Saxophone-playing physicist to discuss music, innovation

Stephon Alexander

A noted physicist and musician will give a virtual talk about the connection between jazz and science in a virtual appearance April 22.

Stephon Alexander, professor of physics at Brown University and president of the National Society of Black Physicists, will discuss “What a Scientist Learned from Jazz about Innovation” at 4 p.m. via Zoom as a guest of the UO Department of Physics. The event will be hosted by the Oregon Humanities Center and sponsored by the center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities. 

Alexander, who was born in Trinidad and moved the U.S. at age 8, is a theoretical physicist specializing in cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity. He has held previous appointments at Stanford University, Imperial College, Penn State, Dartmouth and Haverford College. He is executive director of the Harlem Gallery of Science and an affiliate professor in Africana studies at Brown.

Alexander, a jazz saxophonist, also explores interconnections between music, physics, mathematics and technology through recordings, performance, teaching and public lectures. He has performed and collaborated with Will Calhoun, Brian Eno, Marc Cary, Vernon Reid, Ronnie Burrage and Jaron Lanier.

He also authored the book “The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe,” published in 2017, which uses jazz to answer physics’ most vexing questions about the past and future of the universe. Following the great minds that first drew the links between music and physics — a list including Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton, Einstein and Rakim — “The Jazz of Physics” reveals that the ancient poetic idea of the “music of the spheres” clarifies confounding issues in physics. 

The lecture is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the Zoom webinar registration form.