Stephon Alexander

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Stephon Alexander
Stephon Alexander in 2020
Stephon Alexander at the online event "What can scientists learn from artists?"
OccupationTheoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Musician, Author
Notable work
The Jazz of Physics
AwardsNSF Career Award, APS E. BOUCHET AWARD, AAAS John Wesley Powell Memorial Award.

Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, musician, and author who blends the worlds of theoretical physics and jazz music.[1][2][3][4]

Personal life and education[edit]

Alexander was born in Trinidad and moved to the United States when he was eight. He grew up in the Bronx, New York City and attended De Witt Clinton high school[5] where his physics teacher Daniel Kaplan inspired him to study physics.[6]

Alexander is a scientist and a jazz saxophonist who ponders links, including sound, between small and big things in the universe that go beyond Einstein's curved space-time and big bang theory.[7][8]

Einstein's field equation being his favorite equation, his publication The Jazz of Physics is an autobiographical reflection of his research and theories. Involved with cosmology as a professional physicist, he is also a jazz saxophonist and a student of the works of John Coltrane, among other musicians interested in cosmology. At DeWitt Clinton High School in 10th grade, Alexander's real-life hero was his physics teacher Daniel Kaplan, who was the reason behind diverting Alexander's mind towards physics when discussing velocity and friction. In 2006, Alexander was named as one of the eight National Geographic inquisitive experimenters and explorers.[7][8][9][10]


After receiving his doctoral degree, Alexander was a research physicist at Imperial College, London, as well as at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University.[11] Alexander has held faculty positions at Penn State, Haverford College, and Dartmouth College before joining the faculty at Brown University.[12] Alexander is the president of the National Society of Black Physicists.[13] He is also the executive director of Science and Arts Engagement New York Inc. (SAENY).[14]

Academic life[edit]

Alexander started his academic career as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College, London, (2000-2002) and later on went to be a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University's SLAC and Institute for Theoretical Physics (2002-2005). In 2005, he became an assistant professor of physics at Penn State University. In 2008, he served at Haverford College as an associate professor of physics leading to his positions of Ernest Everett 1907 Associate Professor of Natural Sciences and associate professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College.[15]

Alexander also works as a professor at Brown University and has spent much of his career as a first generation advocate. He also advocates for historically under-represented groups in the sciences.[11] He is a member of the editorial board of Universe.[16]


In June 2012, Alexander co-authored a paper in 2012 that reinterpreted Horava-Lifshitz theory. The paper, "Hořava-Lifshitz theory as a fermionic aether in Ashtekar gravity", described how the HL theory could be naturally occurring. The authors also theorized that HL gravity could be interpreted as a time-like current that fills space-time.[17]

In December 2012, Alexander was the co-author of the paper "Gravitational origin of the weak interaction's chirality".[18] Focusing on the Lorentz group, the authors studied the unification of the electroweak and gravitational interactions and the space-time connection. The authors theorized, in ways similar to Plebanski and Ashtekar, how those weak interactions on the right-handed chiral half in space-time connection could explain the weak interaction.

The theory devised by Alexander and his co-authors was broken down into two phases. The first is a parity symmetric phase, similar to the studies and workings of Speziale. The next phase depends on whether the parity is broken or not. Under the breaking, it shows a Dirac fermion expressing itself as a chiral neutrino.[18]

Around the same time, Alexander co-authored another paper that focused on the study of electric time in quantum cosmology. The paper formulated and studied new possibilities of the quantum behavior of space-time.[19]

Alexander has mainly worked to extend Einstein's theory of curved space-time, taking it to extremes in the connection between the smallest and largest entities in the universe. He co-invented the model of inflation called D-Branes. This was based on higher dimensional hypersurfaces in string theory. Alexander has worked as the director of Dartmouth College's EE Just STEM Scholars Program, volunteered for public speaking in inner city schools, taught mathematics in prisons and monitors activities relevant to his scholarship.[11][20]


In February 2013, Alexander wrote in The New York Times about the need for black academics to set a positive trend for the next generation. In the article, he called upon a number of personal experiences from his own education and life.[21]

Alexander has been interviewed or quoted in media sources such as the Tavis Smiley Show,[22] Forbes Magazine,[23] NPR,[24] Brian Lehrer Show,[25] Science Salon/Skeptic Society,[26][27] Downbeat Magazine,[28] and Mercury News.[29]


His album with Rioux[30][31] was Here Comes Now.[32] Alexander and bassist Melvin Gibbs formed a group that they named God Particle.[33] Alexander is also the author of The Jazz of Physics, a book that discusses the link between music and the structure of the universe.[1][11][34][35][36][37]

On a Nova documentary, Alexander was featured discussing his life as a jazz saxophonist, while also working as a physicist during the day.[5]



