Science News front cover

My art work is on the cover of "Science News" (December 20, 2008 issue)! I think it turned out pretty good. I originally made the rendering to be submitted for the front cover of Science for Jun Ye's and Debbie Jin's article, but it unfortunately was not selected. Well I'm glad it was used for Science News cover instead. The article "Physicists Hot for Ultracold" by Laura Sanders is the article that Jun Ye was quoted in. I highly recommend you reading this article for those of you who are curious about whats up with Ultracold quantum physics AND don't usuaully read the hardcore science journal publications. Laura did a pretty good job writing article in terms that the mainstream public can understand.

I already posted a blog entry about the details of the image titled "Dense Gas of Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules"


Science & Technology Review - N204 Cover Image

(published Science & Technology Review cover)

Dr. Wen Li sent me the cover of "Science & Technology Review" which is a Chinese scientific journal. I already posted a blog entry about the N2O4 titled "Science Cover and Figures - N2O4 Probed using High Harmonic Generation" so check out the details from there.

I don't know if I will be able to score a physical print version of the journal, but Im going to try. If anybody runs across one and doesn't want their copy, let me know.


Science cover and figures - N2O4 Probed Using High Harmonic Generation

(published Science cover)

(published Science schematic and graph)

(mock up idea for Science cover)

(mock up idea for Science cover)

My art work is on the cover of "Science" (November 21, 2008 issue)! This is my first cover for Science, so I am pretty excited about it. I made several other potential Science covers within the past year, but they didn't get selected (i think they were pretty good one's too which you can find in this blog). Apparently it is a pretty competitive process to get a cover on Science. Anyways... now for the details:

I worked closely with Dr. Wen Li, Fellow Margaret Murnane, and Fellow Henry Kapteyn. I was originally just helping with the experimental schematic figure and the graph figure (the second image), and that expanded to coming up with cover images for Science. The schematic and graph figure was mainly done in Illustrator and I was mainly focusing on making the schematic pretty clear and clean looking so that two images could be group well each other. I am really happy how the schematic and graph figure images tie very closely to the cover imagery of the selected cover. The version in this blog is slightly different than the Science published version, but only a few of the colors were changed. The Science article and the caption text that was publish explains the schematic and graph figure pretty well if you are curious about it.

Covers: Why yes it was a pretty intensive process. It started out pretty simply with the schematic which was really just illustrating and arranging the objects in logical space. The real question next was how to describe the research concepts where the paper was titled "Time-Resolved Dynamics in N2O4 Probed Using High Harmonic Generation". This was a pretty daunting task, but Wen really worked with me and explained some of the core concepts to me. This whole project really turned out to be a really productive team play between me, Wen, Margaret, and Henry. It was the only way this project was really going to succeed. So it all started with Wen making his own sketch to show me some of his ideas. This helped me realize and focus on some of the key visual points for the rest of the project. I was really glad when I saw Wen come in with his own sketch. I usually encourage the people I am working with to sketch anything they can as part of the initial brain storming precess. Some researchers get shy about their drawing skills, but I keep telling them that it will help immensely no matter what they draw. So the brainstorming process went on for a while actually. I would make some mock and test renderings and we would get new ideas and I would try some new objectives. From the start I knew that I would be working in 3D environment, so I mainly used Maya and Photoshop for all the cover images. Working in a 3D environment paided off because it was much easier to make changes and create new variations in 3D package like Maya than if I were to draw/illustrate it.

to keep things short and sweet here, I will write briefly about each of the images in this blog.

The cover that was selected (top image), was showing the molecule N2O4 in two states where one is in an "excited" state (the one closes to front). I thought it would be a good idea to make the connection of these two different states of the N2O4 molecule to the actual data set of the High Harmonic Generation from the vibrating N2O4. Basically I wanted the viewer to be able to see where in the 3D space of the data that molecules were changing during the peaks of the data. The first step was to convert the data from Matlab to a 3d files that I could use to import into the Maya. I have done something similar to this before for PNAS figure and cover, so I passed Wen the matlab script to adapted to this his data. Wen converted the data from Matlab to a .OBJ file and I then imported it into Maya. The next step was to model the N2O4 molecules based on some information Wen provided me. It wasn't too bad to model in Maya (the excited state one was a little bit more complicated b/c the shapes were a little more atypical). After that I did a lot render tests for the lighting, colors, and textures. Then I used photoshop to add the final detail touches.

The other two images were mockups that we submitted to science as well. These images were basically showing the general and simple idea that the N2O4 molecules were being manipulated by several laser beams. They are both similar but one really emphaises how a few N2O4 molecules gets "trapped" in the laser beams amongst a cluster of N2O4 molecules. I thought these turned out pretty well and the main goal was to make a really simple visual concept that would work for a Science Cover. The main goal for all the covers was to show as much of the science as possible without overloading the viewer with too much technical jargon, arrows, and labels. We submitted all three of these as potential covers and the selected the top one because it showed the most science as directly related to the research. I was glad they picked that one because I was pretty attached to it myself. I liked all of them, but that is probably because I get personally attached to my 3D models and line work.

I really enjoyed working with Wen, Margaret, and Henry. I was also interacting with the art director and editors at Science via the phone for this project. They had some very postive comments about my work and efforts which made feel pretty good. I even blushed on the other end of the phone (good thing it wasn't a video conference or in person ha!). It feels good to finally get the cover and i am planning on trying to get few more Science covers in the future. Im hoping one of the Fellows at JILA discovers how to Time Travel. I bet I can make a bad ass cover for Science for that one.


Dense Gas of Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules

(mock up Science cover)

(Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules flow process)

(Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules flow process NIST version)

(mock up Science cover - ideaA)

(mock up Science cover - ideaB)

(mock up Science cover - ideaA+B)

(mock up Science cover - idea A+littleB)

I was asked create an illustration that explains the process of Fellow Jun Ye’s and Fellow Debbie Jin's Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules. I was originally just working with Kang-Kuen Ni, Jun Ye, and Debbie Jin, and then some people at NIST heard I was making some graphics for this scientific breakthrough, so it turned out to be collaborative effort with NIST as well. Jun and Debbie wanted the the graphic for their own presentations and press releases. NIST wanted an illustration that could be used for the news press release that would be easily understood by the general public. Jun and Debbie's research was being published in Science Express very very quickly, so this project turned out to be a pretty big with some tight deadlines. Everybody wanted something for their thing (websites, press releases, presentations, print, etc ), so it was kinda difficult meeting everybody's demands and needs in a very short time frame. It was a tedious process, but in the end I think the results were pretty positive. Everybody was running around everywhere and about everything. I was getting phones calls from NIST everyday and everybody was updating me about what the Science editors were saying or doing or whatever.

I was also asked to make a Science cover within 1-2 days (i think i really had a 24 hr turnaround) before it was absolutely due. Usually I need a little more time to make cover art, so I did the best I could. Since the deadline was almost immediate, I tried to recycle some of the imagery that I already made from the Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules flow process. I liked my ideas, but everybody had their opinions which just led to making multiple cover mockups. I had an amazing idea that was going to look beautiful and simple (basically bad ass), but I would need to do it with Maya with at least 4-5 days R&D time. So I did the best I could and developed the mock up (top image) using Illustrator. I thought it was pretty quick and simple solution in the end; however Science didn't selected it. I have been researching Science's past covers and their asethetics they go for which appears to be pretty fancy 3D renderings (and ontop of that, they were mainly of biology and chemistry concepts). So getting cover with the Ultracold 'Polar' Molecules was pretty slim to begin with. Nonetheless, I thought I came up with some pretty good visual ideas for covers given the time frame I had to work with (and the amount people involved).

It was fun and I wouldn't mind doing it again. The only thing I would ask for the next time was a little more time (and maybe their first born sons. however i think if they gave me a few of their grad student slaves, that could work out alright too. ha!)

The graphics were published in a lot of places, and I have to find them all. So I will be updating the links below as quickly as I can. If anybody finds a place where the images were used, let me know. Once the graphics get on the NIST's press release, a lot of different news sites pick up graphic for their reports.


Nanomechanical Beam

John Teufel from the Konrad Lehnert group came to me about fixing up this scanning electron micrograph (SEM) image. I believe Cindy Regal took the original SEM image. SEM images the sample surface by scanning it with a high-energy beam of electrons in a raster scan pattern. I just basically helped him clean up the image and colorized it to help emphasize areas of interest in the image and to bring more of 3d depth back into the image. The image is taken from a top view angle. The area of the interest in the image is the very thin string strip run inning horizontally from the square like plates. Thats where all the action is taking place.

CO2 Splash Collisions

I worked closely with Brad Perkins from the David Nesbitt Group. Well I actually started this project in December 2007, but my project queue was being overloaded with immediate deadlines from the Jun Ye group, Kapteyn Groups, and yes yes even NIST. So I put this project on pause for about 5 months which was fine because Brad's research was being embargo by the publishers forever (don't ask me why). The embargo was just lifted early this august 2008 which was just in time for the new JILA Light & Matter issue. blah blah this project took a while b/c of the dynamics and weird publishers holding onto the rights.

