Olena Shmahalo, Quanta Magazine, and “Theories of Everything, Mapped”

Today’s post features an update on VCS alumna Olena Shmahalo, who graduated from the program in 2011. Olena has been working as Visual Designer and Web Producer for Quanta Magazine, an online science journal whose mission is “to enhance public understanding of research developments in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.” Olena’s bio on the magazine’s website shows how busy she’s been since she graduated from VCS:

Olena Shmahalo joined Quanta Magazine in 2014 after seven years as an art director at the digital advertising agency KBS+P, where she designed, illustrated and directed interactive and print work for clients like BMW and Vera Wang. She earned a BFA in visual and critical studies from the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and is currently working toward a second bachelor’s, in physics, at the City College of New York.

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Her most recent project for Quanta was the art direction on “Theories of Everything, Mapped,” an interactive diagram summarizing major areas of research on the leading edge of contemporary physics. The image portrays the interrelationship between a dozen research topics (including quantum gravity, dark matter, and neutrino mass), describes several major concepts and areas of interest within each, and includes links to articles and videos that provide additional information. Here’s a description of it by science writer Natalie Wolchover from the Quanta article:

Our map of the frontier of fundamental physics, built by the interactive developer Emily Fuhrman, weights questions roughly according to their importance in advancing the field. It seemed natural to give greatest weight to the quest for a theory of quantum gravity, which would encompass general relativity and quantum mechanics in a single framework. In their day-to-day work, though, many physicists focus more on rooting out dark matter, solving the Standard Model’s hierarchy problem, and pondering the goings-on in black holes, those mysterious swallowers of space and time. For each question, the map presents several proposed solutions. Relationships between these proposals form a network of ideas.

Olena’s portfolio on Behance includes images from other articles in Quanta Magazine, along with illustrations she’s made for several other projects. I’ve included a few of those images here, and there are a lot more to see on the site. (All of the captions below are quoted from the portfolio. Click on each image to visit the relevant entry.)

An illustration created for Quanta Magazine's November 2014 "Multiverse" series.

An illustration created for Quanta Magazine’s November 2014 “Multiverse” series.

 

An artwork created for QuantaMagazine.org, for use in various promotional materials incl. posters, books, flyers, and ads.

An artwork created for QuantaMagazine.org, for use in various promotional materials incl. posters, books, flyers, and ads.

 

Strange Stars Pulse to the Golden Mean - A pulsating star in the constellation Lyra generates a unique fractal pattern that hints at unknown stellar processes.

Strange Stars Pulse to the Golden Mean – A pulsating star in the constellation Lyra generates a unique fractal pattern that hints at unknown stellar processes.

 

An illustration for Quanta Magazine: The ‘Big Bang Signal’ Could All Be Dust - The BICEP2 telescope detected a swirl pattern resembling an expected signal from the Big Bang, but was it all cosmic dust?

An illustration for Quanta Magazine: The ‘Big Bang Signal’ Could All Be Dust – The BICEP2 telescope detected a swirl pattern resembling an expected signal from the Big Bang, but was it all cosmic dust?

Visual & Critical Studies