Tuesday evening was fun. My dear friend Amy French, who was hired to direct a production of Steve Martin’s play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” had been been rehearsing her cast for a few weeks. She invited two people to come along as guests one evening to talk about Picasso and Einstein – their work discussed in the play (Cubism and Special Relativity), and the impact of their work on the world. Megan Mastroianni from the Art History department (see her in the center of the photo above – you can click it for a larger view) came along to talk about the Picasso aspect, and I talked about Einstein. It was a lot of fun, and verity informative for all concerned.
(Well, it’s not really the correct use of the term in the title, but I’m going to stick with it.) It has been a busy last several days, and so I’ve been quiet here. The last couple of days I’ve been at a conference in Pasadena. I’ve been enjoying the conference. There has been a host of interesting talks, and interesting people to talk to, including old friends I’m getting to catch up with a bit. It has been quite tiring though. I evidently don’t have the stamina I used to have for a schedule of eight talks in a day. Perhaps I never did.
Oddly today I had a meeting in a skyscraper in downtown LA that I’d been studying last year because I was doing a drawing of it for The Project. Funny old world. I really enjoyed being in it because from the meeting room one can view the classic public library building, a favorite of mine, from the 41st floor, and also check out the scene in the Standard rooftop bar (been a while since I’ve hung out there).
But the most unexpected thing of all was when I returned to ground level. I was walking on my way to the subway and slowed to enjoy a view of the public library, only to be faced with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in two forms, Schrodinger’s equation, and an atomic spectrum (Rydberg, Bohr, etc) that one can derive from the latter, engraved into the wall! Hurrah!
A process update, since some of you are curious about The Project.
While hiding in the desert on walkabout recently, I finished writing a story I’d been working on (one of a few I worked on), and started thumbnailing parts of it and refining the pagination of it. Thumbnails are just little sketches of how a page might be laid out, maybe focusing on how the eye might move about the page, how the words and pictures might flow, etc. There were some pages I was immediately interested to try out, and so I did larger versions of them in rough here and there (and for some other stories too)…. For one of them, I have a really exciting exchange (about symmetry and beauty) over a notepad, and I sketched over oatmeal one breakfast time a mannequin construction of the layout. (See earlier for introduction to my mannequin friends.)
Well, on Thursday and Friday I finished the rough pencils for the whole page, featuring those two figures, now given flesh and bone. Today I did the main figures for another page, with a variation on that pose of the mannequin drawing from the desert. (Vellum helps here.) I thought I’d share (click for larger view):
The Expo line will be opening (after an incredibly long testing phase) on April 28th. I’ll be there, Brompton in hand, to test it out, I think. A couple of articles on it appeared in the LA Weekly and the LA Times.
I’ve been excited about this for a while, not just because there’ll be a station across the street from my office, essentially (and the fact that when phase two is completed in 2015, or thereabouts, I’ll be able to step out of my office and board a train for the beach), but because I Continue reading ‘Opening!’
My friend the science writer Casey Rentz wrote a nice piece about the Science Film Competition and showcase last week for Scientific American Blogs. She talks a bit about the issue of science in film, the competition, and points to some other science plus film projects too. See here.
Well, that turned out to be a very productive Walkabout. I set up an office there, taking some of the essentials of the things I was working on and disappearing for most of the week. No computers, just pens, pencils, and paper. My office? A chair and a shelter made of thin fabric, string, two poles, and some large stones to weigh down the pegs against the wind. The shelter was against the sun, since I was in Death Valley, camping. As I sometimes do.
My routine was simple: I’d wake up at about sunrise or shortly thereafter and after a visit to the restrooms across the way to freshen up a bit, I’d get my old whisperlite stove going to make some water boiling for tea. Once that’s done, I’d make a pot of oatmeal for breakfast and sitting eating it while flicking at the gnats that seem to begin to swarm during the morning’s first heat, I’d watch the morning move along for a while, with campers across the way getting ready for their day’s hikes or drives in the area. (My hiking boots and other gear were with me just in case I wanted to hike, but that was not my focus, and I didn’t in the end.) Next I’d make a large pot of coffee (sweetened with dark brown sugar), have a cup of it then and there, and pour the rest into a thermos flash for consumption during the day. Then I’d wash up everything, put them away, and take my work materials to my office, situated just behind my tent. By then, most people have left for good or for the day in the neighboring campsites, and it is quiet, except for the large ravens that tour the Continue reading ‘And Back…’
I thought so. Well, consider signing up to my friend Amy Rowat’s special new course at UCLA on the subject. It will feature many fantastic chefs from some of the finest restaurants around the city and beyond, as well as some excellent food writers. The course will have a wealth of wonderful information (like at the answers to why carrots are sweeter in the Winter), and hands on practice to get involved in. I think the course is only open to UCLA students (who should be sure to register fast to get on the limited list), but there are four public events (I think you might have to register for those too, as space it limited). See the list of events here. I’ve mentioned Amy and her work here on the blog before, soho and have a look at the earlier post for more about her work at UCLA, and go here for more on the Rowat Lab. (See also a recent article featuring her lab’s work on food science in UCLA’s Prime magazine’s Winter 2012 edition.)
