Monday, March 16, 2015

Geek of the Week: Guy Davis

Guy Davis is a prolific artist. You've probably seen his work designing Kaiju in Pacific Rim, but he's got many other skills and styles that are equally worth checking out. Davis embodies versatility and dedication!

How did you become a concept artist and why?
The how for me was a bit of a round about way into concept. Early on after I graduated in 1984, concept was something I really wanted to pursue but I had no clue how to go about it and instead fell into doing comic work. I enjoyed the storytelling, but the world building and character creation for the books I worked on was what I had the most fun with.

Years later I eventually got burnt out with a lot of the headaches that went along with the actual comics business and had the opportunity to cross into more concept work when Guillermo del Toro brought me onto his core concept team.

How did you become good at art?
Thanks, but I guess the trick is to never feel good at it. After I finish a piece I usually wish I did something differently in hindsight which keeps me wanting to do better the next time. So it’s just years of practicing that routine.

How did you break into the industry?
I worked in comics for around 27 years, doing a lot of work-for-hire books for publishers and some creator-owned series. I did a few concept jobs during that time too (including ParaNorman and The Amazing Screw-On Head pilot), but my big break was when Guillermo del Toro brought me onto
his concept team forMountains of Madness and I’ve had an amazing time working with him on concept/storyboards for a lot of his other projects since.

How does art go from concept to the screen?
Lots of steps, concept is the early part of the job just working out the ideas and designs with the director/ art director. From there it will still go through different departments and hands (sculptors, pre-vis, VFX, props, etc) before it’s brought to life on screen.

What is your favorite part about being a creative person?
Aside from just getting to make a living by doing something I enjoy, I guess it’s the process of working up ideas and stories through art and hoping that in the end it will resonate with an audience. It’s always a huge thrill seeing something you designed come to life on the screen, but I also love it when I see fan art or cosplay of a creature or character I helped create. Getting to design something that inspires other artists and see their interpretations is hugely flattering and I always get a kick out of it!

What's the hardest part?
I guess just staying busy and making ends meet in the down time before the next project begins.

Do you work with anyone (director, other artists, crew, etc) when coming up with art?
All the time; it’s a very collaborative process. Sometimes you hit the mark with the first concept pass, but it will still go through different departments before ending up on screen. With my collaborations with Guillermo, he has a hand in every step of the process and will work with each concept artist directly to formulate the final concept.

Sometimes the approved concept will then go to a different artist to work up, adding to the idea or taking it into another direction. Or I’ll get something that has already been started and asked to rework it into a new direction or build on the basic idea. But that collaboration and seeing an idea come to life is amazing fun.

When you're not doing art, what is your life like?
Outside of work I still sketch for fun, something I hadn’t done for years but enjoyed getting back into. Other than that it’s usually reading, going to museums and spending time with my partner and friends - getting out to wander as much as possible or staying in and gaming or watching old movies.

Are you a geek? You've worked a lot of stuff popular with geeks, but a voice actress once told me she didn't watch many cartoons when she wasn't working because it was like working in a pizza shop all day, coming home, and not wanting to eat pizza. If you do enjoy geeky pursuits, what are they?
Oh sure, a proud geek but you know, comics would probably be my pizza. I never read many comics when I worked on them, but I still love old film and horror/sci-fi movies and books along with playing video games in some spare time.

What are you working on now? Upcoming projects?
After the STRAIN, I finished concept awhile back on Guillermo’s upcoming CRIMSON PEAK and did a few months' stint on a video game project and some other concept work that I can’t name yet.

What was your favorite project to work on?
That’s a hard pick - there’s always the bias of getting to do your own thing, personal projects like my creator-owned book The Marquis. Pacific Rim was an incredible experience and the longest project I worked on (11 months), Crimson Peak was another incredible time throughout but usually after every job I feel like that was my favorite until the next one starts.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Mostly from letting my imagination wander or seeing shapes in nature while hiking. Lots of times things totally unrelated will help form the idea for a design. If something sparks an idea, I try to take it to the base form and rebuild it into something new. Otherwise it becomes too obvious that say this creature is just based on a certain fish/bird or what not.

