I’ve worked in science outreach and education, event design and theoretical physics.
Science outreach and education
I believe we make the world better by making it easier for people to educate themselves. But I dislike the medicinal approach that is common in education and outreach circles, where people who think they know better impose learning on others “for their own good”.
In practice, this means I’ve focused on creating opportunities for people to experience science on their own terms. In 2009 I programmed a science festival with 40,000 attendances. Other projects included running 2 summer schools for physics enthusiasts, organizing 4 public lecture series with high-profile speakers, giving 2 short courses on modern physics for spouses and administrative staff who live and work with physicists, and being associate producer for 3 science radio episodes and 5 episodes of a current affairs show.
More recently my job has been to bring scientists and artists together. These two groups are surprisingly united by their intensely observational approach to the world and their desire to poke things to see how they work. I have co-designed new events such as workshops for artists in scientific labs, ArtScienceCamp (an unconference event for artists, scientists and students where the participants design the program) and executed the 13th, 14th and 15th editions of the annual Subtle Technologies Festival of art and science.
I’ve been inventing new events for more than 15 years. The best events have an element of imaginative design that pushes beyond what we already know to be possible. I’m inspired by events such as Science Foo Camp, the Long Now Seminars, the Brisbane Ideas Festival, TED and BarCamp.
I currently coorganize a series of salons, where each salon combines a video featuring a world expert speaking on a topic such as synthetic biology or constitutional law, and a local expert who provides commentary and takes questions from the other 5–6 participants. Recently I spun this into a sold-out full-day event with 40 participants attending 11 salons.
In the past, I co-designed SciBarCamp, an unconference for scientists that has now been duplicated in 4 cities. I’ve also remade traditional events, such the public lectures on science that I started in Brisbane, where the format, speaker selection and Q&A sessions were tweaked to make a more culturally satisfying event than the standard lecture.
My first love was physics, where I worked for 6 years in quantum computing research. I completed a PhD and published 7 papers. Most of my research focused on understanding what it will take to build a real quantum computer. My work relied on advanced mathematics and computer science such as Lie algebras and computational complexity theory.
I’m looking to grow in new ways in my work. I want to work on Things That Matter, projects that will make it better to be alive in 100 years than it is today.
I think the best chance of doing that is by working on technology. I take seriously the idea that new technologies can make things worse, but I believe that on balance they make things better because lots of people set out to make it so. I want to be a part of that.
We live in the age of scaling. We can use technology to extend opportunities that were historically limited to small groups of privileged people to far broader groups. Everyone can publish. Everyone can learn math online. Everyone can find groups of like-minded people in their cities. But we can empower people much further.
I’m interested in the following opportunities:
- tech companies that enable people to do new and valuable things, especially things that have the potential for scaling
Eg: Kiva, Kickstarter, Twitter, WordPress
- ways of providing people with more and better ways to learn
Eg: Khan Academy, Wikipedia, the world of informative blogs
- projects that bring me into contact with new communities, since this is a great place for finding opportunities to make a difference by combining distant ideas
Eg: I’d enjoy working or traveling in almost any country, or working with people in many different worlds such as the military, the financial world, religious institutions, NGOs, and so on