My friend and colleague the author Aimee Bender wrote a piece for AFAR magazine recently about the process of her rediscovering Los Angeles over the years. Seeing it from outside the car, on foot, on a bike, and on the bus. You know, the way you see it a lot here through your Asymptotia-tinged spectacles. It appears in the March/April issue, and you can see it here. (I must say, that British guy she runs into seems like hard work… geez…!)
On Sunday night I needed to throw together an illustrative graphic to communicate some of the design I want on the film I mentioned earlier I’m working on.
There was a meeting the next morning, and so I wanted to pretty it all up and put some narrative text on the side, as part of a larger report. This is part of what I came up with. I’ll spare you the text, and the later images I’ll perhaps show later.
This is another lovely short film* by Cristóbal Vila, this time about numbers and nature. As a big fan of the golden mean and the Fibonacci sequence (and Penrose tilings – you’ve read me go on about all that here before), I love the way this is all pulled together:
Saw these on campus the other day. I’ve forgotten what these are called, but I am always impressed with them.
They are part of a set of ornamental plants that in another, closely related, universe would (along with their neighbors) perhaps feature more on our dinner plates than in gardens, I fancy. I must try to find their name at some point.
But the point here is that I’ve never really studied their flowers before… They’re amazing and unexpected in form!
It is Spring break. I’ll be off planet for a while. Until my return, there are some posts scheduled to appear (below this one, for a while), so stay tuned! I’ll let you know about my travels when I return. Comments are suspended until I return, due to the frequency Continue reading ‘Walkabout’
Ever heard of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge? There is one being constructed on campus here at USC right now! (The image on the left is the poster for the event.) The fractal was discovered by engineer Jeannine Mosely, and she did a similar construction (of a different fractal, the Menger Sponge) some years ago out of folded business cards (see here for some great images!), and the same thing is being done here. You can learn more about the project here. Margaret Wertheim, of the Institute for Figuring, is running this project, with the help of Tyson Gaskill. Everyone is invited to join in. You can just show up and fold a few cubes as you pass by. I took a picture and made encouraging remarks on this visit. (My defense is that I’d just given an hour and a half presentation, it was getting late into the night, and I was tired.)
Just got back from stalking the biggest rock star in town. It is the centerpiece (wrapped in white material for the trip to reduce damage) of what will be the Levitated Mass piece by Michael Heizer, at LACMA, and it has been trundled over the last ten days or so from Riverside to Los Angeles in little late night journey, and as I speak is heading to its resting place at LACMA down Wilshire Boulevard. The picture is it when it was passing USC (my place of work) at about 10:45pm Friday night, trundling down Figueroa. This $10 million operation (involving a huge entourage Continue reading ‘Rock Star!’
Speaking of film projects involving science, I’m involved in two new ones I’ve been meaning to tell you about. I’m working on producing a short film about the Aspen Center for Physics, to be used in the upcoming 50th Anniversary celebrations. My partner in crime on this is Bob Melisso, who I’ve worked with before a number of times, and it’s already been interesting, and fun. I think that the final piece ought to be interesting at the very least. I’ve been trying to work in a very particular look and feel for the film that reflects something about the nature of the work that goes on at the center (both its content and how it is done), and so there’ll be lots of chalk, scribbling on boards, reflections on the creative process and how a place like the Aspen Center helps, and so on and so forth.
Have you heard about Losing Control? It is a film that’s being released this year with a lot of promise to be unusual, interesting, and sure to tackle an area that you don’t see covered much in the mainstream: the choices facing a young female scientist when it comes to her career and her personal life. I was introduced to Valerie Weiss, the writer/director/producer of the film not long ago in the context of a project I was doing concerning science and film. Valerie is an award-winning filmmaker who has a background as a research scientist, and so is in a great position to tackle such subject matter. I’m looking forward to the film a lot. I want to see more of this sort of thing, as you know from my writing here about science and scientists in the media. This is (I think) Valerie’s first feature film, so let’s hope it does well so that she can be encouraged to do more work on this sort of subject matter.
It’s going to start with limited releases in cities in the US such as New York, Sacramento, Tacoma, Boston, Los Angeles, and Tempe, and go on from there, so try Continue reading ‘Losing Control’