Happy New Year!

Well everyone, 2011 is drawing to an end, so I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! for 2012. All the very best, and thanks for reading. See you for more next year.

As my New Year’s greeting image, I give you the results of yesterday’s work on The Project. It is the opening panel for the dialogue/story that I started ink work on.

I sat in the sun with ink pens, brush, and ink, and happily brought to life the panel I’d envisioned for some time. I like the results, even though it is not quite […] Click to continue reading this post

Inks in Sun

I’ve been working when I can on the layouts of the first several pages of one of the stories I wrote in the Summer for The Project, and today I finally decided to do some inking on page one, sitting in the lovely sunshine we’ve been having. I am way behind, but struggle on. Lots of different things I’ve been experimenting with […] Click to continue reading this post

Tart Grab

I hope the holiday period is (or has been) going well for you. As you may know from reading this blog, there’s often a lot of cooking going on in my kitchen, especially during the big Fall and Winter holidays. This weekend was no exception…and there were several elements of the meal, each the product of delightful collaboration among myself and my visitors. I did not document all the food that was prepared this time around, but I am happy to report that it was a great meal… I did grab a before and after shot of a lattice coconut tart that materialized.

You might have seen a lattice tart on here before… not sure. I did the lattice work […] Click to continue reading this post

Science Comics and Branded Content

People often point to certain “science comics” as examples when I explain to them what The Project is about. In turn, I explain that while both things have science in them, and both things use sequential art, they’re not really the same. Not everyone gets it, but that’s ok. (If it helps, ask yourself if you would assume that I was writing a bodice-ripper for Mills and Boon or Harlequin if I said I were writing a novel in which there are elements of love, relationships, romance, etc., in it*.) There’s room for more than the “hey kids! science is awesome!” model, as fine a model as it is.

Since the confusion with that genre is so easily made I confess that I find myself reluctant to discuss it much here, lest I compound the confusion. That might be silly. Anyway, as an exception, I thought I’d point to a little collection of comic covers (and an extract from an interior) that the Washington Post has on its Innovations site as a piece about the movement in the fifties to get kids interested in science, through the big popular culture medium of the time – comics!

I wonder how much it worked, as compared to other efforts at the time. Is it even measurable? (For example, I think that the stuff I do in science outreach helps the cause of strengthening science (and its understanding) in […] Click to continue reading this post

Fig Resurrection

Ah, the Bleak Midwinter is here. My mum has come to visit and so I’ve started bringing out some of the fruits of Summer that I wanted to share with her… the figs! My plan was/is to make a batch of fig jam (see here and here for some of the earlier posts on that), and I still might, since I’ve a fair amount left in the freezer (as I got a set off the trees I’d chop them up and bag them and freeze them). But one thing you can do with them (actually with any fruit – I experimented with apples the other day) is make a quick tasty fruit compote to go on fresh pancakes! (Or yoghurt, or other item.)

I make mine by simply chopping up the fruit into small pieces, putting into a small pan with a little water, a bit of brown sugar, and some cinnamon and nutmeg, and just cooking it down slowly for ten or fifteen minutes. Stir frequently in the later stages as it begins to thicken. Don’t overwhelm the taste of the fruit with too much sugar -it’ll add its own sugars too, which you don’t want to drown […] Click to continue reading this post

The Dancers

Yesterday I went along to a friend’s dance class to sit and watch the proceedings and sketch a few gestures as they flit by…. It was fun!

I wasn’t entirely true to the process that I had set out to follow – a light touch with relatively few swift strokes – since I found that often when that worked, I was tempted to do a bit more finish work than I should, sometimes way too much… but hey, it was fun and I got something out of it, certainly getting some nice gestures here and there.

This is a very different process of drawing from some of the other things I’ve described here before… It is closer to the sort of drawing I do of people on public transport (catching glimpses and building a sense of the person, not a full, careful portrait since you can’t stare), but not entirely since of course you don’t have the luxury of stillness… Instead you try to internalize some of the shapes you see, and try […] Click to continue reading this post

Scribbling about Quantum Gravity

So I mentioned that I was doing some more material for the Nova people, via their website. (See here for some earlier material about Multiverses.) They’ve a blog called The Nature of Reality with contributions from many interesting people. Well, now they’re featuring those pencasts I think I told you about in an earlier post.

The pencasts are all about Quantum Gravity, a major research topic in physics. I talk about what it is and why we care about it. I speak and write, scribble and draw and […] Click to continue reading this post

Tune In!

