in the ancestral whare wānanga (schools of learning), hau emerged at the very beginning of the cosmos.

In a chant recorded by Te Kohuora of Rongoroa for the missionary Richard Taylor in 1854, for example, the world begins with a burst of energy that generates thought, memory and desire. Next comes the Pō, long aeons of darkness. Out of the Pō comes the Kore, unbound, unpossessed Nothing, the seedbed of the cosmos, described by an early ethnologist as ‘the Void or negation, yet containing the potentiality of all things afterwards to come’.

In the Kore, hau ora and hau tupu, the winds of life and growth, begin to stir. As hau flows through the world, the sky emerges, and the moon and stars, light, the earth and sky and ocean: Na te kune te pupuke. From the source of growth the rising Na te pupuke te hihiri From rising the thought Na te hihiri te mahara From rising thought the memory Na te mahara te hinengaro From memory the mind-heart Na te hinengaro te manako From the mind-heart, desire Ka hua te wananga Knowledge becomes conscious Ka noho i a rikoriko It dwells in dim light Ka puta ki waho ko te po …And Pō (darkness) emerges …Na te kore i ai

From nothingness came the first cause Te kore te whiwhia Unpossessed nothingness Te kore te rawea Unbound nothingness Ko hau tupu, ko hau ora The hau tupu (wind of growth), the hau ora (wind of life) Ka noho i te atea Stay in clear space Ka puta ki waho ko te rangi e tu nei And the sky emerges that stands here Te ata rapa, te ata ka mahina The early dawn, the early day, the mid-day Ka mahina te ata i hikurangi! The blaze of day from the sky!

Through these exchanges, new forms of life emerge. As a Te Arawa scribe, Te Rangikaheke, told Sir George Grey, an early governor of New Zealand, at the beginning of the world when life first appears, ‘kotahi anō te tupuna o te tangata Māori –ko Ranginui te tū nei, ko Papatūanuku e takoto nei’–‘there is just one Maori ancestor, Ranginui standing here and Papatuanuku lying here’.

Male sky and female earth are a single being, locked together. From their union the ancestors of agricultural crops, sea and waterways, the winds, fern-root and people emerge, crushed in darkness between their parents. Cramped and frustrated, the older brothers decide to separate earth and sky, letting light into the world.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts, Tane-nui-a-Rangi, the ancestor of forests, takes an axe known as Hauhautu (make hau and hau stand) and cuts them apart. Stricken with grief, they cry out, ‘Why has this crime been committed? Why have we been separated?’As Rangi’s tears fall down to earth, forming lakes and rivers, Papa’s mists rise up to greet him.

Enraged by this assault on their parents, Tawhirimatea, Space-twister, the ancestor of winds (hau), attacks his older brothers, smashing and splitting Tane’s trees, assailing land and sea with whirlwinds and hurricanes, and driving the ancestors of root crops underground.

In the midst of this chaos, the offspring of these founding ancestors quarrel with each other and go their separate ways, finding new places to live in and becoming new kinds of creatures –the ancestors of fish diving into the sea, for instance, while the ancestors of lizards hide under rocks on the land. Only Tu, the ancestor of people, stands tall against Tawhiri’s onslaught, earning the right for his descendants to consume those of his brothers –birds, trees, fish, shellfish, fern-root, yams, taro and sweet potatoes, destroying their tapu (ancestral presence) and making them noa (ordinary, free from ancestral constraints).

Through the separation of Rangi and Papa, te ao mārama –the everyday world of light –emerges. Light is separated from (but still linked with) darkness; life from death; sky from earth; male from female; up from down and left from right, oriented by the bodies of the founding ancestors.

Different ancestral beings are generated and take their places, linked by their quarrels and ongoing exchanges. Later, Tu’s descendants –tangata (people) – sometimes also quarrel and separate, migrating to new places and forging new kin networks.

Many of the stories about exploring Polynesia, including New Zealand, tell of disputes followed by journeys to distant places. In this viral kinship system, driven by the exchange of gifts (that bind people together) or insults (that divide them), ancestral networks are readily replicated and transported, allowing the exploration and settlement of new places and forging new groups of people, as well as maintaining relationships over time.

Māori kin groups are contextual and dynamic, with some relations forged by insult and fighting; others by adoption, friendship and marriage, accompanied by gift exchange; while others, of lesser value, are allowed to wither away. Rather than bounded groups, these are open-ended networks springing from ‘root ancestors’ planted in the ground.

People can activate different links under  different circumstances, constantly changing through space and time. On the marae (ceremonial centre for kin groups), with its carved meeting house, its marae ātea, or forecourt for orators, where hosts and visitors sit facing each other, and its dining hall, ancestors are present as their descendants debate the questions of the day, recount ancestral deeds, forge new alliances, and are married or farewelled back to the Pō, the ancestral realm.

This is captured in a haka (war chant) composed by Merimeri Penfold: He iwi kē, he iwi kē One strange people and another Titiro atu, titiro mai Looking at each other

This chant evokes an exchange of gazes across the marae. Iwi means ‘a group of people’and kē invokes the strangeness of one group to another. Titiro atu is one’s glance directed at another, while titiro mai is the others’glance in reply.

In these recursive exchanges, identity takes shape, and shifts. All of the action –for better or for worse –happens across the pae, the middle ground. In this liminal space, male sky and female earth, living and the dead, local people and their visitors meet, intermingle and change places.

Ancestors appear in genealogies and stories, in photographs, and in the carvings that line the inside walls of the meeting house, support its roof, and decorate the exterior gable and porch. As the Tainui expert Pei Te Hurinui Jones explained, in Māori ancestral thinking, space-time is a spiral, a vortex. Standing in the present, one can spin back to the Kore, the Void, where the first burst of energy unleashed the winds of growth and life –and out into the future.

At the University of Auckland marae, for example, Tane-nui-a-Rangi, the carved meeting house, embodies the ancestor who first ascended the layered heavens on a whirlwind to fetch the three baskets of knowledge for his descendants. Inside the meeting house, the ridgepole and its carved posts tell the story of Tane separating his parents, Rangi and Papa, while carved ancestors stand around the walls, the priestly experts and navigators who guided their canoes across the Pacific from Hawaiki to New Zealand. Sitting inside Tane-nui-a-Rangi, the belly of the ancestor, one is literally transported into te ao Māori, the ancestral Māori ‘world’.

At the centre of the back wall of the house stands a carving of Hinenuitepo, the ancestress of death. During a tangi (funeral), the body of a deceased person lies at her feet. Towards the back of the house, the kōwhaiwhai (rafter paintings) shade off into darkness, while towards the front, the door and window open into te ao mārama (the world of light) where the colours of the kōwhaiwhai become bright. The waiata (chant) sung at the opening of the marae, composed by Merimeri Penfold, incorporates Te Kohuora’s creation chant.

According to Viveiros de Castro, such cosmological chants do not reflect a ‘world view’ but rather, express ‘a world objectively from inside it’. As Marshall Sahlins remarks, ‘The [Māori] universe is a gigantic kin, a genealogy …a veritable ontology’ –a way of being that patterns the world, based on whakapapa –vast, intricate networks of relations in which all forms of life are linked, generated by exchanges between complementary pairs, animated by hau.

Thus when Māori greet each other by pressing noses, their hau (breath, wind of life) intermingles. If a person presses noses with a carved ancestor, the same thing happens. When rangatira, or chiefs, speak of an ancestor in the first person as ahau, or ‘I’, it is because they are the ‘living face’ of that ancestor, and if they speak of their descent groups in the same way, it is because they share ancestral hau together.

A refusal to enter into reciprocal exchanges, on the other hand, is known as hau whitia, or hau turned aside. Hauhauaitu (or ‘harm to the hau’) is manifested as illness or ill fortune, a breakdown in the balance of exchanges. The life force has been harmed, showing signs of collapse and failure.

