Music has a mysterious power. In his TedTalk, Stephon Alexander explores the parallel between jazz music and the functioning of our universe. Stephon’s journey in becoming a physicist started in high school when he encountered a teacher who believed in his potential and introduced him to the magic of jazz while fostering a connection between John Coltrane and Albert Einstein. The narrative takes us to the present day with the world of physics attempting to understand the origin of the universe, which may in fact have its own parallel to a jazz improvisation. In closing, Stephon challenges us to live a life of improvisation.
Stephon Alexander is the EE Just Professor at Dartmouth College of Natural Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, focusing on theoretical cosmology, quantum gravity and particle physics, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Stephon studied at Brown University and conducted postodoctoral research at Imperial College, London and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory. He also plays jazz saxophone and sees improvisation as an extension of his scholarship. Stephon is the current President of the National Society of Black Physicists.
Interested in more of Dr. Alexander’s work? He recently appeared on The Portal podcast discussing jazz, theoretical physics, politics, race, and other timely topics. His book The Jazz of Physics is available at book store.