Later today, there’ll be a joint seminar by physicists from ATLAS and CMS, the two experimental halls at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) looking for evidence of the Higgs boson. This will be the first official announcement of the physics seen (or not seen) by the combined results from both independent searches. Neither search has enough data to announce a discovery of anything (as far as I’ve heard) and the combined results would not constitute one either, but people are hoping for at least some nice hints of something suggestive that support each other. We shall see! this is an exciting time, as you’ve read me say before, and so I recommend looking out for what will be announced. Even a negative result (e.g., “we’ve found nothing yet”) […] Click to continue reading this post

Lunar Eclipse!

For those out here in the West of the continent, there’ll be a lovely lunar eclipse tomorrow morning (I should have mentioned it before but it somehow missed my attention). It will be at its peak about dawn (about 6:00am), and so if you are an early riser, it should be a nice sight to greet you – especially since it is expected to be somewhat red in hue. Of course, look for the moon in the West, near to setting. Since it will be close to the horizon, it will look quite large as well.

The eclipse will actually be visible right across the Pacific too, and into Asia and Eastern Europe, but check local details for the specifics.

There are more details here*. I plan to get up and have a look… maybe we’ll all be watching it together!



*Thanks Shelley! Click to continue reading this post

Goldilocks Final

So it is the final exam for my quantum field theory class tomorrow, and today I need to write it and typeset it. I’d given them a choice of exam. They seemed to want a take-home exam, but I warned them that a take-home is probably going to be way more challenging. I’d be thinking up newer, harder material that you can’t just google the results for. An in-class exam has a time limit, which seems to freak people out, but on the other hand (assuming the examiner (me) is a reasonable person – and I think I’ve given them every reason to believe that) it is likely to be written to be solvable in the assigned couple of hours. So there is a much stricter limit to the length or depth of what they’re going to be asked to do. If they’ve really been following along in the class and doing the homework, they should be able to get most of the exam done without breaking a sweat in 3/4 of the time allowed… maybe the last 1/4 of it might need a bit of furrowing of the brow, squinting the right way, scribbling hurriedly here and there, but in the spirit of a challenge, not torture. Even if they don’t get every last part solved, a well-designed exam will give them several opportunities to show off what they’ve learned.

I like setting take-home exams too, but I’ve a soft spot for in-class exams, I’ll admit. As you may have guessed, I loved in-class exams when I was a student. Yeah, I’m weird. This does not mean that I always scored super-well on them, but I enjoyed the […] Click to continue reading this post

A Splash of Colour

As compensation for the rather incomplete and patchy sketch of the last post, here’s a sketch that’s at least more uniformly incomplete (!) that you might recognize from a while back. The difference here is that this is an early experiment with applying splashes of (mostly flat) colour directly to my pencil sketches digitally, as an alternative approach to half tone, etc. I did this back in May.

In fact, you’ve seen several better examples since (for example here, here (well, not all flats there), and here (also […] Click to continue reading this post

What Goes Around…

So you probably heard about the remarkable wind storm in the region that hit last Wednesday night. It was quite the storm indeed. I was out in it almost at its peak, and so was reminded of just how devastating concentrated gusts of wind can be, even for a short while. Strangely, while houses on several neighbouring streets had lost electricity, and even some on my street, I’d managed to not have any extended electricity outage (although I think something did take place in that regard while I was sleeping). Several friends and colleagues had no electricity for days after, so I’ve been wondering what I did to dodge that bullet.

Well, as though not to leave me out, last night I came home to find that it was my turn to have a disruption, although it was rather an odd one… some systems in the house had electricity, and some did not… The few things that did were some lights that came on about 1/4 the brightness they normally would. Various other systems were unable to deal with this sort of meagre supply and either were complaining or just refusing to operate. Strange.

Anyway, it made me glad that I had gone out, since I’d have been all frustrated had I intended to do a lot of work indoors. I’d gone out to sit in a studio and do a bit of drawing from a live model, for practice. It has been a while since I’ve been to a “drop […]

Anyway, it made me glad that I had gone out, since I’d have been all frustrated had I intended to do a lot of work indoors. I’d gone out to sit in a studio and do a bit of drawing from a live model, for practice. It has been a while since I’ve been to a “drop […] Click to continue reading this post

Whale Song – Your Help Needed

I heard on NPR this morning that there’s a shout out to everyone to help with an interesting scientific project. It is crowd-sourcing in order to achieve certain objectives in science, which is an excellent idea. I wish I could do certain research projects I’m working on in this way – would be fun and quite novel indeed… Crowd-sourcing crowds of processors is maybe the closest I’d get to that. Anyway, it is all about identifying different types of whale song, and as a citizen scientist you’ll […] Click to continue reading this post