What I had realized, I told Lateef, was that the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.
Part of Einstein’s genius, Alexander points out, was his willingness to leap beyond the limits of his particular mathematical problem and into a field of possibilities, which he explored through improvisational experimentation — , or thought experiments.
“It is less about music being scientific and more about the universe being musical,” he writes, reminding us that stars, galaxies, and planets arose from sound waves in the plasma of the infant universe as spacetime vibrated like an instrument to produce the waves that leavened these essential cosmic structures.
Born in Trinidad, Alexander fell in love with science shortly after his family moved to the United States.
Through the gateway of hip hop and its wide-ranging influences spanning Caribbean and Latin music, Alexander discovered the saxophone and became besotted with the free jazz of Ornette Coleman.
His parents eventually bought him a vintage alto saxophone at a garage sale, and so began his second great love affair with the universe.
At the intersection of these two loves, Alexander found his calling.
Within a decade, he was working on some of the most complex problems in modern physics by day, performing with some of the most legendary jazz musicians by night, and cross-pollinating the legacies of his great heroes: Einstein, Pythagoras, John Coltrane. “Professor Lateef is not here,” said the voice, flatly.
That particular morning, Brian was manipulating waveforms on his computer with an intimacy that made it feel as if he were speaking Wavalian, some native tongue of sound waves.
What struck me was that Brian was playing with, arguably, the most fundamental concept in the universe — the physics of vibration.