Big Picture Science – Musical Universe

by Gary Niederhoff on July 25, 2016

Big Picture Science – Musical Universe

In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound. After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of massive black holes, a brief shaking of spacetime that can be translated into a short squeal.

We listen to the chirp of black holes crashing into each other and wonder: could the universe contain more than individual sounds, but have actual musical structure?

A theoretical physicist and jazz saxophonist updates the ancient philosophical concept of the Music of the Spheres to probe the most vexing questions confronting modern cosmology. Find out how the evolution of the universe resembles an improvisational jazz piece, and the musical inspiration John Coltrane drew from Albert Einstein.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Janna Levin / Songs From Outer Space
Part 2: Stephon Alexander / Jazz of Science
Part 3: Stephon Alexander / Science of Jazz

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