In early times, the hau of an enemy might be extinguished by rituals including awhe i te hau (gathering in the hau), while the hau of a kin group might be destroyed by ceremonies that included whāngai hau (feed the hau), in which the hau of their leader was fed to an enemy atua (ancestor god). Equally, the hau might be revitalised by a successful act of retribution –for instance, in the kai hau kai (eating the hau as food) ceremony, in which the hau of the enemy and his or her atua was consumed. In this way, the original insult is wiped out, restoring ora –life, health, prosperity and abundance –to the victors. Utu, the principle of reciprocity, drives the exchanges between individuals and groups and all other life forms, past and present, working towards (an always fragile) equilibrium.

Because hau animates all phenomena, in this way of being there are no Cartesian gulfs between mind and matter, animate and inanimate beings, people and environment, Culture and Nature. As the nineteenth-century thinker Nepia Pohuhu remarked: ‘All things unfold their nature (tupu), live (ora), have form (ahua), whether trees, stones, birds, reptiles, fish, quadrupeds or human beings.’ Hau flows through all things, whether rivers, mountains, forests, reefs, fishing grounds, plants, animals or people. If their hau is in a state of ora (hau ora: health, well-being, prosperity), they will flourish; but if it is in a state of mate (hau mate: sickness, ill-being, misfortune), they will decline and perish.

As Tamati Ranapiri explained to Elsdon Best, in catching birds, for example, one must offer the first bird captured to the hau of the forest, to ensure its ongoing ora –its well-being, and protect one’s own health and good fortune. This also applies to catching eels in a river, or fish in the ocean. The fundamental kinship between people and other life forms is never forgotten. Indeed, kin networks are often spoken of as plants –the gourd plant for instance, branching and sprawling across the land.

A Māori person might refer to themselves as he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiatea (a seed sown from Rangiatea –Ra‘iatea, Tupaia’s birthplace). Some branches in these ramifying forms grow vigorously, while others wither and die –an image of rhizomatic growth echoed in the kōwhaiwhai paintings on the blades of paddles or the rafters of meeting houses –or as the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern has noted, in modernist talk about knowledge itself.

In ancestral Māori thinking, then, exchange is the stuff of life. As beings engage with each other in these relational networks, new forms of life are generated, along with efforts at domination, control or liberation. In many ways these whakapapa networks resonate with the complex systems of contemporary science, including ideas of symbiotic exchanges, the World Wide Web and neural networks. As Mattei and Capra remark: We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships; that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system.

The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain but also the immune system, the bodily tissues, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. In te ao Māori, people are constituted by their relationships, and identity is recursively generated. Each group (or individual) creates its identity by engaging with the other, and recognising that they are different.

In each case, difference is differently understood, however. Before the first Europeans arrived in New Zealand, for example, there were no Māori ‘people’, just different kin networks based in different places. According to the East Coast tribal expert Mohi Turei, māori (a term that simply means ‘ordinary, usual, normal, everyday’) was used to describe people and phenomena in te ao mārama, the everyday world of light and life, in contrast with those in te pō, the dark, invisible ancestral world.

In exchanges with the new arrivals (as recorded in Tupaia’s sketch of Joseph Banks and the Māori warrior, for instance), local people came to see themselves as māori (ordinary, normal) in contrast with pākehā, or Europeans –beings so strange that they might have arrived from the ancestral realm. Until that time, Māori had no need to distinguish themselves as a group from others, or their archipelago as a country in comparison with others. Likewise, in these early encounters with Europeans, Māori began to refer to their own ancestral ways as te ao māori (the familiar, everyday world) in contrast with te ao pākehā (the world of the strangers).

If one uses the term ‘world’ in English as the best translation for ao in Māori (as is often done; in the subtitle of this book, for instance), it can be misleading, however. In Māori, ao is a state of existence or a dimension of reality, usually translated as ‘world’, but without the implication of a bounded, self-contained, singular entity that underpins that term in English. Rather, the whakapapa networks that structure te ao māori, shaping its patterns, are intrinsically dynamic and open-ended.

Strangers can be bound into these living webs by acts of generosity and alliance, often marked by gifts of taonga (ancestral treasures) including names, knowledge, artefacts, sexual partners or children, or severed from them by acts of aggression and humiliation –both of which require utu, equal (or greater) return over time. Thus in Māori a hoa is a friend or companion; a hoa rangatira (chiefly friend) is a husband or wife; while a hoa riri (angry friend) is an enemy. The key term here is hoa, a relation of some kind. In Māori, it is the relation itself (not its quality; or the parties involved) that is ontologically prior. In this way of being, a person is constituted by their place in the relational networks, and in speaking Māori, the state and nature of one’s relationships are constantly being negotiated.

In addressing other people, for instance, you must decide whether your relationship with them is close (in which case, the inclusive pronoun is used) or distant (when the exclusive pronoun applies), and whether it is dual or plural –for example, tāua (us two) or māua (me and someone else, excluding you); tātou (us, including you) or mātou (us, excluding you). Thus the pronouns māua and mātou encompass not only the speaker and the person or group they are including, but also the person or group they are excluding.

Even the recipient of an insult as radical as kai tangata (being eaten) is still part of the relational matrix –in this case, a hoa riri (angry friend) whose mana has been destroyed.

At the same time, as Mauss pointed out in The Gift, notions of reciprocity and gift exchange are not unique to ‘exotic’ societies, but are also present in Europe. This allowed early European visitors to New Zealand to make some sense of their exchanges with Māori. As Captain Cook observed: ‘I have allways found them of a Brave, Noble, Open and benevolent disposition, but they are a people that will never put up with an insult if they have an oppertunity to resent it.’

While such ‘rough intelligibility’ allowed relationships to be forged, efforts at engagement between Māori and Europeans often backfired, thwarted by differing assumptions about how the world works. At the same time in these encounters –titiro atu, titiro mai –hidden premises sometimes come to light, making it possible for new ideas and practices to emerge as taken-for-granted forms of order are challenged. The element of surprise in such meetings was (and still is) at once disruptive, and creative.

In the first part of this book, such exchanges are explored during the early contact period in New Zealand (roughly, 1769–1840) – during the first meetings between Māori and European explorers; in the debates between Māori and the first missionaries, where notions of the real were tested to their limits; and in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi, when ground rules were laid down for the relationships between Māori and the British Crown.

Throughout this period, Māori were dominant. As relationships were forged with the incoming settlers and visitors from Europe and other places, despite their own assumptions of superiority, the new arrivals were forced to deal with Māori realities. The clashes, debates and improvisations that took place provide rich, vivid ways of exploring what happens when people with different taken-for-granted ideas about what is real and what matters in life come together, and try to negotiate shared ways of living.

Inevitably, as an exercise in historical ethnography, this investigation of early ‘experiments across worlds’ in New Zealand draws upon modernist assumptions, as well as a lifetime of exploring te ao Māori (Māori ways of being). The term ‘ontology’, for instance, which crops up in this work, may puzzle some readers. It refers to the study of the nature of reality, along with the basic categories of being and their relations.

As for the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, this assumes that reality and its underlying patterns may differ across different groups of people, and that these differences may be investigated. For some practitioners, the realities of different groups of people can be observed, described and classified, producing taxonomies of different ways of being. For others, anthropology itself is based on particular propositions about the nature of existence, which are themselves historically and culturally specific. The shocks and surprises that arise when anthropologists engage with people who work with very different assumptions about what is real may provoke philosophical creativity, and new kinds of understandings.

For my part, I think that such shocks and surprises are not peculiar to anthropology –nor the clashes and innovations that arise in encounters between people who understand the nature of being differently. While seeking to investigate such processes of encounter and transformation between Māori and Europeans (and others) in New Zealand, I know that as an anthropologist and a person, I am a part of and shaped by the histories of these exchanges. In what follows, I try to acknowledge this by placing myself in the narrative every now and then, entangled in these networks of relations, spinning in the spirals of space-time.


