Henry Jenkins Interview!

Just after waking up today I read Henry Jenkins’ introduction to an interview that he did with me, posted on his fascinating blog (Confessions of an ACA-Fan: about culture, media, communication, and more). I was overcome with emotion for a moment there – He is very generous with his remarks about the book! What a great start to the day!

I recommend reading the interview in full. Part one is up now. It is a very in-depth […] Click to continue reading this post

A Sighting!

I went a bit crazy on social media earlier today. I posted this picture and: There’s been a first sighting!! Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh! It EXISTS! It actually exists! In a bookstore (Cellar Door Books in Riverside)! (But believe it or not a copy has not got to me yet. Long story.) http://thedialoguesbook.com … Click to continue reading this post

Here and There

[caption id="attachment_18854" align="aligncenter" width="499"] Kent Devereaux @NHIAPres took this at Poptech[/caption]

I’ve been a bit pulled hither and thither this last ten days or so. I was preparing and then giving a couple of talks. One was at (En)Lightning Talks LA, and the other was at PopTech (in Camden, Maine). I was therefore a bit absent from here, the blog, but very present on social media at various points (especially at PopTech) so do check out the various social media options in the sidebar.

In both cases, the talks were about my work on my familiar (to many of you) theme: Working to put science back into the general culture where it belongs. The longer talk (at PopTech in Camden Maine) was 15 minutes long or so, and I gave some introduction and motivation to this mission, and then used two examples. The first was my work on science advising for movies and TV, and I gave examples of what I consider good practice in terms of how […] Click to continue reading this post

Podcast Appreciation, 1

This is the first in a short series of posts about some favourite podcasts I’ve been listening to over the last year and a half or so.

This episode I’ll mention Comics Alternative, Saturday Review and Desi Geek Girls.

But first, why am I doing this? The final six months of work on the book was a very intense period of effort. That’s actually an understatement. There has been no comparable period of work in my life in terms of the necessary discipline, delicious intensity, steep learning curve, and so much more that is needed to do about 200 pages of the remaining final art needed to complete the (248 page) book. (While still doing my professoring gig and being a new dad.) I absolutely loved it – such challenges are just a delight to me.

I listened to music a lot, and discovered a lot of old parts of my music listening habits, which was fun (I’d have days where I’d listen to (and sing along to) all of Kate Bush’s albums in order, then maybe same for Sting, or Lee Morgan…. or scream along to Jeff Wayne’s awesome “War of the Worlds” Rock musical.) But then I got to a certain point in my workflow where I wanted voices, and I reached for radio, and podcast.

Since I was a child, listening to spoken word radio has been a core part of[…] Click to continue reading this post

In Flight…

Over on Instagram – follow me there @asymptotia for lots of activity – I showed a couple of montages of sketches I did on the flight out to New Orleans and on the return portion. It is a bit of practice I like to do, which I have not done in a long time. It is part of the practice I did a lot when I was gearing up to do final drawing on the book:


[…] Click to continue reading this post

Lasers and Gravitational Waves

Today’s Nobel Prize in physics has an interesting wrinkle to it. I summarised it in the extract above from a certain forthcoming book*. Click for a larger view. Congratulations to the winners Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish and Kip S Thorne! There are some excellent descriptions (either for layperson level … Click to continue reading this post

Unexpected Throwback!

Wow, I’ve really got something good for Throwback Thursday! A large white envelope arrived in my mailbox*, addressed to me in handwriting. My first thought was that it was yet another sheaf of papers with someone’s very earnest “Theory of Everything”, helpfully sent along for me to discover that indeed the science world has “got it totally wrong”: the universe is in fact made of (fill in the blank – let’s say parmesan cheese?) which interacts via (hungry angels tethered together by fondue strands?) and so on and so forth, and all I have to do is “work out the math for me because it is not my strong point” and it’ll all work out… “you’re welcome”.

But no, it was not. I don’t open things like this without caution, for various reasons, and often I throw them away, but there was something strangely familiar about the writing and so I took it away to (maybe) open later.

Then it struck me. It was my handwriting! Huh? How could that be? Was I […] Click to continue reading this post

It’s Time for the County Fair!

It’s that time of year again. For me, County Fairs have a charmingly old-fashioned quality to them, and I love to visit what might be considered some of the more boring aspects – the various crafts on display (shelves of pots of jam, pies and cakes, and so forth, knitted and crocheted items, and so forth), and the old games (hitting things with hammers, etc.) And of course sampling a tiny bit of the the terrible (but tasty) foods you get to eat!

