15/06/2011 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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Riots on the streets of Athens, as protests show the extent of Greek


resistance to the medicine they are supposed to take in exchange for


the rescue of their economy. The protests are authentically


Greek, the consequences may be much, much wider. This is a problem not


just for the riot police and the Greek Government. Because what


you're looking at here is the frontline of the world's financial


system. It's six months since the start of


the Arab uprisings. In Libya, NATO fights to save civilians from the


wrath of a dictator. In Syria, NATO does nothing.


We ask the Foreign Secretary if British foreign policy is now being


made by Russia, China and tyrannies in the Middle East.


Both the financial crisis and the Arab Spring caught us by sur pri,


but they shouldn't have done. We speak to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who


says what he calls Black Swan events only catch us out because we


are looking at them the wrong way. There is a deep lunar eclipse


happening. We summon one of the nation's favourite astronomers.


When you think about space it is like dead big!


Punch-up, tear gas and a Government in crisis. Opposition to Greece's


attempts to comply with the terms of the 100 billion euro loan is


running high. We shouldn't get pulled along with the news, the


mess the country is in was largely caused by pack of lies told by


Government. But today's protests and political chaos in Greece, do


have potential ramifications right across Europe, and perhaps beyond.


Beware of Greeks taking gifts. Our economics editor is in Athens.


It started early, the trade unions converged on central Athens and the


rest of Greece shut down. Today's general strike pulled, say its


organisers, one quarter of the Greek population on to the streets.


In Athens there were taxi drivers, hotel porters, dockers, even


doctors. I believe that many people will die. You do? Yes, I'm a doctor,


I'm a cardiologist, I see every day in the hospital coming more and


more poor people and the hospitals want money, the public hospitals


want money in order to enter the people in the hospital.


But that's just the result of the first round of austerity. It is the


second round, demanded by the European Union, that's made the


Greek protest movement change gear. In the square at the very gates of


parliament, the word they are chanting is simply "Greece".


These are the Facebook youth, camped here for 22 days, not just


the left, but nationalists and some right-wingers. What's obvious, here


on the frontline, between the police and the protestors, is here


in Athens it is no longer a matter of class or left against right, but


here on the square, it is simply a question of Greece versus the IMF,


versus the EU, versus the rest of the world.


They are angry at the media, angrier still at the police. And


soon, the anger ignites. While Greeks are getting used to this,


what you are seeing here is a new level of social crisis. So almost


from nowhere the police just responded to a bit of missile


throwing by firing tear gas and everybody's run away, but this is


only the start of what looks like being a long day for the Greek riot


police, and protestors, this is just the front, this is just the


beginning. This was the day the Prime Minister


chose to launch his new austerity plan. He briefed the President on


50 billion euros worth of privatisation, public spending cuts


worth 10% of GDP, massive wage cuts, and massive tax increases. But


Papandreou's popularity is collapsing, his majority in


parliament evaporating, and outside parliament, this.


Though anarchists took the lead in the violence, every part of Greek


society was in the square. The trade unionists stood and braved


the tear ga, so did the youth, so did the mums and dads. But their


patience is wearing thin. First of all, nobody asked us. We didn't


vote for that. Papandreou fooled us. We are not thieves, we are very


decent people, we work hard. We think that we're part of an


experiment. They gave everything out, maybe they have sold the


Acropolis and we don't know yet. What they are fighting for is for


Greece to refuse to pay its debts. This is a problem not just for the


riot police and the Greek Government. What you are looking at


here is the frontline of the world's financial system. Many


people in authority believe if Greece defaults on its debt, as the


people here want it to, that will echo across the world, in the same


way Lehman Brothers did. As night fall, the fighting spreads


into the side streets, and for the protest organisers a single aim.


The immediate aim was to keep all these people together for all their


difference that is they want to see the Government out, and they want


to see the austerity measures paused and reversed. This is what


unites all these people. The people have some real anger about the


deterioration of the social conditions of their lives. So this


was the immediate thing, the first thing that people want to see. From


the morning after it would be a thousand different views.


that's the problem. Those on the streets today know what they are


against, but if they win, what comes after is anybody's guess.