How do you make a character interesting and original, especially when it's for a new franchise (like *Pacific Rim*) without established aesthetics (like with* Batman*)?
I guess it boils down to trying to bring a different sort of language to the design in the hopes that it will click and become iconic in a silhouette. In the case of the kaiju I designed for Pacific Rim, I wanted them to have a personality and character that showed through the design instead of feeling like an object.

What is your favorite artist, movie, game, and book?
Wow, hard to narrow those down to just one, so I’ll cheat on a couple. But let’s say my favorite artist is Zdzislaw Beksinski, favorite film is Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, my favorite horror film is Bride of Frankenstein. For favorite game I’d say the Diablo series, one of the few games I always revisit while playing others. Books I’d have to still say the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series, with Chessmen of Mars my favorite of the lot.

Any advice you'd give to artists hoping to develop creatively and professionally?
Draw all the time, finished pieces or sketches, just keep those ideas coming. Try to have a unique voice and vision to your work and think outside of the box and your comfort zone as much as possible to push yourself in new directions.

What's it like inside your brain?
Haha - crowded and a bit wet.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be doing?
I don’t know, I’ve been doing art professionally for over half my life. So if it wasn’t something in the visual art field, I guess I’d try my hand at writing more.

What tools do you create your art with?
I usually start sketching out the rough ideas traditionally with pen and paper, or the the initial drawing in pencil and then work it up digitally through Photoshop so it’s quicker to make any revisions.

You do a variety of creative work, like realistic stuff for Guillermo del Toro, simplistic cartoony stuff for Steven Universe and The Simpsons, and more traditional, classically-styled comic stuff for Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC. What's it like working in different ways (sequential
art, storyboarding, concept, etc) for these different industries?
You know, I love all the variety and working in the different styles; it’s never really a problem to shift between any of them since it’s more about the art style fitting the feel of the specific project.


Which one is your favorite and why?
I’m really enjoying the concept work the most, as far as which style to work in as a favorite. I don’t know if I could pick, so it probably boils down to the individual project. Usually after I finish a project it’s my favorite till the next one starts!

We're looking forward to whatever "the next one" he "can't name yet" is! Thanks Guy! All images from and 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wholesale Changing it up: the team behind Eugene Goostman

Earlier this year, tech history was made when chat bot Eugene Goostman became the first machine ever to pass the Turing Test. Geek of the Week John Denning (right) of Wholesale Change and the team behind Eugene Goostman gave us a glimpse into the workings of this innovation-driven group and his Burning Man/problem-solving/possibility-chasing mind.

Why did you become interested in making chatbots?
I’ve always been interested in solving thorny problems using computers. When I met Vladimir Veselov and Misha Gershokovich in 2000, their enthusiasm for creating programs that allow people to communicate with computers was totally infectious. So we started working to create a way to do so. And with the great team that was pulled together over the years, it really wasn’t a chore…more like working on your favorite thing with people you adore. It’s also worth mentioning up front that our team includes a lot of people who need to be acknowledged. Here’s the list:
Vladimir Veselov

Andrey Adashchik
Laurent Alquier
Igor Bykovskih
Eugene Demchenko
John Denning
Michael Gershkovich
Selena Semoushkina
Sergey Ulasen
Vladimir Veselov

All of these people are total rock stars and I’m delighted to be able to collaborate with them. And really, the awesome work done by Eugene Demchenko in creating the persona and personality for Eugene Goostman is pure genius.
The chatbot himself

Why are chatbots the next big thing?
I’m not totally convinced that people want to just “chat” with their computers. I think that people want computers to help them get stuff done. So making helpful applications that use chat as a mechanism to interact with a computer, in a way that is meaning, is more in the future than just a profusion of chatbots.

