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.

The concept was originally thought up by Richard Whereat, and Jamie and I joined to expand the idea and generally help make it happen.

Here is a list of the speakers we confirmed. It was pretty star-studded if we do say so ourself.



Brian Schmidt

Big Bang, dark matter and Inflation

Paul Francis

Matter and first structures, stars

Lawrence Krauss

Supernovae and heavy elements

Jamie and Mat

A sense of scale, how big is the universe?

Martin Asplund

Galaxies and formation of Solar System and Planets

Charlie Lineweaver

Our SS as compared to others

Ross Taylor

The Moon and young Earth

Richard Arculus

The Volcanic Beginnings of Earth

Charlie Lineweaver

Astrobiology – Evolution

Paul Willis

Single cell to complex lifeforms

Hanna Kokko (Tim Flannery was interested but was in NZ)


There were multiple problems. The originator of the idea went AWOL, Lawrence Krauss kept asking for money even when we said we couldn’t afford it, Richard Arculus was hard to contact because he was literally at the bottom of the ocean. But the main reason it failed was timing (we managed to put it on at the weekend in Canberra that was the busiest for events in the year) and, of course, money. Mainly the cost of recording the sessions made it prohibitive.

However the idea was well thought through, we had business plans, financial models, contacts – there was even a plan to turn it into a travelling non-profit show. If anyone thinks the above is a good idea and wants to run with it, please contact us and we can send you many, many documents that could act as a good starting point.