Tupaia’s Cave

During a storm in 2007, as waves surged into Cook’s Cove in Uawa, on the east coast of New Zealand, the banks of this small inlet collapsed, revealing bands of dark soil with fish, bird and dog bones, charcoal, shell fragments and artefacts. Archaeologists from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the local people, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, decided to carry out a rescue excavation.

To their delight they found that as well as being the scene of very early exchanges between Māori and Europeans, this was one of very few sites in New Zealand with occupation layers from the first Polynesian arrival to the present.

In November of that year, my husband Jeremy and I joined a group from the Trust to visit the excavation, walking down a long, steep trail through bush-clad slopes to the back of the inlet. To the north, high white cliffs dropped steeply into the sea. To the south, lower cliffs sheltered the entrance to the cove, where a stream runs down a fertile basin into the ocean. At the edge of the bush the sun lit up the bay, with its green hills, grey sand and a blue, glittering sea.

At the site, the archaeologists and local people showed us fragments of moa and seal bone in the lower layers, along with oven stones, post-holes, stone flakes and several small moa-bone and shell fishhooks. Starch grains later proved to include both kūmara (sweet potato) and taro, indicating that the first settlers had brought these root crops with them from the islands. According to the archaeologists, when the first Polynesian travellers landed in New Zealand around the fourteenth century, a small group settled at Opoutama.

Moa, a great flightless bird, still lived in the hills, and it was easy to drive these birds down to this little valley and trap them. The stream and a spring provided the settlers with fresh water, seals basked on the rocks, fish shoaled out at sea and shellfish flourished on the rocky coastline.

After millennia of living in small tropical islands, the new arrivals had to work out new ways of living in this large, temperate archipelago. Pigs and chickens from their homelands did not survive the journey, and many of their ancestral crops, including banana, coconut and breadfruit, either died at sea or failed to grow when they were transplanted. Nevertheless, these early settlers learned to plant, harvest and store other crops from the Pacific –sweet potato, yam and taro –in this much cooler climate, and aute (bark cloth, which struggled to survive in New Zealand) and sennit were replaced by various varieties of harakeke (New Zealand flax, or Phormium tenax).

Moa and seals provided an early source of protein, but as the bush was fired for fern-root plantations and gardens, and the moa were vigorously hunted, these big birds became scarce, and died out altogether. The ancestors of Māori also had to master coastal navigation in the absence of sheltering coral reefs, shape new types of stone into tools and weapons, and design new kinds of buildings and watercraft.

Over time, Uawa became the home of a famous school of learning, Te Rawheoro, established by the ancestor Hingangaroa, a priest, carver, star navigator and canoe-builder whose son Hauiti gave his name to the local people.

As one can see from the chant quoted earlier, in Māori accounts of the creation of the world, thought, memory, knowledge and desire are highly prized. In the East Coast schools of learning, tohunga (experts) passed on ancestral stories that included accounts of the separation of the earth mother and the sky father by their son Tane-nui-a-Rangi, allowing light into the world; the feats of the trickster ancestor Maui, who snared the sun and fished up the land, leaving his canoe on top of Hikurangi mountain; disputes involving various ancestors in the island homeland, Hawaiki; and ancestral voyages to New Zealand.

Prominent among these narratives is the tale of Uenuku’s illegitimate son Ruatapu, who in a fit of jealousy caused a canoe to sink, drowning 70 young men except his elder brother Paikea, who chanted a powerful incantation, either becoming a whale or summoning up a whale that carried him safely to the east coast of the North Island.

There were also stories about the voyages of various ancestral canoes and their arrival in New Zealand, including the Horouta canoe and its commander Pawa.

The genealogical lines from Maui, Paikea and the later voyagers, traced through male and female links to the founders of local kin groups, were embellished with tales about ancestral travels, quarrels, friendships, love affairs and battles, leaving an intricate scatter of place names across the land.

At Te Rawheoro, the school of learning founded by Hingangaroa eight generations after Paikea’s landing, songs and incantations, tattoo, carving and fine weaving were also taught, and this whare wānanga produced skilled carvers, tattooists and weavers who travelled around the country, practising their arts.

In October 1769, when Captain James Cook and his Endeavour companions arrived at Uawa (which they named ‘Tolaga Bay’), they described it as a second Paradise. They spent seven peaceful, happy days at Uawa, going ashore at Opoutama (now named ‘Cook’s Cove’) to fill the ship’s water barrels, gather fresh food, and collect botanical and zoological specimens.

Tupaia, the high priest and star navigator who joined the expedition in Tahiti, slept in a rock shelter above Cook’s Cove, where he talked with the tohunga (leading expert) from Te Rawheoro. Havai‘i, the ancient name of Ra‘iatea, Tupaia’s home island, was one of the homelands of Māori.

These conversations must have been extraordinary. No doubt Tupaia and the local priests shared stories of their voyaging ancestors, traced their genealogical links, and talked about what had happened since the departure of the Māori ancestors from Hawaiki. The local people, who were deeply impressed by the high priest, named the rock shelter after him, Te Ana-o-Tupaia (Tupaia’s Cave).

At the same time, Tupaia acted as an interpreter for his European shipmates, including Joseph Banks, the wealthy young botanist who headed the Royal Society party, and his scientific companion, Dr Daniel Solander. A number of images survive from the Endeavour’s visit, including charts of Uawa, a sketch of the sailors filling water barrels in Cook’s Cove, drawings of the artefacts and plants that they collected, along with Tupaia’s sketch of a local man exchanging a crayfish for white bark cloth with Joseph Banks.

According to Hauiti people who later described his visit to an early trader, Joel Polack, Tupaia also sketched a ship and some boats on the walls of the rock shelter in the cove.

During our trip to Cook’s Cove, Jeremy and I were keen to see whether any traces of Tupaia’s cave drawings remained. When we climbed up to the rock shelter, however, we found that it had largely collapsed. All we could see were large smears of red ochre on the walls, a fragment of a charcoal sketch of a whale or a dolphin, and a word or two (apparently in Tahitian) written beside it.

Perhaps Tupaia had slept in this cave because it was close to Te Kararoa, a fortified village that stood on the ridgeline. At the time, it was often used as a shelter by visiting fishermen. In any case, the view out to sea is spectacular, a perfect place to sit and talk about ancestors who had sailed across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (the Great Sea of Kiwa). Up there on the hillside, it was easy to imagine Tupaia sitting and talking with local people beside a fire, as shadows flickered across the walls of the cave.

As we have seen, the Endeavour was on a scientific voyage of exploration, sponsored by the Admiralty and the Royal Society of London. Before they sailed from England, the Earl of Morton, President of the Royal Society and a Scottish astronomer, had given Cook a set of ‘Hints’ about how he and his men should conduct themselves in encounters with any ‘natives’ they might meet in the Pacific, urging him: To check the petulance of the Sailors, and restrain the wanton use of Fire Arms. To have it still in view that shedding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature: They are human creatures, the work of the same omnipotent Author, equally under his care with the most polished European; perhaps being less offensive, more entitled to his favor.

They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit. No European Nation has a right to occupy any part of their country, or settle among them without their voluntary consent …Therefore should they in a hostile manner oppose a landing, and kill some men in the attempt, even this would hardly justify firing among them, ’till every other gentle method had been tried.

In his ‘Hints’, the Earl of Morton also suggested how Cook and the Royal Society party of scientists and artists might determine whether or not any land they discovered was part of a large continent, describe the ‘appearance and natural dispositions’ of its inhabitants, including their ‘progress in Arts or Science’, especially astronomy, and observe and describe the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms (including fossils) in the places that they visited.

In addition, the Admiralty gave James Cook a set of secret instructions, ordering him to search for and claim Terra Australis Incognita, a mythical continent thought to lie in the far southern ocean, and: . . . with the Consent of the Natives to take possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain; or, if you find the Country uninhabited take Possession for His Majesty by setting up Proper Marks and Inscriptions, as first discoverers and possessors.

On 3 October 1769, almost a month after sailing south from the Society Islands, when a sudden squall hit the ship, Joseph Banks was jubilant, certain that at last they were about to discover Terra Australis: This is a sure sign of land as such squalls are rarely (if ever) met with at any considerable distance from it …Now do I wish that our freinds in England could by the assistance of some magical spying glass take a peep at our situation: Dr Solander setts at the Cabbin table describing, myself at my Bureau Journalizing, between us hangs a large bunch of sea weed, upon the table lays the wood and barnacles; they would see that notwithstanding our different occupations our lips move very often, and without being conjurors might guess that we were talking about what we should see upon the land which there is now no doubt we shall see very soon.

Three days later, when the surgeon’s boy Nicholas Young sighted land from the masthead, he was rewarded with a gallon of rum. The following day as ranges of high mountains appeared above the horizon, Banks exclaimed, ‘Many conjectures about Islands, rivers, inlets, but all hands seem to agree that this is certainly the Continent we are in search of.’

According to early tribal accounts, when they saw the Endeavour sailing into their harbour at Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa (now Gisborne), the local people thought that this might be a floating island, driven by ancestral power, or perhaps a great bird, like the bird of Ruakapanga that had brought the sweet potato from their island homeland. Fires of warning were lit in the hills, and local warriors placed on the alert.

On 8 October 1769 when Cook and his scientific companions came ashore on the east bank of the Turanganui River, the first Europeans to land in New Zealand, they were accompanied by a party of marines.

After crossing the river to inspect a fishing hamlet, Joseph Banks and Dr Solander went botanising, leaving four young boys from the Endeavour in charge of the yawl. As the boys wandered down to the beach, four warriors were sent down from Titirangi hill to challenge the strangers. Seeing one of these men lift his spear (almost certainly in a wero, or ritual challenge), the coxswain shot him dead. This set the scene for the tense, uneasy meetings that followed.

The next day when Cook’s party, accompanied by Tupaia, returned to the east bank of the river, the body of this man, a rangatira named Te Maro, still lay on the beach. Warriors lined up on the opposite bank of the Turanganui, defying the strangers with a fiery haka (war dance). When these men reproached them for the shooting, Tupaia found he could understand what they were saying. He told them that his companions only wanted fresh food and water, and offered them iron in exchange.

Eventually, one of the warriors swam across the river and stood on Te Toka-a-Taiau, a sacred rock near the river’s edge, a famous tribal boundary marker. Putting down his musket, Cook went to meet him, and they greeted each other with a hongi (pressing noses), mingling their hau together.

When the other men swam across the river and tried to exchange weapons with the strangers, however, this ended in a scuffle and further shootings that left a warrior named Te Rakau lying dead beside the river. Later that day, when Cook attempted to capture some young men from a fishing canoe in an attempt to take them on board the Endeavour, treat them kindly and gain their trust, they resisted, hurling their paddles, anchor stones and fish at the strangers. Cook’s men fired, shooting four of these fishermen, two of whom fell into the sea and drowned.

That night Banks wrote in his journal: ‘Thus ended the most disagreable day My life has yet seen, black be the mark for it and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection.’

The memory of the killings in Turanga has not faded, however. The shots fired by the Endeavour’s men still echo across the bay. Despairing of being able to befriend these people, Captain Cook decided to head south to discover whether or not this land was Terra Australis Incognita. As the Endeavour sailed from the bay, the wind died and the ship was becalmed off Te Kuri-a-Paoa (Young Nick’s Head), where canoes came out, but stayed at a distance.

When a small canoe from Turanganui arrived, bringing the man who had greeted Cook on Te Toka-a-Taiau, he invited Cook, Tupaia and their companions to return to the bay. Seeing this, the crews of the other canoes also boarded the ship. During this encounter, a set of paddles, their blades vividly painted with swirling scarlet kōwhaiwhai patterns, was presented to the strangers, which the ship’s artist Sydney Parkinson later sketched. The owners of these paddles also offered their canoe, perhaps hoping to entice the visitors ashore.

Cook sailed off, however, heading south. After coasting Hawke’s Bay, where canoe-borne priests and warriors vigorously challenged the ship and its crew, the Endeavour was caught in contrary winds. Deciding to retrace his track, Cook headed north at Cape Turnagain, sailing past the Mahia Peninsula and Turanganui until they arrived at Anaura Bay, 85 kilometres north of Gisborne, where they experienced their first peaceful exchanges with Māori people.

Te Whakatatare-o-te-rangi –the ariki, or paramount chief, of this district –who had already heard about the strangers, was eager to learn more about them. Te Whakatatare had trained at Te Rawheoro, the nearby school of learning at Uawa, where students learned about the ancestral voyages from Hawaiki, how to build canoes, and the arts of tattoo, carving and star navigation.

Intensely curious about these bizarre visitors, their strange vessel and the star navigator who had arrived from Ra‘iatea, the ancestral homeland, he sent envoys out to the ship to meet them, who invited Tupaia and his companions ashore.

As the Endeavour’s anchors splashed down in Anaura Bay, the high chief donned his ceremonial cloak and, accompanied by another senior leader, went out to the ship. As these two venerable men, one wearing a dog-skin cape and the other dressed in a cloak covered with tufts of red feathers, came alongside, Tupaia invited them on board, where Captain Cook presented each of them with four yards of linen and a spike nail.

As always, Tupaia conducted the rituals of greeting with local people. When Te Whakatatare and Tupaia met, this was an encounter between Polynesian aristocrats. Tupaia, a high-born Ra‘iatean priest and star navigator who had trained at Taputapuatea, one of the greatest voyaging marae in the Pacific, was reputed to be one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable men in the Society Islands. When warriors from Borabora, a nearby island, conquered his homeland, Tupaia had fled to Tahiti where he became the lover and high priest of Purea, the ‘queen’of that island.

In June 1769, shortly after a failed attempt to install Purea’s son as the paramount chief of the island, the Endeavour expedition arrived at Matavai Bay in Tahiti, where the Royal Society party set up a shore camp. Intrigued by the strangers and fascinated by their scientific instruments and rituals, Tupaia spent a great deal of time with them. When they left Tahiti the high priest decided to go with them, hoping to persuade Captain Cook to help him drive the Borabora invaders from his homeland.

During their voyage through the Society Islands, he piloted the Endeavour and guided his companions through the rituals of landing and exchanges with local people, including those in Turanganui and Hawke’s Bay.

By the time the Endeavour anchored off Anaura Bay, the ship’s supplies of fresh food, water and firewood were running low, and Cook was delighted by the friendly welcome they received from Te Whakatatare and his people.

Still convinced that they had found Terra Australis, Joseph Banks was eager to explore Anaura and discover what exotic plants and animals this fabled continent had to offer. That afternoon, after dining in the Great Cabin with Cook and Banks, Te Whakatatare escorted Cook, Banks, Solander, William Monkhouse (the ship’s surgeon) and Tupaia ashore to a village where his people sat quietly beside their houses. The high chief showed them large hillside gardens, which Banks and Monkhouse described as meticulously weeded, planted with kūmara and yams in mounds laid out in rows or a quincunx pattern, taro in circular concaves to keep them moist, a few bark-cloth plants, and flowering gourd plants sprawling over the houses.

Walking into the hills on the south side of Anaura Bay, they visited a single dwelling inhabited by a man and his wife, who showed them all their possessions; and the man presented them with the body of a mummified newborn baby. As visitors (perhaps ancestors) from Ra‘iatea, perhaps they seemed fitting guardians for this dead child. Back at the beach, however, the waves were running high, and the sailors struggled to load the water barrels into the boats. When Banks borrowed a canoe to go out to the Endeavour, it capsized, unceremoniously tossing him and his companions into the surf.

After this mishap, Te Whakatatare decided to guide the ship to Uawa, 10 kilometres to the south, where the inlet of Opoutama provided a more sheltered harbour.

At that time Uawa was the headquarters for two senior descent groups, one led by Te Whakatatare and the other by his daughter-in-law Hinematioro. In 1769 Hinematioro (a high-born woman later described by the early missionaries as a ‘queen’) was still very young, and Te Whakatatare led the East Coast people.

When the ship anchored off Uawa, Cook and Charles Green, the expedition’s astronomer, carried out a series of instrumental observations. By now Tupaia was used to this kind of performance, but Te Whakatatare must have been fascinated. The tohunga (experts) at Te Rawheoro also studied the sun, moon and stars, using their movements in the sky to predict the weather, anticipate seasonal rhythms, and guide their canoes across the ocean. In order to estimate the longitude of Uawa, Cook and Green used their sextants to measure the angular distance from the moon to the sun, and the tables in the Nautical Almanac to calculate their position. When this did not agree with their previous estimates, they worked out an average, recording this in the ship’s log. At noon when Cook used the astronomical quadrant to observe the altitude of the sun, he was able to estimate the latitude of the bay with much greater precision.

While Captain Cook and Green were making these observations, Lieutenant Gore with a guard of marines and sailors landed at Opoutama inlet/‘Cook’s Cove’ where the sailors set to work, filling barrels with fresh water, felling trees for firewood and collecting greens that the ship’s cook mixed with oatmeal as a remedy for scurvy.

As canoes flocked around the ship, their crews exchanged fish and ‘curiosities’ (artefacts) for Tahitian bark cloth and European beads, nails, trinkets and glass bottles. The local people put a high value on their sweet potatoes, however, and refused to exchange their greenstone ornaments and weapons for anything that the strangers could offer.

Meanwhile, Joseph Banks and Dr Solander were impatient to go ashore. When Cook finally landed them and their assistants in Cook’s Cove, they were enthralled by what they found. According to the artist Sydney Parkinson: The country about the bay is agreeable beyond description, and, with proper cultivation, might be rendered a kind of second Paradise. The hills are covered with beautiful flowering shrubs, intermingled with a great number of tall and stately palms, which fill the air with a most grateful fragrant perfume.

Everywhere they looked, Banks and Solander discovered plants unknown to European science. Wandering around the cove, they collected specimens from a bewildering variety of new species of trees, palms, bushes, creepers and ferns. They also found many beautiful kinds of birds, including parrots, pigeons and quail, and Polynesian rats and dogs like those in Tahiti. Blazing away with their guns, they shot birds whose skins were later preserved on board the Endeavour.

When they returned to the ship, Banks and his companions sat in the Great Cabin, Sydney Parkinson sketching samples of plants while Banks and Solander classified them using the Linnaean method, and Herman Spöring (Banks’s Finnish draughtsman) wrote down the botanical descriptions. Afterwards, the plants were pressed between pages torn from a commentary on Milton’s Paradise Lost, ripped apart for the purpose.

In all, Parkinson drew 32 different species of plants collected in Te Oneroa (Gisborne), 24 species collected in Anaura Bay and 37 species in Uawa, jotting down notes and swathes of colour on the sketches that were later engraved for Banks’s magnificent Florilegium from the voyage.

The next day, when Banks came across a natural rock arch north of the watering place, he exclaimed: ‘It was certainly the most magnificent surprize I have ever met with, so much is pure nature superior to art in these cases.’ Back in England, rock arches and grottos were all the rage, and Banks instructed his artists to sketch this picturesque formation, not realising that it was known as ‘Te Kotore-o-te-whenua’ (The Anus of the Land) –a cosmo graphic version of a whakapohane, a graphic insult featuring the exposure of a naked backside.

That evening, an old man at the watering place, armed with a spear and a stone club, put up a pole and vigorously attacked it, giving them a demonstration of hand-to-hand fighting.

On 25 October, Tupaia spent most of the day immersed in conversation with the head priest from Te Rawheoro, comparing accounts of the creation, tracing genealogies back to common ancestors, and discussing local beliefs and customs. According to Banks, ‘they seemd to agree very well in their notions of religion only Tupia was much more learned than the other and all his discourse was heard with much attention’.

In his rough notes, Cook recorded snippets from these exchanges, which show his liking and respect for the local people.

1. The Religion of the Natives bear some resemblance to the George Islanders.

2. they have god of war, of husbandry, but there is one suprem god whom they call …he made the world and all that therein is by Copolation.

3. they have many Priests.

4. The Old men are much respected.

5. they have King who lives inland his name is …we heard of him in Poverty Bay.

6. They eat their enimies Slane in Battell –this seems to come from custom and not from a Savage disposission this they cannot be charged with –they appear to have but few Vices …

7. Their beheavour was Uniform free from treachery.

8. The Women may be know by their Voices they paint their faces red.

9. the Womens faces are not tattooed.

While talking with the local priest, Tupaia was told that at the beginning of the world, Tane, the son of Rangi and Papa, created many new forms of life by having sex with different kinds of beings. This story was later recounted by the East Coast tohunga Mohi Ruatapu, who explained how Tane shaped the first woman, thrusting his penis into different parts of her body to create sweat, saliva and mucus.

In the Society Islands, on the other hand, Tane was the god of beauty and peace, and the guardian of blue-water sailors. In the rituals at Taputapuatea in Ra‘iatea, dedicated to ‘Oro, the god of fertility and war, the priests (including Tupaia) offered slain enemies as sacrifices, with their jawbones, skulls and hair kept as trophies on his marae.

Despite this, Tupaia was scandalised by the Māori custom of kai tangata (eating people), the ritual sacrifice of their enemies. According to Banks, when the Ra‘iatean high priest asked the local people ‘whether or no they realy eat men, which he was very loth to believe; they answerd in the affirmative saying that they eat the bodys only of their enemies who were killed in war’. Although they ‘put themselves into a heat by defending the Custom’, Tupaia took ‘every Occasion to speak ill of it, exhorting them to leave it off’.

His reaction may seem odd, given the prevalence of human sacrifice in his homeland. In the Society Islands, however, it was the ancestors who consumed the bodies of enemy warriors, not the priests, and Tupaia may have considered the local custom sacrilegious.

Although many of the Europeans, including the sailors, were also horrified by kai tangata (for very different reasons), James Cook was phlegmatic –in his words from above, attributing it to ‘custom and not …a Savage disposission’.

The day after Tupaia talked with the high priest from Te Rawhero, it pelted with rain. As the Endeavour lay shrouded in mist, Banks and Solander sat in the Great Cabin, working on their collections.

On 27 October when they returned to Cook’s Cove, a group of boys demonstrated the art of whipping tops (one of which Banks acquired) while some men and women performed a haka (war dance), rolling down their eyes, poking out their tongues and heaving loud sighs.

Climbing up to the northern ridgeline to inspect Kararoa pā, Banks found the fortified village in ruins. He measured the palisades at 14 to 16 feet high, standing in two rows six feet apart along a ditch that curved around the end of the peninsula. Later that day, Captain Cook took a boat and sounded the bay, his men using a lead and line to measure the depth of the water. After landing on the point at the northern side of the harbour, they rowed up the Uawa River and climbed a high hill, where he recorded the bearings of headlands and islands with an azimuth compass.

Many of the observations taken by Cook and Green (including latitude, longitude, bearings, soundings, islands, rocks and the coastline) are recorded in Cook’s charts of the East Coast and Uawa. 

From this high vantage point, Cook saw ‘the Vallies and sides of many of the Hills …luxuriously clothed with Woods and Verdure and little Plantations of the Natives lying dispers’d up and down the Country’. 

These gardens were each several acres in size, surrounded by low windbreaks with traps set on the ground to catch kiore (Polynesian rats). Like the gardens in Anaura Bay, the cultivations were finely tilled. It was spring, and the tips of the plants were just appearing above the ground. Although there were houses in the valleys, these were empty, with the inhabitants living in light shelters on the ridges. 