Were you interested in these kinds of things growing up?
Absolutely. Lots of kids have imaginary friends. Working with my awesome colleagues, we were able to make one collectively and share him with others.  How cool is that?

The team has been working on this project for many years. What is the development process like at Wholesale Change, and how did you keep your interest? How could you maintain this for so long not for a job, but as a thing to occupy your free time?
There’s a lot of overlap in people who worked on Eugene Goostman and are now working on Wholesale Change. Our development process is pretty straightforward. We only work with people who are fun, smart, trustworthy, and get stuff done. We do as much as we can in parallel, everything is iterative, and we defer to experts.

The work to pass the Turing Test competition has been a sideline, a hobby of sorts, for our team.  And when you’re working with people you adore, it’s easy to maintain the interest.

What is your favorite part of your work? The most frustrating/unpleasant?
The best part of my work is solving crazy-complex problems with computers.

Probably the most frustrating stuff is either dealing with people who are afraid of trying a novel approach or hearing naysayers.

When you're not developing, what do you like to do?
I’m huge into Burning Man. Where I live, in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s a big subculture full of fun creative people. These folks are always coming up with interesting projects, throwing parties, and cooking up pranks to get involved with.

What inspires you?
I like being told that something is impossible.  That’s truly inspiring.

What advice would you give to techies who want to develop something but are stuck and might give up?
Keep in mind that we did this outside of a big corporation. One of my friends is an executive at Intel.  She laughed hard when I told her that Eugene had passed the Turing Test. I said, “How cool is it that this didn’t happen at Google or IBM?” She said “Add Intel to that list of companies that didn’t do it either”.

And if you’re really stuck (or just want to have fun) then go to Burning Man.  It’s a sure way to get you “unstuck” fast.

Besides chatbots, what else do you see in the future of artificial intelligence?
There’s a small number of really interesting projects and products in AI happening today. I think the most interesting stuff is going to come from the small teams who are working outside of a big corporate structure. A lot of energy and enthusiasm are going into something called “Quantified Self” which is really the best hackers and product designers working on ways to measure and improve their health status. These are the same types of folks who produced the really cool stuff during the dotcom era.

Our team is focused on using AI to improve tough decisions around healthcare.

In addition, I expect we’ll start seeing smart appliances and AI-assisted learning to become ubiquitous.

Wackiest Eugene story?
Oftentimes Eugene produces ridiculously awesome responses that we never expected.  There’s a certain amount of randomness to how he interacts and the results are far from pre-determined.

What's next for the Wholesale Change team?
We’ve been operating in stealth mode for the past few years. By this, I mean we needed to figure out the structural problems in healthcare, get our business model right, do market testing, perfect our algorithms, and fully automate our processes.

Right now we’re spending a lot of time on Sand Hill Road, meeting with awesome investors, and ensuring that when we launch, that we have the resources to launch really big and to totally change the marketplace.

We didn’t name our company Wholesale Change to make a small difference. It’s our intent to make massive positive changes happen.

Anything else?
If people are interested in seeing what is possible in healthcare, they ought to take a minute and watch a animation we made that explains what we’re working on now. I think that after passing the Turing Test, this video will make it clear that the interaction doesn’t necessarily have to be a boring one.

And if someone reading this is interested in working on fixing healthcare with us, they should let us know.  For reals.

Contact Wholesale Change at

Check out our interview with Eugene Goostman!

Monday, September 22, 2014

We interviewed Eugene Goostman. "I am a scholar. I'm too young to make money."

Eugene Goostman is a chatbot, posing as a teenage Ukrainian boy. Eugene is the first computer to pass the Turing test, by deceiving more than 30% of human judges (33%, to be exact) into thinking that he was a real boy.

33% still isn't a lot, and Eugene's conversation capabilities have been called controversial. Still, chatting with him was a fascinating experience. (I was able to chat with him thanks to Eugene Goostman team member John Denning of Princeton AI.) Yes, Eugene can hide some awkwardness behind his pretense that he's not a native English speaker. Below is a screenshot of a conversation I had with him.

This summer, I taught English to teenagers in China. Through this brief exchange, I was struck by how similar our conversation was to the ones I had been having all summer. In-person conversations already realistically went like this, but the deja vu got even stronger when I considered how my email conversations with Chinese teenagers went.

I would have been fooled. Eugene only fell apart as we kept talking.

The above chat is a direct continuation of the first one. Eugene's answers don't make sense now. I ask about Vova and Zhenya, and he talks about Vova and Eugene, using his own name instead of his friend's. His last answer doesn't follow my question about Beephoven at all.

Well, he asked if I wanted to ask something more, so I did. This was just for fun.
But I already answered that...

And now, the otaku's eternal question:
Inteviewing Eugene was fascinating because of how it seemed so real. What's even more fascinating is the behind-the-scenes work that went into Eugene's development. Stay tuned for our interview with John Denning.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer update

Concept art for Crimson Typhoon by Hugo Martin
Summer's almost here, and with it, exclusive interviews with 2013 mecha blockbuster Pacific Rim concept artists Guy Davis and Hugo Martin. Also coming up: interviews with artist Nick Pugh (Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class) and John Denning from the team that created Eugene Goostman, the chatbot which just passed the Turing Test!
Speed Racer concept art by Hugo Martin
Want to write for us? Drop us a line at Positions are unpaid, but have perks like free entry to conventions and access to interesting people (actors! artists! academics!). No journalism experience required, but genuine interest and punctuality is.
Slattern concept art by Guy Davis

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Great Dane: an interview with DaneMen creator David Daneman

DaneMen is a webcomic hosted by new-kid-on-the-online-comics-reader-block, the open publishing platform Tapastic. It's one of the best webcomics on Tapastic, and probably the most brilliant.

That's it. That's a typical shot of DaneMen - concise and with a well-executed pun that ties everything together in a rush of endorphic humor from a perplexing start. This particular episode of DaneMen can be found here, but we recommend that you read all the episodes; it won't take long and it won't ever drag.

DaneMen creator David Daneman (yeah, he has a healthy amount of self-esteem) gave us an interview in his with his trademark fast humor.

What is DaneMen even about? How can it be so irrational and rational at the same time?
If you knew me, you'd know that I am very funny. I enjoy making my friends laugh and in order to do so, I had to learn many different styles of humor.

Personally, I enjoy sharp humor. I am often described as "sarcastic" but this sounds like a bad thing to me.

I am equally happy with incredibly absurd humor. All humor has its place.

A strip...has to "make sense." Otherwise, the audience will feel like they didn't get something, and this makes them unhappy.

Where did you get the inspiration to make DaneMen and where do you get the inspiration to continue?
I got started making comics at the end of college. I read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and really loved it.

One day, I picked up the university newspaper, which I usually got just for the crossword puzzle.

The comics in it were terrible.

So I wrote an email to the editor and told him that if he wanted, I could make better comics for him. He said yes.

My first few comics were not successful comedically. Then I made a strip called Thought Crime which I knew was good. I showed it to some comics people, one of whom said, "Oooh, a silent comic. Those are hard to do."

I hadn't realized that I had made a silent comic. From then on, I have strived to use dialogue as sparingly as possible.

The puns are great.
My puns, however, do not translate [into Korean. Tapastic hosts a number of notable Korean webcomics called webtoons, translated into English. DaneMen is not hosted by major Korean webtoon sites Daum or Naver]. Sometimes, I am genuinely proud of a pun. For example, I have a strip where a guy hangs himself after waiting for a phone call for a long time. The name is Hung Up. I love this title because 1) you hang up a phone 2) "to be hung up" is a synonym for obsession and 3) in the end, he himself is hung up.

