Category Archives: External work

Universe Revealed post-mortem

A couple of years back, Jamie and I worked on a failure of an event called “Universe Revealed”. The first hint at why it was a failure may come from the name, but I still believe there was something in the idea.

Picture an all day event in a TED style setup, but where the topics of each talk follow a narrative. The narrative is the grand tale of everything. The plan was to have Briant Schmidt talk about the big bang (this was during the peak of his Nobel prize-winning fame), then discuss inflation, matter, heavy elements, galaxies, solar systems, Earth, Life, all the way to modern ecology. The main idea was that by attending the whole day, a layperson should be be “up to speed” on how the universe was created, and how we all got here. Continue reading Universe Revealed post-mortem

Chaos in the Studio

bright_pods

This is me guest hosting my colleague/friend Meg O’Connell’s program, Bright Pods, on 2XX FM a few months ago. The show had a great format whereby a serious interview with an expert (a “bright pod”) is preceded by an elaborate, absurdist introduction.

I lined up an interview with my mate Mat McGann about chaos theory, which he studies as part of his physics PhD. The interview’s pretty good as a 20 minute digest of a cool topic in an irreverent manner (we’ve both worked as professional science communicators) but I’m particularly proud of the intro. It’s done as a live read with no mistakes, covering some pretty wordy content and is basically the apotheosis of my Micalef-inspired sense of humour; you might not think it’s funny but I do.

Even though we’re generally interested in experimenting  science communication nerds can note a few classic techniques:

  • me playing dumb about chaos theory to position myself with the audience;
  • starting with a framing question rather than a direct one (like, what is chaos theory?); and
  • only asking the expert about their particular speciality at the end because researchers are notoriously boring on their own work and better at the more general stuff (Mat excepted).