On October 28, while Lieutenant Gore and his men were getting the ship ready for sea, Captain Cook, Banks, Solander, Parkinson and Spöring visited Pourewa Island, the home of the young chieftainess Hinematioro. When they landed, they saw a very large canoe lying on the beach, 68 feet 6 inches long with carved gunwale planks and a finely carved prow. 

While Spöring sat sketching this canoe, he thought he saw a bird with a very long tail flying overhead. Very likely, however, this was a kite. At that time, bird-shaped kites made with bark cloth were often flown into the heavens to carry messages to the ancestors. 

Close to the beach, the Royal Society party found a house about 30 feet long, filled with chips and shavings. Inside, a number of squared posts and intricately carved wall panels were stacked against the walls. This chief’s house seemed to be abandoned. 

According to local oral histories, during his visit to the bay, and perhaps on this occasion, Captain Cook met Hinematioro, and presented her with blue beads that she later handed down to her descendants. 

That afternoon, a group of officers and gentlemen were invited inland to another house where a number of chiefs were meeting. At the end of this gathering, some of the visitors were offered sexual hospitality. 

Returning to the watering place after dark, one of these men was carried on a man’s back over channels filled with running water, probably irrigation ditches for the local gardens. 

Until that afternoon, the Europeans had found the local women elusive. On the East Coast, where high-ranking women were often the leaders and founders of kin groups, the women were confident and assertive. As Parkinson remarked ruefully, ‘They seem to be proud of their sex, and expect you should give them every thing they desire, because they are women; but they take care to grant no favours in return, being very different from the women in the islands who were so free with our men.’ According to Banks, ‘They were as great coquetts as any Europaeans could be and the young ones as skittish as unbroke fillies.’

On 29 October, as the Endeavour sailed from Uawa, heading north, Joseph Banks commented with pleasure on his visit to this district, writing in his journal that the communities on the East Coast were ‘in a state of Profound Peace; their Cultivations were far more numerous and larger than we saw them anywhere else and they had a far greater quantity of Fine boats, Fine cloaths, Fine carvd work; in short the people were far more numerous, and lived in much greater affluence than any others we saw’. 

If one examines the Endeavour records and Māori oral histories of these meetings, it is clear that these were complex encounters, characterised by intense curiosity and empirical inquiry. 

Tupaia, the ‘arioi high priest and star navigator from Ra‘iatea, was on his own voyage of discovery, adding new islands to the lists of those known to Society Island navigators while studying their inhabitants and landscapes. At the same time, he served as an interpreter and mediator for his European companions, initiating new kinds of exchanges. As a leading expert from the ancestral whare ‘aira‘a-upu (schools of learning) in the Society Islands, an ancestral homeland of Māori, Tupaia had a great deal to offer the tohunga in New Zealand. 

In most places (except for Uawa and Queen Charlotte Sound), however, their conversations were fleeting, and only vestigial traces of these exchanges survive in the records from the voyage. At the same time, the Endeavour expedition was a travelling sideshow of the Enlightenment, lavishly provided with scientific equipment to scan the heavens, collect and examine plants and animals, and explore the remote corners of the planet. 

Just as the Endeavour arrived in New Zealand, modernity was taking shape in Europe. As Frängsmyr, Heilbron and Rider have noted, in mid-eighteenth-century Europe, a mechanistic, quantitative vision of reality was going viral. Many aspects of life were transformed –from science (with the use of instruments and measurement, the division of the disciplines and the increased specialisation of knowledge) to administration (with the invention of censuses, surveys, archives and bureaucratic systems) and industry (with manufacturing based on mechanisation, the replication of parts and processes), for instance. 

This particular strand of Enlightenment thought traces at least as far back as the seventeenth century, when the philosopher René Descartes had a new vision of reality, at once powerful and intoxicating. In his dream, the Cogito –the thinking self –became the eye of the world, which in turn became an object for inspection. 

As the mind’s eye replaced the Eye of God, people were separated from Nature, and eventually from each other. As mind (res cogitans) and matter (res extensa), subject and object and Culture and Nature were split, different realms of reality were set apart and subdivided, producing arrays of bounded objects that could be classified, counted and examined. 

This ‘Order of Things’, as Michel Foucault has called it, lay at the heart of Enlightenment science. Here, the cosmos was understood as a singular, bounded, law-governed entity (or uni-verse) –a view of reality sometimes described as a ‘one world ontology’. 

In modernist science, the aim was to examine, analyse, count, classify and record everything that exists, and discover the laws that govern these phenomena. In France, for example, the Encyclopédie, or ‘Systematic Dictionary of the Arts, Crafts and Sciences’, edited by Denis Diderot, which sought to collect and summarise all human knowledge, appeared from 1751 onwards, while the Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in three volumes, at the same time as the Endeavour sailed around the world. 

In this way of knowing, one of the iconic patterns was the grid, used to abstract, divide up and measure space, time and life forms, bringing them under control for practical purposes. In this way, the world was transformed into bounded entities at different scales, whether units of time, blocks of land, areas of ocean or different types of living beings, that can be classified and counted in various ways. 

On board the Endeavour, this form of order was reflected in cartography and Linnaean taxonomy, for example. A hierarchical cosmos: The Great Chain of Being, from Rhetorica Christiana by Diego Valades, 1579. Often, the grid was hierarchical –based on the old European vision of the Great Chain of Being, with God at the apex followed by archangels and angels, divine kings, the aristocracy and successive ranks of human beings, from ‘civilised’to ‘savage’, followed by animals, plants and minerals and the earth in descending order. 

Those at the top of the Great Chain exercised power and authority over those lower down, who in turn were required to offer up deference and tribute. In this cosmic model, men ruled over women and children, free men over slaves, and ‘civilised’ people over ‘barbarians’and ‘savages’. 

Another iconic model was the idea of the cosmos as a machine, made up of distinct, divisible working parts. Coupled with notions of ‘progress’and ‘improvement’, the ‘Order of Things’ gave an air of virtue to imperial expansion, the industrial revolution, global capitalism and models of technocratic control. With its focus on discovery, instrumental recording, mathematical and taxonomic description, the Endeavour voyage epitomised this way of understanding the world. 

At the same time, however, as Peter Hans Reill and others have argued, another strand in Enlightenment thinking explored relational forms of order. Here, one of the iconic motifs was the network (or web). Thinkers including Count Buffon in France, many of those involved in the Scottish Enlightenment and later Joseph Priestley and Erasmus Darwin in England and the Humboldt brothers in Germany understood the world as a living system patterned by networks of relations among (and within) different life forms, animated by interactions among complementary forces –the ‘Order of Relations’, one might call it. 

These forms of order underpinned ideas of transformation, in both the cosmos and social life. In many ways, they resonate with Māori and Pacific ways of thinking. Relational ideas in the Enlightenment, based on Greco-Roman precedents and notions of equilibrium and exchange, provided an alternative to the old top-down models, underpinning arguments for freedom from the rule of the merchants (Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, 1776); and the rights of ordinary people (Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man, 1791), women (Mary Wollstonecraft, a Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792), slaves and indigenous people.

In this ‘web of life’, people were just one life form among many, and the world was constantly changing. Ancestral ideas such as justice, truth, equality and honour helped to determine how exchanges among people should be handled. Here one can find the origins of participatory democracy, the emancipation of women and slaves, earth sciences, environmental theory, anthropology, the World Wide Web and the science of complex systems, for example. 

On board the Endeavour, this kind of thinking was reflected in the Earl of Morton’s ‘Hints’, with its emphasis on the legal rights of Pacific peoples to control their own lands, and in the scientists’ journals written during the voyage, with their interest in the interactions among people, plants, animals, landscapes and seascapes in the Pacific. 

