Monday, July 22, 2013

The End of the World Might Just Look Like This

Artist Ron Miller illustrates what it might look like if an asteroid the size of the one that struck the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago, which left a 93-mile-wide crater and most likely triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs, hit New Jersey. © Ron Miller.

Ron Miller wanted to be a scientist. “Since I was little, I have loved astronomy,” he says. “But it didn’t take me long to realize that you have to have some kind of abilities in math to be a scientist—and all numbers over 80 look pretty much alike to me.”

So, while keeping up his interest in science, Miller pursued another love, art. He earned a degree in illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio in the 1960s. “It eventually occurred to me that I could combine the two, and do scientific artwork,” he says.

Miller tested his hand at astronomical paintings. When he heard the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum was opening a planetarium in the 1970s, he sent some of his artwork, effectively convincing the museum to hire him as the facility’s art director. He held this post at the Albert Einstein Planetarium for five years before embarking on a career as a freelance illustrator in 1977.

In the past few decades, Miller has written and illustrated more than 50 books, his latest being Is the End of the World Near? From Crackpot Predictions to Scientific Scenarios. His artwork has been featured in numerous magazines, including Air & Space, Scientific American, National Geographic and Discover, and he has dabbled in film, as a production illustrator for Dune (1984) and Total Recall (1990).

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