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 in the Fall. Leonardo da Vinci is Click to continue reading this post

It Can be Done

For those interested in giving more people access to science, and especially those who act as gate-keepers, please pause to note that* a primetime drama featuring tons of real science in nearly every episode can get 10 Emmy nominations. Congratulations National Geographic’s Genius! (Full list here. See an earlier post on the show here.)

-cvj

*(whatever your view of awards)

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

Arundhati Roy Interviews

Listening to interviews with Arundhati Roy always fills me with joy, admiration, hope, and renewed love of the great use of language in speech and writing. (If you are interested, I refer to interviews recently on Front Row, but even better with Phillip Dodd on Free Thinking. BBC Radio 4 and 3 respectively).

-cvj

American Cinématheque Event

Tonight at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica there’s a special screening of the last two episodes of the current season of the National Geographic drama Genius, about the life and work of Albert Einstein. After the screening there’ll be a panel discussion and Q&A with the show runner Ken Biller, the actor T.R. Knight, and me, in my capacity as the science advisor for the series (as I’ve discussed earlier here). The details are here, and admission is apparently free. It will be moderated by Corey Powell. (Image is from National Geographic publicity.)

Also, apparently if you arrive early enough you’ll get a free Einstein mask. So there’s that.

-cvj

World-Building…

Well, just a small semi-real corner of it… it’s an establishing shot for a new setting in the aforementioned short SF story. I did roughs on the subway on the iPad and now I am laying down the final lines in black at my desktop. I’ll try and show you the final thing that results later.

-cvj

LIGO Does it Again!

I just got off the phone with an LA Times reporter about this new result (announced today in PRL and by LIGO directly), trying to get across some of the enthusiasm about this shared by a wide community of physicists and astronomers, and the reasons why. Here’s a nice New York Times article about the discovery, by Dennis Overbye. The graphic to the right is from the LIGO press release.

(Incidentally, according to Physics Today it is Kip Thorne’s birthday today. What an excellent birthday present for him!)

-cvj

Character Design on iPad…

Here’s a video glimpse (less than 1 min. long) of my working through designing the main character for the upcoming graphic short story I’m doing for an anthology to be published next year. (See here for more.) There’s a clickable still on the right. I had started sketching her out on the subway a few days ago, and then finished some of the groundwork today on the bus, taking a snap at the end. From there I pulled it into ProCreate on the iPad pro, and then drew and painted more refined lines and strokes using an apple pencil. Faces are funny things… it isn’t really until the final tweaks at the end that I was happy with the drawing. I was ready to abandon the whole thing all along, having decided that it was a failed drawing. So you never know. Always good to persist until the end… wherever that is. Last note: This drawing style is more detailed than I hope to use in the story. I will work out simpler versions of her for the story… I hope. Video below.

Click to continue reading this post

Writing Hat!

Well, yesterday evening and today I’ve got an entirely different hat – SF short story writer! First let me apologize for faking it to all my friends reading who are proper short story writers with membership cards and so on. Let me go on to explain:

I don’t think I’m allowed to tell you the full details yet, but the current editor of an annual science fiction anthology got in touch back in February and told me about an idea they wanted to try out. They normally have their usual batch of excellent science fiction stories (from various writers) in the book, ending with a survey of some visual material such as classic SF covers, etc…. but this year they decided to do something different. Instead of the visual survey thing, why not have one of the stories be visual? In other words, a graphic novella (I suppose that’s what you’d call it).

After giving them several opportunities to correct their obvious error, which went a bit like this: Click to continue reading this post

Bolt those Engines Down…

I’ve a train to catch and so I did not have time to think of a better title. Sorry. Anyway, for those of you who follow the more technical side of what I do, above is a screen shot to the abstract of a paper to appear tomorrow/today on the arXiv. I’ll try to find some time to say more about it, but I can’t promise anything since I’ve got to finish writing another paper today (on the train ride), and then turn myself away from all this for a little while to work on some other things. The abstract should be Click to continue reading this post