Last week the always-interesting Maria Popova of Brain Pickings wrote a piece about the book. I was pleased to see what she wrote because it was clear that she really understood many of the several things I was trying to do in making the book. (I say this because my expectation is usually that people aren’t going to click with it because it does not fit narrow presuppositions for either a non-fiction science book or for a graphic novel.) So this was a very pleasant surprise indeed. There’s no point trying to paraphrase her, so let me simply point you there with this link.
The book also made the roundup of top Science Books for 2017 on NPR’s […] Click to continue reading this post
So I’ve been waiting for some time to tell you about this clever joke by eminent physicist Anthony Zee. Well, I think it is a joke, I’ve not checked with him yet: The final production period for The Dialogues was full of headaches, I must say, but there was one thing that made me laugh out loud, for a long time. I heard that Tony had agreed to write a blurb for the back cover of the book, but I did not see it until I was finally sent a digital copy of the back cover, somewhat after everything had (afaik) gone to print. The blurb was simple, and said:
“This is a fantastic book — entertaining, informative, enjoyable, and thought-provoking.”
I thought this was rather nicely done. Simple, to the point, generous…. but, after a while… strangely familiar. I thought about it for a while, walked over to one of my bookcases, and picked up a book. What book? My 2003 copy of the the first edition of “Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell”, by A. (for Anthony) Zee. I turned it over. The first blurb on the back says:
“This is a fantastic book — exciting, amusing, unique, and very valuable.”
The author of that blurb? Clifford V. Johnson.
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Now that #thedialoguesbook is out is I get even more people telling me how they can’t draw. I don’t believe them. Just as with science (and other subjects), everybody has a doorway in to a subject. It is just a matter of taking time to finding your individual Door. Individual doors is what makes us all wonderfully different. For me it is mostly geometry that is my Door. It gives a powerful way to see things, but isn’t the only way. Moreover, I have to work hard to not be trapped by it sometimes. But it is how I truly see things most often – through geometry. Wonderful geometry everywhere.
-cvj Click to continue reading this post
So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been really enjoying the new series of Star Trek. I started watching Star Trek Discovery because I was one of the science advisors they talked with from the early writing stages to finish, building some of the science ideas, concepts, and tone for their reimagining of the Star Trek universe.
Over many months after the initial meeting with all the writers, I would take calls from individual writers and researchers and give them ideas or phrases they could use and so forth. But much of the work was done blind, which is to say I had very little context for most of what they were asking for advice for. I think they do it this way because they wanted to protect a lot of the material from leaking because, well, it’s Star Trek! Yes, you’ll know from my various writings and interviews about science advising that this is not usually my preferred way of working as an advisor, but I was happy to help in this case and make an exception because after all of this is a huge show that has a tradition of inspiring people about science over many generations. so it could be of value, just by virtue of some of the little science ideas that I helped sprinkled in there, however accurately or inaccurately. The bottom line is that Star Trek just isn’t about accuracy, it’s about inspiration and dreams.
Well, needless to say, when it came out I was curious to see how they used […] Click to continue reading this post
(Image above courtesy of Cellar Door Books in Riverside, CA.)
Happy Thanksgiving! This coming week, there’ll be two events that might be of interest to people either in the Los Angeles area, or the New York area.
The first is an event (Tues. 28th Nov., 7pm, Co-sponsored by LARB and Chevalier’s Books) centered around my new book, the Dialogues. It is the first such LA event, starting with a chat with writer and delightful conversationalist […] Click to continue reading this post
All the parts of my interview with Henry Jenkins have been posted now. You can find them here, here, and here. The latest, posted today, talks about a nod to the superhero genre that I playfully do in the book, as well as my slightly unhealthy obsession over architectural details in the making of the book! (But of course, you knew that from reading this blog regularly…!)
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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
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
In another universe, this post has me holding the physical book, finally, after 18 years. In this universe however, there have been delays, and I’m holding this card showing the cover instead. But in 11 days let’s see! Pre-orders are enormously helpful. If you’ve already got a copy, thanks. But it’s gift-giving season coming up, so… Or just please share this post to others who might be interested in science and/or graphic books! Thanks. Ordering info, a trailer, and ten sample pages are here: http://thedialoguesbook.com
-cvj Click to continue reading this post
[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
No, not the new Black Panther trailer, not the new trailer for The Last Jedi (although those are awesome)… No, this is a trailer for the book. You get to look inside for the first time: I may make a second trailer soon. The book appears mid-November. More at http://thedialoguesbook.com
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
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
Our Cassini tribute, posted on Instagram. (p.s. I started an instagram account. Not a lot to see yet, but I’d be delighted if you went over there and followed the heck out of it….) Our #cassini tribute. A post shared by Clifford Johnson (@asymptotia) on Sep 16, 2017 at 11:02am … Click to continue reading this post
Dear colleagues far and wide. I’m delighted to share the news that we are having a job search in Astrophysics! Please note the link’s contents, and share it to those who might be interested. Thanks! https://usccareers.usc.edu/job/los-angeles/assistant-professor-of-physics-and-astronomy/1209/5668638 -cvj