Paul Mason is in Athens, we have corrected the communications


difficulties. Will the Government survive there? Mr Papandreou spent


the day trying to form a national unity Government with his political


opponents. He has seen his own parliamentary majority evaporate as


people's opposition to the measures have grown. The opposition, the new


democratic party of the right refused to form the Government. So


we just don't know. It is a big problem, as well this, for the


European Union. Because up until now n this crisis the one permanent


thing, the one thing we thought we could rely on was the Papandreou


Government. We thought the European Union could have internal


differences, it is always talking to a Government with parliamentary


majority. Now that is not the case. This is purely, I think, the result


of the pressure we saw there on the streets. People are absolutely


furious about the existing measures, let alone the 10% of GDP cut in


public spending, they are now being asked to take. Why are people


beyond Greece so worried? Jeremy, the reason is, because so much of


the European banking system is exposed to greet debt, both Greek


Government debt, Greek banking debt and Greek private debt. If this


goes, I understand the British Treasury, the Bank of England, the


European Central Bank believe there is a non-negligible chance that it


comes into some kind of a Lehman Brothers situation. There are banks


in Europe that may not be able to stand up to the collapse of the


Greek banking system, that would surely follow a default. On top of


that we have the problem of the EU, eurozone rules themselves. They


would be completely breached. The credibility of the European Central


Bank would be pretty much shot to pieces if they allowed Greece to go


the way the demonstrators on the streets want. So there are already


people in the investment community trying to price in what would a


second credit crunch actually mean for the world economy. The world


economy, as we know, is not recovering very well. The Asia and


USA is faltering. The last thing we need is for another credit event.


There were more reports of refugees fleeing President Assad's troops in


Syria today. There is no talk at all of Britain or France or any


other NATO power intervening to protect them. Even the completely


toothless resolution the two countries proposed at the United


Nations has got nowhere. In Libya, meanwhile, the rebels still, 12


weeks after Britain and France committed forces there, have made


no breakthrough. The MoD claimed this country can carry on bombing


there indefinitely. What then, are we trying to aheave in the Arab


world. Before we hear the Foreign Secretary's answer to the question,


here is Mark Urban's take. Six weeks of Middle East turmoil has


undermined old certainties, that the United States can police the


region or keep its clients in power. Has the cost of intervention grown


too great for western countries. Britain has its own historical


perspective on waning influence. Of course Britain has long grown used


to the indignaties of being a faded world power, it has relied on


others, and alliance, particularly the United States to enhance its


influence around the world. These days, pretty much everybody in the


western family of nations is in recession, and cutting back, and


the decline in their influence in the Middle East, be it economically,


diplomatically, or militarily, seems to be palpable.


In the Security Council they were meant to vote this week on a UK-


French resolution on Syria, but Russia and China made clear they


would veto it, even in this form, diplomatic action has failed. Not


least because other countries are often sceptical that the US or


Europe has the answers. I think what we are seeing is the west no


longer has the moral high ground in the way that perhaps it did in the


Middle East. That is partly because of Iraq. Partly because we're seen


as withdrawing from Afghanistan. Above all, it goes back to Israel,


Palestine, we cannot really preach to the Arab world, we cannot really


be seen to have the moral force we need, while we are fail to go


address the problem of Palestine. While the Europeans blame America


for failing to deal with those issues, the US is often outspoken


in rely. Last week the outgoing US Defence Secretary blasted Europe


for not pulling its weight in NATO. Future US political leaders, those


for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was


for me, may not consider the return from being part of NATO worth the


cost. I have spelled out a dim and dismal future for the transatlantic


alliance, it is possible but not inevitable. 10 years ago NATO


counted for less than half of NATO spending, now it pays for 70%. That


is as a result of plunging European budgets.


NATO secretary general, in London today, argue that is it is up to


Europe to race its game and - raise its game and keep the alliance


relevant. NATO is more needed and wanted than ever, but I share


Secretary Gates' concerns about declining defence budgets in a


number of allied countries. If we are to accomplish our security


mission in the future wrecks need proper investments. Take away the


US and NATO capabilities don't look that impressive. Italy has 130


modern jet fighters, the United Arab Emirates has 142. The royal


Saudi Air Force, with 250 modern combat aircraft, is similar in size


to the RAF. The Libyan operation is held up by many as a model for


future NATO action. But with America taking a supporting role,


its European allies have found it a strain sustaining the bombing.


