I am always a sucker for comic books about unconventional subjects. I have tons of Icon books “Introducing” series, as well as the comic biography of Bertrand Russell, Logiccomix. Dialogues is the ambitious project of Clifford V Johnson, a physics teacher from USC. He taught himself to draw just to complete this book.
Each of the eleven chapters is an extended conversation between two people about various scientific concepts ranging from the nature of space-time to higher dimensions. This was the best sort of book, one where I filled my Amazon list with thirty or forty new titles.
Johnson smartly embraces the complexity of his subjects. He goes into the details of equations, often accompanying them with detailed illustrations of the ideas. He strives to show you how to represent the math visually.
Much of that mind-bending artwork evokes the best ideas from Scott McCloud. Breaking conventions around sequence and spacing give these big splash pages the ability to use both the art and dialog in tandem to illustrate a concept.
If you have even a passing interest in science, you should grab The Dialogues. You’ll get a real picture of the current state of science, warts and all. Johnson admits places where it seems like it might be that math and reality don’t match, and suggests that it might not always have to match.
Not shying away from the math means you’re getting more depth than your average novice science book. You’ll also get science so cutting edge, many of the additional reading entries are already out of date. That also means that some of these are going to be a bit hard to follow. It took a couple of reads through to get some of the concepts, while others require some follow up reading.
I loved this book. Each of the dialogs was a great night’s worth of reading and came with a good list of books to read further. If you spend your time digging through science news and documentaries, you should pick this up.
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