Graphic Science: Comics Engage the Cosmos

May 8, 2018


Presented by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and UC San Diego Graduate Division.


May 8, 2018


Roth Auditorium, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine

UC San Diego

Free and open to the public; RSVP here

Join us for an evening of comics about the cosmos, with Jorge Cham (the creator of the beloved PHD Comics), his co-author Daniel Whiteson (physicist, UC Irvine) of We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe, and Clifford Johnson (physicist, USC), the author-illustrator of The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe. A mix of presentation, conversation, and live illustration, this event is the perfect chance to explore physics, the limits of knowledge, the human side of research, and how we communicate science to a broad public.

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Jorge Cham is the creator of "Piled Higher and Deeper" (a.k.a. "PHD Comics"), the popular comic strip about life (or lack thereof) in Academia. Daniel Whiteson is an Associate Professor of Experimental Particle Physics at the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. Together they have created videos that explain complex physics topics like The Higgs BosonGravitational WavesDark Matter and Extra Dimensions. Their videos have been viewed by millions of people, appeared in major media outlets and aired on PBS.

Their new book, We Have No Idea, is  a fun and informative guide to the biggest unanswered questions in the Universe. They explain everything we DON'T know about the Universe, from Cosmic Rays and Dark Matter to time travel and the Big Bang. Filled with their popular infographics, cartoons, and clear and entertaining explanations, this book is perfect for anyone who's curious about science and all the big questions we still haven't answered.

Clifford V. Johnson’s work in science ranges from teaching and research to public outreach where he strives to put science back into the general culture. He helps artists, writers, and filmmakers incorporate science into their work, appears on several TV and online shows, gives public lectures and participates in panel discussions and other events. He has been science advisor for many TV shows and movies, including Nat Geo's Genius (featuring Einstein), Marvel's Agent Carter (S2), Agents of Shield, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and more. He was science advisor for Blake Crouch's bestselling novel Dark Matter

Johnson's research concerns the origin and evolution of the Universe and its fundamental constituents. He works mainly on superstring theory, quantum gravity, and M-theory, studying objects such as black holes and D-branes, using various techniques from Mathematics and Physics to address issues of relevance to particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics. Johnson's work has also led to new descriptions of physics relevant to the quark-gluon plasma, and various quantum critical phenomena in condensed matter physics.

In The Dialogues, Johnson invites us to eavesdrop on a series of nine conversations, in graphic-novel form—written and drawn by Johnson—about "the nature of the universe." The conversations take place all over the world, in museums, on trains, in restaurants, in what may or may not be Freud's favorite coffeehouse. The conversationalists are men, women, children, experts, and amateur science buffs. The topics of their conversations range from the science of cooking to the multiverse and string theory. The graphic form is especially suited for physics; one drawing can show what it would take many words to explain.


Books will be available for purchase, and a signing and reception with light refreshments will be held after the event.

Directions and Parking:

The Roth Auditorium is located at:

The Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr.
La Jolla, California 92037

There is limited space available for street parking along Torrey Pines Scenic Drive and in the east parking lot adjacent to the Sanford Consortium building. Please refer to the following sites for maps, driving directions and parking, or check the embedded map below: