First line from this year's winner (Tor Freeman):
It's interesting to see what the competition organisers are looking for nowadays. Last year's winner was a milkman's desire to win his local Tall Milkman competition. This seems, I think, to show that Cape are currently after low-key, heartwarming stories about everyday life. Both stories are also illustrated in a style that's akin to a children's book illustration, making them accessible to a larger age group.
Sample line from last year's winner (Matthew Dooley):
Greetings! It's cold here in Blighty but it's beautiful in the sunshine.
The beginning of February is only a week away. I was planning to bring out the second issue of 'Visiting Alien' magazine. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough downloads to justify putting out another issue at the moment; but that's okay, as putting the magazine together and working on its contents has already reaped creative dividends.
While assembling chapter 2 of 'Chloë solves the Universe', I delved a little deeper into the history of the Neumann-Wigner hypothesis. This is the idea, put forward by two brilliant scientists, that our minds must be outside of the physical system and influencing it, in order for ghostly quantum superpositions to turn into real objects like photons and electrons. I discovered that this viewpoint wasn't just the view of two mavericks. It was actually fully or partly supported by a host of famous quantum physicists, astrophysicists and mathematicians. Wolfgang Pauli, John Von Neumann, Max Planck, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner and Werner Heisenberg were all of the view that materialism was no longer valid. Quantum physics had effectively killed that belief. Instead, they concluded that reality had to be dependent on the mind, either being a creation of the mind or a separate construction to the mind that the mind actively influenced. They debated about this matter for decades. Like any long-running debate, the views of those involved shifted but for many of them, the mind-first idea became more valid over time, rather than less.
I think it's very surprising that this important debate has never been written about in a popular science book (as far as I know). That may be because popular science books are usually written by senior scientists who are still active in science. The problem with this approach is that it may lend weight to the scientist's views but nowadays, any scientist who espouses a view that isn't materialist is endangering his or her scientific career, whether or not the evidence supports such a view. In recent decades, many senior scientists, doctors, biochemists and neurologists have produced evidence strongly indicating that the materialist view is wrong but in most instances, they've been careful not to make any statements but simply present the evidence. This is a shame, and it's not scientific, but there you go. Eugene Wigner, who won a Nobel Prize in 1963, wrote of this problem in his article 'remarks on the mind-body question':
"In the words of Neils Bohr, 'the word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation'. In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that 'life could only be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws' could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists. The reason is probably that it is an emotional necessity to exalt the problem to which one wants to devote a lifetime. If one admitted anything like the statement that the laws we study in physics and chemistry are limiting laws, similar to the laws of mechanics which exclude the consideration of electrical phenomena, or the laws of macroscopic physics which exclude the consideration of 'atoms', we could not devote ourselves to our study as wholeheartedly as we have in order to recognise any new regularity in nature. The regularity which we are trying to track down must appear the all-important regularity, if we are to pursue it with sufficient devotion to be successful."
I'm therefore rewriting 'Chloë solves the Universe' as 'Chloë's Quantum Quest'. Its central focus will be this historical debate between these Nobel Prize-winning physicists. Chloë will find out about quantum physics and then hear of the Big Argument between the physicists about the nature of reality. When she hears that the mind-first view has been abandoned by modern physicists, she is indignant and decides to do something about it.
That'll be my job for the next couple of months. Roll on Spring!
It looks like I haven't won the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story competition this year (boo) but that's okay as it was a good opportunity to get the watercolour paints out and produce something that wasn't vector-based. Rather than let the story disappear into a drawer, here it is for your enjoyment. Knowledgeable readers will notice that it's got the same story (roughly) as a story I produced two years ago, which is a bit naff, but I did really like the story and thought it was worth doing again in a new medium. Hope you like it!
The makers - Blank on Blank - have created a series of animations, using audio recorded interviews with famous people. Their YouTube home page is here and includes some great example of how to create an engaging animation without the massive effort of drawing every frame from scratch.
If you liked that, you might like this. It's from the people at RSA animate. Their animations are another way to make an audio explanation visually engaging through animation. In their case, they've focussed on academic lectures rather than famous people.
April's nearly at an end and I'll write my monthly news report in the next day-or-so. I hope everyone's having a great Spring! :-)
Until then, here's the emblem/logo I came up with for the collection: Read More...
While hunting around for reference material for a graphic story, I stumbled upon a very enjoyable site called Kuriositas. It's full of great visual material. I found it through its article about an artist whose made Minas Tirith out of matchsticks and it's a most impressive sculpture.
Kuriositas's current entry is a visual exploration of abandoned buildings; always great for fascinating and inspiring images. Here are a few examples:
The design is inspired by the fact that there are an awful lot of instruments in folk music. Not only does that make for more variety, but it's a great excuse to buy more instruments! I can't decide whether to call the design 'mutant guitar' or 'instrument splat!'. For interested parties, the design was done in a vector art program (I use Lineform for the Mac which is not being updated but still does a great job). The font is Lucida Bright Demibold.
Enjoy your day!