is really a strength of our alliance, to demonstrate that the


Europeans can also take the lead. We have been used in the past to


having the United States in the lead in all major military


operations. In Libya we see European allies and Canada and


partners in the region, providing the majority of the assets, and


that is really a clear demonstration of solidarity. Given


what you have said about falling European defence budgets, your


concerns that you have expressed, is it really feasible that the non-


US side of NATO increasingly can take this role. This is only


feasible if the Europeans step up to the plate and increase defence


investment, that is my clear message. With thousands of Syrian


refugees now in neighbouring Turkey, both the Turkish and Iranian


Governments are becoming increasingly vocal about that


crisis. With Iran supporting the Al-Assad regime, and Turkey


critical. Just as Syria itself appears to have been emboldened by


the lack of an effective western policy, so these neighbours have


become more assertive. Well, we're seeing that certainly with Iran, I


don't think Iran is driving events, but Iran is certainly exploiting


events. Turkey is pursuing a very vigorous independent foreign policy


across the Middle East, a sort of neo-Ottoman policy, across the


Middle East, and central Asia, we will see other players as well.


We're entering extremely difficult period. It doesn't mean we won't


succeed, it doesn't mean that the present period of scratchiness


won't come to an end. It will require imaginative, engaged


loadership of a very high order from the - leadership, of a very


high order, from the United States. It is not just about being top dog,


it is about practising an engaged foreign policy. The fate of Libya


undecided, there is little appetite for further military action. But


the failure of the Syrian UN resolution, and the difficulty even


agreeing common western views on the most desirable outcome force


the be a rab spring, show how hard it has - Arab Spring, shows how has


it has become to exert any positive western action. I spoke to the


Foreign Secretary about some of these issues? Foreign Secretary,


Foreign Secretary, will you allow President Assad to go on killing


his people? We have taken the measures we can, which has included


EU sanctions on 23 individual, including President Assad himself.


To answer your question directly, it is not of course within our


control or direct power to stop what is happening in Syria now.


What is the difference between a mother and children fleeing Al-


Assad's thugs and a mother and child fleeing Gaddafi's thugs?


is about taking action about it. In the case of Libya the Arab League


issued call for help, to the rest of the world and the United Nations


Security Council. The UN Security Council carried a resolution


authorising the protection of civilians. No such attempts have


happened in the case of Syria. attempt to get a mere form of words


at the UN Security Council has failed, hasn't it? It hasn't failed.


Alain Juppe appears to think it has failed? I'm continuing to work on


it. It is true we haven't managed to pass that so far. A country like


Russia. This is one of the material points here, Russia has an alliance


with Syria, a much closer relationship with Syria than was


the case with Colonel Gaddafi's Libya. Of course such measures are


much harder to get through the Security Council. Why are our


diplomats so ineffective? diplomats were brilliantly


effective. They failed with this, it was a mere form of words, it


didn't propose any action at all? It is not a mere form of words. It


calls on the Syrian Government to recognise legitimate grievances, to


give access and co-operation to the UN High Commisioner on human rights,


and to give access to the Internet. It is more than words. Nor is the


story of trying to secure a resolution over. We have some of


the finest diplomats in the world, whose achievement in drafting and


passing the resolution on Libya was widely acknowledged across the


world, as a major diplomatic triumph. What you are saying is


that British policy on a country like Syria is determined by the


Arab League, and Russia? I think we have to get used to the idea that


our activity and our actions in the world will be predominantly as part


of international alliances. And must be based on international law.


This is a very, very important point, I have stressed it


throughout the Libya crisis is. We must stay within the UN resolutions


and retain the legal and moral standing we have from that, in the


absence of resolutions on other nations, clearly we are not able to


take such parallel actions. It is an accurate summary to say British


policy in these areas is circumscribed by the Arab League,


Russia and China? It is accurate to say that western powers operating


in the Middle East should do so in alliance f they do it, with Arab


nation, with the Muslim world, in co-operation with the Arab League,


with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and that


unilateral western intervention is unlikely to produce long-term


desirable results. You have described the Arab Spring as the


most important event in the 21st century thus far. Are we really


going to allow it to be obstructed by some tinpot dictator in Syria?


