I’m at the Aspen Center for Physics for some time this week. It is a big week. You will perhaps recall that I’m involved in making a short film for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the ACP (see some earlier posts) and now we are doing another batch of shooting. Not just interviews, as we have been doing so far, but much of the other footage we need, such as the lovely grounds, the various physicists using the center, in myriad ways, and so forth. We’ve had a super long day today, which Continue reading ‘The Shooting Party’
Monthly Archive for May, 2012
One of the key things I keep trying to maintain and improve by drawing regularly is speed. I’ve shown you drawings of various sorts here, but maybe not enough of the experiments I try to do relatively quickly. When things are working well and my eye is in, so to speak, shapes and lines jump out at me and beg to be put on to the paper, and a convincing form appears, giving a sense of the pose that was being done at the time. This can be someone on the train, or it can be a model in a studio I’ve dropped in to draw for a while.
I sort of love incomplete drawings that are a mixture of schematic structures, implied flow, more finished forms, and so forth. The results can be quite fun to look at. Above is a bunch I did last week. Click for a much larger view. (I apologize for the copyright watermark in everything, but I’m tired of the business people have on the Continue reading ‘Speed and Flow’
This is actually a picture from Saturday (click for larger view)… Several plants in the squash family are going crazy in the garden and producing fully mature tasty vegetables already! A friend of mine has suggested that the compost I produced in the last cycle (that everything is planted in) is somehow super-great for them. Maybe that has indeed helped. (See earlier posts, e.g., here and here, for more on making your own compost, how it works, and so forth, by the way…)
I’ve been running a bit late on posting things, so since then I’ve harvested some of these, and I took a few pictures. I’ll show them to you tomorrow!
My modest contribution to the photos of the eclipse from Sunday. Modest indeed… Continue reading ‘Shadow Dancing’
Don’t forget the annular solar eclipse on Sunday! You get get all the detail about it at the NASA eclipse site here. According to the site:
“An annular eclipse will be visible from a 240 to 300 kilometre-wide track that traverses eastern Asia, the northern Pacific Ocean and the western United States. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow, that includes much of Asia, the Pacific and the western 2/3 of North America”…
I’ve put a snap of the graphic they provided on the right for decoration, so you can go to the site for more detail and explanation. This includes precise times for your city, and so on and so forth. Be sure to exercise the usual precautions in viewing (do not look directly at the sun with your eyes, and certainly don’t look at it through any optical instruments… project the eclipse onto something else… there are many sources that can tell you more about that…)
Here’s a nice article (by Ambrosia Brody) about some of the work the Joint Educational Project (JEP), Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences (all here at USC) have been doing to get school students excited about science. It looks like a fun and valuable program, and it is always great to see the look of wonder on the faces of the students as they explore (see film below). (Photo is by Nick Pittarides for USC News.)
A nice aspect of it that caught my eye is that one of the films that got made for the Continue reading ‘Bringing Science to Schools’
The other day I had a quick last minute task I needed to do. I realized that if I was going to get a sixth birthday card to my nephew in time, it needed to be posted that day, and by the 3:30 post. It was 2:00. I’d not made a card yet. Nor designed one. Pictures of roses were probably not going to cut it. No doubt somewhere on my hard drive is a picture of something I took, maybe even with a card for him in mind, that would make sense to use…. but it would take me longer to look for it than to simply think of something afresh.
So I stared at the wall for a while. Six…. six….. I wanted an image that somehow says Continue reading ‘Six Legs’
Since you asked, here’s an update on The Project. I was a bit quiet on it the last two weeks with the end of semester duties taking up lots of time (setting finals, grading them, extra homeworks and so forth – see several recent posts). Just before that however, I did a bit of a push to finish some pages that I wanted to include in my presentation to the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities (I mentioned that to you before – see here. It went very well by the way, with lots of enthusiasm from lots of those who were kind enough to attend.)
Over the four or five days I’ve started on a new aspect of the project that has led me in an interesting direction – revisiting some of the original pages I did, two years ago. I decided then that the best thing to do to learn what I needed to learn about production of a graphic novel is just to… produce one. So I set upon a prototype, learning lots of techniques along the way, making lots of twists and turns in developing the methods that worked best for me, and so forth. I’ve refined the route I take from pencil to final product over the time (I’ve described it to you a number of times here on the blog), and in addition, my basic drawing skills have moved along a lot too… Anyway, looking back, I see that the first few pages especially are quite dreadful, a combination of bad drawing and also the struggle with digital inking techniques that I decided to abandon in favour of old school nib pens and ink. (It is actually satisfying to see just how far I’ve come in a short time… fixing various things took a relatively short time compared to how long I’d have agonized over them back then…)
So since I want to show this prototype to people, I’ve decided to re-draw and Continue reading ‘Revisiting Old Haunts’
I’ve got a lot of roses blooming in the garden, just in time for (US) Mother’s day. Well, a week earlier, actually. This was good timing, allowing me to make a card (as I always do) to send over to the UK to my mum and my sister for their Mother’s day greetings. I hope they got them in time…
Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Oh… I forgot to get around to letting you know the result of designing the universe required in a previous post. The result is that it is a radiation (“light”) filled universe with positive cosmological constant (and so space wants to expand due to negative pressure – much like ours seems to be doing). The radiation density wants the thing to collapse. There’s a balance between the two, and it turns out that it is when the two densities (radiation, and vacuum energy) are equal. This is only possible when there is positive curvature for the universe (so, not like ours), as you can see from the Friedman equation if you were that way inclined. So the universe is a 3-sphere, and if you work it out, the radius of this 3-sphere turns out to be . The temperature of the radiation is then computed using the usual Stefan-Boltzmann relation.
The equality of densities turns out to result from the fact that the effective potential of the equation is at a maximum, and so this universe turns out to be unstable… It is a radiation-filled version of Einstein’s matter-filled static universe, which is also unstable. It is larger than Einstein’s by a factor of .
Einstein was said to have arrived at his static universe on the grounds of what he thought was observationally clear – the universe was unchanging (on large scales). Hubble Continue reading ‘Heaven’s Parameters’
This film is simply delightful, although in the context of the article I read about it* in (in the May 14th 2012 New Yorker, “Here’s Looking at You” by Nick Paumgarten – about domestic use of unmanned drones and all that is in store of us there), also a Continue reading ‘Flying Robot Band’
This is an extra homework that some students of the General Relativity class did to make up for one that did not count earlier in the semester. While writing it, I realized that this universe is in fact, Heaven! You know, we become beings of light, and live forever, etc…
I thought it would be fun to share its final form:
“You work in the design section of the company that manufactures universes. (This is Continue reading ‘Project Heaven’
So last week we had a visit from Kelly Stelle (he’s part of the high energy theory group at Imperial College) who gave us an excellent talk about aspects of supergravity. His work connects to the fascinating ongoing story about finiteness, and the new techniques being used to do the multiloop computations (see a recent Scientific American cover story about some of that – it is misleadingly packaged by the magazine, as usual (preview here), but the article itself, focusing on the computational issues, is nice).
After his talk, I gave him a tour of the campus, and as we passed through the Doheny Library to view the lovely interior, we stopped by the ongoing construction of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge fractal that I told you about here.
They’re making a lot of progress.
We spent a few minutes folding some business cards to contribute some component cubes to the construction, and I took a snap (see photo on left) of Kelly at work. We made two or three cubes each…
Here’s a shot of one of the completed modules Continue reading ‘Fractal in Progress…’