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Public Lecture: "Jazz of the Spheres"

Chern-Simons and Other Topological Field Theories November 16, 2021 - November 18, 2021

November 18, 2021 (07:00 PM PST - 08:00 PM PST)
Speaker(s): Stephon Alexander (Brown University)
Location: David Brower Center, Goldman Theater
Primary Mathematics Subject Classification No Primary AMS MSC
Secondary Mathematics Subject Classification No Secondary AMS MSC

Jazz Of The Spheres


In this talk we will explore the improvisational and musical nature of mathematics and physics.


Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist, computational physicist, and author whose work is at the interface between cosmology, particle physics, quantum gravity and music cognition.  His expertise lies in constructing new theories and models of the early universe that have predictions for the universe at present, such as dark energy and dark matter.  He also combines mathematics and tools from theoretical physics into machine learning, the geometry and cognition of musical perception, biophysics, signal processing and computational algorithms. 

Alexander is a Professor of Physics at Brown University, and the President of the National Society of Black Physicists.  Alexander is also the Executive Director of the Harlem Gallery of Science.  He had previous appointments at Stanford University, Imperial College, Penn State, Dartmouth College and Haverford College.  Alexander is a specialist in the field of string theory and cosmology, where the physics of superstrings are applied to address longstanding questions in cosmology. In 2001, he co-invented the model of inflation based on higher dimensional hypersurfaces in string theory called D-Branes. In such models the early universe emerged from the destruction of a higher dimensional D-brane which ignites a period of rapid expansion of space often referred to as cosmic inflation.

In his critically acclaimed book, The Jazz of Physics, Alexander revisits the ancient interconnection between music and the evolution of astrophysics and the laws of motion. He explores new ways music, in particular jazz music, mirrors modern physics, such as quantum mechanics, general relativity, and the physics of the early universe. He also discusses ways that innovations in physics have been and can be inspired from “improvisational logic” exemplified in Jazz performance and practice. Alexander is also a professional touring jazz musician.

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Jazz Of The Spheres

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