Pretty grim strip.

I appreciate gallows humor as well.

Why are the characters all you? Why do you like yourself so much?
The characters only look like me. They are sophisticated stick figures. Also, I never wear a shirt and tie.

On an unrelated note, I like myself because the alternative would be too painful.

A crack at the clones
What were you doing in Korea?
Life was easy in Korea. I lived there for over 6 years as an English teacher. The pay was good.

How did you learn art?
I am a self-taught artist. This should explain any perceived deficits in my talents. No one told me. I use Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Now that you've left Korea, what are your plans?
I will be wed this August in Vancouver, Canada. I don't know what I am going to do here. I do know that I will teach English in the meantime. Maybe I'll work in film. I'd like to write a screenplay.

How did you get involved with Tapastic?
Tapastic contacted me about two years ago - it was called Comic Panda then. They needed some merchandise on the shelves for opening day, and I put some of my stuff up. Later, they asked if I could commit to a regular schedule (something I've always struggled with) and I said I couldn't for no money. They cut me a check for maybe $1,800. Last year, during the Primetime Publishing Program [which pays artists based on the number of pageviews they generate], I made maybe another 600 bucks. Nowadays, I make $15 a month from them.

Nobody else was interested in my comics. And certainly nobody was willing to pay me for them. I'm happy with Tapastic.

What webtoons/manga/comics do you read?
Comics are not the major media that I consume. I like sitcoms like 30 Rock and The Office. I read novels. A lot of Vonnegut. Right now, I'm reading Robopocalypse.

I listen to NPR podcasts a lot as I work. It is fair to say that it has an effect on me.

Movie-wise, I like heavily-designed, yet still coherently-storied films. My favorite director is Terry Gilliam, but Spielberg was my childhood hero. I can still watch pre-1995 (Ed Wood) Tim Burton films, but he has lost himself. He has become a brand.

Any advice for aspiring artists? It's so hard to make it as a traditional canvas-and-oil artist now; how would one take advantage of online media like you have to get art out there using the web?
I have yet to succeed at art, and therefore cannot give any advice as to how to do so.

I feel that the best strategy, if you want to succeed, is to look at the best, most popular example of whatever genre you want to work in is, and copy it.

But I guess it all depends on your definition of success.

What do you do when you're not drawing?
Mostly, I do the things that keep my life going. Working, cooking, eating, cleaning, bathing, exercise. When I have free time, I like to play guitar. I have very good taste in movies.

Anything else?
Yes. How do you get people to click "share"?

Daneman is, fortunately, a very approachable artist (unlike some people...I'm looking at you, Shonen Jump mangakas). His email address is located in one of the chapters of DaneMen. You'll just have to read it to find out what it is. Hopefully you'll click "share" too.

Not only does he respond to comments, his comments are entertaining and make references to things we love to hate.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sakura-Con 2014: a convention for everybody

Whether you've come to show off your cosplay skills, join others in the gaming halls, sit in on panels or just chill in the 24-hour manga library, Seattle's Sakura-Con has something for everyone. And Sakura-Con 2014 certainly delivered up to expectations. Wherever you walk the general feeling hanging in the air is one of enthusiasm and engagement.

And no wonder, because the programming at America's 8th-largest anime convention this year was outstanding. Industry panels drew such headliner guests as voice actress Yui Ishikawa, director Kyoji Asano, and producers Tetsuya Nakatake and Tetsuya Kinoshita (all recognizable to fans of 2013's biggest hit anime, Attack on Titan). This year's Sakura-Con was the first appearance in America for all four of these guests. In addition, there were Sword Art Online panels with director Tomohiko Ito and drawing events with animator Shingo Adachi of Sword Art Online and character designer Toshifumi Akai of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. American voice talent attended as well, including Matthew Mercer, Levi's voice in the Attack on Titan English dub (which had its West Coast premiere at Sakura-Con), and Todd Haberkorn, who voice Natsu Dragneel in Fairy Tail.

