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The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe

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A spectacular musical and scientific journey from the Bronx to the cosmic horizon that reveals the astonishing links between jazz, science, Einstein, and Coltrane

More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane put physics and geometry at the core of his music.

Physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander follows suit, using 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," taken seriously, clarifies confounding issues in physics.

The Jazz of Physics will fascinate and inspire anyone interested in the mysteries of our universe, music, and life itself.

ISBN-13: 9780465093571

Media Type: Paperback(Reprint)

Publisher: Basic Books

Publication Date: 12-05-2017

Pages: 272

Product Dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

Stephon Alexander is a professor of theoretical physics at Brown University, an established jazz musician, and an immigrant from Trinidad who grew up in the Bronx. He is the 2020 president of the National Society of Black Physicists and a founding faculty Director of Brown University's Presidential Scholars program, which boosts underrepresented students. In addition to his academic achievements, he was the scientific consultant to Ava DuVernay for the feature film A Wrinkle in Time. His work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and many other outlets. He has been a guest on Nova, the “Brian Lehrer Show”, and Neil deGrasse Tyson's “StarTalk,” among much else. The author of Fear of a Black Universe and The Jazz of Physics, Alexander lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Giant Steps 11

2 Lessons from Leon 27

3 All Rivers Lead to Cosmic Structure 41

4 Beauty on Trial 51

5 Pythagorean Dream 69

6 Eno, the Sound Cosmologist 85

7 Thriving on a Riff 93

8 The Ubiquity of Vibration 101

9 The Defiant Physicists 117

10 The Space We Live In 125

11 Sonic Black Hole 137

12 The Harmony of Cosmic Structure 145

13 A Journey into Mark Turner's Quantum Brain 159

14 Feynman's Jazz Pattern 171

15 Cosmic Resonance 179

16 The Beauty of Noise 189

17 The Musical Universe 203

18 Interstellar Space 215

Epilogue 229

Acknowledgments 233

Notes 235

Index 243

About the Author 255