A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Stephon Alexander: Theory by day, saxophone by night

02/01/05

By day, Stephon Alexander theorizes about the effects of dark matter in his office at SLAC. By night he plays tenor saxophone in a San Francisco jazz club.

Day in the life: Stephon Alexander

Photography by Teresa Robinson
Text by Raven Hanna

 

By day, Stephon Alexander theorizes about the effects of dark matter in his office at SLAC. By night he plays tenor saxophone in a San Francisco jazz club. Alexander was born in Trinidad and grew up in the Bronx. "Break dancing and rap music were being created in my neighborhood. It was amazing," he says. In his first postdoctoral position at Imperial College, London, Alexander was inspired by great physicists and great musicians. "I learned there are elements of science in doing art, and in art for doing science," he says.

"You have a question in the back of your head. You do your daily things in life but somehow this question is deeply in you—it’s always there. And this is how I live my life."
 
Stephon Alexander collage
"Chris Isham, a great mathematical physicist, told me that you excite the subconscious in ways that you can’t see, which allows you to access creativity to do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do. I keep that in the back of my mind."
Stephon Alexander collage
"I approach physics the same way as I approach jazz and improvisation. Like Charlie Parker said, you learn the rules, then when you are actually out there doing it, you throw the rules away."


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