36: Dark Matter, Black Matters and All That Jazz

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Dark Matter, Black Matters and All That Jazz
Guest Stephon Alexander
Length 03:11:13
Release Date 11 June 2020
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Episode Highlights

Stephon Alexander is a first class jazz musician as well as a first rate physicist and a professor at Brown University. As the New President of the National Society of Black Physicists, Eric sits down with Stephon over a good deal of wine to discuss particles, politics, blackness and STEM, and other matters as they look back on the last decade of their friendship and their sprawling discussions across music, politics, mathematics, physics and beyond.


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Hello, it’s Eric. I wanted to talk about the death and the afterlife of the blues. Now, the difficulty in talking about the blues is that people do not have a common picture of what I mean. Some will hear in the phrase “the blues” a reference to mood. Others will associate it with the music that fits a depressed state of mind. And musicians will hear it as a reference to a class of structured music analogous to sonata form in western classical music, or the ritualized three part structure of a classical Indian concert.

Well, permit me to pretend that you were where I was as a young man coming of age, which is that I knew nothing about it. All I knew was that I loved rock and roll, and that within rock, there were certain songs more than others that I would listen to over and over again. And oddly, I would notice several names recurring on the song credits. For example, W. Dixon, who the hell was W. Dixon? And the other name that came up repeatedly clearly sounded like a patrician blueblood Senator, McKinley Morganfield. There were others, of course, as well. Ellis McDaniel sounded Scottish to me as a name, but he wrote like he was straight out of Texarkana. This was confusing. All these rock bands knew about these guys and played their songs, but these names weren’t listed on any performances.

So who were these people? And why did I love everything that they did? I asked around in my circle of family and friends, and no one had an answer or even thought the question particularly interesting. So one day, in the days before the internet, I went to the Tower Record store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, near where we lived, and determined that I would screw up my courage to ask.

Now I say that for the benefit of those of you who may not regularly visit record stores or musical instrument shops, because you may not understand who works behind the counter and on the floor. Music is a weird sector of the economy, because it behaves somewhat like a legal drug, which some people can handle, while others cannot. And as a result, many musicians of near infinite ability exist who still cannot earn much living doing what they love most, which is playing music. Thus, almost everyone working in any area that touches music is usually overqualified by orders of magnitude. And Tower Records on Sunset was effectively a university-level music and folklore department, with shaggy professors manning the cash registers on the floor. I would have my parents drop me off there just to listen to the conversations at their classical music annex across the street from their larger popular music store.

But on this one particular day, I got up the courage to go to the general information desk and ask my question.

“May I help you, young man?”, the bearded gentleman said to me, with what sounded like it might have been a faint snort of contempt.

“Yes, sir. Who is W Dixon?” I said meekly.

Never heard of him. Sorry. Next?

“Wait!” I exclaimed desperately. “I’m not done with my questions.”

“Go on, then”, the bearded man said.

Who is McKinley Morganfield?”

Suddenly the man’s face brightened. “You mean Muddy Waters?”

“No”, I protested. “It’s not a body of water or a song. It’s a person, a songwriter.”

The man called over some associates to laugh over the situation I was creating.

“This young man is trying to discover the blues and he’s never even heard of Muddy Waters!” The man said.

I was now panicking as this was fast becoming an embarrassing scene with lots of grown men laughing at me and my questions. Let’s try my last question instead.

“Who is Ellis McDaniel?”

All the men laughed and said the same word simultaneously, “Bo Diddley!”

Then the bearded man said, “Oh, and that mysterious W. Dixon you asked about is going to be a bass player out of Chicago named Willie Dixon.”

“Then you know what I’m talking about. So why are you all laughing at me?” I asked.

“Because your life is about to change today, and you don’t even know it or just how much”, said the man.

“How can you know that?” I demanded.

“Well, you’ll see,” said he.

The bearded man then got up and walked me over to what was not much more than a single bin or two in the huge store labeled “blues” off to the side of the jazz section.

As he left I started going through the records and started seeing all of the song titles that I had loved, only they were no longer being performed by the Rolling Stones or The Doors. And what was more, almost all of the musicians were black, but often in the same configurations as white rock groups—electric guitar and bass, keyboards and drums, for example. Sure enough, there was a singer called Muddy Waters, a guitarist named Bo Diddley, and a world of people I’d never heard of. I decided to take a risk and bought two of the cheapest of these mysterious records, a collection of BB King songs, and a double album of John Lee Hooker.

I got the records home and, feeling humiliated, I determined never to go back to that store again. I opened the shrink wrap and took the BB King record out of the paper sleeve first. And I remember watching the stylist drop down to the vinyl and I waited nervously listening to the scratches over a tiny eternity for whatever was to come next. The song started and my life changed in under 10 seconds. I felt like I was being born so, I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Put on the song you upset me baby, and you’ll find that it begins with a tasty, upbeat guitar that introduces the mood. I felt like I wanted to dance immediately. I didn’t feel at all depressed. It made no sense.

Then I heard BB King’s voice for the first time. The lyrics, or the description, without apology, I might add, of a woman who is “36 in the bust, 28 in the waist, 44 in the hips, she got real crazy legs…”

Well, growing up in a progressive household, I was mortified and excited all at the same time as I dove for the volume knob to turn it down. What was I listening to? And wasn’t that like eight inches larger down below than what I was taught were the fabled perfect measurements? And this BB King, he wasn’t embarrassed at all. I mean, he was literally shouting her measurements to the world, like he expected she would find that flattering, rather than feeling objectified or needing to diet.

But it wasn’t the lyrics that got me. It was that I had swum upstream and discovered the distilled essence of Rock and Roll, without knowing that there was anything there to discover. If this was a scene from Kung Fu Panda, I would be stumbling upon The Pool of Sacred Tears, where it all began. I liked this music so much more than Rock and Roll that I couldn’t get enough of the sound. This was audio heroin to me. I went to the piano my family had downstairs, and tried to figure out the notes, but they didn’t fit the Do-Re-Mi scales I had once learned in six months of failed piano lessons.

Well, what I soon learned was that there was a musical art form called the blues that was more dance music than Moke fest. Oddly, it wasn’t well understood by anyone I seem to know. And it was based on two main secrets. It is perhaps easiest to say what they are while sitting at the piano. The first secret is that the left hand in the bass plays a repeating 12 bar cycle of three chords in a particular sequence known as the blues progression. The other secret is that the right hand improvises using a scale known as the blues scale that is neither major nor minor, and that cannot even fit onto the white keys alone in any key. This was literally music to my ears. Many of these blues musicians like me were unable to read music. A good number of them were even blind. Yet they had developed a mature art form like Haiku that used a largely rigid formula to produce work of infinite variety and emotion.

Why was I never told that this existed? Why was this never even offered to me as a possible alternative to classical music? The short and perfect answer is race. The Blues, even more than jazz, really is black music, which black Americans had largely outgrown by the 1960s, if we are honest, just as some white musicians, we’re learning how to master it. There’s a famous song by Muddy Waters about what he calls the story that’s, “never been told”, where the title and main line of the song is, “The Blues had a baby, and they named it Rock and Roll”.

The reason for my confusion is that there’s often no real difference between Rock and Roll and the Blues. You can look on YouTube for Keith Richards showing how the Stone song “Satisfaction” is actually a disguised country blues hidden in plain sight, or you can hear Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin tell the audience that “Whole Lot of Love” really derives from Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love”. And if we are honest, there is a certain financial premium to be earned by white musicians for simply taking the work of black blues musicians and repackaging it for white audiences Rock and roll. Before we even get to it, they have legitimately added as true innovation in a collaborative process.

It is also true that it represents different cultural norms. I remember my grandfather who was not a bigoted man telling me that he personally disliked this music and that I was bending guitar notes and trying to sing with melisma and wide vibrato. “Why not listen to a Schubert song cycle instead?”, he asked. To him and others, I was clearly going in an unexpected and disappointing direction away from the formal regimented western classical music that my parents and grandparents held up as the gold standard.

Yet exactly what my grandfather detested was what I loved most. The warmth, the excitement, the improvisational brilliance. By the time I snuck out of the house at 15 to see Ray Charles at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with my friend Ed Tuttle, I could see that this was really another world. The audience was part of the show, or at least that was true in black musicians played before black audiences. People would stand up in their seats and shout at the stage, or dance in the aisles, and the performers would talk back, sometimes in words and sometimes with their instruments. When I went to see BB King years later in Boston in two back to back concerts over two nights, the first one was in a black area of town, and it was joyous and raucous.

The next night’s event however, it was like looking at an autopsy of the previous evening, by comparison. The white concert hall audience waited respectfully until the end of every song to clap vigorously as if they were seated at a symphony. I didn’t want to be black necessarily, but I wanted to be in with black America. If blues was developed largely around call and response, the white audience simply did not understand how to give back to the musicians and the music always suffered as a result.

So what is the blues and why does it matter? Well, accept for a moment that, if American classical music means anything at all, and we’re really talking about the art form known as jazz, blues is in a certain sense an ancestor to jazz as well as Rock and Roll and R&B, with the so called Talking Blues, a forerunner of hip hop and rap. Thus, despite black audiences largely turning away from the blues as an art form, it can’t really ever die, because it is the foundation for so much of the American contribution to world music. Further, it is a place for musicians to meet. When two musicians who do not know each other or their respective styles want to play together for the first time, in my experience, they’re most likely to try to play a 12 bar blues the way strangers would shake hands and introduce themselves.

It is also a superpower waiting to be discovered in the life of everyone who dreams of playing music. Because it is based on just two musical rules, the initial overhead for entering the world of blues musicianship is quite a bit lower than other forms, while the limits of virtuosic elaboration within the idiom have never been found and tested even by the likes of Art Tatum or Jimi Hendrix. If you think you can’t play music at all, but you have too strong working arms, start with a guitar and a slide, like a coffee mug, and a chart of the 12 bar blues cycle. You can probably play your first blues song within 15 minutes with a little bit of instruction from a friend who is knowledgeable.

Now you may be guessing that there is a payload to this story, and there is. I fell deeply in love with black America completely by accident before I was 14. It was from afar at first, having few black friends, but love turns to progressive understanding over decades, and infatuation turns to a deeper appreciation of gifts, quirks, and flaws. At this point, I don’t even have a strong sense of distance and objectivity, as it is all through my life by now.

One of the things I found was that I had developed a very different picture of black Americans than almost anyone I knew as a result. And central to that picture was that black Americans took merit and meritocracy as seriously and definitionally as any group I ever met, with the possible exception of Soviet Russians.

As a folklore minor at the University of Pennsylvania, I advanced the thesis there that I want to share with you all. And that is this: We non blacks are missing the history and role of merit, and particularly genius, in black culture. Having been fenced out of white institutions by discrimination, and having been stripped of their heritage by slave owners who wish to erase their past, black Americans came up with an ingenious solution to rebuild their identity in the space of the hundred years since slavery. They would use open head-to-head high stakes competitions in, well, just about everything. In the school yard, they called it The Dozens and it was a game of insult played for keeps. At open mic night they called it head-cutting competitions to see who could blow the other clear off the stage. When it came to the spoken word, they would have pitted Robert Frost against TS Eliot, had they both been black and at a poetry slam. Regular chess often took too long, so they hustled at Blitz style chess in public parks against all comers. In comedy, competitive roasting and the blow torching of hecklers reigned supreme. And in hip-hop, the concept of a rap battle is well known to all.

And this is why I don’t really get the race and IQ discussion, because this is a genius-based culture, whose principal gift, after all, lies in out thinking the rival with creative generative solutions, under maximal pressure, that will never be found on a multiple choice test. This is exactly how Eminem could win at rap battling, because fairness and judging is how blacks maintained an air of superiority over whites, who needed to cheat by exclusion.

I have threatened for years to come up with an IQ substitute test that favored blacks based on my study of black history. It would involve multiple people competing directly against each other head to head in real time to solve open ended analytic problems under maximal pressure, where no answer was known to begin with to those making up the test.

But despite my reverence for black genius, I also came to see flaws and faults as one does in any deep cross cultural relationship of sufficient length and depth. For example, where I learned to see the white society to which I belonged as being systemically violent in ways that I had never understood or imagined, the initial unparalleled warmth of black society that mirrored my Jewish upbringing, eventually peeled back to reveal a comfort with the idiosyncratic horror of Louisiana red sweet blood call that made me physically sick the first time I heard both men and women clapping and joking about what seemed like misogynistic madness beyond any murder ballad I had ever heard.

Now, what am I to do with all of this? On the one hand, I cannot pretend that I would even recognize the US without the black contribution. If there were a crime of cultural appropriation, I would only be let off the hook for attempting the crime without succeeding. That is how badly I wanted to understand and learn from Art Tatum, Richard Pryor, Harry Belafonte, the Nicholas brothers, Paul Robeson and Louie Armstrong, Eric Lewis, Stanley Jordan, Dick Gregory and my other heroes.

But we outside the black community, in our modeling guilt and performative shame, are now in the process of losing the ability to meet our own amazing subculture of black America as equals. Think about it. We fear, we idolize, we covet, we desire, we condescend, and we steal from them. We feel as if we have no right to meet our own people as intimates due to the fear of offense. And there is no true love where we cannot share what it is that we see and pass through the valley of offence to deeper understanding. This alienation is, in fact, the origin of the stock character from cinema of the magic Negro possessed of otherworldly wisdom, but who is always a supporting character as drawn, propelling the Caucasian narrative ever forward. And, quite honestly, I see in our shame that we don’t have enough of the deep friendships between blacks and whites, where we might actually come to love each other from a position of intimacy and knowledge, rather than an oscillation between idolization and demonization.

So I will leave you with this thought. Those of us in white America who believe most in our black brothers and sisters are not going in for this groveling performative bullshit. We have already many times stood with our friends in shock when the cab which slowed to pick us up, then sped off when it saw who we were with, and I can assure you that we were never called something so genteel and euphemistic as N-word loving race traders as we were physically bullied in school. Just as my black colleagues can mostly understand anti-semitism, I can get most of anti-black prejudice too. Sure, maybe not the whole thing, but this pretend divide has to end. What is the purpose of the heights of black oratorical skill, if not to make us understand each other better?

And speaking directly to black listeners: we are equals and very lucky to have each other. I’m so very glad you are here and I wouldn’t be who I am without your gifts. Forgive me, but no true friend of mine has ever asked me to wear a hair shirt for my connection to racial crimes of slavery committed by people who vaguely looked like me, decades before any of my family ever came to this country. I will support you and do believe that you have triumphed over the humiliation of oppression. But don’t ask me for Reparations, to abolish the police, to repeat lines that you feed me, to kneel when you instruct, or to accept lower standards of empathy between people because of the uniqueness of your pain. I’m not going to simply take your word for it that no white person fears the police, nor am I going to ignore statistics that in turns both confirm and cast out on so called lived experience. Daniel Shaver was white and died on camera in an Arizona hotel room. Be honest, had he been black, you would know that racism was behind the deed. And yet, because he was white, we know that it played no role. The true solution to race problems isn’t competing to demonstrate just how guilty we are. It is true love and friendship and critique and offense and fumbling in the dark until we get it right. We Jews do have a problem with sexual predation. Our Muslim brothers have had problems with terror. Blacks have problems with violent crime. And if you have true friends, who are any of these, you discuss these things in an arena of trust. As a black friend of mine once said, “I cross the street when a big guy with a do rag comes towards me. I’m not sure why I feel just a bit weird that you do it too.” But above all, thank you for immeasurably enriching my life. It will be an honor to try to help your children do for science and technology what you have already done for culture, letters, music, comedy and national character.

