The Sound of Sci(l)ence: Listening to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang, and Nanotechnology

June 15-17: A three-day series of conversations, workshops, and performances exploring the intersection of music and quantum mechanics. Organized by Professors Joshua Schrier (Chemistry) and Stephon Alexander (Physics). Supported by a Mellon Arts Residency Planning Grant.

The Sound of Sci(l)ence: Listening to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang, and Nanotechnology

June 15th-17th, 2009 Hurford Humanities Center

Organized by Professors Joshua Schrier (Chemistry) and Stephon Alexander (Physics), Haverford College

“The Sound of Sci(l)ence” presents a three-day series of conversations, workshops, and performances exploring the intersection of music and quantum mechanics. Supported by a Mellon Arts Residency Planning Grant from Haverford’s Hurford Humanities Center, the event pairs visiting artists Will Calhoun, Jaron Lanier, and Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) with Haverford faculty and students in an effort to widen the scope of quantum mechanics pedagogy through the study of sound, as well locate synergies with courses across the academic disciplines.

Visiting Artists:

  • Will Calhoun— Grammy Award-winning percussionist and member of Living Colour; winner of multiple drumming awards including “Best New Drummer” of 1988 and three-time “Number One Progressive Drummer” (1989, 1992, & 1992) by Modern Drummer Magazine's readers poll; and Best Drummer of 1990 by Rolling Stone Magazine's critics poll. Calhoun’s music utilizes both the Korg Wavedrum and the Mandala Drum, integrating banks of effects and other technological enhancements into his performances. www.willcalhoun.com/
  • Jaron Lanier— Visual artist, pioneer of virtual reality, composer, and author. Responsible for popularizing the term "Virtual Reality" (VR) in the early 1980s, Jaron founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. His current appointments include Interdisciplinary Scholar-in-Residence, CET, UC Berkeley. www.well.com/~jaron/
  • Paul Miller (DJ Spooky) — Washington, DC-born electronic and experimental hip hop musician whose work is often called "illbient" or "trip hop". He is a conceptual artist, film-maker, turntablist, and producer. www.djspooky.com

Schedule of Events:

Monday, June 15th

4:00 p.m. Sharpless Auditorium Open Panel Discussion on Sound and the Physics Curriculum Speakers: Will Calhoun, Jaron Lanier, Paul Miller/DJ Spooky, Peter Love, Stephon Alexander, and Joshua Schrier

Tuesday, June 16th

12:00 noon Sharpless Auditorium Screening of Paul Miller/DJ Spooky’s film Rebirth of a Nation *Snacks provided 4:00 p.m. Hilles 109 Wavedrum Presentation/Workshop with Will Calhoun

Wednesday, June 17th

7:30 p.m. Marshall Auditorium, Roberts Hall Performance: “The Sound of Sci(l)ence” Featuring Will Calhoun, Jaron Lanier, and Stephon Alexander

Contact information: James Weissinger, Associate Director, Hurford Humanities Center jweissin@haverford // 610-795-6518 haverford.edu/hhc

Additional Information:

Mathematically, quantum mechanics (QM) has many analogies with the classical wave phenomena of sound, and yet the pedagogy of QM is almost entirely visual. This series of conversations and performances will explore how to “listen to” the simple systems used to teach QM, how this can increase student comprehension, reach out to non-technical audiences, and for its own inherently aesthetic benefits. In addition, we would like to explore how this could be used to explore/comprehend our research interests in cosmology and nanoscience. This planning grant will explore directions for this work during Spring 2010, determine how this could be integrated into the current chemistry/physics courses, and find synergies with courses in other departments.

Underwritten by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Hurford Humanities Center seeks to stimulate creation and enhancement of courses and broader curricular missions by supporting extended, multi-dimensional arts residencies that combine pedagogy, public presentation, and informal exchange among artists, faculty, students, and the wider campus and area communities. Mellon Arts Residency Planning Grants thus augment the Center’s ongoing aim of stimulating thinking about how art in all media inflects and illuminates the wide variety of subjects considered throughout our curriculum.