It is not our objective to allow things to be obstructed by tinpot


dictators, we will act where we can effectively. Just because we can't


do everything, doesn't mean we shouldn't do something. It is not


just about military action. Let's talk about military action in Lybia,


it is going on for what 12 weeks now, how much longer will it go on?


We are not setting a deadline. It will go on for as long as it takes


to implemented the UN resolutions, it is sustainable he indefinitely


on our part. How is it being funded? From the Treasury reserve,


when there are accurate costings available we will present that to


parliament. You don't know what it is costing? When we have the


accurate costings we will put them to parliament. It cost as great


deal of money. It is not the budget of the Foreign Office, it is within


the Ministry of Defence, predominantly. But met from the


Treasury reserve. So we will account for all of that, of course,


to parliament. No doubt you will account for it. I will make the


point about the costing, this is the crucial point, the cost of


failing to take action would be far greater than if we did. The tax-


payers of the country are entitled to know how much of their money is


being spent on this action? We will not give a day-to-day bulletin and


it is not possible to do so. rough figure would do, how many


hundreds of millions? We will give all of that in due course. What is


the end objective in that part of the world? The objective of our


military action is to enforce the UN resolution. What are we trying


to achieve? The military objection is enforcing the UN resolution a


ceasefire in Libya that allows a political process, the Libyan


people to determine their own future. That will happen with the


departure from power of Colonel Gaddafi. While that is not an aim


of the resolution, clearly a settlement in Libya is only


possible on that basis S our broader objective, is to create a


partnership between countries like our's, and countries in North


Africa, where they are able to advance to strong, political


institutions, in a free society, to a strong market-based economy,


ultimately, in my view, to be in an economic area with the European


Union. Not in the European Union, they are not European countries,


but in an economic area. Would we like to see all the countries as


democracies? I don't think we should impose a western model of


democracy. What I very much gather in Cairo, talking to young people


there, in many ways they want our help, they don't want us to say the


Westminster parliament must be replicated in Cairo or Tunisia. Do


we believe that nations throughout the world would be better in a


democratic state, compatible with their own culture, yes, of course


we do. Including Saudi Arabia? all nations in the world. We


believe human rights are universal. That is an argument we have with


China, that is a discussion we have with Saudi Arabia, it doesn't mean


we can immediately bring about change. Why were we caught so by


surprise by what happened? I think the whole world, to be fair, was


caught by surprise, by the timing of the Arab Spring. It wasn't


possible to forecast, even for the Governments in those countries,


when they would come to a head. They are leaderless revolutions,


they are not a plot to detect. This is hundreds of thousands of people


on Facebook taking to the streets, acting together in way no


Intelligence Service, even in those countries, could be aware of in


advance. Can I ask you the riots seen in Greece today. I wonder


looking at them you have any sense is here perhaps is a movement afoot


that may have a capacity to surprise us, in the way that the


Arab Spring surprised everyone? think, I don't want to jump to


conclusions about it. I'm not going to hold you to it? But I think


there is something in your question, that there is enormous discontent


among young people, particularly in some of the southern European


nations, about long-term unemployment, about the extent of


economic problems. We will see more broadly than the Arab Spring, and I


don't just mean in Europe, we will see the ability of people to


communicate with each other, through social networking sites and


so on, producing political movements for change, not just in


the Arab world. Foreign Secretary, thank you.


The two events we have discussed so far tonight, the Arab Spring and


the utter shambles that is the Greek economy. Both qualify as


Black Swan events, the phrase was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb,


along with the economist, Noreena Hertz. Black Swan veents are rare,


have a big - events are rare, and have a big impact. Christmas is a


Black Swan event for the turkey, but not the butcher who chops its


head off. We need to be the butcher not the turkey!


Black Swan events appear to come from nowhere. But could we predict


them, should we be surprised when they do happen? Governments seek to


avoid risk, they prop up dictators, they protect banks. But does trying


to create an ordered world, or pretending has standards don't


exist, serve to make systems more fragile. A dictatorship by its


nature suppresses dissent, like a build-up of steam, if you try to


contain pressure eventually there is an explosion. The crash, the


Arab Spring, the 1979 revolution in Iran, by this analysis, were All


Black black swan moments. What we witnessed this year, in Tunisia,


and Libya, is simply what happens when constrained systems explode.


