The 2016 Physics Nobel Prize goes to…!

Wow! Topology in the mainstream news. I never thought I’d see the day. Congratulations to the winners! Citation:

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 was divided, one half awarded to David J. Thouless, the other half jointly to F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”.

Here is a link to the Nobel Prize site with more information, and also, here’s a BBC breakdown of some of the science.

An important (to some) side note: Duncan Haldane was at USC when he wrote the cited papers. Great that USC was supportive of this kind of work, especially in that early part of his career.

-cvj Click to continue reading this post


Are you going to watch the Luke Cage series that debuts today on Netflix? I probably will at some point (I’ve got several decades old reasons, and also it was set up well in the excellent Jessica Jones last year)…. but not soon as I’ve got far too many deadlines. Here’a a related item: Using the Luke Cage character as a jumping off point, physicist Martin Archer has put together a very nice short video about the business of strong and tough (not the same thing) materials in the real world.


Have a look if you want to appreciate the nuances, and learn a bit about what’s maybe just over the horizon for new amazing materials that might be come part of our every day lives. Video embed below: […] Click to continue reading this post

Kitchen Design…

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sample_panel_dialogues_19_09_2016Apparently I was designing a kitchen recently. Yes, but not one I intend to build in the physical world. It’s the setting (in part) for a new story I’m working on for the book. The everyday household is a great place to have a science conversation, by the way, and this is what we will see in this story. It might be one of the most important conversations in the book in some sense.

This story is meant to be done in a looser, quicker style, and there I go again with the ridiculous level of detail… Just to get a sense of how ridiculous I’m being, note that this is not a page, but a small panel within a page of several.

The page establishes the overall setting, and hopefully roots you […] Click to continue reading this post

Find Your Fair…

county_fair_panels_shareThis might be one of my favourite sequences from the book so far*. (Click for larger view.) It’s a significant part of a page so I’ve watermarked it heavily. Sorry about that: It’s days of work to make these things. It is based on a location scouting trip I did last year around this time at the LA County Fair. So consider this a public service announcement if you’ve not yet done a Summer visit this year to a county fair near you… Go! They’re an excellent old-school kind of fun.

There’s a whole sequence in the book that involves such a visit and I’ve just […] Click to continue reading this post

Stranger Stuff…

Ok all you Stranger Things fans. You were expecting a physicist to say a few things about the show weren’t you? Over at Screen Junkies, they’ve launched the first episode of a focus on TV Science (a companion to the Movie Science series you already know about)… and with the incomparable host Hal Rudnick, I talked about Stranger Things. There are spoilers. Enjoy.


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[…] Click to continue reading this post

New Style…


Style change. For a story-within-a-story in the book, I’m changing styles, going to a looser, more cartoony style, which sort of fits tonally with the subject matter in the story. The other day on the subway I designed the characters in that style, and I share them with you here. It’s lots of fun to draw in this looser […] Click to continue reading this post

All Aboard…!

The other day, quite recently, I clicked “place your order” on… a toy New York MTA bus. I can’t pretend it was for the youngster of the house, it was for me. No, it is not a mid-life crisis (heh… I’m sure others might differ on this point), and I will happily declare that it is not out of nostalgia for my time in the city, especially back in the 90s.


It’s for the book. I’ve an entire story set on a bus in Manhattan and I neglected to location scout a bus when I was last there. I figured I could work from tourist photos and so forth. Turns out that you don’t get many good tourist photos of MTA bus interiors, and not the angles I want. Then I discovered various online bus-loving subcultures that go through all the details of every model of NYC bus, with endless shots of the buses in different parts of the city… but still not many good interiors and no good overheads and so forth. (See Transittalk, for example – I now know way more about buses in New york than I ever thought I’d want to know.) Then I accidentally had an Amazon link show up in my […] Click to continue reading this post

But Does That Really Happen…?


Sorry I’ve been quiet for a long stretch recently. I’ve been tied up with travel, physics research, numerous meetings of various sorts (from the standard bean-counting variety to the “here’s three awesome science-y things to put into your movie/TVshow” variety*), and other things, like helping my garden survive this heatwave.

I’ve lost some time on the book, but I’m back on it for a while, and have […] Click to continue reading this post

The Red Shoes…

Well, this conversation (for the book) takes place in a (famous) railway station, so it would be neglectful of me to not have people scurrying around and so forth. I can’t do too many of these… takes a long time to draw all that detail, then put in shadows, then paint, etc. Drawing directly on screen saves time (cutting out scanning, adjusting the scan, etc), but still…

This is a screen shot (literally, sort of – I just pointed a camera at it) of a detailed large panel in progress. I got bored doing the […] Click to continue reading this post