Poor Pluto!

Remember our discussions of Pluto’s demotion/reclassification? (Lots of link reminders at bottom of post.) Well, here’s a sad (and amusing) image* created by artist Mathias Pedersen:

poor pluto mathias pedersen

You can see a high resolution version of this image here. Don’t forget to look at more of of the graphic art of Mathias Pedersen**.

Poor Pluto indeed!

(Take some time to appreciate how good a job he’s done on colours and other features of the […] Click to continue reading this post

Categorically Not! – Recycling

The next Categorically Not! is Sunday 13th May – Mother’s Day! (USA). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See the links below for some recent descriptions (and even video) of previous events.

The theme this month is recycling. Here’s the description from the site:

Everything gets recycled: newspapers and banana peels, the air you breathe and the earth you walk on; some would even say our souls. Our bodies, we know, are made from materials recycled in generations of stars. The mix of genes that makes us who we are is a stew recycled by long lines ancestors—something nice to remember on Mother’s Day. Artists recycle everything from concrete objects to abstract ideas. New musical forms—like new scientific theories—are inevitably reconstructed from pieces of the past.

We’ll start with the ancestors of us all: the stars. An astrophysicist with the Carnegie Observatories, Alan Dressler uses both the Hubble Space Telescope […] Click to continue reading this post

Point of View, II – The Event

Thursday 12th’s “Point of View, II” event was a huge success. See here for the blurb on what was coming up. Below I intersperse that with a little about what actually took place, and give you a link to video of the event.

One of the great things about the format is that we’ve no clear idea what each presenter is going to do, where they will take things in their examination of the theme, so it adds somewhat to the excitement of the events. Do come along to some of the Categorically Not! events (of the same type) which happen every month at Santa Monica airport. Web link here.

Don Marolf of UCSB will tell us what Einstein’s relativity REALLY means to the physicists who study our world. Different observers’ perceptions of space, and even of time itself can give different answers. How do we make sense of that, and what are the consequences?

don marolfWe started with Don Marolf (click left for larger), who did a really great job of telling the audience about what the theme “Point of View” meant to physicists, in the context of Relativity. He had some great computer slides, but in addition he produced various items from his pockets during the talk to use as props to illustrate things. Don is an excellent presenter with a huge amount of charm and energy and an infectious laugh and so gave us a great start to the evening.

Poet and author Michael Datcher, who teaches literary nonfiction and poetry at Loyola Marymount University, will talk about the role of the writer as a witness and also his newly launched journal of literary nonfiction, The Truth about the Fact.

michael datcherWe then went in a very different direction with Michael Datcher […] Click to continue reading this post

Saturday Scenes

alonys red
(The striking central red piece above is by the artist called Alonys (as are the ones surrounding). You can see more things of hers at her myspace space.)

Well, it’s been a busy week here, and I had tons of things to tell you in about five or six extra posts (beyond the quick ones I did) that never made an appearance. I had several for last weekend too. I ought to start by catching up from there. Here goes a bit of recollection and reflection:

Saturday was interesting since I ended up cramming three different activities into the evening, after a day of gardening and errands (mostly the latter), if I recall correctly.

gatherd crowdThe evening began (as it did the Saturday before) with a trip to an opening at an art gallery. This time it was downtown, near Gallery Row, (it is called Crewest) and it was featuring the work of some up and coming female artists. Overall, I was not overwhelmed with things I thought were great, but the exhibition was not without some interesting pieces on the walls (see above – some of her 3d sculpture-meets-painting works were fun too) and sometimes interesting people milling around. There was even a DJ, but sadly no wine (I’d been spoiled by the last gallery reception, I suppose.) […] Click to continue reading this post

Point of View, II

The second of the Point of View campus events in the Visions and Voices series is on Thursday. It is at 7:00pm at the Gin Wong conference center (which is near Fine Arts and Architecture, by the way.) See the bottom of this post for some earlier events of this type, and this post for the background on Visions and Voices.