By this theory, we really shouldn't have been surprised.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb joins us now from New York, Noreena Hertz, the


economist, is here in the studio. Let's start with you, Nassim


Nicholas Taleb, how could we not have been surprised by the Arab


Spring? Well, the system was fragile, and the seven ore eight


sources of fragility - or eight sources of fragility, for me the


first one was the banking system, and still is fragile, it was like a


bomb waiting to go off, an accident waiting to happen. When a bridge is


fragile you don't waste your time trying to predict which truck will


break it, you should spend your money on this structure. The second


one is, of course, and the main one, is what we have with these regime,


propped unofficially for the United States, for the sake of stability.


Just like banks were, we had Alan Greenspan, and on your side, we had


the Labour Government, they wanted to eliminate boom and bust, and


they pushed the risks in the tails, the less visible parts of life. And


the thing explodes. We had that in these systems, in fact, in the


Black Swan itself, I spoke about Syria and Saudi Arabia, saying here


you have two kind of countries, in Italy they have loads of different


Governments, people hate each other openly. It looks unstable because


they change Governments. Here you have Syria with the same Government


for 40 years and Saudi Arabia with the same family for a century. So


which one is more stable, visibly Italy is much more stable than


Saudi Arabia, it is bottom up, it has a lot of noise, it vibrates,


and Saudi Arabia did not. The US Government did not learn that


lesson with the Shah of Iran. Trying to oppress the whole country.


Locked what happened in Iran in 1978 with the revolution. For me it


was way too obvious an answer given I was Lebanese and I was explaining


anybody who would listen to me that Lebanon is vastly more stable than


most of these countries. We had our war, and everybody is represented


in the Government, if you think the distance between the current regime


and the next regieme, it is minimal. One person with a beard, you know,


and the cabinet is minimal. Let me interrupt, what do you make of this


theory? I think we could have anticipated the Arab Spring if we


looked at what was going on in a very different way. We relied on a


small group of experts, the intelligence experts who did miss


it. If we look at what Al-Jazeera was talking about, in summer 2010


they had a report predicting the uprising in Egypt. If we had


monitored The Tweets of Arab youth in the lead up to the protests, we


would have seen an increase in protest network. That is common


with a lot of Black Swans, we are relying on experts or a dominant


narrative or prediction about the future, that it will follow a


linear path, that actually aren't right. Agree and disagree with the


analysis, saying after the fact you can always find precursor signs, at


the time they were not that obvious. What is essential is not look at


signs but look at fragility. What is fragile and what is not, what is


fragile it needs to be fixed. It is understandable, though is it not,


that Governments seek stability. You can't have an international


training system without agreed rules. Governments seek stability


in the Governments they deal with, which is why they supported people


like Mubarak in Egypt. This is why I called that sudden dough


stability, in mylar writings. It is sort of like saying I would like to


reach a destination on time, but if I drive 300 miles an hourly never


get there. I think you're right that the west tends to support the


dictatorial regimes and traded off democracy and human rights in the


process. I wonder if you are perhaps making too much of a simple


situation out of it. Dictatorships are putting a lid on the society,


that is bubbling over and that is the reason why we are seeing


protests. Are there not a whole multipolicity of factors involved


here. There was rising food prices and unemployment, there were new


food technologies that allowed people to interact through Facebook


and twitter. There was a whole configuration of different events


happening at once. Even when it is hot people are more likely to go


out in protest. There is a lot happening at once, not just the


political regime. I don't like the ad hoc explanations, in Indonesia


the uprising was called about food. Par rain is a much richer country.


We can't stop looking at catalysts as causes. But this is about


dictator s rule anything 17ths. Dictatorships can be enduring. You


had a hell of black swan at the time of it? That is not the point.


The point is the democratic system is vastly noiseer, but vastly more


stable than the system with a dictatorship, particularly in the


modern day as you are mentioning. The last thing we need is engage in


that catalyst has caused confusion and start looking for the precursor


signs after the fact. Look for the key is that we have unnatural


regimes today, we are not in the 16th century. We have


telecommunication and a lot of other things. We have trade, and a


very extensive trade between countries. You cannot have a


country in which women can't drive, as we saw in Saudi Arabia, and the


other one, like in the United States were women can do everything.


It is 100% equal qual. It is not sustainable. Something will blow up.