This country of ours isn’t perfect, but it’s not 1840 anymore, and no group of us has the right to scuttle this beautiful ship we share called America. Let’s reform prisons and law enforcement like grownups. I’m saying this because I believe in us as intimates, and not because I’m trying to hold on to an insulating layer that others built into the system.

Unedited Transcript[edit]

I'll be back after a few brief words from our sponsor to introduce today's guest.

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I'm releasing this episode recorded before the Corona epidemic to honor my friend the Trinidadian jazz saxophonist Stephon Alexander. Steph is a multi talented musician who has risen from a modest upbringing and has most famously played alongside the great Ornette Coleman. So every time step humor is made by inviting me to jam with him or asking me to come to see him play a date in the club. I feel highly honored to get to see how a great mind like his thinks about jazz when we drink and talk afterward. I will admit that sometimes there is a lot of drinking and the discussions and arguments can rage into the small hours of the morning, best visited by the livers and brains of younger men. But I'm not honoring Steph for his horn playing here, because Steph has an unusual side gig where he is professor of theoretical physics at Brown University, working simultaneously in particle theory, quantum gravity and cosmology. In addition, he's also the author of the book, The Jazz of physics, which connects his two major passions. Not bad for the immigrant son of a cab driver from the Bronx, right? Well, let's put it this way. The man is phenomenal and hanging with Steph is a great way to humble the ego. So in addition to thinking about turn Simon's cosmology, her melodic theory and quantum foundations, Steph has just become the president of the National Society of Black physicists. I'm not quite sure how he does it all. But I think that this tenure could potentially be a big deal if all goes well as we selfishly stand a lot to gain by tapping this most overlooked of pools of talent. And I wanted to hold this back until you'd assumed office as I think that as a visionary, he may have a dramatic effect on attracting top young black students in theoretical physics and see is a terrific pedagogue and leader where others have had difficulty in past with this, I think that's defined may yet succeed. Dare to dream. In part that is because when we met I helped talk stuff into staying in physics when I saw him being nudged out of the field subtly, by virtue of his intellectually soui generous nature. This all came about because our mutual friend Lee Smolin asked me to assess whether Stefan would be happier outside the field at the time, I met with Stefan in New York City and was instantly so impressed by his originality while talking shop that I made an odd decision, which frankly surprised me. I reasoned that Steph might actually be psychologically better off leaving physics at the time, but that the field would actually be worse off for having him leave due to his originality. So I tried to convince him to stay in and write it out. Thankfully, he did. And everything resolved beautifully, just as I'd hoped. So let me say a few things about what you're about to hear. You're going to hear two friends who have had a million conversations about tensor analysis, romance, bebop and academics. And quite honestly, when it's late, we drink. So in the interest of authenticity, I wanted to do that only with the microphone. On. So it is a bit unruly in places. If you want perfectly polished podcasting might I suggest something highly produced from the New York Times offering perhaps. But in my defense, let me tell you what you may get here that you won't get elsewhere. Right now as this podcast is being released, the United States as a nation is trying to talk about race in the wake of the sensible killing and murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police before onlookers in broad daylight. And the nation is trying to figure out the new rules about how to think and talk about race. These new rules of course, assume that if we just follow the tortured standards of conversation coming from critical race theory properly, and feel the proper amount of guilt and shame, that we can end the nightmare of racism. Well, allow me to offer a very different perspective, almost an opposite one. In fact, there's also the simple idea of appreciating our differences and just loving our way through it. With acquaintances perhaps having many rules to ensure respect for our differences and traumas is an approach one can take, but honestly, it leads to distancing where the rules actually ensure that you never get beyond a certain level of honesty. Thus the conversation can ultimately be guaranteed to stagnate. And just like the tortoise and the hare, the rabbit that is critical race theory may get off to a good start. But it is the plotting tortoise a real appreciation and intimacy that gets you to the finish line. Here we're listening to a progressively lubricated conversation with two people who have so much trust in each other that we often don't say do or think the right thing at all, at least according to the school's well screw. I think this way is much more powerful. This was after all the original dream and you'll notice that there are long stretches in the conversation that have very little to do with race at all. Because honestly, in our relationship, it's usually a spice. And just as I wouldn't serve you paprika as a main course, identity isn't the main issue here. It's neutrinos friendship and tritone substitutions. But towards the end of this episode, we talked about some things frontally that are nearly impossible to discuss. If you don't really know love and trust your interlocutor is For example, much more positive about inclusion and diversity as standalone ideas than I am about the artificial nature of the course of diversity and inclusion juggernaut with its focus on guilt, equality of outcome and shame. And identity can be talked about across the divide and then shoved to the side when it doesn't belong at the heart of the conversation. At one point, for example, we talked about how we know that we are seen and resented by others presume we are getting special treatment for irrelevant characteristics. This is a major downside of succeeding through identity politics. No one ever really accepts that your work is what brought you to the big dance and they often won't tell you to your face. That unfair cloud of suspicion is an important issue that is very difficult to discuss. If you're constantly talking about abolishing the police, reparations and black and brown bodies and weirdly hypnotic, ritualized speech. You're inflicting a cost on people of extraordinary ability, who happened to be brown or black. And I can assure you having worked with Stefan on numerous ideas, that Steph is the real deal and that the world of black physicists could be poised for a sea change should all go well. I'm really looking forward to having Steph call on me whenever he needs to open the field wide up in the best possible way. So Mazel Tov stuff. And to all you out there, I hope you will enjoy this unique mind as much as I do in the conversation ahead, we will be back with my uninterrupted conversation with Professor Stefan Alexander after some brief messages from our sponsor

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Hello, you found The Portal. I'm your host Eric Weinstein and I am here tonight with my old friend, Stephon Alexander. Stephon, welcome to the Portal sir.

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 It's good to be in The Portal.

Eric Weinstein 26:48 It's good to be with you. Now you and I have been friends for a few moons now.

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 And 11 years.

Eric Weinstein 26:48 Is that right? Maybe maybe no more more a little more than 13

Yeah, 13 years. That's right.

And we have been through some weird and interesting times. But I want to introduce you to our audience slowly. One thing that I've been fascinated by in a relationship is that I get to talk, music theory and jazz history with you as an accomplished, saxophonist. Now, how did you end up playing for Ornette Coleman?

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 That's a good question. Well, first of all, I want to say that I still consider myself to be a student of the saxophone. I'll be a student of that instrument for the rest of my life. But I'll I'll take your compliment,

Eric Weinstein 26:48 oka. Tarik sounds like me. I've seen you in jazz clubs and really enjoyed the fact that you can you can hang with almost anybody and, and it's always inspiring when I get a chance to hear you play.

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 Thank you, sir. I did play your birthday once.

Eric Weinstein 26:48 Oh, that was that was a night.

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 That was nice. But I was very intimidated because I wasn't in Joshua Bell was there.

Eric Weinstein 26:48 Yeah, it was. It was a random birthday. It was

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 a random birthday thing.

Eric Weinstein 26:48 And I tried to just buy some kebabs and then like Nassim Taleb showed up. Joshua Bell showed up and then Sean Lennon showed up. Sean Lennon brought a piano. He bought us oe and he left it. Like I said, bring an instrument. So mostly people usually bring a guitar harmonica. He brought a piano and just left the piano.

Stehpon Alexander 26:48 Yeah, that was cool. Because that was the first time I met him. And after your birthday, we had we went back to this place and I jammed with him and his bandmates. Yeah, at his place in the village. That was pretty coo

Eric Weinstein 30:53 . Yeah, I mean, Sean's birthday present. That was very, very cool. Then Nels Klein of Wilco showed u

Stehpon Alexander 31:02 . How long ago was that? That was right before he left New York wasn'

Eric Weinstein 31:05 ? I'm gonna say this about seven years ago. I'll say it in that that. Okay. Very well, that was a very random birthd

Stehpon Alexander 31:11 y and our ad was ther

Eric Weinstein 31:13 . And Franco Franco was Yes. The parr

Stehpon Alexander 31:16 l Tj TJ was there, TJ the book publisher? Mm hm

Eric Weinstein 31:20 . S

Stehpon Alexander 31:21 , yeah, we we really had a great crew. It was a great crew. We miss yo

Eric Weinstein 31:25 . Oh, well, I'm back out east man. I love New York. I will. Okay. But all right. So, I mean, I've always been sort of in awe of or net, in part, not just because of his being a great musician. But because he actually came out with this really deep, weird, mysterious theory of harmonics. Yes. And among the jazz cats that I know who really know their stuff. It's very polarizing, very controversial. Still. Yes. What was it? What was going on with Ornette in late stage jazz. Do you think that was really different and how did it How did it take the hand off from from earlier grade

Stehpon Alexander 32:06 ? Yeah. And I think that comes back to my introductio

. My introduction torn u

. I think it happened, maybe I would say about 19 years ago. Yeah, 19 years ago. I was at that time I was a postdoc in in London. And I would come out to Colombia to hang out with Brian Greene and his crew. And I got a phone call from a friend of mine, Jaron Lanier and Geron developer virtu

Eric Weinstein 32:50 l reality maybe the Vader there and write some sort of incredibly mysterious human bein

Stehpon Alexander 32:56 . He is one of the you know, You know, like you wanted more talented and intelligent human beings I've met even though there were times in the past I'm like, What the heck is he saying? And then of course, like it's one of these things 10 years later, like, Oh, that's what he's sayin

Eric Weinstein 33:12 . Yeah, I will tell my Geron linear story when you're done wi

Stehpon Alexander 33:15 h your okay, as long as I get to tell Yeah, you for so geralyn calls me up. He goes. He goes, Steph, that's my friends call me right. There's somebody I want you to meet. I'm gonna go hang out with him right now. I'm like, I just can't like get up, you know, from what I'm doing. He goes, I'm just gonna jump in a taxi right now and go see on it. So which one on it? Coleman? He goes, Yeah, I wanna I said, Where are you at? So he said, just meet me at this address somewhere Midtown and we get there go upstairs and some private place. We know we're on it lives. This beautiful place. And as I walk in there, it's very close. It's very clear that He enjoys going out extremely close. And Jaron introduces me to Annette. And that was that that was it. I mean, so the first thing he said he asked me was, what are you thinking about? What are you thinking about in this kind of on that way? What are you thinking about, you know, this kind of thing, right? So, at that time, I was actually working on vertices, right, you know, line like, regions of trapped en

rgy. Because I was working on a

odel of the early universe that made use of vertices. And so I told him that I said, I'm working on vertices. And he pulls out a piece of napkin and says, and we're right by the he's a show me. So then I start showing him the vertices and he is way into it. And then after I explained to him the physics and a little bit of the math, you know, without getting too much into the math He

Unknown Speaker 35:00 oes, I played the vo

Stehpon Alexander 35:05 tex. Then I said to myself, wait a minute this. So then we started talking about the idea of playing shapes. Hmm. And this was really a game changer for me as a saxophonist, because, I mean a big part, especially when you're trying to learn how to improvise within the jazz tradition within, you know, the Bebop tradition. There's all you know, sometimes you don't know your head from your feet. You don't you don't you know, it's hard to find a practice regime or what what the important thing is, it seems infinite. Unless you have a good teacher, or you know, I and I certainly didn't have that I, for the most part was self taught. But I was fortunate to have teachers later on, including on

app. So we just, you know, then he pulled out a saxophone. He had his white saxophone and he goes pl

yed. And then of course, I was freaked

Eric Weinstein 36:04 out. And so by vortex we mean some sort of toroidal doughnut, like s

Stehpon Alexander 36:09 ape. Yeah, like, you know,

like water that's flowing down the sink, you know? Yeah. Okay, that's sort of helical motion. But you make you know, the eye of a storm is very common object. But as you probably know it as the fundamental

roup maps from s one to s

Eric Weinstein 36:29 one. So in other words, a fundamental group is like a lasso that you're trying to pull to the point where there's no lasso at all by getting it to slip all the way

Stehpon Alexander 36:37 own, right? Except for that except for the that point which ends up becoming like, you know, a string, but it could get trappe

Eric Weinstein 36:46 and sometimes it gets trapped like you can't pull the lasso close because it gets caught on something like an inner

Stehpon Alexander 36:51 ube. That's right. Yeah, that's exactly what it is. Right? Right. And the these these solutions Quite commonplace in this actually in the standard model. I guess we'll talk a little bit about that later on. But yeah, but the point is that we're all into this right. That's the point. What I found amazing about him was his mind was so wide open. Yeah. And that he was able to engulf any information I was giving him. He was genuinely interested in it. And what? And it wasn't BS. I mean, I understood what he meant when he said that he was playing the vortex because it is, you know, it is basically you're, you're compromising, right? You're compromising energy, but you have a situation where energy gets trapped. And it's a compromise between, you know, energy to basically, you know, this thing we call gradient energy, all right. And so the compromise basically is to form the string and this idea of trapping energy in some in some spider like way that's the shape so this idea that's rig

Unknown Speaker 38:09 t so this will be edited now let's just go oh

Eric Weinstein 38:12 man, it doesn't look first of all the to let the folks at home know we're doing this after you've been lecturing Chapman University for a little while and we're doing this really comfortable after hours with a bottle of red wine we've got another one if we if we get that far through it so let's just do this as friends in front of the people

Unknown Speaker 38:36 okay ye

Stehpon Alexander 38:38 h so that's why I sort of thing about this vortex was in fact this sort of spiral like struc

Eric Weinstein 38:43 ure. Yeah

Stehpon Alexander 38:47 And I actually deliberately told him that I was working on the vortex because I actually sense actually, by listening to his, his solos. Yeah, that there was you can hear spiral like motion in the tunnel. And the notes themselves, his plane is can be sometimes very Angular, you know, on its planes. That's what makes us so hip. Yeah. And, you know, a friend of mine, Diego Cortez once told me that he always felt that on it played shapes. So I also believe that to end by telling you about these very interesting geometric things that we find commonplace in physics and quantum field theory. It was just my way of how you may be basically using on that as a soundboard right and seen how he responded to

hat. And then he said, he after that said, I'm going to show you some

hing and he took out the same piece of napkin and wrote a couple of notes man goes, That's for you. This these See, the sequence of notes will allow and will help you play through changes. Any code change? Hmm. All r

Eric Weinstein 40:03 ght

So, but I have not really allowed to tell anybody. I mean, it's like your mantra it's been given to you by a guru. And now it's yours and yours alone. Basically, that's, that's

Stehpon Alexander 40:14 ool. I did tell to one other person. Oh, no, don't tell me who he told it to me. I don't want to demons for the va

Eric Weinstein 40:22 uum. So yeah, I mean, I guess the one the one famous circle inside of music is the circle of fifths with super technical about it. In even temperament. It's a circle, but in just temperament or Pythagorean temperament, it's actually a spiral. Yes, because it doesn't really close. So I'm in a weird way that's actually a candidate vortex. And then there are all these weird things you can do when you have certain tones that appear to be infinitely rising because you're always putting a subsonic note on the bottom and you're letting something go out the top of the frequency. spectrum. So it's always a chord. And you're not noticing that you're removing a note at the top and putting one at the bottom so that the appearance that the tone is always rising, which we've been talking about Penrose stairs, you can easily imagine that we could construct some sort of mathematical figure that would realize something of this toroidal or vertical? I don't know what you want to call it. There's another interesting question, which is that mark Cutts had this paper called Can you hear the shape of a drum? Mm hmm. And the idea was that the harmonics that determined a two dimensional membranes, vibrational modes might be unique enough to detect what the shape of the drum is, just by listening to what the harmonic sequences for that particular two dimensional member is you think about any kind of crazy shape of a weird drum that nobody's ever made. Most drums are circular. So if you If you came up with a weird drum, it would have some crazy harmonic pattern. And then you could ask, can I guess what the shape of the drum is by listening to the sequence of vibrational modes. And it turned out not to be true that there were different drums that had the same exact harmonic patt

Stehpon Alexander 42:18 rns. Or that's really cool. Isn't that coo

? So so have people actually made instruments of the soil, you know, no drums. An

Eric Weinstein 42:26 the really cool one, and I got very interested in this is that I tried to figure out what made these canned pans that came out of Switzerland. So first of all, you come from Trinidad and Tobago. That's cor

Stehpon Alexander 42:38 ect, right. Okay, now you're just t

Eric Weinstein 42:40 ere. You're just there. Okay, so in Trinidad and Tobago, they figured out how to beat the crap out of a steel drum. That's where it was invented. And to come up with the steel. I mean, oil oil drums rather. That's right, and those became the steel drums. Now those always sound very kind of distinctive because they're m

Stehpon Alexander 43:00 ddy. That mud is also sympathetic vibration, sympat

Eric Weinstein 43:02 etic vibrations, that mud is some of the charm. But what it doesn't do is it doesn't have the same harmonic sequence of a one dimensional vibrating medium like a string or for like an air column like you'd have in a flute. The Swiss being those kind of uptight anal perfectionist that there said, What if we went to the Caribbean and took that idea? Mm hmm. But we got really precise about it and machined the first few harmonics to behave as if they were a one dimensional media. So now you've got a two dimensional object, like a you know, the gamelan. In Indonesia. Each village is gamelan is so distinctive that you can tell which village you're in. Why? Because two dimensional media metallic phones have different properties, right, right. But the Swiss said no, no, we can make at least the leading part of the series behave, we will get it to submit to our will. And that's why these handpicks called hang drums. I guess I shouldn't call it Hank drum, but people do have this luminous quality, because you've never heard of Metallica. That's been that carefully mach

Stehpon Alexander 44:12 ned. Yes. Now there is a person that was responsible for the modern tuning of the steel drums. His name is le maenette. And he I mean, basically genius and his tune in his pants that he tunes is a whole different level there. Yeah. And if you want to hear that sound and compare it to the so it's far superior, I will just say and your Kirby element that and the person that plays his pad, yeah, if you want people if you want to hear stuff is this Andy Morel who's actually an American who went out to Trinidad, his father took him there. And he fell in love with the pan and move to trend that became a Trinidadian citizen, and he's like one of the top Gas plays so cool and he plays Ellie's steel d

Eric Weinstein 45:04 ums. That's a beautiful story. How do we find out more about

Stehpon Alexander 45:09 just you know, the different love to add in New Relic? Yes. Is he tour? Um, yeah, yeah, he tours.

Eric Weinstein 45:14 kay. You know, I found out about this guy. I'm gonna screw up his name Ed Mar at Mark destinated, I think came from like Peru or Venezuela. And he has this kind of hyper aggressive harp playing and normally when we say harp, we mean harmonica. Now this guy is playing like an actual heart, a real heart and beating the crap out of it and getting jazz that you've never heard before in your life. I mean, just so inspiring. It's so idiosyncratic. I would love to figure out like, what, what is jazz mutating into in that re

Stehpon Alexander 45:46 ion? You should get them to jam with your frie

Eric Weinstein 45:51 d el Amin. I dare not even speak the name. We have not released Eric lewis's podcast

Stehpon Alexander 45:58 yet. Oh, okay. I'm gonna do that

Eric Weinstein 46:00 one. But you've you've hung with

Stehpon Alexander 46:02 him. Here. he's a he's a genius. He's a genius. No straight up straight up

Eric Weinstein 46:06 ere. You know, the other person is also a great

Stehpon Alexander 46:08 guy. He is a great guy. They usually sometimes they'll go hand in

Eric Weinstein 46:12 and, but if you cross him, he was like, well, because, you know, he didn't get the recognition. I mean, he's got a ton of recognition. I still think he's gotten as much recognition as far, far more All right, right, right. The person that was evoked when you were talking about or net to me, who have you ever hung out with Stanley Jo

Stehpon Alexander 46:32 dan? Oh, yeah, I hung out with Stanley. And in stock homes, we had a, we had a cosmological constant workshop in at no detail in Stockholm two years ago. And he came out actually, to that to hang out with the physicists. Now, did you mean to Joshua, he's also he's on a different he. He's in a different way. He's not from this planet. He's not from this planet, r

Eric Weinstein 46:56 ght. He was mining. I think he was a student of Milton Bennett. But yeah, at Princeton Yeah, who is very focused on group theory and symmetries in jazz. And you know, you can have a, he does a lot of symmetry breaking soundly. Well, actually puts, you know, Stanley tune his guitar. So he, he sort of this very weird mutation on Eddie Van Halen is he's really into tapping. But sometimes they'll tap on two separate guitars and he tunes the guitar. Normally, a guitar is tuned mostly in fourths, but one one of the pairs of strings is tuned in thirds. And he said, Now I'm going to break that I want the whole thing to end completely regularly because he wanted to do it symmetrically. He was exploring how to mind the world of chemical elements and molecules for vibrational patterns and trying to play the vibrations that are natural to important compo

Stehpon Alexander 47:51 nds. Okay, he didn't tell me that but t

Eric Weinstein 47:55 at's like the most. Okay, so you just talking to one of these super geniuses is the most retiring is extremely grind

Stehpon Alexander 48:03 and, and ridiculously modest sum. In fact, I remembered I look back and I'm like, What a fool you made of yourself. I remember like, because we he spent two weeks with with the workshop in Stockholm. So he and I hung out a lot a while, like we were, you know, kind of, yeah, we would go to you know, go get coffee together, go to get dinner together and talk a lot. And I got myself talking theory with this guy music theory. Yeah. And looking back, I'm like, What was I thinking? Because he was so modest. You don't rely so much and you're on the sh

Eric Weinstein 48:38 llow end and he got way off Exactly. Swimming with the right. The Sharks and the deep, right.

Stehpon Alexander 48:45 eah. And he's but you know what he he's continued to speak with me about this s

Eric Weinstein 48:49 uff. I just I was so it's funny what we what we revere, right? Like, yeah, somehow. You know, there are people if I met Keith, Jared, I probably freak out. You know, it's like you can't even imagine I remember what Fats Waller said when Mark Tatum walked in. No, he's ladies and gentlemen God is in the house. You know? There are people whose abilities are just so far beyond ours that you can't even imagine what it is that they're doing in a conversation with

Stehpon Alexander 49:24 you. Yes, I've been in that situation many times and didn't even realize it. Is that right to hindsight Yeah. So but now I do. Let's

Eric Weinstein 49:36 et's draw your mic ever so slightly closer. And let's let's talk about so it's one thing that you're this incredibly gifted musician and it with the sax but then you

Stehpon Alexander 49:51 have this little side job. I remained flat it remain flat.

Eric Weinstein 49:53 eah, I know. It's I put you in a bad spot. We do it to each other. My friend. We go to each other. The slot yourself that no, the the other job that you hold down is that you're a professor of physics and astronomy cosmology. What your, your spread between particle theory I do it I

Stehpon Alexander 50:13 mean yeah I'm physics. I'm a creole Creole. So speaking the pigeon

Eric Weinstein 50:20 man.

Stehpon Alexander 50:21 eah. So you're, I meant to say I'm a physics

Eric Weinstein 50:25 'm a realize physicists realize physicists. So you draw from particle theory traditions from general relativistic traditions and also from cosmological and astronomical tradition and condense matters condensed matter. And you you've, you're pulling this off. I mean, I've tracked you from Haverford to Dartmouth, Penn State, maybe perimeter and now you're at Brown University. That's what I teach now. Yeah. All right. So, talk to me about how you see from all of these different vantage points. The state of theoretical physics is culture, the community What it means to the outside world if not to the inside w

rld. But no press

res? Well, the thing is the world wants to know Hmm, a couple of weirdly different questions. One question is, is it gonna make a better toaster for me? Like, what is it gonna do for me in a very direct sense? The other question wants to know is who am I Why are we here? And do you have a direct line to

Stehpon Alexander 51:27 God?

Yes. So, the answer is no, no, no. about all those things. And I would like to get yeses for all those th

ngs. Okay. Even thought

s to what I would s

y is we are live in, in in the physics in physics and by physics, I mean, sometimes what we call fundamental physics, cosmology fits in because the study of the universe is about asking some These fundamental ques

ions and as we speak right

Unknown Speaker 52:08 now, w

Unknown Speaker 52:11 are

Stehpon Alexander 52:13 both Well, the Large Hadron Collider basically has been running and it nailed down what we expected to see in the standard model. What I mean by that is, we found you know, the basic forces and I mean the force carriers, right. The three basic super fast recap super fast we

Eric Weinstein 52:34 got, we have we have this thing that's been hanging around for almost 50 years, which is made up of like matter and the force that puts pushes it around. The only other thing that's really fundamental is general relativity. These are the two big dogs in the in in like philosophical physics space. And the key question

Stehpon Alexander 52:55 is a dog f

Eric Weinstein 52:57 ght. It is it has been a dog fight. For bragging rights and territory and the Large Hadron Collider is not an atom smasher, but a proton smasher. So it's really kinda like a hydrogen atom smasher, almost

Stehpon Alexander 53:12 like there's a family of particles called hadrons, which are when quarks come together to form Quark atoms and protons and neutrons are the stable versions of those hadron

Eric Weinstein 53:21 when three quarks love each other very, very much. Yeah, r

Stehpon Alexander 53:26 ght. As long as you allow me to talk about the PI on later on, we're gonna go

Eric Weinstein 53:30 beta pi on all right, really cool. All right. So those particles when we smash them together, we hope that we're going to see a cascade of weird stuff in the debris that's going to teach us something new that we didn't know before, because that was the game that kept working. It was it was the gift that kept on giving for many different ramp ups and energy. We had these like atom smashers, we kept turning up the juice. We get more and more stuff. And

Stehpon Alexander 53:59 then Pablo dog needs to learn a new trick. So that's why we the The amazing thing about particle physics physics, as you know, we discovered a zoo of particles way back, you know, in the 30s, and 40s. All these particles are being discovered. And they were, it seemed that there was no rhyme or reason, right and these organizing principles, thanks, thanks to the mathematicians. you all had a nice piece of mathematics called group theory, which allowed us to group together using symmetry principles, these particles and they form these very nice patterns. Murray Gell Mann, of course, use some of this beautiful math to realize that the symmetries govern the patterns of these particles that were thought to have no rhyme or reasons when they were grouped together under these symmetry like rotating around the sphere, something like that. Um these symmetries the The pattern we started to see was the higher and higher energies, we were scattering and you know, colliding these particles, which also corresponds to probe in short and shorter distance scales would reveal we saw more and more symmetries being revealed. And so this was good, the payback just keep turned on to energy, you know, rank ramping it up, and you would find more and more symmetry. But there's a flip side to that energy in treasure.

Unknown Speaker 55:33 Yes,

Stehpon Alexander 55:34 eah. But the flip side to that is, as you know, I'm a theorist, yeah, and theorists. We will also work in on our theories and making predictions, and realize actually, and there are good reasons in our theories to actually want these symmetries, the cemetery's. To give you an example Fermi Enrico Fermi Me had had guests a model that would explain some aspects of the nuclear interaction was called a for Fermi theory. Of course, Fermi was also the inventor was named the inventor of. There's a particle like the electron called a fermion. A class of pet. Right. And at some point I'm going to ask you to, you know, give me a mathematical description of the fer

Eric Weinstein 56:26 ion. Give me a little bit more memory

Stehpon Alexander 56:28 some stuff. Yeah, right. Okay. A big part of what I think what's great about what's been great about our friendship is that when if I get stuck on some, some new math terrain, I come to Ellie's and have coffee with you. And you, you know, give me a nice little differential geometry spin on it. No pun intended. Yeah. So yeah, the, the forfor everything was this guess. And it worked. It worked well with experiments. So we're talking about beta decay rate and effects. Exactly. beta decay is very important. There'll be life there'll be no life at all beta decay, or some beta d

Eric Weinstein 56:59 cay, weird thing. Whereas if I had a neutron Mm hmm. And I left the neutron alone, with a HalfLife, about 17 minutes, it's going to shoot out a beta particle, which we found out later is the electron very high energy electron, very high energy electron. And it is going it's like it's it's trans, it's going to morph into a proton, which is a very strange thing that I tried is going to decay into a proton by emitting an electron. But Fermi

Stehpon Alexander 57:29 aid, Fermi basically found a theory actually wrote down a theory and actually, you know, it was a he, for me is a gene. So I want to know the prize. And I believe it's, I believe it was, let me not say what I believe was for this, but basically this for Fermi theory, made the correct predictions not only for beta decay, but for y class of such nuclear processes. The problem is, and here's where it gets interesting for the theorists. The theorists were using the rules of quantum physics. actually predict, right? This time that you mentioned, that's an calculation that you can do using the laws of quantum mechanics and packaged in a type of quantum mechanics called quantum field theory. Right with a quite what's quantum, there are fields like the electromagnetic f

Eric Weinstein 58:19 eld. So things that are distributed in space. Yeah, space and

Stehpon Alexander 58:22 ime. Yeah, you can think of it as a nice little blanket, right? And the height of the blanket is the height of the field and the field could warp and bend like this blank. So lik

Eric Weinstein 58:29 the height of waves in the ocean would be like a field theory of

Stehpon Alexander 58:34 aves better analogy. All right, better analogy. Keep going.

kay. A

d so the theorists would do these calculations and get the right numbers. However, there would be infinities meaning there'll be parts of this calculation, that would give me the number infinity and infinity for what for physical quantities, so things like energy The force would end up being an infinity or incalculable. There's a word for this the theory wasn't really normalizable was an army normalizable. It's just a fancy word for saying that we don't know what to do with the infini

Eric Weinstein 59:15 ies. So in other words, if I just understand this correctly, I've gotten, I've got a neutron that's kind of slowly meandering through my lab. So I have a little bit of a track that I'm using to, to say that I think I know where it is. And then suddenly it decays into three particles decays into a proton, which is mostly where the mass is. It shoots off this electron at high energy. And then there was this missing Miss suppos

Stehpon Alexander 59:39 dly, yeah, it was a neutron thi

Eric Weinstein 59:42 one right. So there was this mystery that there wasn't quite enough energy afterwards before the decay is there was before. And he said, Well, what if there was a pathological particle that couldn't be seen by the strong force, it didn't have any electromagnetic charge on it would be very difficult. To detect, and then sure enough, that placeholder turned out to be real. The neutrino, the neutrino. All right, so this would be the anti electron neut

Stehpon Alexander 1:00:11 ino, yes. Okay. So

Eric Weinstein 1:00:12 then the idea is that it's the it's actually the anti particle of what we would typically call the neutrino. So now I've got these four lines one coming in, which is the neutron and three going out proton, electron and anti electron neutrino correct me if I'm w

Stehpon Alexander 1:00:30 ong, and I think a nice way to look at this actually is the game of pool right? Yeah, I mean, I have my you know, if I have three balls, sit in there think of those three balls as some constituents may lie that's part of what this you know what what's You know what, what is proton is going to become solid, what the neutrons gonna become. And well actually, that's that's actually not a good analogy, because you know, we'd have to have the cute would have to disintegrate basic into those other into those other things. Yeah. Listen, Adam Silver. Yeah. So that's why I'm just doing this. I was thinking about scattering process. That's a different ana

Eric Weinstein 1:01:04 ogy. Yeah. So but the point was

Stehpon Alexander 1:01:08 that there was something reverse it in time, it'll be something like, right, but

Eric Weinstein 1:01:12 hen. All right, the math guy asks, yeah, is the problem that those four lines are connecting at exactly one p

Stehpon Alexander 1:01:20 int? Yes, that's the problem. Exactly. When you actually look at the equations that describe this process of real objects, you know, decentered, this case in neutrino, right, sitting at rest, and it emits right off from itself. These other particles, and then transmutes into the proton as a result. When we look at the equations that correctly make this prediction that equation has badness in it has infinities in it. And the fix now, the fix is that if you can figure out a new something that if there's a fix to this, the fix is what now becomes a part of what we call the standard model is that there's a there is an interaction that was missing that that this for Fermi theory was, was holding its place. And this interaction was there's a force carrier that's doing the job of this emission. And that's called a W bows on the W boson is like very similar to the photon to, you know, the photon the particle of light, the particle of light is a particle as five mentors responsible for the electromagnetic force of two charged particles. But Fineman taught us is that it was to try to charge particles the reason why they can feel a force between them. Is that like a boomerang, it exchanges It emits a photon this particle, which is a particle of light, or the particle associated with an electric field. And it exchanges it imparts momentum and makes this other one field a force. So the W boson is like a photon for this force that's responsible for disintegrating this new this neutron interpreter there and that that fix this issue of the infinity. Alright,

Eric Weinstein 1:03:28 o it so am i right that we would call this FPI four point Interaction Theory? Yes, for me, it's the fix to the four point Interaction Theory is to sneak another particle I bet it would be like a w minus particle is the neutrons going to decay. So there's a w minus w plus and Zed not to keep our UK friends amused. And these three different like hidden boomerangs as you say that these other particles exchanging are what communicates the weak force. Yes. And so if you if you really take a magnifying glass, hypothetically to that for to the point where the four lines meet, they don't actually

Stehpon Alexander 1:04:15 eet, they don't actually meet. There's something in between that soften and in the sense this infinity love it. And we call this usually a new state, a new a new state because a new state meaning like quantum mechanically speaking, you know, energy levels, you can think of a different state i occupy or climbing up a stairs, if I got one says I'm a different state energy state. If I go down the stairs, I decrease my energy and this fix part of the problem with this infinity. And so the the pattern here is that we would see this when we go to high energy we see the state, we would see this w Bo's on WC w plus w minus and z

Eric Weinstein 1:04:57 o we didn't see them for a long time. We didn't see a

Stehpon Alexander 1:04:59 lot. We didn't Until the war theorists that's why Steven Weinberg blashaw in Salaam, right, I've just Salaam Salaam wrote down a theory that would that would fix this infinity without the for Fermi theory had and so doing it made these predictions you see and then later on the experiments reveal the existence this of these shows and just see and this is an important part of this of Pavlov's dog, you know? Yeah, Pavlov's physics dogs needs to le

Eric Weinstein 1:05:31 rn a new t

Stehpon Alexander 1:05:32 ick, right? Because it this is a payoff. You keep going to this high hygiene new states reveal themselves. You keep going to high energy bill, the craziest thing about it good detectors and we'll find more states that, in turn, makes our theories more tractable and better in control and more uni

Eric Weinstein 1:05:55 ied. So this is so the great unification before this. Mm hmm. Correct me if I'm wrong was James Clerk Maxwell taking all kinds of crazy different phenomena, magnetism, electricity, visible light, non visible light, x rays, whatever this and writing down some equations that generated this incredibly diverse myriad phenomena. Yes. This is a smaller version of that, because if, if I understand it, I'm not a physicist, as you know, we had to come up with two new forces that we didn't actually see. And we call one of them. Weak hypercharged, and one of them weak ISO spin. And we got rid of the photon. We said that the photon and electromagnetism was not fundamental. And we said that these two things that nobody's ever seen, are going to generate the thing that everybody knows which is electromagnetism. Yes. And they're also going to generate In their in this kind of broken down state what we see as the weak force, so that in essence, this perfect, this more perfect version of this unification is hidden from us. Yes. And what we're seeing is the pieces after that thing somehow breaks down. Yes. All right. We don't see that these WC particles until Carla rubia and Simone VanderMeer, the engineer who does like the stochastic cooling comes up with the experiments that in, I think, bear fruit and like 1984 there ab

Stehpon Alexander 1:07:42 uts. I was I don't remember that

Eric Weinstein 1:07:47 But when did you become conscious in theoretical physics? Like, I would say the year that I became conscious in theoretical physics would be something like 80 t

Stehpon Alexander 1:07:57 83. Yeah, I became conscious in theoretical physics that you

Eric Weinstein 1:08:01 1995 Okay, yeah, I'm a little older than

Unknown Speaker 1:08:06 you. You don't look just fishing for

Stehpon Alexander 1:08:10 hat. You haven't aged a bit. T

at's right. So this, so this pattern continues and then so we, we, we, the theorists. Yep. You know, we have principles that we were the symmetry princes of fundamental principle that when it, it always paid, it has always paid off for us. So then we have this guiding principle that guides us to make our theories more predictive. We discover new things new physics, these symmetry principle also allow us to discover the new nuclear forces, subatomic fo

ces, but they also allow

s to what what drives us are the problems though, the problems without theoretical models Like these infinities, right? We're trying to fix and trying to fix those problems. The fix ends up usually telling us that som

Eric Weinstein 1:09:11 new particles should be out there. And that new particle that's basically controlling the would be, you know, our great grandfather's metaphorically, were on this gravy train were just to say it right? It felt like if you saw something that you couldn't understand, you would hypothesize that the things were more unified at higher energy. And the unification mean meant symmetry and the symmetry meant new parti

les, new classes, new particles and new force. Okay, so the idea is that there's some weird dictionary which says, if there's a symmetry, then very often there's a force to go with it. And I mean, just just to be argumentative. I think it's not always the case that symmetry really works out. So for example, when when Gelman was figuring out how do you generate the The neutron in the proton from smaller constituencies, which we now call corks and a guy named George white called aces was really the same theory. They didn't generate the Eightfold way. I think maybe I get my history wrong using what we now call the right three fold symmetry, right? Eight fold symmetry involving su three color. Mm hmm. They were using su three flavor flavor. Yeah. And su three flavor isn't a real symmetry. No, it's sort of a it's an imaginary symmetry. So there's times when you see a symmetry that's faking you out. It's like it's attempt is a temptress. And you shouldn't answer a call. Right? Or, for example, you look at the hydrogen atom, it seems to be beautifully symmetric to to the coolant potential. And you could get very tempted to say, well, all of the higher atoms are just perfectly symmetric coolant potentials, but the more you add in neutrons and protons in the center in the nucleus, The more irregular that potential would have to get. And so that symmetry, even though it's a great heuristic, is it's a false. That's right. That's a false prophet. That's right. So we have to we have to be very careful because sometimes symmetry is our salvation. And other times it's our

Stehpon Alexander 1:11:18 uin. Very good. And that's exactly. Now you're asking me, where are we at? What's going o

Eric Weinstein 1:11:29 ?

Stehpon Alexander 1:11:30 s we have other symmetry princi

Eric Weinstein 1:11:34 les,

Stehpon Alexander 1:11:37 that we thought it would really help us solve some other haunting problems. Really? Um, yeah. So I'll name three of these prob

ems. One probl

m is one problem i

the darkness matter pro

Eric Weinstein 1:11:57 lem? Okay, dark matter how long have I known that there's a

Stehpon Alexander 1:12:00 dark Well, Fritz zwicky discovered dark matter and, and also Vera Rubin. By studying the rotation of gala

Eric Weinstein 1:12:13 ies. We just lost her not too

Stehpon Alexander 1:12:14 ong. Not too long ago, I was very fortunate to have shared the stage with her. Many years ago, I didn't know when I was a, I was a pos

Eric Weinstein 1:12:24 doc, and somebody never got her do during her life

Stehpon Alexander 1:12:26 ime. Yeah, she should have gotten a Nobel.

men. Yeah, my, my good friend, Brian Keenan Keaton, wrote a book and I think in I believe in this book, he said he made the case losing a Nobel Prize. That's the name of the book. He made the case that Vera Rubin that we should have, like, I guess, posthumous Nobel Prize. I don't want to misrepresent but I believe that he did say that. So this might be en

Eric Weinstein 1:12:55 ugh. I think we should have a correct we should have a corrective prize like all corrective Yeah. Nobel P

Stehpon Alexander 1:13:02 ize. Yeah. CompTIA

Eric Weinstein 1:13:04 So, alrigh

Stehpon Alexander 1:13:05 . So you would I don't want a Nobel Prize, but I just let you

Eric Weinstein 1:13:08 now. Yeah. All right. Okay. Okay. So the thing about the Nobel P

Stehpon Alexander 1:13:13 izes I want to ignoble p

Eric Weinstein 1:13:14 ize? Well we know that those are given that at


kay? They don't Nobel Prize, my theory of it is is that it's used to correct the narrative so that certain things don't fully happen. So for example, here my real pet peeves, you gave it to Schrodinger and Dirac and you force them to share it to dilute the fact that both of them were giants and should have had it outright on their

own. Yeah, give it to Eins

ein, but you give it to him for the wrong thing for the photoelectric effect, because you don't want him having too much power in the community. You do you dilute the hell, out of Feynman, tanaga and Schrodinger with renormalization theory and you put Dyson way off to the side so that he doesn't accumulate too much power because he's a dangerous guy. Stephen Weinberg, arguably the greatest of living theorists, if it's not Yang, those that have been confirmed by experiment is made to share with Glasgow and Salaam, all three of those could have gotten in individually and on their own. And my theory of this is that it's really being used by the community, in general to dilute and to shift emphasis to particular people. So for example, Murray Gell Mann, who's one of the great physicists of the 20th century, nevertheless, stepped on many toes. He stepped on stackelberg toes, I didn't notice he stepped on Sudarshan toes and he stepped on Zweig's toes, because all of those people had discoveries that were right in his neighborhood and if you are very careful, Feynman tends to To give a certain amount of credit and say why why did iraq not get more credit for the path integral formalism Why did stucco Berg not get more credit for his interpretation of some over histories? Whereas if you look at Gelman on the web of stories government is no now gone now. Nobody's gonna debate that Murray Gell Mann was an amazing physicist. But he's very aggressive about who should get credit and it's usually Murray

Stehpon Alexander 1:15:26 ala. Was he the guy that when, when he discovered the quarks, he went to Feynman and said, I'm going to call them quarks and Feynman said what qu

Eric Weinstein 1:15:37 cks? Well, but when I'm in said, Feynman said I've got a new idea. I want to call them part ons. Because I'm going to I'm going to hypothesize something which clearly seems like corks. And so Gelman got back at him and said, I'm going to call them put on because you're putting me on that these Got it. So these guys were really they were so heady. And these are famous stories, and I think they're part of the culture. They speak to why I both revere and detest this commu

Stehpon Alexander 1:16:12 ity. Well, I'm glad we're fri

Eric Weinstein 1:16:15 nds. Yeah, I can say things that you cannot buy. But getting back to it. Now we've got this problem that you were you're talking about, which is we've got some stuff in our world, which we don't know how to account for. Yes. And the key question is kind of our symmetries going to sav

Stehpon Alexander 1:16:33 us. Yeah. So as yours Yeah. So let me say two things about dark matter that I think is really important and interesting. So, right, the way we should think about what this dark matter is, is I take a when ideas take us kids like to do this a lot. You know, take a stone or stone tied on a string and, you know, spin it around like David Yeah. like David here, we're about to get Goliath. And, of course, the stone, the stone has a mass. Right? Right. And you know, what you can do is you can pull the string in, and what you'll see is that the stone moves faster and faster. But as you pull the string in as the string gets closer to you, so the spin around, and as the stone gets closer and closer to you, it moves faster and fa

Eric Weinstein 1:17:27 ter. skater when she's breaking ice skating, that's right, her hands and she's twirling faster because the conservation of angular moment that's r

Stehpon Alexander 1:17:35 ght. So galaxies are collections of stones in a spiral type of way like a frisbee like a disc, but the stones now a stars like our Sun, our sun is a very typical

Eric Weinstein 1:17:50 tar, what's playing the role of the st

Stehpon Alexander 1:17:53 ing? Oh, gra

Eric Weinstein 1:17:54 ity, okay, gravity is playing the role right? Alr

Stehpon Alexander 1:17:56 ght. So gravity, so but now these things are spinning around on the Gravitational force due to the total mass. Okay, of all of the things. So seca. Right? So you have gravity operated to basically keep this, this collection of very massive stars spinning ar

Eric Weinstein 1:18:14 und. So I can see the mass. Mm hmm. And I and I know the laws of gravity. So you'll be able to calculate half sec as you go. That's r

Stehpon Alexander 1:18:21 ght. That's right. And Your Highness, Kepler taught us how to do this when Kepler's laws, if you know, right, if you know the mass of the total system, which is a measure of all the stars, so I didn't notice it went around and the stuff in the middle, right, you can know how fast it's moving. And it turns out, when Vera Rubin measured the velocity of the stars, about on the order of 85 to 90% of the mass was missing. So if you don't you try to account and go back and maybe there's other stuff there. Right? There's, you know, there's no way you could account for this ma

Eric Weinstein 1:18:58 s so that we can see the mass because As the mass is, we think we can see the mass because it's it's showering us with photons. That's what we're catching here on E

Stehpon Alexander 1:19:07 rth, right? So people like to call this thing Dark Matter What It really is because dark things actually absorb light. Right? That's why it's, you know, your dark jack t is relly, right. Your silver shirt is emitting light and Right, right, but this is absorbing light. And that's why the light doesn't get to me, I see it as being dark. So dark matter actually is a misnomer. It's really invisible matter. Because this type of matter doesn't interact with light at all. That's why we can't see it.

Eric Weinstein 1:19:41 Good point.

Stehpon Alexander 1:19:42 So we see this now in every galaxy that we've observed. That's the first thing. So it's not that only our galaxy has. This is missing mass. every galaxy that we've seen has this so

Eric Weinstein 1:19:56 the stars are spinning around too fast

Stehpon Alexander 1:19:57 ass. We also see it from measurements of the early universe. Right? So my my colleague, David spergel, who was one of the principal investigators of the W map, satellite, Wilkinson at Princeton. Okay, he's now with the Simons center for computational astrophysics. He's a director and David was one of the people that use cosmology pictures of the baby universe, right? When there were no galaxies around. This is the universe 14 years ago, light that's emitted from 14 billion years. We can look we can, this satellite is able to see light. Yeah, that took 14 billion years to get to us. Okay, so we're looking at a picture of the universe 14 billion years ago. And when we look at that data, where there are no galaxies, what we're seeing now is energy the universe one is in a very energetic, hot and dense

Eric Weinstein 1:20:53 When we're looking at the universe right now. We're actually looking at baby pictures of the universe. W

Stehpon Alexander 1:20:57 We can look at it—Yeah, we can look at light from back then.

Eric Weinstein 1:21:00 And then what how is that behavior

Stehpon Alexander 1:21:02 you can measure the dack matter back then too.

Eric Weinstein 1:21:05 The the invisible matter as you point out that we involve the dark man a few times just to learn. learn my lesson. Yeah, yeah. All r

Stehpon Alexander 1:21:12 ght. Yep. I mean, this would be a perfect I wish Ralph Ellison knew about invisible matter. So that when he wrote Invisible Man, I could have like, that could have been an interesting thing there. But maybe that's for some somebody else to write? Well, maybe you can write it from my experiences as a black man growing up in the United States. And I've been, you know, I think it'll be too easy, you know, you know, to easier giveaway to call it black ma

Eric Weinstein 1:21:40 ter. Yeah. Fear of an invisible planet for everything invisible. All right

Stehpon Alexander 1:21:47 So, right. So the point is that this dark matter is, we knew we know that it existed also in the past. And it played an important role in sculpting right because it has extra gravity and so to form galaxies To form stars in the early universe, right hydrogen, you need to capture all of that gas quickly enough and the dark matter, ative, and in enhancing the capture of that, oh, that's what we got a pi

Eric Weinstein 1:22:12 ture here, my galaxies, we got a picture by early but we don't know the Dark Matters. That's all right. So in other words, if our understanding because there's another place that could have been something could be off, if our notion of gravity were wildly off, then maybe we would see all of the dark matter. There, there wouldn't be any need for dark matter, because it would be the force law playing the role role of the string in your analogy, that would be causing things to spin faster than they expect us, right? That's right. But we also see these lensing effects, r

Stehpon Alexander 1:22:42 ght? That's right, because Einstein right, taught us that gravity really is a feature, the gravitation force of warp space, time, and therefore light will bend around that and so we can measure. Thank you for saying that measured The the mass, also independently, right of galaxies on the amount of dark matter contained in it. Now, let me use the word Dark Matter again. Basically, this lensing effect, that's right. So I like to think of it as literally as a magnifying glass. If you take glass, and you don't distort the glass and keep it, you know, it will, it will not distort an object. But if I bend the glass, by making a lens out of it, obviously, the object can look smaller or bigger, and it will distort the image that that's passing the light from that image as passing through the lens. And, by analogy, if space really is warped, and I'm looking now at light passing through that subspace, what's warping it the dark matter? So I can't see the document directly. But I can see the effect of the dark matter in warping space. Why because I signed taught us that matter and energy has the Effective warping of space around.

Eric Weinstein 1:24:01 So I'm looking at some galaxies. Yeah. And suddenly I realized, I've seen that galaxy before, right? And I've got four copies or five copies of that galaxy in the night sky. And the idea is that it's No, it's just one galaxy with a bunch of something between me in it. And that something is causing the light from it to go off and all of these different directions giving me the illusion. It's like Agent Smith, Monday called the Einstein cross

Stehpon Alexander 1:24:26 But yeah, I mean that that was a that's a famous white gravitational lens, as you pointed out, which is that you can get kaleidoscopic effects. What you thought to be four galaxies is really just a walk in of right suddenly see four copies of the same galaxy. That's pretty w

Eric Weinstein 1:24:44 ird. Well, it's important not to drink heavily when you have time on the telescope. Yeah, yeah, exactly. All right. So you're not only seeing double, you're seeing multiple summers, you're seeing a continuum. So we know that there's this warping. So let's say that we're almost positive that it's not the law of gravitation. It's really There's something else that doesn't send us the photons that we're hoping for. But we infer it indirectly. And just to bring it back, this is, this is really the same game as Paolis infernal inferring the neutrino exists by saying I can't see something directly. So what I can see is that I can see the effects on things that I can see. And I, I took these two examples, and I said, Let's come up with an aphorism so people can remember it. I said, the invisible world is first detected in the visible worlds failure to close in other words, look at the things that you know, are supposed to be there and when you see them behaving bizarrely, you can guess that there's an invisible

Stehpon Alexander 1:25:46 and. Yes

I'm an astrophysicist. so brilliantly. I think my name is Katie Mac, and it was like the best way metaphor Dok matters she call it the the cosmic Poltergeist. Yeah. Right. It's sort of like you see something moving in ways that you can account for it by ordinary law. So for example, like, let's just imagine that you had a high profile prisoner in a federal pr

Eric Weinstein 1:26:18 son. And the person were to lose, lose his or her life, and all the cameras were to fail. In a miraculous cascade of coincidences, you might infer that things weren't exactly what they were portrayed to be as a simple suicide in federal prison. Right? Right. That would be an example of inferring an invisible world from the visible world's failure to close and make sense. Yes. But hypothetically, that makes sense.

Stehpon Alexander 1:26:47 eah, that makes I like that. I have to use that in my in my class, and I would be careful my class I'm, I am I'm teaching actually. I think in the next couple of weeks, I will be teaching giving a lecture on dark matter documentation. I'm going to use this so Okay, good. Will I be able to get a clip of this? No. I could just play them. This You know, this conversa

Eric Weinstein 1:27:09 ion?

Stehpon Alexander 1:27:09 Yes. So yeah. So, so this dark matter, we can measure its effect. But the question now, you see, we like physicists, we like to know, everything about this, this object this thing, dark matter. We would like to know, does it what what are its properties? Why is it there? You know, how did it come about in the scene? And what is its identity? Right? For example, is it a, is it a particle? And how does it fit in to the pattern of the visible stuff in our w

Eric Weinstein 1:27:45 rld? Okay, well wait. I'm sitting here on earth. And I'm inferring that this stuff exists out t


Yes. Now, how many different long range messengers carry information from the cosmos to me here on earth? So we have photons. That's what we that's

Stehpon Alexander 1:28:04 both physical gravity. Oh, so that's pretty muc

Eric Weinstein 1:28:06 it. No, I think there's another one. neutrino astrono

Stehpon Alexander 1:28:11 y is definitely there's definitely a neutrino mentioned our friend Jim S

Eric Weinstein 1:28:16 lon. Dr. Keating.

Stehpon Alexander 1:28:18 eah. Doesn't he operate a little telescope and the assignments are a telescope that's why it will be trying to directly well know the mass of neutrinos. Oh, is it ice cube in Antarctica or size group as

Eric Weinstein 1:28:29 ell? Okay. We've got neutrinos that can reach us Yes, we've got some fun gravity that can reach us and we've got photons of various kinds and radio X ray invisible is a subset you refer referring to forces of the four forces to watch not just be long things that can send us information right? Yes,

Stehpon Alexander 1:28:48 yes. Okay. You usually are traveling at some people also believe if the dark matter were a particle dark matter as

Eric Weinstein 1:28:58 ell. Dark Matter.

Stehpon Alexander 1:29:00 kay. So, because it's pervades not just out there, the dark matter if we, if you it's all over a

Eric Weinstein 1:29:08 ain, neutrinos come pretty close to being

Stehpon Alexander 1:29:10 dark matter, become Yes, right neutrinos. So let me now say a little bit more. The properties, we actually know a little bit more about the properties of dark matter. Tell me more. So one thing we do know is that it also has to be what we call collision lists, collision collision lists. So actually, an example of collision lists is again, let's go back to our pool table. Yeah, if you're a horrible pool player, I am, right. So I, you know, I go on to paypal and I, I'm very good at breaking the pool table with you know, start the game. Now, imagine that all the balls are nicely scattered across the pool table, right? And collisional says simply that I go or you take my white ball, I just try to hit a ball and it just goes right through everything and it doesn't collide. To hit anything, right? So that's an example of a collision list effect. Now imagine it gets more interesting to that. And I have my galaxy and I've all these stars that are going around each other, all right? Very rarely do these stars run into each other. So that that system is also a collision collision system, the system of stars in my galaxy, dark matter, whatever it is, we do know that it really runs they rarely collide with each o

Eric Weinstein 1:30:30 her, okay. This is the dark matter am

Stehpon Alexander 1:30:33 ngst itself. Yeah, right. And the reason why we know that is because, well, before I tell you that let me say that another property, it also has to be extremely cold. And actually, the collision list pot comes with the coal because to heat something up, actually what temperature is the temperature if I have a hot gas or hot cup of coffee is because of the molecules in that fluid, constantly colliding with each other. And basically exchanging kinetic energy, energy associated motion. And that becomes, you know, sort of a randomize situation. And the measure of that velocity, the faster these collisions are happening, the higher the temperature is. And so dark matter we know is that that really have those collisions rarely happens. So as a result, the dark matter has to be

old. It has to be cold, because when you act

ally when something is collision Plus, it doesn't dissipate as much. I see. All right, so imagine like a fluid flowing without ever stopping its flow, because it's not the you know, it's a nice streamlines flow, rather than the chaotic sort of like, I guess there's a word for this that you Fluid Dynamics issues. turbulence, right, a nice turbulence is like a lot of collision, right? versus a nice, smooth, you know, flow. Dark Matter has more of that, that that less turbulent flow. And that's important because in the early universe, Doc matters role. It's not just this invisible thing, you know. I was gonna have a corny pun and I'm going to avoid I would avoid any, because I pull you out of the Walkman. It matters. Okay. Yeah, it matters. Yeah, it matters. It plays a key role in forming. Oh, thank you, my brother, informant galaxies. Because the question that we're really after in, in cosmology, is how did these galaxies come about from early universe that was expanding right into the become the current law universe? How did this early universe actually, um, you know, that was fairly featureless and chaotic. Without any galaxies or stars, right? How did those things form? Given the fact that the universe is running away? You know, how do we actually, you know, how do I capture the hydrogen gas in a nice co

Eric Weinstein 1:33:23 pact manner? you saying that you wouldn't have any wit

Stehpon Alexander 1:33:26 out? Without this collision? That's cold dark matter? We can't really have the galaxy. You couldn't nucleate the galaxy. Wow. All right. That's really important. All right. Well, that's pretty bad physics is, you know that physics is pretty well understood. That's more cosmological side now. And that's where we can go. I know what your question was going to do. Yes, I did. I know your question was going. We've had Why should this document have anything to do with the stuff that we're colliding and looking for at the Large Hadron Collider? That was that was my question. See All right. Well, those of you out there you know you spend enough time with Eric over the last 11 years you've he actually learned how to read his mind sir sooner or later everyone goes into syndication. Alright, so let's Let's drink to the dark matter yeah let m

Eric Weinstein 1:34:17 get to the dark

Unknown Speaker 1:34:19 sid

Eric Weinstein 1:34:21 now if you're trying to get the power of the dark side you need to figure out what are its properties not just at a general level that it's cold it's collision lis but I also want to know Okay, well how does it what are the forces that are acting on this What are its is their dark light? Is it is their dark nuclear force? What kind of properties can we do dark chemi

Stehpon Alexander 1:34:46 try? Oh, this is great. So um, yes. My In fact, there people have proposed so there are now models on the market. You can go to the doc Matta marketplace And find your favorite or the dark model. You can find your for your favorite doc Model Model. Okay? Okay, Doc meta model and a couple and one very attractive one is one that involves doc electromagnetism. So you know the physics of electricity and magnetism that we really love to have our nice self driving cars and things like that. What if the question is there were things like doc electrons, again, there's these are electrons that don't interact with our electrons. They have their own dark forces, as you pointed out, and they also have a dark photon, a dark particle of light. And this was worked out very well by my colleague, Lisa Randall. And, and her colleagues, and they found a very interesting result that if you had such a thing Then you would also have potentially the same way you have galaxies forming into disks, right? You can have dark disks as

Eric Weinstein 1:36:10 ell. Music galaxies forming into disks, it tends to be the case that a lot of the action is taking place in something like a kind of a thick plane. But is the dark matter just in that thick plane? Or is

Stehpon Alexander 1:36:23 that in this case? Yes, in this case, a dark matter will actually squish into this plane, okay. And it could be also aligned with our galaxy. Or it could also be, you know, not necessarily matched up with the disk of our galaxy. I heard sometimes that you get a sphere of

Eric Weinstein 1:36:37 dark stuff, and

Stehpon Alexander 1:36:39 then you get them in a dark Halo as well. Yeah. And that's actually what we now know this has to be the case that you have the picture that we should have about of dark matter. If I can't use a Klein bottle. Don't cop let my hand let my hand be the disk of a galaxy. Okay, so it's going around this way. That's my gallery. See, and the idea of the how we should think about dark matter is that literally have a bu

Eric Weinstein 1:37:10 ble, a b

Stehpon Alexander 1:37:11 bble surrou

ded, surrounding this disk that extends really far away from the disk. And that bubble would be the distribution of the of the invisible, the dark matter, and the amount. So it's more like a sphere that encompasses the disk. And that is how we imagine the distribution of the dark matter to be every spiral galaxy, every spiral, every spiral galaxy nuts has been observed to have alright St

Eric Weinstein 1:37:45 fan, how do I make progress? Something I want to make my money yes, in dark metaphy

Stehpon Alexander 1:37:51 ics, yes, you want to make money

Eric Weinstein 1:37:52 ood. And but we've got the stuff I can't detect it. You know, it's like what Morpheus says about the matrix and it's a prison that you can See, taste or touch? How am I going to make progress in dark matter if we can't get our hands on

Stehpon Alexander 1:38:09 he stuff? Good. That is the nature of the game. That's, it's a hard problem many research groups around the country around the world. We are investing our brainpower, computer resources, and everything else that's worth money and resources to study and figure out. So how you would do this, okay. Well, some people want to know the identity of the document, what are its properties? So? Well, what we do know is are that things that the things that are familiar to us are made up of particles, right? So if you assume that a dark matter is a particle, then you find that there's this really interesting thing that happens. And some people call this a miracle, rather than is known as the wimp miracle. Womp womp stands acronym for weakly interacting massive particles, I believe, but the definitely weakly interacting part is serves my memory. Right. Okay. Y

Eric Weinstein 1:39:13 ah, yeah. So the idea is that Sheldon lash out did not was not secure in his masculinity. And he proposed matches. There are something massively accelerating a compact Halo objects because he did couldn't say the fact that we were looking for

Stehpon Alexander 1:39:30 imps this way. And much of much of much of the mottos have been ruled out. O

Eric Weinstein 1:39:36 ay, which would be a Manc

Stehpon Alexander 1:39:38 ester for I don't know, okay. I don't know. That goes to show you how much I've worked on my chest. I wrote one macho paper you call it mini machos. Even there, you're you're taking the piss out of the match out there. Okay. Very good. It was a way to get around observational constraints and still have matches, but they have to be many

achos. No So um, yeah, so the wimps are particles that magi

ally have if you assume that there are particles, and actually because they are particles, they are subject to a force amongst themselves a dark force. It turns out that the strength of that force if it happens to be similar to the nuclear of the weekly nuclear force is w, z bosons that we're talk

Eric Weinstein 1:40:28 ng about, right with

Stehpon Alexander 1:40:30 he Fermi, that force was of the dark power particles, right was similar. Then, it turns out that all the properties that we've seen about dark matter fits in very nicely. So it's a coincidence of, of similarities with something that we do know very well. And it fit very nicely into the pattern that I was talking about the symmetry pattern because One of the cemeteries that we will go and after to like solve the problems that I talked about earlier on singularities and unification getting more and more unification is a symmetry called supersymmetry. And this theory that unifies these forces, right? Even more. So in this case, the symmetry now is between the force carriers and the matter itself, the electron and the photon. supersymmetry will basically be a symmetry that says that those things are really the s

Eric Weinstein 1:41:35 me thing. You mean, like matter is force and forces matter Canada dogs, the dogs a cat? Tha

Stehpon Alexander 1:41:41 's right. What comes out quite naturally as a prediction from supe

Unknown Speaker 1:41:45 symme

Stehpon Alexander 1:41:46 ry. Yeah. Is the wimp dark matter particle. So it's really cool, right? It was very cool. When we saw that this theory that was going to do this going to continue feedom, our popular physics dog by getting more symmetry to solve our problems in particle physics, naturally predicted this particle, basically, there are a few of them. Right? That would be the ideal candidate for what we're seeing in outer space. And in our own galaxy. Yes. It's beautiful. It's beautiful, beautiful story. Yeah, it's physics too. Because you what, you know, because you have a theory. You have principles guiding this theory principles that have proven themselves up to pay off in the past. Yeah, right. Lots of Nobel Prizes given for this pattern of behavior, of inquiry of inquiry. And now you have shouted at you look, this dark matter, you're going to find this thing when you when you go to high and high energies because when you find this symmetry, you will find this document of particles and it gets even better. Because my way before you go on getting better a

d better. My concern is let's get bet

Eric Weinstein 1:43:03 er. Well. Okay, the jokes aside, the situation reminds me of being a Jewish kid around a lot of Christians in our in my neighborhood. So we just had parents who gave us some kind of semi crappy gifts for Hanukkah. But the Christian kids are always running around talking about Oh, man, Santa Claus is gonna bring me this Santa Claus is gonna bring me that. And we're always a little bit jealous. But we also had a deep suspicion. Santa Claus didn't really exist. And we didn't tell her our Christian friends that Santa Claus didn't exist because they were so expected and so happy and so hopeful. I find myself a little bit in this situation with supersymmetry, where I've been sitting around listening to the goyim say this thing about oh, well, Santa Claus is going to bring us particles and super partners and the hierarchy problem be solved and lots of infinite entities will cancel. And Santa Claus is going to do all this wonderful stuff in the form of supersymmetry. Now, I'm not saying that there is no miracle because Lord knows that when we have a retail explosion in December, lots of merchants find that they can finally get their year to close out in exactly the right beautiful way. There is a miracle of

Stehpon Alexander 1:44:20 hristmas, Stefan, but I knew that w

Eric Weinstein 1:44:23 s coming. But But I don't I don't want to be the Jewish guy who takes away the miracle of Christmas. It is a retail miracle. But it is not the same miracle that the children of the Christian households are taught to believe. Now my problem is this. I've been listening to the Santa Claus story for decades and decades and decades. What is the current status of supersymmetry? experimental experimental Yeah, how much Oh, okay, what's the what's the most successful supersymmetry e

Stehpon Alexander 1:44:54 periment? Well, so a lot of work, a lot of hard work and I've read thousands of papers and have thousands of papers and myself included, you know, I was, look, I mean I supersymmetry saved my life when I was a postdoc. I was hired to work on Super gravity. And I had almost I got a nice fellowship to do this to do some of the stuff. So I would say, and so there is a lot, a lot of work that went into actually making sure you know, the predictions were extremely precise. And nice and gorgeous. Right? with a nice, yeah, and we call this so when the Large Hadron Collider, you know, started to run. Amazingly Yes, we found the Higgs boson that was a big triumph. And and of course, there's another problem. That's supersymmetry. Before I give you t

Eric Weinstein 1:45:55 e answer, can I just say I've stayed up so la

Stehpon Alexander 1:45:57 e waiting for Santa knowing that he's going I made I made cookies and milk. Yeah, but there's another present a better present that Santa was going to give you. Oh, which was that? Well, first of all, Santa has a cape. So he's super Santa su

Unknown Speaker 1:46:09 er Santa. Alri

Stehpon Alexander 1:46:14 ht. Okay. And super Santa basically said, Actually, we found this Higgs Higgs particle, the particle that gives everything mass. Yes, right? Without t

Eric Weinstein 1:46:24 is Higgs. I don't want to let that slip it in parts and as if weak form of mass. I just don't like lying to the public. Okay, okay. It's not a real it's not real mass. It's a soft mass mechanism. It's an as if kind of sort of mass at an effective level. It's not

Stehpon Alexander 1:46:44 eal mass. It's not real mass mass

Eric Weinstein 1:46:48 s energy. Go

Stehpon Alexander 1:46:51 on,

kay. Now, this Higg

particle is right, the Higgs boson. is really a field and the vibration in the field is a Higgs particle. Okay? Okay, this vibration this particle has trouble if you find it. Yeah it to expect to find trouble with this and I'm gonna delay that trouble discussing this trouble even though it's a beautiful story, but can I say if you said if your ball sitting right at the top of a hill right and I just balanced this ball right at the top

f a hill. You want to do an instability thi

Eric Weinstein 1:47:38 g for me. Well, here's the thing. Yeah, I bought this beautiful bottle of wine. Okay, that's good. And why don't find it. I'll try not to okay. feel a little tipsy feel a little bit at the bottom of this bottle of wine has this strange indentation known in the trade as a

Stehpon Alexander 1:47:55 wine punt upon O

Eric Weinstein 1:47:56 ay, yeah, yeah. So the punt has the The shape of the potential that we put the Higgs field into, because we want to lower the Higgs field away from the most obvious value of zero. And so we say, Look, why don't we put a little punt at every point in space and time. And the Higgs field can start off at the center of that pump, but the slightest little tap, and it will fall into a well around that pond. And then because we weren't politically correct, we called it by analogy, not the wine bottle. Mexican hunt potential, but the Mexican hat for which we will be duly punished by the Latin x

Unknown Speaker 1:48:41 ommunity. O

Stehpon Alexander 1:48:44 ay. Well, but you know, we give

Eric Weinstein 1:48:45 hem love. We give we give them love. Yeah. All right. So now we've got this Higgs field that's acquired this thing that you guys call a valve. Vacuum expectation value means that we've lowered the field to f

ll to the bottom and f

ll to the bottom, nicely stable. So the The symmetry that would come from having the field resting at each point at the top of that thing, no, it's going to fall somewhere into the trough. And the combination of the trough and the the the field that fell into some particular place, breaks the symmetry creates the web gives us the soft mass, that we so desperately need to make sure that we don't go relativistic it goes zooming of

Stehpon Alexander 1:49:28 at this. Yeah, you right? Don't I don't maybe about I like to be right here. But the Higgs is doing all that a

Eric Weinstein 1:49:35 l. That's a lot of wo

Stehpon Alexander 1:49:36 k. It's a quite a no an initial tiny meal, I think a Gree

Eric Weinstein 1:49:40 tragedy, deus ex machina and it's the God of the machine. The Mexican hat saves the day. And it turns out we found so grea

Stehpon Alexander 1:49:50 triumph. Good. But now this there's a problem. Now, there's a problem. There's a problem. Oh, no. Because this Higgs particle was We found that a large Hadron Collider, which got the Nobel Prize gave you keep going, all right? It's actually not stable even when it got to the bot

Eric Weinstein 1:50:11 om there. Quantum quantum me

Stehpon Alexander 1:50:12 hanically Yeah, no because it's Higgs. It's a quantum particle. Ah, and I want to give a flavor since I know you know, you give such great descriptions and your massive doing this stuff. I did see a thing on gauge symmetry. Stop it. Yeah. Yeah, you can accuse me of having flavor. You got you got lots of flavor. Okay. I don't want to make any flavor flavor. puns here. Watching. Okay, okay. I mean, I grew up with public e

Unknown Speaker 1:50:45 emy

Stehpon Alexander 1:50:46 But. So, yeah, so this Higgs particle, we think and we would like it to be stable. And you know, guess what? It is stable because we're stable. So we know that it is stable. But guess what, if you trust all of that physics that you use to even produce victus Higgs particle, it's not just a regular ball particle, like the book particles that we know, it's a quantum particle, which means it actually has quantum jitters, you know, and this, these quantum jitters actually can make the energy of the Higgs particle grow as well. And I want to I want to give a good analogy with the section. Yeah, give it a go, please. So I want to think of this Higgs particle. Yeah, this as a particle is sitting on top of a

mountain. Yeah, li

e a ball. a bowling ball. It's sitting on top of the analogy now is this bowling ball is a Higgs particle that has a mass and so

Eric Weinstein 1:51:41 e massiv

Stehpon Alexander 1:51:42 metrical man was a symmetrical mountain so it's nicely symmetrical. Okay, completely symmetrical, no wind, no wind, whatsoever. All right. Now, the other thing I want to also add to this is that the mountain has grass on top of it. So there's a little bit of friction, meaning that if I let this particle sit right there Yeah, the grass will be enough to keep it nice

Eric Weinstein 1:52:04 nd cushy, right provided nothing too cr

Stehpon Alexander 1:52:08 zy stuff. But now, quantum mechanics is reigned supreme here, it's now I turn I becomes a quantum Higgs bowling ball. Yeah. And the quantum effects with the quantum effects is going to do is make random transitions that make the mass actually grow more and more, and it'll shake a little bit. So imagine if it gets the math the mass will get so it just gives the quantum effects is going to make the mass grow. I know what's weird. Why is mass growing without bound. This is quantum mechanics at work. And the Higgs particle eventually overcomes its mass will overcome this friction of the grass that's keeping it fixed here. And eventually it will roll over this hill, okay? When it rolls over the hill, turns out that this hill is an infinite height. It's just gonna like Mount Everest. It's just gonna roll down and at all no Mexican hat and guess what? It becomes unstable. Okay, and the mass grows without bound the kinetic energy grows are bound and guess what we interact through the use of our

Eric Weinstein 1:53:16 coupling. So we are infinitely massive Yeah, I mean we can't get out of our

Stehpon Alexander 1:53:21 chairs or there's no diets gonna help. This does not sound good. It's not good. There's some magic that is preventing this from happening. So one thing that you can imagine this analogy gets nice now, because the grass imagine the grass also is quantum. Right? Well grass has given this particle friction, yeah, prevent it from rol

Eric Weinstein 1:53:42 ing down. What is the g

Stehpon Alexander 1:53:44 ass here? out? The grass is going to be the supersymmetric particle. Okay, all right. So there's something else that could counter the effect right of this Higgs. The Higgs is bound to get mass quantum mechanics is always going to make this happen. You have to counter it. This is the this is what's the same physics II grass this and it turns out so this analogy to make the analogy work now right you need another particle that's playing the role of this friction effect and this effect is going to counter the tendency of this Higgs mass to grow great killed off and and that is a supersymmetric particle always the same type of wind particles that we think is the dark matter or its cousins. That's a super symmetric package of your present Yeah, Santa Claus is going t

Eric Weinstein 1:54:35 give you like that. I do.

Stehpon Alexander 1:54:39 But to be honest, oh, it sounds so you have this Yeah, the same thing that's given us a doc matter. You get all in the price of one you know, you get not just one president. You got a couple of p

Eric Weinstein 1:54:50 esidents. You've been at my house for Shabbat dinner. That's always your a beautiful shake. It's Don't lie to me about Santa Claus. Is this g

Stehpon Alexander 1:54:57 nna come? So now we had this theory that predicted all The stuff and that theory is ruled out. And the beautiful thing about physics is that no the experiments reign supreme, the Large Hadron Collider ran where we say they did a lot of work to put to an end it that work should have happened it needed to happen because this was a pattern. This is the payoff. We all saw this happening. Right? This is the print the driving principle, the symmetry principle. So this was inevitable as a community of physicists to pursue this path. We went there we the we were expecting to find this thing many people may. I mean, I wasn't one of them.

Eric Weinstein 1:55:40 I didn't. Then why are you carrying water for them? Because I'm not having water

Stehpon Alexander 1:55:44 I'm just Oh, you're cleanin

Eric Weinstein 1:55:48 like the you're part of the tribe. You didn't buy t

Stehpon Alexander 1:55:51 is thing. I worked on oth

Eric Weinstein 1:55:52 r things. No, you worked on this a little bit. I worked on it a little bit. I remember. We're not part of this

Stehpon Alexander 1:55:57

I wasn't a part of Oz, but I wasn't a part of it. But I but I wasn't I there was a part of me that was a kind of a distant admirer because I did think that the theory was elegant. It was beautiful. And in the same way that you know, I'm not coming on feel similar symmetry. However, it's the this particular version, what we call low energy, super low scale supersymmetry, right. That version that solves this. This by the way, this thing is called the Higgs hierarchy problem. Right. And the mechanism that you talked about, so called electroweak symmetry breaking, and they're connected to each other, this instability, this electroweak instability, right, it's still a real problem that needs to be solved. Well, it's exciting because that means the expe

Eric Weinstein 1:56:46 iment No, no, no, we're not gonna get to the point of it's exciting. Okay, something has gone wrong in the history of science. I just sat I listened to a beautiful fairy tale for a fucking long time, right? Yes, and I'm sick of it. Okay. There is an accounting that has to happen, which is that there was only one part of this community that was convinced that Santa Claus was real. Now, the rest of us were not necessarily against supersymmetry that we weren't necessarily against. That's right. Yes. All right. But this particular ariens, that this very simple story was going to happen with near certainty that we're going to switch on the machine that not only were we going to find the Higgs particle, the Higgs field, but we're going to find supersymmetry and black holes, all of these things that would justify the funding. And these guys told everybody No, Santa Claus is real. My uncle met him. I've got photos with him on an Instagram, blah, blah, blah. And they lied. They lied that the community was so clear about this, the community was divided. And the problem is, and this is the part of the story that we can't tell is that what They wanted to say is that the smart kids and the cool kids knew that supersymmetry was going to be found at low energy. And it was going to be natural. And it was going to solve all of these problems. And the problem is, is that it was a beautiful dream. If you were very focused on part of the physics story, you were focused on the renormalization story, you were focused on the qua

Stehpon Alexander 1:58:24 tum field theory, all things by the way, all things that

you know, all things that was part of everybody's tradition, you know, as a viable, a viable

solution. But there were other there were othe

Eric Weinstein 1:58:39

than I'm not, I'm not buying, okay. The point is that other people said, Look, maybe you're right, I don't know where you're getting your confidence from. If it happened the way you say it's going to look ugly in some ways, and beautiful. In other words, the analogy I always give is like a fitted sheet. stupidly, you bought a queen sighs fitted sheet for a king size bed. And somebody's like, oh, I've got this, I'm gonna put this over this corner. I'm done. This is beautiful. You're like, have you noticed that the sheet is not working on the other corners. And so as soon as you try to get the sheet to work on those corners off the corner that you've already done, offered pops. My problem is, is that the community that was so clear, and so gung ho and wrote so many papers and was so certain needs to suck it up. We need something like truth and reconciliation. They need to come forward and say, Oh, my God, where we are. And, and but

Stehpon Alexander 1:59:47 you know, so I read a nic

paper by a great theoretical physicist, great physicists. schiffman who cook who did come clean and said, Look, you know, we were expected to find this thing, and we w

Unknown Speaker 2:00:01 re wrong.

Stehpon Alexander 2:00:02 Basically and but but he wasn't he was also optimistic he was also optimistic, in the sense that we will find we will find something it may not be that but we're gonna have this sense of like, this is still exciting because now the experiment has told us where not to look and where, where we

Eric Weinstein 2:00:19 ight want to learn. There needs to be, there needs to be hair shirts and suffering. There must be a part like accounting, there needs to be humiliating articles written by Dennis Overby saying, what was I doing listening to this community quite so credulously. There needs to be a come up and the people who make the grant decisions need to not be the people who are gung ho about low energy supersymmetry, these people need to go away. They need to not be in control of the field. They not need to be not in control of the purse strings. They need to be diminished in their stature and their status. They need not to be revered. They don't need to be giving all of the talks at the beginning of every goddamnit Important thing just because we think that they're smarter. This is a cosmic screw up, Stefan. And I'm sorry, but at some level, the Jewish kids who never went in for the Santa Claus story have a right to say, Hey, there is a miracle. And you guys did do some great stuff. It is true that retail spikes every December that is a true thing. And I'm not even counting supersym

Stehpon Alexander 2:01:26 etry out. Right, but the key thing is some people are carrying that you can you might find it with som

Eric Weinstein 2:01:31 thing but we have a designated winner system. And the designated winner system says that certain kids are the cool kids and that they always get to win because they're smarter than ever

Stehpon Alexander 2:01:41 one else. Right? That is defini

Eric Weinstein 2:01:43 ely okay. They're not because that even if they are neurologically more advanced even if they are more knowledgeable, their inability to reconcile themselves with their own cosmic repeated extensive failure constitutes Scientific malpractice and they deserve to lose and a lot of new voices, particularly voices that never went in for this deserve to ascend and these people deserve to be diminished. What am I gett

Stehpon Alexander 2:02:21 ng wrong? I woul

say that I definitely what I am for okay is exactly these oth

r voices, other physicists that have put out o

Unknown Speaker 2:02:39 her

Stehpon Alexander 2:02:42 ideas and they should, attention should be paid and resources should be

you know, shared,

Eric Weinstein 2:02:52 know that graduate students should be able to say, why am I listening to more of this stuff? Why is it that you are giving plenary. Why are we listening to your recounting your narrative you're telling? Did you not say with fair clarity that you were convinced that these were the solutions? And this was what would happen? If you did. I'm not telling you that you should, you know, be consigned to the dustbin of history. But why do you get to keep control? And why do I still care about what you think at the same level as I did when you said don't worry, we've got this because you didn't. You failed? Yes. Why aren't we doing good?

Stehpon Alexander 2:03:34 I invited to the Ranger game

Eric Weinstein 2:03:38

who gets what's going on with Rudolph? How many Rudolph

Stehpon Alexander 2:03:41 s are out there? There's a I mean, there's a sociologica

Eric Weinstein 2:03:44

element. Well, this is what I'm trying to say. Yeah. Why? Let's talk revolution. Let's talk revolution. Let's talk revolution in physics, because we're all scared. Because we know that if we say that the people who are in control of the field and control of the purse strings and could troll of the journals. And if we say you shouldn't be, you stayed too long, you got it wrong, you couldn't reconcile yourself, we understand your failure. We actually love you. And we actually haven't given up on supersymmetry, as much as you might think we have. But your naive hopes and implementations are offensive to the history of science 

Stehpon Alexander 2:04:23 ull stop. Yeah. I mean, basically, what I'm hearing is, can we let other people play in

Eric Weinstein 2:04:29 the band? How about the idea? So we're talking about Jen before? Yeah, that's kind of we have a situation where somebody takes a solo and they go through one chorus and two chorus and then seven chorus. I think everybody else is looking at this guy. How many choruses Do you expect to take for your your

Stehpon Alexander 2:04:46 ass solo? That's right. And there's a collective, you know, there's a collective agreement that if that happens, you know, you need to get off the stage and let somebody el

Eric Weinstein 2:04:54 e get on, right. I mean, you know, it's pretty dangerous when you're on stage with some good people. To decide that you're the only you know, what was that line from David Bowie. You know about Ziggy. He was the special one I forgot. Yeah, he was the special man. Yeah, yes. You know, where were the Where were the spiders? Man? Where are th

Stehpon Alexander 2:05:15

spiders? Yeah, I mean, all I can say is I know, you know, within the domain that I exist at my university, my resource group, right, I definitely give voice to, to my students and the researchers around me, right, that work with me, to to, you know, to explore and ideas and also disagree with me. You know, I am perfectly comfortable with that kind of discomfort. And, and we've also been wrong because I was taught by my my mentors and my teachers who are actually great physicists, Leon Cooper been on

Eric Weinstein 2:05:57

of them. Great physicists at Brown at Brown. Right who figured out how fermions could behave the way bosons behave by pairing up and giving us super conductivity conductiv

Stehpon Alexander 2:06:10 ty, okay? Which is to really solve difficult problems in physics, you first have to respect the difficulty and you might have to take many different takes on it and you might end up having many failed models, but you need to generate different strategies and different you know, an array of pluralism of different ideas and not bank on one I owe, you know, one or a limited set of ideas, but to you know, how do we create opportunities? How do we have many different eyes? How do we take back t

Eric Weinstein 2:06:45 is field? You know, that, you know, the old adage I think, was plonk who said the science proceeds funeral by funeral. I don't want to have to wait for the deaths. No, no, no, I don't have to kill anybody. How do we proceed. So that We're not waiting for funeral by funeral. This is boring is I just can't st

Stehpon Alexander 2:07:05 nd listening to a voice I think I think one thing one thing that has been proven to work in the past was first of all, so you probably know that I am. You know, I, I play a leadership role in an organization called the National Society of B

Eric Weinstein 2:07:23 ack physicists. You told me I

Stehpon Alexander 2:07:25 was an advisor. Yes, you're gonna be one of those. Yeah, but I

Eric Weinstein 2:07:29 I told you that you should probably take a little bit careful look at who you're asking. Wit

Stehpon Alexander 2:07:37

my porcine you you know, you know, some people define blackness as a state of stigma social stigma. So just so you know, I think they Thank you, sir. Okay. O

Eric Weinstein 2:07:51 ay. Um, so, um, yeah, so what are you gonna do with this? So I

Stehpon Alexander 2:07:54 ike physicists. So for example, and one of the things I said at all national meeting, yeah, I have to give Uh uh, talk to the entire community. I said, we do not have as physicists as black physicists, we don't have the leisure to exist in silos. And what I meant by silos I meant sort of intellectual silo right. But you know, this this notion of, if you have a say in theoretical physics, different bifurcations of subfields within yeah the umbrella of theory. The reason why bought in Cooper and schrieffer is able to solve the 46 year old problem of superconductivity. When everybody else works on Einstein, Feynman, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, they all work time failed. Similarly, they simply failed. It was because actually, Cooper was actually a particle physicists. That's an outside he was an outsider. This is what I bought Dean engaged that outsider. Well, this is and I think that We, I think one revolutionary thing, too. And it's not that revolutionary actually happened before in the past. Yeah, somehow this. In other words, we need to have people from different walks of this theory game, including people outside of the Academy. All right. We used to have opportunities, real opportunities for cross talk to happen.

Eric Weinstein 2:09:27 eal cross talk. You just pulled me in, for example, do a quantum foundation seminar, which I didn't expect to end up. That's

Stehpon Alexander 2:09:34 almost teaching us what you did and they learn something from you and these this is one of the top groups in the world for quantum foundations by the way. I didn't know that yes, yes. That's a Yeah, I have

Eric Weinstein 2:09:44 enough. Is

Stehpon Alexander 2:09:46 hat by me, sir? Yeah, I want other people and so the reason why that is interesting, is I didn't realize I that I was because I'm kind of like this, which is i if i something extremely well. And there are very few things I know extremely well. But in, in my field, which is the interface of particle physics and cosmology, there are some things that I'm highly published in and I know it really well, right? I'm not interested in talking to people that know exactly that stuff. I'm interested in talking to people that know things that I don't know. And people also that will challenge me and make me and will actually challenge the assumptions that I'm making. Because I see that that's where the growth that's where the opportunity to find something new is going to be. Okay. But that is very different, I think, than the model that I inherited throughout my my

Eric Weinstein 2:10:40 rown up years in physics, theoretical physics, let's explore something that's quite dangerous, which I don't think people really talk about, which is, what is the really huge benefit, quite, quite frankly, a lot of time on Well, a lot of the time when we're talking about the need for minority groups or underrepresented groups to be present in the sciences there's a secret undercurrent of we should lower our standards to get people who can't quite cut it to come into the field because it's like a good for you thing and so even though we're going to tap tax the field by not having the quite the level of people you'd get if it was a pure meritocracy would still be good for our soul. Right? Okay. There's a different cut on this, which is monoculture. The problem that happened in theoretical physics with strings with supersymmetry, with the lying with the overall promotion with telling everyone else they didn't know what was going on with one group taking Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, I'm on a roll and I'm not gonna be quiet. All right. Yeah, I'm an uppity white man. Okay. Now here's the issue. The black church, for example, in American politics was hugely important, influential because it was a different distributional system. It was a different place to get your information. To get your analysis, it has faded in importance. But because the black church was a counterweight, anything that went wrong inside of the dominant system, at least we had a backup system. You know, it's like if you go scuba diving, you've got the main regulator that you're using, but you also have your backup regulator called your octopus in case something goes wrong. Under any telling of the tail, I think in Bush v. Gore, everybody who didn't want gore to concede the race, I think was black. Right? And there's just this idea of, we need other cultures to be strong enough and present not as some sort of good for you fiber that you're supposed to eat, but nobody actually likes it. But because God dammit this monoculture problem is huge. Yes. And to your point about blackness. The reason that I am excited about race in science is not any of this Kumbaya, Kumbaya bullshit. It's Because Do you remember the night that you and I had dinner with James gates and Neil deGrasse Tyson and I was the white guy at the table. Otherwise, it was just high level black physics talk. That's right. And it took place at a, in a totally different idiom. The cadences were different, the rhythm was different. It was the same subject matter. But it was happening at a different level. I was jazz, it was jazz. Right, and the riffing

Stehpon Alexander 2:13:30 nd the idea is that well, this is nothing new. By the way, I will note, there's nothing new because, you know, when I went when I after I did my I mean, when I went overseas to Europe, to to do theory, grand theory where I realized that like, you know, the British, right, I mean, the way they did physics is dif very different than the French. I mean, I'm talking about it's a human activi

Eric Weinstein 2:13:53 y and, you know, culture. Yeah, Woody. I just had Roger Penrose. Those guys tolerate real extreme centrist, very quirky, very individualistic, and historically, it

Stehpon Alexander 2:14:05 s very important that the rece

Eric Weinstein 2:14:07 sion was a great example. Yeah, he would not. I mean, he's a very eccentric and brilliant physicist, English physicists, Dennis Shama, Dirac, all of the rock was, you know, transplanted French. It really matters to me that there is something that we can call British physics as opposed to homogenize physics that happens to be locate

Stehpon Alexander 2:14:30

in Britain. Yes, French. Yes. If you think about the poor Bucky school, and there's a linguistic element, I mean, there are cognitive scientists that study how language affects thought. I mean, larabar that's key. Right. Right. Th

Eric Weinstein 2:14:44 t's just that's how work. So I think we're afraid to say for example, I mean, the French use elegance as a weapon. right that the Italians have had a surplus of style in mathematics. It surfaced in the crazy Lack of rigor in the Italian algebraic geometry tradition that eventually got it into trouble. But they were just so swashbuckling and debonair and cool about the whole thing, that they were able to do stuff the Russians, they're psychotic attachment to abstraction, power and one upsmanship. You know, these were really important, different national characters. What really bothers me, I mean, Einstein was a jazz felicitous, very improvisational, very improvisational, and also willing to take risk all of these things about how we blundered and he wasted his years My feeling is good god that's like the third string talking about the superstars and not understanding that you're never going to get to be Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis if you if you d

