Science Leadership Academy [staging] Learn · Create · Lead

You are currently viewing a read-only archive of an old version of Slate.

Music and Science Collide at SLA


Stephon Alexander, an internationally known physicist, and accomplished jazz saxophonist, visited SLA earlier this month as a guest of The Franklin Institute to share his vision of how science and music are really one. The talk focused on cosmology and quantum mechanics, which he related to sound through the wave phenomena present in both, and through the physics of sound in everyday music. Dr. Alexander also took the science of music to a new level, exploring geometric patterns in saxophone improvisation. He illustrated his points using his saxophone - and at the end, gave an improvised jazz performance.

Dr. Alexander has been featured on PBS's "Nova" for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" and has collaborated with Will Calhoun, the two-time Grammy-winning drummer from the band "Living Color." He recently won the National Science Foundation Career Award and was elected a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Born in Trinidad, Stephon grew up in the Bronx, and is now Associate Professor of Physics at Haverford College, Assistant Professor of Physics at Penn State, and is beginning a new tenure at Dartmouth College.  
"Music is a wonderful device to communicate the beauty of physics. Matter isn't a boring, dead, solid thing. It's vibrating energy that maintains its consistency through resonating, just like a unified harmonious orchestra playing. I like to demystify the Big Bang by breaking it down in terms of sound. By connecting physics with music, I want to inspire young people and open their eyes to new possibilities."

-- Dr. Stephon Alexander