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Superstrings to the Rescue
Superstrings to the Rescue

This book celebrates string theory, a promising concept in theoretical physics that scientists believe to be the theory of everything. Taking on the content-centric direction, Superstrings to the Rescues embraces one of the most avant-garde scientific concepts through bold graphics, quirky typographic layouts and an experimental book binding method, taking the visual aesthetics of old science books as a starting point.

Superstrings to the Rescues briefly covers the timeline of physics in history and guides the readers along the discovery of string theory. Such scientific discovery dates back to the age of Galileo and Newton, continues with developments in the times of Einstein and Niels Bohr, and finally blooms in the modern era with ongoing efforts in realizing the theory. In each chapter associated with a phase in this physics timeline, each visual theme goes in a different direction, helping the readers 'feel' the context of what is written.
The first chapter, Before Quantum, discusses classical mechanics in the times of Newton. Hence, the design employs a traditional and structured look.

The typeface throughout the whole book is Computer Modern, designed by Donald Knuth, which has been widely used in scientific publishing; for the first chapter the serif font is used. The page construction template designed by Jan Tschichold with large margins was also applied, and page proportion was considered as a factor, which is 1:1.618 (the Golden Ratio). The illustrations were treated with imperfect details like those from Micah Lexier's collection. All of these serve to achieve that visual aesthetics found in old science textbooks.
The context of the physics community changed since the birth of quantum mechanics; accordingly the next chapter was named: Einstein's Spooky Nightmare. Quantum mechanics, in a sense, broke the conventional barriers of classical mechanics. It has been bringing a unique viewpoint about the universe under chaos, uncertainty and probability.

Various experimental text arrangements and illustration treatments were utilized to elevate the content. Each page was designed differently based on what is written. In this chapter, the two realms in physics conflict with each other; therefore, the serif and slab serif fonts within the same family were mixed together.
The next chapter, The Holy Grail, mentions the efforts from modern scientists in the 20th century to fulfill Einstein's dream of a unifying theory to describe the universe. Limits were rewritten, boundaries were rebuilt. The design reflects that idea by applying thinner margins and a consistent slab serif font set in bold.

The special thing about string theory is that it is built upon concepts that we thought would only come about in science fiction: extra dimensions, parallel universes and so on. In order to visualize those theoretical concepts, the book pays homage to Karel Martens' French fold book binding in his book Counterprint. The pages were specially designed so that the readers have to 'open' the inside of each page, a conceptual 'hidden dimension', to look through and see the content.
The last chapter, An Epilogue... Or Is It?, poses the unanswered question to the readers. Although string theory has been proven mathematically, there is still no physical evidence which supports it, since it deals with extra dimensions, parallel universes and so on. But perhaps, in the next few decades or so, would technological advancement be able to help us clear this invisible gap? One would not know.

The very last paragraph weaves a curling strand of text into the pages' surfaces, representing a string itself within string theory. The last few pages are left blank, waiting for next generations to continue the journey, or choose to rewrite it...
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This book was created within the Publication Design course ran by lecturer Steffi W. Neukirchen at RMIT University Vietnam in late 2017.

The content was based largely on Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and its adapted documentary series under the same name, and works from other great scientists/writers. All the images are licensed under public domain or Creative Commons.

Designed by Minh Nguyen
Illustrated by Thu Tran & Minh Nguyen
Photography by An Nguyen
Superstrings to the Rescue
43
448
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Published:

Superstrings to the Rescue

‘Superstrings to the Rescue’ celebrates string theory, a promising concept in theoretical physics that scientists believe to be the ‘theory of ev Read More
43
448
2
Published: