Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

The Beautiful Relationship Between Physics and Jazz

How is physics like jazz? How is John Coltrane like Albert Einstein? Ask theoretical physicist Dr. Stephon Alexander. He sees strong connections between the improvisational nature of jazz and the pursuit of understanding quantum gravity, particle physics, and the origins of the universe. Via NPR:

Take this question: How does a quantum particle get from point A to point B? A particle like an electron. In the strange world of quantum mechanics, it can actually take an infinite number of paths between points A and B.

Alexander says it’s like improvising a jazz solo. Each time, he starts on note A and ends on note B. “We know that it’s starting and ending at those notes,” Alexander says. “But what happened in between are different possibilities, and there’s an infinite amount of possibilities.”

These days, Alexander is a professor at Brown University. And his grad students all play instruments. And when they gather to discuss science, Alexander says it’s like a jazz session. “It feels like a quartet playing Miles Davis tune and everyone gets a chance to solo while the others support the soloer,” he says.


Next: What is Jazz? and The beginning of the universe, for beginners.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

The Music Instinct: Taylor McFerrin and his dad, Bobby

Rion Nakaya

What is Jazz? Ella Fitzgerald & Mel Tormé explain

Rion Nakaya

Animated Sheet Music: Confirmation and Au Privave by Charlie Parker

Rion Nakaya

Wes Montgomery performs Four on Six in London (1965)

Rion Nakaya

Basie Boogie! Count Basie and his Orchestra (1955)

Rion Nakaya

The moment scientists see the first photo of a black hole

Rion Nakaya

Jazz Fundamentals: What Is Improvisation? What Are the Blues?

Rion Nakaya

Stephen Hawking explains black holes in 90 seconds

Rion Nakaya

The Story of Physics, an animated historical summary

Rion Nakaya