The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it meets some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
  And whither then? I cannot say.

                            - J.R.R. Tolkien


I'm a professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Southern California. My work involves research and teaching, primarily. I teach both undergraduates and postgraduates. Find out more about those activities by following the links to the far left. USC is located on the University Park Campus right in the centre of the city of Los Angeles, in California. It is one of the most vibrant cities on the planet, where you can find pretty much everything!

My research (as a member of the Theory Group) focuses on the development of theoretical tools for the description of the basic fabric of Nature. The tools and ideas often have applications in other areas of physics (and mathematics) too - unexpected connections are part of the fun of research! Ultimately I (and the international community of which I am a part) am trying to understand and describe the origin, past, present and future of the Universe. This involves trying to describe its fundamental constituents (and their interactions), as well as the Universe as a dynamical object in its own right. I mainly work on (super)string theory, gravity, gauge theory and M-theory right now, which lead me to think about things like space-time, quantum mechanics, black holes, the big bang, extra dimensions, quarks, gluons, and so forth. See the research page for more, or look on my blog under the "research" category (here).

I spend a lot of time talking about science with members of the public in various venues, from public talks and appearances, various intersections with the arts and media (you might catch me on TV and web shows like The Universe, Big History, or Fail Lab), to just chatting with someone on the subway. I love helping artists, filmmakers, writers, and other shapers of our culture include science in their work in some way. Check out my blog for more about those things, and occasional upcoming events. Get in touch if you are interested in having me appear at an event, or if I can help you with the science in your artistic endeavour.

I have a personal blog called Asymptotia, and I write very regularly there about many of the things I do (research and other work, play - among other things). You're welcome to have a look, and even to join in (or start) some of the ongoing conversations with me and/or the community of other readers. You can jump to some of the posts by clicking on the photographs on the right.

Thanks for visiting! -cvj

Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0484, U.S.A.
Tel: 1-213-821-1772
Fax: 1-213-740-6653
e-mail: johnson1 at

picture of Doheny Library on USC campus
working at the board
scenes from USC campus
food from Hollywood Farmer's Market
extract from a page of my forthcoming book
sleeping in the shade at a festival