Here are the technical details behind this image. Ok so Brad has all this data (yea numbers and stuff) and put them into a computer program called "VMD (version 1.6.5)" which converts the data trajectories to visual simulation in 3D. This was great because he showed me what he rendered, but they didn't look that good and looked pretty blocky. VMD is open sourced and sometimes updated. Well VMD is not the easiest program to figure out how to get it render with better shapes and resolution, so I told brad that we should try to get the model in Maya and pull off some really good high res renders. Sounds simple, especially since I figured out how to get VMD to export the model as an .obj file. But NO! VMD DID create the .obj file but DIDN'T do it incorrectly (remember guys ....VMD is an open source program and support for it is not top notch), but I figured out to make a 3d file that could be brought into Blender (last ditch efforts) and then from Blender to Maya. Well this worked. I got it into Maya, but I couldn't do auto smooth on geometry to increase the shape qualities for 2 reasons: (1) the geometry was in triangles and not quads (Maya likes quads, but all these open source programs like putting their geometry in triangles ) (2) the whole object was one big mesh with intersecting parts going everywhere. I naturally cursed myself. Well i just recreated the whole thing in maya with better geometry using the original data points. It took too long (really a full weeks worth), but I got it finished, colored, and fixed up. phewwww all that work for regular to minor improvements. Well I had a week's worth of down time to dedicate to working in Maya. The good news is that I did get more familiar with using Maya's short cut key strokes and using Mac version of Maya. Sometimes I really do miss Maya and doing 3D projects and Sometimes I don't.

Brad made some simulations that I spliced together and put on the web and you should check them out on the JILA website (link below)


Machine Tooling Analogy

Tom Perkins asked me to record and edit some video footage of a Electronic Machine Tooling that was shaping a machine part. He wanted to use the video as an analogy how this machine tooling will be similar to how science will be able to "tool" DNA on nano-scale. The hardest part about this video was slimming the video down from 5 minutes to 30 seconds. The robot machine was pretty cool. You just program the machine with some code and an autocad model file and the machine goes to town on the piece. I want one now, but apparently they are kinda expensive and cumbersome to store. The coolest part about the video shoot itself was how the metal shards actually shot out right towards the camera. Fortunately the metal shards didn't damage the lens or the camera.

Mental to Experimental

I worked with Fellow John Bohn and Ed Meyer who do a lot of theoretical work, but they were getting a lot of attention from researching the physics of a baseball and how humidity affects the spin of a baseball. John wanted to take theories about this subject and put it to experimental test and was trying to involve pitchers from the major league baseball team "The Rockies" in Denver. He was doing several presentations and wanted some pictures to help supplement his presentation. The photo shoot was rather fun because John Bohn is a really nice guy and has a pretty healthy sense of humor. He really enjoyed over exaggerating the experimental environment of his project because everybody knows that he is a theorist and theorist don't really have a budget for expensive lab environments.

If you are curious about John Bohn research about this subject, check out his pdf on his group's webpage here.


BEC controlled by Feshbach physics

I worked with Juan Pino from the Deborah Jin group, and he was having a hard time trying to figure out a visual that would explain his research clearly. Of course he could have pull out his hard science data, but we wanted to make the information more accessible. I have been inspired by the Higgs Mechanism illustration which was a series of abstract cartoon illustrations that explains the concept almost perfectly. Explaining the Higgs Mechanism is not an easy thing to do and doing it visual was probably pretty tough to conceptualize initially. Check out the Higgs Mechanism illustration here and you get what I mean.

Anyways I thought Juan's concept would be the perfect testing ground for trying to do an abstract cartoon to make the idea of behind the science more clear and accessible. So I did a lot playing around with Illustrator, Photoshop, and just plain old pencil and paper to come up with a system of characters. Essentially these are little Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) hanging with a few "excited" atom wondering around. Juan's experiment basically cause the BECs to be more interactive with each other by using the Feshbach techniques.

The illustration took a little while hammer out all the exacting details from Juan, but it was a fun project. I even involved my assistant Mohamad Zainuddin to help me draw all the arms and legs. Everybody in the office was curious what we were doings because they kept seeing the sketches of body parts all over multiple desk.

Microfluidics Device

Photo shoot for Ralph Jimenez's and Emily Gibson's microfluidics device. Ralph wanted some experiment apparatus shots for a grant proposal that he was putting together. I did a 3D rendering of one of the experiment's functions a littel while ago, so it was kinda cool to see the actual device that was performing the experimental process that I visualized already before.


X-ray Frequency Comb

I worked with Thomas Schibli and Dylan Yost from the Jun Ye Group on updating a laser schematic graphic that my predecessor created a few years ago which can be seen here. I just finished up a laser schematic graphic for Margaret Murnane a week before, so I was excersing a common style with the angle and color. I did add a new touch which was to add direction indicator arrows for this graphic because I want to emphasis that light is being repeating bouncing light in a cycle that is increasing. I wanted to make the graphic earlier so that it could have been used for Thomas's presentations, but my work load got in the way of having the graphic completed sooner. This schematic graphic actually represents several experiments, so I am probably going to be adapting this image more in the future, and this one might be turned into an animation.


Photoemission spectroscopy

I worked with the Debbie Jin group which didn't really give me that much feed back, so I had to do a lot of research and designing on my own. It felt like a lot of guess work that could have been answered if Debbie's Jin's grad students would have give me the minimal feedback. Regardless I pick up with an old design of the the magnetic quantum well that I did before. I did a "before n after" (aka "compare n contrast") technique. I was loosely told that here is this system of potassium atoms and then they "turn off" the magnetic quantum well at the same time as an RF pulse passes through. So I designed the whole "turn off" look of the right side which causes the reaction of the potassium I think it clearly shows how the some of the potassium atoms eject out of the well.


Gravitational Potential

This illustration depicts how the gravitational potential on Earth varies during the year. Jun Ye was researching to see if the gravitational potential had any affect on atomic clocks position all over the world.


OSEP Industry Fair Poster

Ricki who helps runs the OSEP came to me to ask if I would make the Industry Fair Poster. She explained she wanted to attract as much attention from potential grad students and post docs as possible at JILA and around CU's campus. So I created the art work and designed the layout of the poster.

I took the job because I really wanted to make that one center piece. It has modern design and utilized a pretty wide color pallet. I wanted to make the center piece kinda data/technical/scientific related using simple circles and lines connecting the "Them" to the "You's". The circles and lines make the dramatica case of the connection of "Them" and "You's", but I also wanted it resemble a kinda hot air ballon if you stand back and look at casually. This would re-enforce the event type. Essentially the art can be easily interpreted in several ways, and I think all of which relate back to core princple idea that its a Industry Fair and the idea is to "GET A JOB". I also think the art isn't too distracting, and the information is still accessible.


Jim Bergquist photo shoot (@ NIST)

Photo shoot with Jim Berquist who currently works at NIST, but he has also works with a lot of the scientist at JILA. The photo was used for an Alumni Profile article that Julie and I started adding to the JILA Light & Matter publications. Jim is really an interesting and friendly character, and I enjoyed taking pictures of him. I had the opportunity to tour Jim's lab at NIST. I love field trips, but the security at NIST is very tight. We had to be questioned and have my gear checked out before entering the facilities.

Quantum Logic Clock

Looks like I am clock animation guy because NIST came back to me to work on the Quantum Logic Clock. I was asked develop and create an animation that explains how Till Rosenband’s Quantum Logic Clock works. NIST wanted an animation that could be used for the news media that would be easily understood by the public.

This was a very important project both because of the attention the scientific community giving for atomic clocks and establishing stronger co-op on projects with NIST and JILA.

This was a very difficult project mainly because of the organization and the very difficult schedule that Till Rosenband had. I also had to coordinate with the NIST people in Maryland on this project. The inner workings of the clock was very complicated, and I had trouble having people who are actually involved explain to me how it works and what possible ways to visualize this clock. Animation with a lot of specific details is tough because there is only so much screen space to put things. Personally this is one my failed animations as far being simple, clear, and actually makes the concept tangible. Part of the problem was not getting the technical feedback, and having non-science people in charge with dictating visual techniques. The deadline was very quick too, so things had to be done basically the way NIST wanted to be done.

The sad part is that after a week of completing this animation, I designed or figured out an amazing way to re-sequence the animation to be 20 times more effective and clear and visually awesome. I might re-design this animation if I have time, but thats impossible since at JILA I am booked on projects for the next 2 years. !yea! This project did re-enforce one thing for me. Working with busy client(s) who request something without explaining what is actually desired (so its a game of mind reading).

The figures and animations are published on the NIST’s website.


Strontium Atomic Clock

I was asked develop and create an animation that explains how Jun Ye’s strontium atomic clock works. NIST wanted an animation that could be used for the news media that would be easily understood by the public. NIST also asked me edit the press release footage.

This was a very important project both because of the attention the scientific community that Jun Ye was getting for his research and establishing stronger co-op on projects with NIST and JILA.

The figures and animations are published on the NIST’s website, Science Express, United States of America Department of Commerce website.

NIST & Jun Ye Atomic Clock press release

NIST (public affairs) asked me to edit the press release for Jun Ye's Sr Atomic Clock. This meant they would send me the interview footage from their Maryland office archives they already shot, and I would edit the footage with the new animation sequences I also creating. The press release can be viewed on the NIST website with captions.


DNA Laser Trap Schemes

These are technical figures that involves double helix of DNA and laser trap schemes.