On styles of doing science

Sylvester James ‘Jim’ Gates Jr

Suppose we lived in a world where the only kind of music that existed was classical music and some bright young person came along and learned classical music, but then created jazz. How does the existing establishment view him? He’s not playing by their rules. Some people might say he’s not playing by any rules. So the difference in aesthetic plays an enormous role. I have a strong suspicion something like that’s at work in theoretical physics.

In the early eighties Professor Salam commented he suspected that when a sufficient number of people of the African Diaspora start to do physics, something like jazz would appear. It took 15 or 20 years before I had the intimate knowledge of physics necessary to interpret this statement well enough to understand his meaning.

You see, there are different styles in how physics is done. There are styles of physics that are Russian, Germanic, English, and even American, which is very detectable to me. When enough people of African heritage do physics, they’re going to bring a different aesthetic, and it will be new and valuable. Because classical music and jazz exist we don’t think that we’re musically poorer. Had jazz never come into existence we would’ve been musically poorer, but before jazz, musicians could say, “We’re doing just fine. We have this wonderful art form here.” And that’s what’s lost when people with different inputs don’t participate in science. We miss the opportunity to create jazz.

Link via Abi.


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