If you think about the fall of the Berlin Wall, part of the reason is


people in Eastern Europe got MTV and they saw what others had. I


think that is a cause. That would be the cause, now the catalyst.


I want to ask you about a particular phrase you have in your


an all circumstance I think you call it the stability of small


jumps, this is to say that you are constantly recalibrating your


assessment. Instead of being eventually caught out by massive


seismic change. How would that work? Information prices, I gave


miskal analogies because my social places come from more physical


places. If you are experiencing force five, systematically,


preventing the small fires. The bigger forest fires would be more


devastating. In economics if you constrain a price, artificially,


prevent the market from changing the price, you will have a shock.


This is my analogy to other systems, and we have shared universalties.


The transfer systems have a lot in economy. They like a little bit of


noise. Noise makes information rise to the surface in political life.


How does this play out in political terms? In political terms if you


have, take Italy, where you know at any point in time where people


stand. You know the balance of power, you see what is going on and


you know what people want. People can either shake their trousers or


like Lebanon they arrive at conclusions and they can manage the


country, at least you don't have big shots. Where as in Iran before


the revolution you didn't know what was going on. Even the opposition


didn't know its relative strength. Nobody knows what is going on. The


regime doesn't know how repressive it has to be? The point is


information is key for functioning democracies, that is true, I would


agree with that. You it is interesting to maybe think about


the current Black Swan we are seeing unfold today. The Greek


crisis. In some ways it could have been predicted, if we looked at


what was happening to tax collecting in Greece and looked at


rising unemployment there. What is going to happen, moving forward,


this is a real case of surely of thinking not in terms of


necessarily being able to predict what will happen, but what are the


possible sin Nair knows, will they default or accept the euro. All of


which are possible action force now. What do you think about what is


happening in Greece? About three- and-a-half years ago there was


rioting, and I was very surprised throughout, that they did not stop


rioting. You have this moral has standard argument that is very


apparent in Greece, much more so than in the UK and the United


States. It is very prevalent everywhere. Here you have some


people make money, they are milking the system, namely bankers or


people who benefit from loans. Other people have to pay the price.


Three years until the crisis, in the United States, in Europe, those


who make the money are making more money, or at least are not


penalised. Those who paid the price did not benefit from the process


before the crisis. So you have that moral has standard that, you know,


is very obvious. The Greeks started identifying it. Of course you are


going to riot because the people are paying the price today they are


retirees. People have to accept people have to pay for others. They


can't take it any more. It is a Black Swan, is it? In Greece, no,


it would be for not having street rice in London and New York and


other places in Europe against the bankers. Thank you very much, both


of you. Lots of Australians got up in the


middle of the night earlier today, or tomorrow as it is there, they


wanted to witness the biggest lunar eclipse this century. When we


watched it an hour ago, it was disappointing, many believed there


could be so much ash in the atmosphere, there would be some


spectacular effects. Let's look at some images of the last full lunar


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 50 seconds


With me now is the space scientist, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who will


be joined, hope by the impressionist, come amateur


astronomer, Jon Culshaw, shortly. Those were amazing pictures, today


was rather more disappointing. main trouble we have today is cloud


here in the UK. You have got some very interesting props on the desk


in front of you. What on earth are they for? I wanted to try to


explain why the moon goes blood red during a total eclipse of the moon.


If this is the earth and the moon, if you could be the sun. Sunlight


is coming in. Where should I shine it? Straight ahead. What we have is


this is the earth and this is the moon. What happens is the earth


gets between the sun and the moon. The moon is thrown into shadow.


That is an eclipse? Yes, it is a total eclipse of the moon. You


would think in the shadow of the earth you would see no light


reaching the moon, the moon would disappear. That is not what happens.