The guests signed free autographs at multiple signing events throughout the weekend; the lines were daunting whenever we checked.

The exhibitors' hall and artist alley were outstanding as expected
On the more academic side, there were some well-planned panels for the casual fan to learn about anime/manga and Japanese culture in general. We attended a particularly interesting panel, Yokai and War, which was about the intertwined histories of WWII and the beginnings of the manga industry. The talk focused on the work of Shigeru Mizuki, who we were led to believe should probably be a lot better known here in the U.S. Another educational panel showed the influence of the world's diverse mythology on anime. Panels like this are particularly good because, due to the pedantic nature, you don't need to be familiar with the fandom/topics covered to learn something, while for an ¨Ask characters from ______¨ panel you would need to be at least somewhat familiar with ______ to understand the references and inside jokes made. Even people who have never watched anime seriously can benefit from academic panels.

The AMV theater
Anime was playing silently on multiple screens at the rave
If you were looking for a fun way to spend the evening after most panels closed, and if the 24-hour manga library wasn't really your thing (though we can't imagine why it wouldn't be!), there was plenty of programming well into the night (Sakura-Con is a 24-hour con). We dropped in on the AMV theater several times. Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the strictly formal masquerade ball on Friday night, but we did check out the Saturday night rave. The noise: indescribable.

The cultural panels are also great. This is the taiko drumming panel; other cultural panels included martial arts demonstrations, dances, and tea ceremonies. Due to scheduling conflicts we were not able to attend the fashion shows, ELISA concert, or and press conferences, but they were well-received by attendees in general.
One of the great things about Sakura-Con is, of course, its location. Besides the obvious perks of being in the activity center of downtown Seattle, the Washington State Convention Center (where the other major local conventions, Emerald City Comicon and PAX Prime as also held) itself has a lot to offer. Right outside the convention center is Freeway Park, which has an interesting concrete aesthetic and is vaguely retro/Art Deco. The park has lots of nooks and crannies perfect for cosplay photo ops or just for hanging out away from the bustle of con, weather providing. The famous Seattle rain let up for most, but not all, of the weekend, but brief spot of rain didn't deter the Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club cosplay gathering and photoshoot. Swimmers aren't afraid of the water.

We attended several other cosplay gatherings (including the ones for Kill la Kill, League of Legends, Sailor Moon and Kuroko no Basuke) and, no doubt about it, there were some stellar cosplays. The Survey Corps Attack on Titan fandom turned out in droves, as expected from the breakout popularity of the series and this year's guests. The variety of costumes was inspiring and impressive.

Last year, Sakura-Con's executive board made the decision to shut down the Sakura-Con forums. These forums were formerly used to schedule cosplay gatherings, and the shutdown/move to Facebook continues to be controversial. However, the recently-formed Sakura-Con photoshoots/gatherings Facebook group was almost entirely effective as a way to set up this year's enjoyable-as-always cosplay shoots. On the wake of yet another year of negative incidents at Aki Con, it's reassuring that the biggest annoyance Washington's major anime con is facing is minor criticism from some internet users who would prefer forums to Facebook.

Sakura-Con is a must for any Washington anime fan. We're already planning for next year!

The most amazing Levi we'eve ever seen

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Geek of the Week: Chunyang Ding

Chunyang Ding (second from right) seems like the typical high-achieving, intelligent, and successful Asian kid. The gifted Interlake High School junior maintains a 4.0 in the IB program while actively participating in school and extracurricular activities (he blogs here - check it out!). He isn't all about the books, though - he's one of the nicest people those who are able to meet him ever get to meet.

"Chunny", as his (many) friends call him, really, really likes science. When he's not heading the Chemistry Department at the Washington Student Science Association, there's a good chance he's preparing for science trivia bowls. Earlier this month, Ding competed in the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Regional Science Bowl. A fancy-sounding competition with "science" in the name...more stereotypical Asian nerd stuff.