European science at this time was exciting, provocative and paradoxical. This was the era of scientific agriculture (including enclosure), the noble savage (alongside imperial domination and exploitation), arguments in favour of peace (in the midst of almost incessant fighting), and the rights of consumers (at a time of frequent food riots) and commoners, just before the French Revolution and the American War of Independence. 

Together, these and other strands in Enlightenment thought produced passionate debates about topics as varied as land use, slavery, taxation, education and the rights of ordinary people (including the rights of those living in colonies, commoners, women and indigenous people) – debates that in many ways we are still having.


from her book

Tears of Rangi, Experiments Across Worlds 

by Anne Salmond 

get it at

What would I do if everyone had a basic income? – Scott Santens. 

What would you do if you had an unconditional basic income?

I regularly ask people this question, because the answer is the true definition of basic income. 

Basic income isn’t really about the money. It’s about what money enables us to do in our lives that we’d otherwise be prevented from doing without enough money to meet our basic needs, and without enough time to really live, due to all of our time being spent just trying to stay alive.

I already have a basic income via crowdfunding, which I use to advocate for basic income for everyone, so a question people ask me is what I would do if tomorrow everyone had basic income. 

I’ve answered this question a few times in various interviews, but I’ve never written about it. So here’s my answer.

. . .  Scott

Imagine the tsunami of creativity that will be unleashed once everyone is free to spend their lives working on the things that they’re most passionate about instead of what they’re essentially forced to do, simply to “earn a living.”

AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young remembered as hard rocking backbone of band. 

Those About To Rock (We Salute You) is one of AC/DC’s more memorable songs.

But it’s music lovers worldwide who are now saluting AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young, who died on Saturday after a period of ill health in Sydney at the age of 64.

Malcolm Young made his name as guitarist and songwriter with the seminal Australian rock group. He founded the group in 1973 with his younger brother Angus.

It became what is arguably the nation’s greatest ever musical export and is still one of the biggest acts in the world.

But in December 2014, he revealed he had dementia which forced him to retire.

Angus Young later revealed that he realised during the recording of the 2008 album, Black Ice, that his brother’s faculties were impaired.

Malcolm had been diagnosed with lung cancer that year. He received early treatment, but his health problems continued when doctors discovered he had a heart condition that required a pacemaker. Then dementia struck.

“It was like everything hit him at once,” Angus Young said.

“The physical side of him, he got great treatment for all that so he’s good with all that, but the mental side has deteriorated. He himself has said, ‘I won’t be able to do it any more’.”

Young took a leave of absence from the band in April 2014, and in September announced his retirement. He urged the band to continue touring and making music.

Steve Young, his nephew, replaced Malcolm in the line-up for AC/DC’s next album, Rock Or Bust.

Malcolm Mitchell Young was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on January 6, 1953, one of the six children of William and Margaret Young.

When Malcolm was 10 the family migrated to Australia, settling into a single- storey semi at 4 Burleigh Street, Burwood, in Sydney’s inner west. (The house is now on the National Trust register.)

Music ran through the six siblings: oldest brother Alex was a musician in The Big Six, and George became a member of The Easybeats, co-writing hits, including Friday On My Mind.

The Young home was sometimes besieged by young female fans, and Malcolm and Angus soon decided that they, too, wanted to enter the music industry.

Both brothers attended Ashfield Boys’ High School (the uniform of which Angus would later make famous). After leaving school at 15, Malcolm got a job maintaining sewing machinea for a bra factory and joined a local band called the Velvet Underground (no relation to Lou Reed’s outfit).

After the Easybeats’s ended in 1970, George focused on songwriting and producing. One of the studio groups he formed in 1973, the Marcus Hook Rock Band, included Malcolm and Angus.

In 1973 Malcolm invited Angus to join a new band he was forming.

“I was amazed when he asked me to come down to a rehearsal and play,” Angus said in a 1992 interview. Until then, he added, the brothers had worked separately, with Malcolm “in one room with his tape recorded putting tunes together, and I would be in the other room pretending I was Jimi Hendrix”.

The band’s name was supplied by their sister Margaret, who noticed the letters AC/DC on a sewing machine. She also suggested the diminutive Angus wear his school uniform on stage.

Singer Bon Scott, drummer Phil Rudd, and bassist Mark Evans. AC/DC first appeared on Countdown in April 1975, performing Baby Please Don’t Go.

Their first four albums were produced by brother George and his Easybeats colleague Harry Vanda.

The following February AC/DC recorded It’s A Long Way To the Top on the back of a moving flat-bed truck driving down Melbourne’s Swanston Street. They did their first world tour later that year.

More international tours followed in 1977, 1978 and 1979. On February 19, 1980, Scott was found dead of asphyxiation after choking on his own vomit after an all-night drinking binge in London. The rest of the band travelled to the Bahamas to regroup, recover and record Back In Black. Brian Johnson was drafted in to replace Scott.

Back In Black sold 50 million copies worldwide, and remains one of the biggest selling albums of all time.

The two brothers wrote and recorded together. Angus may have had a higher profile as AC/DC’s eternal schoolboy, but Malcolm’s solid work on rhythm guitar gave the band its musical backbone.

Malcolm was widely seen as the brains of the band, both in a business sense and musically.

A critic in The Guardian once described the essence of Malcolm Young’s contribution to AC/DC: “Malcolm Young understood that a great riff does not need 427 components to make it great, that what it really needs is clarity.

That meant stripping riffs down rather than building them up, and it also meant understanding volume. Given how loud AC/DC can be in concert – ear-ringingly, sternum-shakingly loud – it might be surprising to learn that, in the studio at least, Malcolm Young favoured quietness: he played with his amps turned down, but with the mics extremely close.

That’s why, on the great AC/DC albums, you hear not just the chords of the riffs, but their very texture, their burnished, rounded sound. It’s why AC/DC are immediately recognisable, whether or not you know the song.”

Angus Young once told Guitar Player magazine that he could not fill Malcolm’s shoes as a guitarist, but Malcolm could fill his.

When AC/DC toured Australia in 1981 – for the first time in four years – even The Australian Women’s Weekly knew they were something special: “These boys have rock in their veins; music isn’t an art for them, it’s a lifestyle.”

Perhaps too much so. Malcolm, always a heavy drinker, took leave in 1988 to dry out. His nephew Stevie Young took his place on the Blow Up Your Video world tour.

Soon after Malcolm returned to the band it recorded one of its most successful albums, The Razor’s Edge.

In 1991 three teenage fans were crushed to death at an AC/DC concert in Salt Lake City when the crowd surged forward. The band played on for 20 minutes, unaware of what was happening. Afterwards they extended their sympathy to the families and stated that “nothing anyone can say or do will diminish the tragic loss or sense of grief”.

The band continued its pattern of recording albums and doing world tours: Ballbreaker (1996), Stiff Upper Lip (2000-2001); Black Ice (2008-2010).

They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in March 2003. In 2009 AC/DC topped BRW’s list of Australia’s top-earning entertainers, displacing The Wiggles.

A street in Leganes, near Madrid, was named Calle de AC/DC in 2000, Melbourne bestowed a similar honour in 2004, changing Corporation Lane to ACDC Lane.

In 2007 AC/DC sold 1.3 million CDs in the US – even though they had not released a new album for seven years.

Rolling Stone magazine has called them “one of the most enduringly popular hard- rock bands on the planet”.

After Malcolm’s retirement in 2014, lead singer Brian Johnson told the ABC’s 7.30 program: “It was a strange feeling because your work mate, you worked with for the last, for me 35 years wasn’t there any more.”

In 2015 Young moved into the dementia care unit of Lulworth House, in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, and their children Ross and Cara.

NZ Herald 

Cows and Seep. Dairy farming is polluting New Zealand’s water – The Economist. 

NICK SMITH may be the first politician to be immortalised in horse manure. Before the recent general election, a super-sized sculpture depicting the environment minister, trousers down, squatting over a glass, was paraded through central Christchurch. It was carved from dung in protest at an alarming increase in water pollution. Data published in 2013 suggested that it was not safe for people to submerge themselves in 60% of New Zealand’s waterways. “We used to swim in these rivers,” says Sam Mahon, the artist. “Now they’ve turned to crap.”