This time we’ll have a Poet, a Dancer, and a Physicist! Here’s some blurb that KC Cole (my co-conspirator in this business) wrote about who is appearing and what they’ll be saying:
[…] Click to continue reading this post

Categorically Not! – Movement

The next Categorically Not! is Sunday 7th January. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with ocassional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. There’s a website of past and upcoming events here. You can also have a look at two of the last two descriptions I did of some events here and here, and the description of a recent special one on Uncertainty that was held at the USC campus is here.

Here is K.C. Cole’s description of the upcoming programme:

“Movement: You can’t leave home without it. In fact, you can’t get anywhere without it—whether you’re trying to bring about political change, compose music, send a robot to Mars, or merely make your way across a room. You can’t even […] Click to continue reading this post

Hooking Up Manifolds

lorenz manifold

I love crochet. I spent a huge number of hours doing it when I was young, and only in later years did I realize that the same things that attracted it to me then are the same things that drive and motivate a lot of my research interests. (I many have mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again).

It’s the love of patterns, plain and simple. If your child -of whetever gender- gets […] Click to continue reading this post

We’re Not Doomed

video gamerUSC has launched a Bachelor’s degree in video games. I know what you’re thinking. Stop it! No, civilisation is not doomed. (Image on right grabbed from Chip Chick). In fact, this could be rather wonderful, as it will create the opportunity to develop the potential of this medium in so many wonderful ways. It will not be about kids sitting there blowing up stuff and shooting up people. Why do I say this?

I remind you that in 1929 USC founded the first film school (at least in the USA)…. I imagine that people turned up their noses at this. Film is now recognized as a major art form, and a powerful tool for education and expression, with USC continuing to lead the pack in educating artists, visionaries and technicians in that area, feeding the local Industry and well beyond.

Doing a degree in film or movie-making (or “The Cinematic Arts”, as we are supposed […] Click to continue reading this post

Some Observations at Griffith Observatory

So I must apologize. I went to the preview of the Griffith Observatory so long ago now and did promise to blog about it with more than just one nice picture, but it did not happen. Partly because I had to go back across the Atlantic to do some work, and then got ill over the weekend I was planning to do it, and then…

Griffith Observatory

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts. First note that my two week delay means that this is no longer a scoop, since even the LA Times had a spread on the whole thing on Thursday. A rather nice one as well. I urge you to consult it for a lovely pull-out graphic of the whole site. There is also a special website with picture tours, nifty 360 degree interactive shots of the spaces, and other information. The Griffith opened yesterday.

What they’ve done over the last four or five years is simply shut down the entire building and rethink and redo a great deal of it. How to preserve the lovely 70 year old landmark, while making it even better? Simple question – simple answer: Get $93 million for your project (I find this number, the earth-sun distance in miles, suspicious), and then go underneath the existing building and hollow out about the same amount of space that is has, but underground. Fill it with lots of goodies. And I mean lots and lots. What goodies? We’ll see. […] Click to continue reading this post

Fashionably Deconstructed

Spotted in the windows of a Department store (Hermes?) in Dublin (click for larger):


They are trying to invoke a car that has been taken apart and draped with hermes 2 splendid clothing to form the display. In the picture below (click for larger), the second window’s oil can, in the carefully chosen-to-match colour, is a […] Click to continue reading this post

Promises, Promises

Due to travel, work, and illness, I’m very behind in a number of posts I was hoping to have brought to you by now. I’m planning a big session of playing catch-up tomorrow, and so please accept my apologies for the lateness of some things I promised.

Until then, I’ll leave you with another lovely Peter Goin “Narrative Photogram”, part of the series that I showed you before at the Metro/7th Subway stop on the Red Line.


They’ve put a lot of effort into those subway stations. Not nearly enough people use them or even know about them, even though they live and work in the city. Consider […] Click to continue reading this post