Although you have the earth, the earth is surrounded by a nice


cotton wool atmosphere, that acts as a lens and refracting some of


the light on to the moon. You do get light hitting the moon. That


doesn't explain why it is blood red. The reason is because there are


particles in the atmosphere like you mentioned. If I take the sun


and shine it through the water, it comes out as plain white. If you


add a few particles, this is a well known household disinfectant. I add


a few particles to the water, now when I pass the light through the


water. It does, yeah. If you have lots of particles in the atmosphere,


which would have been the effect of the Chilean volcano it should look


fantastic. It doesn't look fantastic. When I came in it wasn't


in totality yet. We have some light pictures, of how it lookings in


Jerusalem, I don't know why we are looking - looking at Jerusalem, I


don't know why we are looking at it there. It doesn't look very


different to me? It looks the same? I saw a total eclipse in 2007, I


was totally freaked out. First of all, you saw the moon being eaten


away, frequenty on a given night, then it did go blood red, I wanted


to look away because it didn't look right. Why do people like you get


so excited about this, it is very rare, apparently, there won't be


another for a long time? This is the longest, that is because the


way the earth and moon are lined up. Sometimes the earth is glancing the


moon, this is going straight across the centre of the earth, this is


the longest total eclipse of the senttry, probably the only one we


will see and we are not seeing it. This is a wit of a flaw in this


item! Mathematically it is very interesting. I haven't done the


calculation. Why are they excited about it? It is the mechanics of


the universe, controlled by gravitational forces. We could get


a total eclipse every month. But the sun moon and earth aren't in


total alignment and only occur occasionally. There are cycles frg


goes through, the lunar cycle for total eclipses are 18 years and ten


days. Between that there are 18 partial eclipses, all this can be


calculated with the all linement of the sun, moon and earth. So the


next time this will happen you can predict absolutely when this will


happen again? Definitely, yes. will be 21 or something or other?


You haven't done the calculation but it is about that. Do you get


the sense, when people get quite excited about this today, all


around the world dou, get a sense of an increasing aware - do you get


a sense of increasing awareness of as no mam kal events? It is the


same - astronomical events? It is the same people who get excited,


like me. Some people say great, fantastic, others say big deal.


What I try to do as a science communicator is try to get the not


so excited, excited about this. It is the ponders of the universe.


think we are joined now by Jon Culshaw, here he is. I time


travelled to be here. Forwards or backwards. You are excited about


this? Yes, yes. Why? It is just the vastness of space. I have gone into


Brian Cox, it just seems to be the right way to describe it. When you


think of the shad toe of the earth cast over the moon and - shadow of


the earth, cast over the moon, and it looks like, that it gives you a


sense of the solar system, space and the vastness of all of that.


You can't fail to be fascinated. is. We have just seen the picture


from Jerusalem, we might have a look again. There we are. There is


Jerusalem, that is how it looks? looks exactly the same or more or


less the same as normally. That is not fully eclipsed, it is probably


done by them. We should be just going into totality, that doesn't


look like, that it does go red. we were talking about the Arab


Spring or something, rather appropriately. Tell u do you get


this sense, we were just discussing whether there was an increasing


fascination, I sometimes, as an outsider, get the impression there


is an increasing fascination with what's happening out there in the


solar Aziz tem. This view wasn't yueflly shared, give us your -


universally shared, give us your version? As long as you have people


telling the story of the vastness of space. What is it, what is it


about it that seems to be having a tighter grip, is it to do with


religion? Astronomy is the oldest and greatest of all the scientists.


Nobody can fail to be fascinate bid a clear sky, a star lit night,


things like the eclipse, they have an awesome sort of majesty about


them. It puts us into a nice bit of perspective?


We are made aware of our smallness because of these things? It doesn't


detract from things but makes me happy to be part of a wonderful


universe. Thanks for coming. That's all from Newsnight tonight, we


leave you with pictures of what happened when the four-times


America's cup champion, Russell Coutts, took his 40ld ft catamaran


Hello there, a real soaking on the way to end the week. Even first


thing in the Major General persistent rain across southern


England, wo work - morning, persistent rain across southern


England. Hit and miss, as the showers are, they could be heavy


and thundery. Any thundery spells not to be relied upon. A coolish


day, particularly when the showers come along. If you get very lucky,


particularly along the coastal fringe, you might have a fine


afternoon. You will be lucky indeed, there will be a number of showers.


Temperatures up and down like a Yeo, the sunnier spells getting up to


the mid-teens, when the showers come along they will fall by


several degrees. Sunshine and showers for Northern Ireland, for


Scotland as well. The winds fairly light, so those showers will be


quite slow-moving as well. What about the end of the week?


Increasingly wet from the south. It means northern areas will be last


to see the rain. Some sunshine, eventually the rain will arrive.


Further south it will unturn increasingly wet and chilly under


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