  • 2006 National Geographic Emerging Explorers[40]
  • 2008 NSF Career Award.[41][42]
  • 2010 AAAS John Wesley Powell Memorial Award.[43]
  • 2013 APS E. BOUCHET AWARD.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Meet the physicist who brings scientist's touch to jazz - Home | q | CBC Radio". 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Pesic, Peter (2016-05-06). "Blue Notes and Blackboards". WSJ. Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "A Design Bible Focuses in on Physics, Fast Food and Meryl Streep". 25 June 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "cosmic_jazz_stephon_alexander" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b Marykwas, Donna (November 19, 2010). "PBS NOVA's secret life of scientist Stephon Alexander: sax-playing physicist".
  6. ^ "The Jazz of Physics | Stephon Alexander | TEDxSanDiego". YouTube. TEDx Talks. Retrieved 2015-12-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b "Stephon Alexander, Physicist Information, Facts, News, Photos". National Geographic. Retrieved 2016-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b "Meet Stephon Alexander '93, Our Newest Faculty Member | Haverford College". Retrieved 2016-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Alexander, Stephon. "NOVA | Einstein's Big Idea | The Equation Today: Quantum Contemplations". PBS. Retrieved 2016-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Stephon Alexander Honored by National Geographic : SLAC Today Feature". Retrieved 2016-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ a b c d "Review: As Goes Music, So Goes the Universe". The New York Times. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Alexander, Stephon". Retrieved 2020-10-20.
  13. ^ "President's Message". Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  14. ^ McCallister, Jared. "CARIBBEAT: Trinidad-born physicist Stephon Alexander heads City College-backed program prepping young people for high-tech industry jobs". Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  15. ^ "Academic life" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Editorial Board of Universe" (Online access). MDPI Publishing. 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Stephon Alexander; Joao Magueijo; Antonino Marciano (June 2012). "Hořava-Lifshitz theory as a Fermionic Aether in Ashtekar gravity". INSPIRE-HEP
  18. ^ a b Stephon Alexander; Antonino Marciano; Lee Smolin (December 2012). "Gravitational origin of the weak interaction's chirality". INSPIRE-HEP.
  19. ^ Stephon Alexander; Martin Bojowald; Antonino Marciano; David Simpson (December 2012). "Electric Time in Quantum Cosmology". INSPIRE-HEP.
  20. ^ Science (2016-05-26). "How Chilling With Brian Eno Changed the Way I Study Physics". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Black Academics Have a Responsibility to the Next Generation". NY Times. February 4, 2013.
  22. ^ "Physicist Stephon Alexander | Interviews | Tavis Smiley | PBS". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  23. ^ Insights, Forbes. "Open Your Eyes And Learn From Others". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  24. ^ "Scientist Stephon Alexander: 'Infinite Possibilities' Unite Jazz And Physics". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  25. ^ Using Jazz to Explain the Multiverse, retrieved 2016-08-31 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ Skeptic Magazine (2016-06-20), Dr. Stephon Alexander — The Jazz of Physics (Science Salon #6), retrieved 2016-08-31 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. ^ "Dr. Stephon Alexander — The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe (Science Salon # 6)". 2016-05-22. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  28. ^ "DownBeat Magazine". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  29. ^ "Author bridges the worlds of music and physics". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  30. ^ "Premiere: Stephon Alexander and Rioux recruit No Wave icon Arto Lindsay for ecstatic 'I Guess We're Floating' – FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music". 2014-07-17. Retrieved 2014-09-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. ^ "Rioux & Stephon Alexander – 'Dance of the Illusion' | DJ Mag Canada". Archived from the original on 2014-07-01. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
  32. ^ SPIN (2014-05-29). "Hear Stephon Alexander & Rioux's Interstellar Jazz Excursion 'A Brief History Of Time'". SPIN. Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  33. ^ "Melvin Gibbs & Stephon Alexander Premiere at The Vision Festival 2019". Bass Magazine. May 14, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  34. ^ "Open Your Eyes And Learn From Others". Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  35. ^ Brooks, Michael (2016-03-16). "Bananas and jazz help us penetrate physics – but only so far". New Scientist. Retrieved 2016-08-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  36. ^ "TCCHS receives engineering certification". 2016-04-21. Retrieved 12 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  37. ^ "Activity-packed week planned at Harker Heights Public Library". Retrieved 12 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  38. ^ Blanchard, Keith (2016-03-15). "3 Must-Read Books for Geeks". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  39. ^ "One of the Must-Read Books for Geeks | The Daily Pretzel". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  40. ^ "Stephon Alexander". Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  41. ^ "Prize Recipient". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  42. ^ "Alexander, Stephon". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  44. ^ "Dartmouth's Stephon Alexander Honored by the American Physical Society". 2012-11-23. Retrieved 2016-08-31.

External links[edit]