Ding's team lost in the final round of the competition to a team from Oregon's Westview High School.

Wait - what? So this guy (who had eight 5s from eight AP exams by sophomore year and has a social life) isn't 100% perfect?! 

Didn't I write earlier that he's a really nice guy? The super-approachable Chunyang Ding let me take him off his pedestal for this interview about achievement/failure, science, and what it's like to come in second.

Ok, what the heck is the BPA Regional Science Bowl? 

It's part of a national science trivia competition where teens from high schools compete in regional tournaments for "an all-en all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in April to compete in the Department of Energy National Science Bowl, as well as $85,000 in scholarships to colleges and universities throughout the Northwest", according to BPA's website. Ding describes it as "really and above."

"Everyone trains," he said. "I've been in science bowl [a school club] since freshman year. We just really worked." 

What was the training like? "We know the categories," said Ding. There's released problems to go off of, but "there's only so much information you can manage. We specialize. Each member of our team picks a subject." Ding had astronomy and energy. 

"I didn't focus as much as I thought I should have," he admitted.

"We [Interlake high school teams] haven't traditionally done very well at this specific one [the BPA Regional Science Bowl] because this is one of the most prestigious [ones in the area]." It was a surprise, then, when "We went undefeated throughout the entire day. In the last three rounds...we were doing really well...until it all crashed down on us. I felt anger and frustration because we put in so much effort."

"When we went into the tournament, I don't think we were expecting to go to nationals...but as the day progressed, we saw that we were one of the stronger teams at the competition." 

Third place went to another team also composed of Interlake High School students. Both teams ended up facing each other near the end of the competition - it was a "crazy intense round" said Ding on his Facebook page.

Ding's disappointed but not crushed.

"We're already planning on how to study for next year," he said. "One of our parents was like 'It doesn't matter if you won or lost as long as you learned.' It's kinda cliched. Personally, I don't buy into that that much because it really does matter what happens...but every other team that was there tried. It was a really challenging thing for everyone." 

"When I lose, I have the question of why did I lose, and usually feel angry," but "when I win, I should ask: why did I win? Was I that much better?

"It's always about using your emotions and your knowledge to make for a better tomorrow. In my perspective, failure isn't the end-all of everything. There should be a little bit of failure in other peoples' lives. Other people worked just as hard and other people are going to do just as well."

"Taking the failures and making ourselves better," is how Ding deals with failure.

"I really dislike how people stigmatize failure a lot 'cause it's not true. It's not that you're not good. It's that someone else was better."

"Internalizing the knowledge, making it so that you really care about it...learning is about making it yours. Come excited about what you're doing. Even if it isn't directly related to the book you're reading right now, find a way to make it interesting to you," said Ding when asked for study tips. 

"I'll be doing lots of sciency things. I will be sciencing all the things. Science is sciency for science. Science." (Anyone else getting the impression someone really wants to science?)

"Science is like the coolest thing in the world, because science helps us explore who and what we are. We're learning how people work biologically, molecularly. Why does water do all these cool things...what causes the differing brightness of stars? There are so many mysteries...weird things that Mother Nature can throw at us. When you do find something, test it out on something new...finding out that it still works: boom. Mind blown."

"The complaint I have against the current sciency stuff is it's a little too can tell who's really trying to learn from science and who's trying to memorize facts," Ding said about the current state of interest in science in schools. "[To me] all of it is exciting. The science I am most directly connected to is [through] my dad, because he does nuclear engineering. I think that's really cool because there are so many practical applications."

"There's just so much going on. When Galileo was making his telescope, suddenly he had this huge range of vision. So that no matter where he pointed his telescope in the sky, he could see things," said Ding. As for right now? "Huge areas of science are just opening up."

"Today there are so many advancements in science that any curious individual can look at any field and find connections and patterns emerging anywhere."

That's a pretty good reason to learn.