Here’s a fun Great Big Story (CNN) video piece about the Science and Entertainment Exchange (and a bit about my work on Agent Carter). Click here for the piece.
(Yeah, the headline. Seems you can’t have a story about science connecting with the rest of the culture without the word “nerd” being used somewhere…)
(Click sketch for larger view.) I was only able to make it to one scheduled event in the LA Times Festival of Books this year. (Family constraints.) Normally I go to a few, at least, getting my tickets for the panels in advance and going along and listening to authors, writers, editors, and other book-related people having a discussion about some topic or other. If I’m honest, for about 80-85% of such panels or interviews I come away wondering why on earth I went because everyone said the standard things I thought they’d say. But that 10-15% can be great, and you never know where it’ll show up – which event, which writer, during which Q&A… So for that reason I come expecting to get good extra value from listening to the conversations around me in the line and in the audience, and of I course bring my sketchpad and try to see if there’s someone interesting to sketch while I listen.
As usual, for panels involving graphic books or comics, there’s almost always someone in the audience who is working on a sketch of some sort. People who appreciate that form often find value in sketching and often do it (or some sort of doodle) themselves as a pastime, and that’s a great thing. If I’m not the only one and if I’m sitting at the right angle, I often get the fun opportunity to sketch a sketcher, and that is what happened during the interview of Scott McCloud on Click to continue reading this post
I got a lot of plants and seeds into the ground early this year, so they got the benefits of some of the rain we had, and got in a good amount of growing before the relentless heat begins. Here is part of a patch of wildflowers that have been putting on a generous display these last several weeks. It has been great to enjoy them with the whole family too – the young gentleman is a big fan of flowers of all kinds.
Well, that was a fun event. Here’s a photograph* of Sean Carroll and me as guests of the always-excellent host Patt Morrison at the Natural History Museum as we talk about aspects of the science of space (and time) as it appears in the movies, how we go about giving advice to filmmakers, and so forth. It was part of the First Fridays series which has a special focus on Click to continue reading this post
Extract from Wednesday’s General Relativity class:
Me, at the board writing equations: “…and so the ratio of the earth’s radius to its radius of gyration is about 0.577…”
Student raises hand and asks: “What’s radius of gyration?”
Me: “Er… It’s the average spacing everyone has to give you at the night club when you go Ker-ray-zay on the dance floor.”
As luck would have it, everyone laughed. That would have been a terrible time to have an awkward silence.
Preparing a little montage of Schiele, Picasso, and Van Gogh, made of postcards gathered from museums in Vienna (the Leopold), Madrid (the Reina Sofia), and Amsterdam (the Van Gogh). Sadly, I’m leaving out the one on the far left (a example of Schiele’s excellently angular depiction of the human figure) since this is for my office on campus, and, well… I do my biennial mandatory harassment training, and will err on the side of caution to avoid offense, lawsuits, possibly both.
While wandering with the family in the Natural History Museum this weekend, I spotted a reminder (click for larger view) for Friday’s event, which you might be interested in.
I’ll be on a panel about science (particularly space-related) and the movies, with fellow panelist Sean Carroll, and it is hosted by the awesome Patt Morrison! It’s part of the Natural History Museum’s First Fridays series, which you might recall me blogging about here before (actually, last time I was at one, I was a host so I imagine it’ll feel a bit different this time).
Here’s a website with all the details.
Apparently I was on an episode of the BBC program Horizon a couple of hours ago over in the UK. I completely forgot that was coming up and forgot to mention it. Sorry! I’ve no idea what parts of the interview with me they used, or what the final thrust of the episode is, but I did have a lot of fun shooting the episode with the filmmakers over in Joshua Tree some time last year. See a post I did about it here. I spent some time explaining why negative mass is problematic, especially in the context of gravity… The program talks a lot about people who are trying to find anti-gravity of various sorts. I was reminded that the episode aired since I found myself tagged on social media, and wondered what the ruckus was about. Then I found the following tweet by @homeworkjunkie with a screen shot, and the caption “Nice reaction to runaway problem;zero cost energy proposed by some people in BBC Horizon”:
Click to continue reading this post
Well, today’s hunt for a print copy of the New York Times (click for larger view) was easier than the Wall Street Journal hunt a couple of months back. Been a while since I was in the Science Times, and I’ve not been in it in this capacity before. The Simons Fellowship announcement was today, and I was awarded one. I’m honoured to be in such fine company! Nice to see my friends Lawrence Hall, Jeff Harvey, Petr Horava, Andy Strominger among my fellow Fellows, and congratulations to everyone!
This is a major part of my sabbatical planning for next academic year (half book-completing, half research), and it sure is great to get it. There aren’t many fellowships of this sort for my area of work. Thanks Simons Foundation and all concerned.
*And when I say fulfilled… Well, there’s still the matter of actually doing the thing and getting all my planning to work out…
It’s Spring break. For the greater part of the last week, I’ve been in hiding. I’m alone in a quiet town somewhere, getting a good long stretch of work done on the book project for the first time in a long time. For most of each day I’d sit at this tiny table, writing and doing rough layout sketches, glancing out of the window from time to time, listening to music on headphones during the long stretches of concentration*. Yes, and drinking tea and coffee. For lunch I’d Click to continue reading this post
When life hands you tomatoes, red onions, a little bit of garlic, ginger, some cardamom pods, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of paprika… make chutney! (It’s about as easy as lemonade, actually.)
Oddly, a carmello tomato plant that had been struggling a bit during the Summer took rather well to the late Fall and Winter months, loved the rain, and kept producing more and more tomatoes. They were all green on the plant for a long while, and then we had a return to some long stretches of sun that Click to continue reading this post
Wired has a video piece about the VFX work done on Agent Carter to bring the substance known as “zero matter” to your screens. They very kindly mentioned me, which is a pleasant surprise. There was a lot of conversation early on with the writers, show runners, and the head of VFX (Sheena Duggal), discussing what it might look like, and what kind of aesthetic drivers were in play for the look of the show overall (less ZAP! and more ooze and flow), and what you see on screen is the result of a lot of that conversation. It’s really great to see so much of what we brainstormed make it up on screen. The main physics input I wanted to use as a guide was the idea that this is some sort of special fluid from “elsewhere”, in a very special physical phase (inspired by various super fluids and perfect fluids in actual physics from our world, which I explained a bit about to them…Sheena was also very taken with ferrofluids, which was a very smart design input to use as reference). We also talked a lot about the idea that zero matter manifests itself in different ways depending upon the biology of the host. (See a post I did about other aspects of zero matter here, including the naming of it, and “elsewhere”.)
The amazing company Double Negative played a huge role overall, doing the rendering and bringing all sort of techniques to bear to make it all work. You’ll maybe recognize that name since they were the people who worked with physicist Kip Thorne to do the visual work Click to continue reading this post
Yes, I’ve been panelling again, down at the LA Convention Center. It was a fun conversation, moderated by Rick Loverd the Program Director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, entitled “The Science of Hollywood” as part of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society*. With me were Amy Berg, who is a Film/TV Writer and Executive Producer, Jessica Cail, Professor of Psychopharmacology, Pepperdine University, and Mike Ireland, Senior Vice President, Production, 20th Century Fox.
Despite the title, we were not trying to put observations of, experiments done on, or theories constructed about Hollywood on any firm scientific footing! We did engage in a lot of discussion about the connections we work on between science and Film and TV. We spoke about why we do it, how we try to do it, and Click to continue reading this post
I’ve been looking for a good way to photograph these. Most angles have distracting background elements. Decided that the sky was best. (Click for larger view.)
I remembered that this all started as a tiny plant (the name of which I’ve forgotten) that I bought in a Huntington Gardens sale probably more than a decade ago.
Yesterday’s secret pie. I tried to make it secretly over the course of the day while making a batch of bread at the same time, but my cover was blown when rolling out the pastry in the evening, which is too hard to hide. (Click for larger view.)
It’s a large (so hopefully will last for a few days) pie of primarily steak, carrots, mushrooms and onions, flavored with herbs (bay leaves*, rosemary, thyme) and tomatoes from the garden. I wonder if this is one of the nine kinds favored by the wielder of the purple crayon? (Yes, children’s book references riddle my discourse these days…)
Roughly finished, but very delicious (I’m happy to report), it reminds me very Click to continue reading this post