Mr Smith’s National Party is now out of government. But the real villains behind New Zealand’s deteriorating water quality are still at large: cows. Scrub where sheep once grazed is being given over to intensive dairy farms—some of them irrigated to help the pasture grow. Some 6.6m cattle are now squeezed into the country of 4.7m people, transforming even an iconic arid grassland, the Mackenzie Basin (made famous by the “Lord of the Rings” films), into a tapestry of emerald fields.

The first concern is bovine urine, which is rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen can cause toxic algae to grow when it leaches into water. Nitrogen fertiliser, used to increase fodder yields so that more cows can be raised on less land, exacerbates the problem.

At many of the sites where the government tests the groundwater it contains too much nitrate to be safe to drink—a particular problem in New Zealand, since water in much of the country has long been considered clean enough that it is used as drinking water with only minimal treatment. In Canterbury, one of the most polluted areas, expectant mothers are told to test tap water to avoid “blue baby syndrome”, a potentially fatal ailment thought to be caused by nitrates. The poisonous blooms have killed dogs.

An even greater concern for human health comes from cow dung, which contains nasty bacteria such as E.coli. Three people died last year after a well was contaminated with another bug called campylobacter. Sheep were to blame in that case, yet cows have a proclivity for wading in rivers and their faeces often find their way into water. New Zealanders are twice as likely to fall ill from campylobacter as Britons, and three times more than Australians or Canadians.

And then there is the damage to native flora and fauna. The algal blooms suck the oxygen from rivers. Sediment washed from farmland can also choke the life out of streams. Almost three-quarters of native species of freshwater fish are under threat.

New Zealand is a rainy place, but farmers are also criticised for causing rivers to shrivel and groundwater to fall in certain overburdened spots. One recent tally suggested that just 2,000 of the thirstiest dairies suck up as much water as 60m people would—equivalent to the population of London, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro combined. Most is hosed on the stony Canterbury region, including the Mackenzie Basin. Earlier this year locals were forced to rescue fish and eels from puddles which formerly constituted the Selwyn river, after drought and over-exploitation caused long stretches to dry up.

Dairies are trying to clean up their act. Farmers have fenced off thousands of kilometres of rivers to prevent livestock from wading in. Some have planted trees along waterways to curb erosion; others remove animals from muddy fields during winter. Some parts of the country are using more sophisticated techniques: around Lake Taupo, the country’s biggest lake, farmers can buy and sell nitrogen allowances in a cap-and-trade scheme. A technique called “precision irrigation” may curb both water consumption and the leaching of nitrogen.

Earlier this year the National Party launched a plan to make 90% of rivers “swimmable” by 2040. Yet it ignored several recommendations of a forum of scientists and agrarians established to thrash out water policy, and removed elected officials from an environmental council in Canterbury after they attempted to curb the spread of irrigation. One of its big initiatives to improve water quality involved lowering pollution standards, making rivers look much cleaner at a stroke.

The Labour Party, now in government, had promised during the election campaign to tax irrigators and use the cash to clean up rivers. But Labour’s populist coalition partner disliked the idea, so it has been dropped. Jacinda Ardern, the new prime minister, says that she will charge companies that bottle and export local water—little more than a gesture, as they account for only a tiny share of water use.

Environmentalists argue that the national dairy herd should be cut to prevent further damage. That may not be as hard on farmers as it sounds, argues Jan Wright, a former parliamentary commissioner for the environment. She says recent growth in the industry has been relatively inefficient, denting margins. Yet the chances of change are slim. The regulations governing Fonterra, a big dairy co-operative, encourage volume more than value, says Kevin Hackwell of Forest & Bird, a pressure group. And pollutants moving through groundwater can take decades to emerge in lakes. The worst may still be to come.

The Economist 

This Woman Is Said to Rival Einstein, and She’s Only 23 – Usman Abrar. 

At age 14, Sabrina Pasterski walked onto the MIT campus to request notarization of aircraft worthiness for her single-engine plane. She built it herself and had already flown the craft solo, so even within the bastion of brilliance that is MIT, people were interested. 

Nine years have passed, and now Pasterski is an MIT graduate and Harvard Ph.D. candidate in physics at age 23. (You can stay up to date with her many published papers and talks on her website,

Pasterski focuses on understanding quantum gravity, explaining gravity within the context of quantum mechanics. She is also interested in black holes and Spacetime. It’s probably no surprise that she’s known to the NASA scientists, and that she has a standing job offer from Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. 

Pasterski is exceptional in many ways, but she’s also part of a growing trend. In 1999, the number people earning physics bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. was at its lowest point in four decades, with only 3,178 awarded that year. However, in 2015 things looked much different, according to the American Institute of Physics. That year 8,081 bachelor’s degrees in physics were awarded — an all-time high. Physics doctorates also reached an all-time high of 1,860 in 2015. These numbers aren’t flukes or random spikes; the numbers for the previous two years were also high. 

This trend is due in part to higher enrollment and less attrition among female students. These women remain a minority in physics and astronomy, and many are still having to face challenges with impostor syndrome and mentoring. However, more female students in physics means more graduates overall and a more active scientific community in the U.S.

Sabrina Pasterski on YouTube 

A Strong Tradition

Sabrina Pasterski and other women in science today have benefited from being part of a proud tradition of standout female scientists. Marie S. Curie, the mother of modern physics, was the first Nobel Prize winning woman in the history of science. She was the first European female to earn a doctorate degree for her scientific research, and she later became the first woman professor and lecturer at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Curie’s work with radiation — a term she invented — transformed our understanding of the natural world, and she remains one of the most notable minds in science, regardless of gender.

Less famous — but no less significant to science — was Ada Lovelace. Intrigued by Charles Babbage’s idea for an “Analytical Engine,” a machine for computing, Lovelace published an article on the machine and developed an algorithm that would allow it to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers. She saw the potential of the device and predicted that it might use its algorithms in many different ways. Ada was the first person to articulate the concept of machines following rules in order to manipulate symbols and produce graphics for scientific and practical purposes. She was recognized as the world’s first programmer posthumously.

Rounding out this look back at female scientists, we look at Dian Fossey, a conservation biologist who fought passionately to save mountain gorillas. Fossey studied endangered gorilla species in the mountain forests of Rwanda and learned to mimic the actions, behaviors, and sounds of the gorillas in order to approach them. She strongly opposed poaching, financed patrols to destroy traps, and helped arrest several poachers. In 1977, Fossey’s favorite gorilla, Digit, was killed by poachers as he defended his group against poachers. Fossey became totally focused on preventing poaching, destroying gorilla traps, capturing and humiliating the poachers, and even burning their camps. In December 1985, Fossey was found murdered in her camp in Rwanda. The case was never solved, although she is believed to have been killed by poachers.

Female scientists like Sabrina Pasterski are joining an amazing group and a proud tradition. Their work will inspire the scientists of tomorrow and change our understanding of the world — just as the work of historical female scientists did for them.

Sci-Tech Universe 


Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski (born June 3, 1993) is an American physicist from Chicago, Illinois who studies high energy physicsShe describes herself as “a proud first-generation Cuban-American & Chicago Public Schools alumna.” She completed her undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is currently a graduate student at Harvard University.

As a sophomore, Gonzalez Pasterski worked on the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. Gonzalez Pasterski is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in high energy physics under the supervision of Andrew Strominger from whom she was given her academic freedom in the Spring of 2015 based upon Pasterski et al’s 2014 discovery of the “spin memory effect” which may be used to detect/verify the net effects of gravitational waves. After being granted that academic freedom, she would complete the Pasterski-Strominger-Zhiboedov Triangle for EM in a 2015 solo paper that Stephen Hawking cited in early 2016


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