I have a story (told within another story) in my forthcoming book that takes place at a fair (that illustrates an interesting scientific idea – but not one you’d guess at all, I’ll bet), and two years ago I went location scouting at the LA County Fair to get reference material for some of the various drawings I did for […] Click to continue reading this post

Angel’s Flight Lives!

Today marks the day when, after a long closure, the lovely tiny railway called Angel’s Flight in downtown Los Angeles re-opens. There is a news piece here for example. It was a common feature of what some called the “Asymptotia Tour”, meaning that back in the day, readers of this blog who visited LA and happened to meet me might well be shown this hidden gem of the city. Well, all those years ago (before it closed) I ended up capturing it (or a version of it) on the page as part of the setting for one of my dialogues in my forthcoming book, The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe (MIT Press, 2017). The images above show some fragments of two pages in the book, featuring the railway.

In Spring 2010, I took a sabbatical semester and decided to spend most of it in hiding (in some cities in Europe), telling nobody what […] Click to continue reading this post

Book Notifications!

I wonder if others get notifications from Amazon about my book as often as I do… anyway, please note that it is due to appear (depending upon who you believe) in 6-8 weeks or so, so please consider beating the rush and pre-ordering… also note that the discount for doing so is shrinking a bit as compared to earlier, so move fast! Amazon link here, but your favourite store (local or online) will likely have it at that price too!

-cvj Click to continue reading this post

A Skyline to Come?

I finished that short story project for that anthology I told you about and submitted the final files to the editor on Sunday. Hurrah. It’ll appear next year and I’ll give you a warning about when it is to appear once they announce the book. It was fun to work on this story. The sample above is a couple of process shots of me working (on my iPad) on an imagining of the LA skyline as it might look some decades from now. I’ve added several buildings among the ones that might be familiar. It is for the opening establishing shot of the whole book. There’s one of San Francisco later on, by the way. (I learned more about the SF skyline and the Bay Bridge than I care to admit now…)

I will admit that I went a bit overboard with the art for this project! I intended to do a lot rougher and looser style in both pencil work and colour and of course ended up with far too much obsessing over precision and detail in the end (as you can also see here, here and here). As an interesting technical landmark […] Click to continue reading this post

Future Crowds…

Yeah, I still hate doing crowd scenes. (And the next panel is an even wider shot. Why do I do this to myself?)

Anyway, this is a glimpse of the work I’m doing on the final colour for a short science fiction story I wrote and drew for an anthology collection to appear soon. I mentioned it earlier. (Can’t say more yet because it’s all hush-hush still, involving lots of fancy writers I’ve really no business keeping company with.) I’ve […] Click to continue reading this post

I Went Walking, and…


Well, that was nice. Was out for a walk with my son and ran into Walter Isaacson. (The Aspen Center for Physics, which I’m currently visiting, is next door to the Aspen Institute. He’s the president and CEO of it.) He wrote the excellent Einstein biography that was the official book of the Genius series I worked on as science advisor. We chatted, and it turns out we have mutual friends and acquaintances.

He was pleased to hear that they got a science advisor on board and that the writers (etc) did such a good job with the science. I also learned that he has a book on Leonardo da Vinci coming out […] Click to continue reading this post

A Street Scene Materializing

Well, I finished all the line art on that SF short story I was asked to write and draw. And the good news is that the editor of the anthology it will be part of is extremely pleased with the story. So that’s good news since I put a lot of work into it and it would be hard to change anything significant at this stage! So all I have to do is paint the 20 pages, which should be fun. The line art is in a pencil style, and so I might do some colour that is in a loose style to match. In any case, below is a video capture (2 mins long) of the complete process of me drawing a panel for part of a page of the story (unpainted panel is at top of this post). I did this on the plane back from Europe a short while ago. It’s an […] Click to continue reading this post

Cover Fun!

Thanks for all the great compliments that many of you have been sending me about the cover of the book. The final version of the cover is essentially the one you’ve seen before (it is on the MIT Press website here, and you can currently pre-order at amazon and other booksellers the world over – for example here), but the blue is a bit lighter (some people at the publisher were concerned that the figures were a little too subtle and wanted them much brighter, I did not want them to light so that they’d get lost in the lettering…so we compromised). Click the image to see a sightly larger version.

For those of you who want a deeper dive into the background of all this, I thought I’d share the sketches I made back in early April when they asked me to design the cover. (Click for larger view.)

It is always good to explore options, and also to give design options when asked to design something… I was secretly hoping they’d choose my favourite […] Click to continue reading this post