Stehpon Alexander 2:15:47 n't play sour notes. Now, again, you know, this this is, this is getting a little bit personal because one of the things I was told after, right before I was going to go off to graduate school, by associate theology professors mind who actually I took many classes with him. There was Bill Hornstein. I'm actually tomorrow flying out to celebrate his 80th birthday, okay. Yeah. He said, he said, Hey kids, I'm like, cancer, you know, Irish working class roots in Philadelphia. And he goes, I said, Bill, you know, I'm going off to grad school to make it to try to do physics. He goes, Well, kiddo, you know, if you if you make in this i'm not saying that's gonna be easy, but if you make it and if you especially if you make it big, and I'm like me make a big goes. It's important that you're not just a physicist, but that you're a black physicist. And how remember the heck this guy saying it? What is that? What does that make sense makes any sense? Right at first it now makes sense. If a if, you know a state trooper pulls me over, right? And, you know clearly they're seeing something like this. The pattern if I get pulled over a lot more than average than that right it happened to me for some period of time when I was a younger Professor right with long dreadlocks when a nice suit and driving a really nice car, right. So clearly there's something about me that stands out there that's obviously not what Bill is talking about. But I guess there is something to say about being comfortable in one's skin right. Um and why I will be the last person to want to monitor lift, lift highs. So is that the correct way? blackness Yeah. As one category of being right, um, you know, what, what I was hearing from Bill was the opposite of that, which Don't dilute Don't t

y to just fit in. And oh, yeah,

Eric Weinstein 2:18:08 her gift don't give up my lesser version

Stehpon Alexander 2:18:10 of the other thing. Yeah, there was something and, and so when I did make it, but what might make it it was really important for me that I was going to do my best thinking when I was my best me. Okay. And there were pressures, right for me to sort of fit into that cultural mode of the way, the culture of doing physics, right. And that was not me. That was not the guy that the Trinidadian kid that grew up in the Bronx. Okay. Yes, I mean, my culture got modified. I mea

Eric Weinstein 2:18:50 , I got modified might be when you Only you know how to behave in a dominant culture. Yeah, what I love about me, I just saw you lecture yesterday. Was it yesterday or two days ago came in, remember Chapman is is that you lecture as yourself. And there is I mean, to abuse the word there is more flavor. There is and I'll be honest with you I've collaborated with you. We've never published a paper together,

Stehpon Alexander 2:19:15 ut we've worked togethe

Eric Weinstein 2:19:16 , your ideas of influence and yours and yours have influenced me. I'm in a different head when I work with you. I'm less perfectionistic I'm more intuitionistic I'm much more in flow. My I allow my you know, because I, I don't really play jazz but I sit down and improv enough that I can. If people are super nice to me, I can kind of hang with them. And sometimes they take a certain amount of interest because I'm interested in other things. I've gotten addicted to what it's like to hang out with people who live in flow states and who prioritize creativity and being generative much more than initially checking whether every no go t

Stehpon Alexander 2:19:59 eorem has been satisfied. Yes. There's value to both. And there's value to both. Yeah, because the blesser, you need both flexib

Eric Weinstein 2:20:07 e, it's good to have, but we don't. But the thing that I think that's different, and I'm going to just pull some supremacy over here is I don't see you or I wanting to murder the string theorists, I want them diminished. I want them with less power, less control less money. I don't want them speaking on behalf of the entire community the way they have, I'll be nice to them. No, to hell with that. So you can't be an angry black man, but I can. I'm tired. And it's, it's too long. And the idea that everybody who's funding has is tied to that community has to be careful, is a travesty. And the glorious thing is, is that I'm going to sell toothbrushes and nutritional supplements and watches against this program. And that's going to give me the the academic freedom that that system would Never have given me. And because I have sponsors and ads that I inflict on my audience, and some of them can't stand it, they leave but the rest of it No, I'm not kidding. The fact is, is that I'm going to sell a subscription to a wine company. And I'm going to have the right to say it's too much, David gross. It's too much Ed Witten. Those guys are brilliant. And they're terrific, but they need to fade into the background because we

Stehpon Alexander 2:21:26 eed to hear other voices. The question why, why Why? I mean, can can we have because certainly a lot we can we can learn from both from they have a lot of technology to teach us. Right. So why does it have to be one or the other? No, why can't we I'm dining all a carta. If you as

Eric Weinstein 2:21:49

you know me fairly well, if you if you were to ask me, who's the most important mind now working in theoretical physics, whether it's ad whether it's Ed Witten Okay, don't ever tell me that I'm diminishing Ed Witten by saying that I don't want to hear his pronouncements on how string theory is the only interesting thing going on in physics. You know, 

Stehpon Alexander 2:22:13 t least it's interesting. It's interesting, but there are othe

Eric Weinstein 2:22:15

interests in No, I don't know if there isn't No, even if there isn't, it's a chilling effect. In other words, it is it is the number one insight machine in this area. His leadership is not at the same level. His leadership has been lacking. You know, they say about ronald reagan that he was a third rate intellect but a first rate for the first rate intuition. Okay. Ed Witten is an absolutely first rate researcher, but he's not a first rate leader of the field, nor was David gross, a first rate leader of the field. Nema might be might blossom. To a first rate leader of the field, he's got a more interesting, more playful, more colorful, more mo

Stehpon Alexander 2:23:08 e optimistic perspective. And Nima has always been, NEMA has been like, every time I would come to NEMA with a crazy idea. Yeah, he would engage it and he would actually t

Eric Weinstein 2:23:17 row something back at me. Yeah. And NEMA does not have the depth that the ED has

Stehpon Alexander 2:23:25 already shown us is true, but I can only speak from my experience but you know, my limited experiences with with even with Ed even when I was at in super advanced Yeah, he says, right. He You know, he actually he

was you know, he actually eng

ged my idea

as well. And you kn

Eric Weinstein 2:23:46 w, I I learned a lot from him. I can see very quickly what is wrong with whatever your Oh, he's very good at that. Only that. No, let's give him let's give him all of his do because nobody's trying to take anythi

Stehpon Alexander 2:23:56 g away from these people. Right. We're just trying to

Eric Weinstein 2:24:02 give no but the To others Ed both can see what's wrong with an idea almost instantaneously he can also see that you're not pushing it far enough he can see that the domain of abstraction that that idea is meant for if you look at the number of theories that began as one two or three names and then has a dash Witten on the end like you have turned Simon's becomes turned Simon's Witten right or Western amino becomes West amino Witten because they didn't see the full power of the theory. So dash Witten was this thing that happened if you left anything on the table. Ed site figured out what to do and put it in its final improperly

Stehpon Alexander 2:24:43

Absolutely genius. Yeah, right. What a poet. Yes, yes, his papers are just I mean, they are I just remember when a new wedding papers come out when I was supposed to like I would Oh, my crib rented out and go up to my my go to the cafe and just you know Get a nice latte and read this paper and and really, you know, 

Eric Weinstein 2:25:06 et so much out of it. And I can't do it justice. I've been out of this game for like 20 years and in general and I was never a physicist, but they always had the same structure we like, it is a long standing puzzle in such and such theory that and then something that many people have never heard of, then he would say something like, there are some interesting results of so and so that remain inconclusive in this paper. Many would say what it was like it would have this kind of relentless form. And it was enervating and I don't know whether you know this, but I have a playlist I don't remember whether I released it to the public called the meeting Jimi Hendrix story. And it's a collection of every great guitarists experience meeting Jimi Hendrix, and it's always the same and it always sounds like I was the top guitarist in my little area. Then I heard one day that there was a guy named Jimi Hendrix who wanted to come see me He jacked into my martial stack. I heard him play for five minutes. I never wanted to touch the guitar again, you know, and so it had this effect, because we all saw the wonder that was that particular human mind at that particular time was a perfect fit. Take all of that that's enough reverence for one person that I don't think any fair person can claim that I'm trying to rob him of any of that. Not a great leader. Okay. And the problem of giving that much authority to the person with that capability and the other one of these was David gross, because David Rose came from the part of the world that had made contact with experiment. So he was sort of part of the last group to to do the physics and the way that we think of physics that you make a theory and you check to see whether experiment corroborates etc etc. David infused string theory with his Kind of traditional physics, Kesha, he was the guy who made the transition from one world into the other. I think that those two voices were, I mean, unbelievable physicists, nobody will ever take anything away from them. Lots of things happened under the string theory program, many of them may be useful in the future. A disas

Stehpon Alexander 2:27:27 er in physics leadership. You know, obviously, I'm from a different, different so I'

Eric Weinstein 2:27:32

not saying you actually, this is your this is you speaking. Yeah. We're friends. Yeah. You're not responsible f

Stehpon Alexander 2:27:37 r my ranting and railing. But we're friends and that's what friends are for. It's a friend or and but, but there there are some, you know, you I want to kind of loop back to because you did mention what you talked about the, you know, right now, one one word That is sort of, you know, sort of pervasive across weight across institutions and, you know, academic institution, right. Diversity and Inclusion. Right. Yeah. And, you know, what comes with that sometimes, though, is that there is unspoken sentiment, which is, why do we, you know, if we do this, it comes at sacrificing, right? This is kind of what we're talking about. And, and I think that we should look, take a deeper look at that, right? Instead of you want to actually have that conversation. I'd love to do that. Yes, I

Eric Weinstein 2:28:37 d like to have a session. So I'm of two minds, you're just gonna, I'm gonna open myself up and say what I think a lot of people please might want to say. I do not want diversity inclusion. To the extent that I'm filling one of the few spots on a life raft with a person just so we can say that that seat has been filled with by somebody who has some characteristic that crippled their, they descended from slaves, they're transgendered. Whatever weird characteristic that is. It's an irrelev

Stehpon Alexander 2:29:18 ncy to a scientist. Okay, good. That'

Eric Weinstein 2:29:21

interesting. Okay, okay. On the other hand, if they carry their otherness in a way that makes them understand the importance of seeing different perspectives. So for example, being female, or being Kurdish or being black, or being learning disabled or being in a wheelchair, if any one of those things informs their inspector their perspective, so that they become more disagreeable, more willing to say, hey, you are forming a monoculture, then you're getting the real benefit of diversity and inclusion. You're not sitting there saying I want to have the nth version of women in science. You're saying, as a woman in science, let me tell you, you can't see what's going on. You can't see the way you're forming a hierarchy around that person. And I'm not interested in talking about women in science today, I'm interested in pointing out that you're forming a monoculture and that the concentration of risk that that's going to entail is psychotic, because there is not enough evidence to reach the conclusions. you're reaching as strongly as you are. And if this world were not quite so amenable to fealty, we would have a more diverse portfolio of ideas and the diversity of personal characteristics would be reflected in the diversity of approaches. I would welcom

Stehpon Alexander 2:30:53

diversity and inclusion. Yes, as you should, because of because of that, and I guess I would I think that two things that from and I can only speak also, I mean, I thought a lot about this from, you know, also academically, but just putting

myself into th

s as well. Let's say that there is a position and the position says, look, you know, I'm you know, there are certain metrics, right? That that this position actuall

Unknown Speaker 2:31:32


Stehpon Alexander 2:31:33 s for. And let's say

that I, as a black person meets all of those things, right at the highest level, right? The issue sometimes is when my being different, right? And if that difference is already seen to be at a disadvantage, like you

now that it's

not valued. All right. To because in science, at least in science, the metric is also who is going to bring him maybe a new idea, right? Or a different way of a different way of approaching a problem. Yeah, that doesn't exist yet. And we know given that's why you're probably hiri

g that

scientists. Right. Right. The issue here is a presumptions that people make that if you're different and you don't fit into the

Eric Weinstein 2:32:31 norm that the only reason is cuz I could

Stehpon Alexander 2:32:33 't hack it of that order. Yeah, that's somehow you being who you are having these these, ri

ht, these other these I'

calling characteristics. intellectual or whatever you want to say that'

Eric Weinstein 2:32:47

associated with my race, is I might create, in m

Stehpon Alexander 2:32:50

case, my learning issue, so all things considered, I have I have the skill sets I have everything, but you're not but if you're uncomfortable because by my being in That sphere of existence actually creates a level of discomfort, and is also perceived to not be valued valuable in that metric of actually making a contribution. So you've got the issue here, which is that it's underlying, I think the backlash of diversity initiatives is that first if you don't actually value except what you were saying, right, that that difference is going to be is actually something that could be useful. But I think the presumption that needs to be dealt with is that maybe it's not valued. It's seen as a negative, and it's seen as potentially coming in and interferi

Eric Weinstein 2:33:47 g with the flow. Did you? Did you hear my episode with m

Stehpon Alexander 2:33:51

brother on this program? No, I was.

Eric Weinstein 2:33:53 I'm indebted to watch it. So I had to do a very difficult thing with him, which is I had to say, do you understand that you're not being taken forever? Yeah. You're not being taken seriously by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne and the top evolutionary theorists, because they don't understand who you are or what you've done. And so the idea is that they took some indicia, which is, oh, we discovered you at some weirdo, far left tiny college that nobody cares about in the research circuit called Evergreen State. And as

result, you're typec

st. Yes, right? Yes. Now, I'm going to say the same difficult thing to you and to me, so I'm going to spare neither of us, in my case, oh, that's a crazy guy with a podcast who thinks that he's onto something and he thinks just because he's somewhat entertaining, and he has a following because he got into the Joe Rogan, that he's allowed to tell the great gods that maybe here's some ideas about physics and math. That's what they say about me. But they say about you. He got his position, not because he's very smart or as an interesting perspective, but because the field is desperate for black people, to show that we have diversity and inclusion, and you are carrying that around, and I'm carrying that around. Now, here's my point. I don't want to shirk, I don't want to shrink from it. I know that that's what they're saying they want to say this. Yes. Furthermore, right, is, you know how people fixate, like, I'll be honest, there are certain people who are black, who I can't get over the fact that they're black. There are other people. It's not a big deal doesn't occur to me. It's just like, let's talk. We don't even know why our brains keep track of this stuff. And it's not all about racism or not racism. We can't even check our own prejudices. It is so bizarre to me. That with everything that I know about you and everything I know about me, we're still dealing with this bullshit. Like for example, it's a very deep, deep thing to solve. I mean, and you hear

Stehpon Alexander 2:36:01 t in your own mind. Like, you all, I have a friend as a social psychologist that Yeah, his entire rese

Eric Weinstein 2:36:08 rch is this conversation, right? I know, in my own mind that I have these haters, who say, you know, what's he published? What's he done? I don't understand any self promoting. It's not like I don't know that this dialogue is there. In fact, it's internalized, and it's internalized in you, and in me and in everybod

Stehpon Alexander 2:36:28

who doesn't subscribe. I was I'm an American. I was told when I was a postdoc, I won't know. And it was a that, I mean, I got there. And first of all, I was I benefited tremendously. I learned a lot and it helped me get to where I'm at now. So I'm very grateful. But there was an experience that I did have where it was a very competitive environment, and everybody thought they were number was that I didn't it's a number one place, Eric, something weird was happening, because this particular place is a very interactive please, the postdocs, and professors and grads, they're talking all the time. And I'm there. And I'm telling the story because time and time and time and time again, I mean, I've been a professor for like 14 years now. Right? And now the students, the minority students and, and the women students in my, throughout my, you know, projectory I hear these similar stories. So, and the story was at a place that everyone is talking and I'm in an office and no one is talking to me, I would have an idea I start talking to another person and nobody has talked. So I was sort of shunned. Yeah, and at some point like what is it me like? All my ideas silly? Because I do 

Eric Weinstein 2:37:55 enerate also silly ideas. Yo

Stehpon Alexander 2:37:56

generate the wrong idea. I don't know why

this Yeah. But one of the And one

ay a go

d friend of mine. Who is? Well, let me get this friend of mine who is someone I've known for a long time and has a very, has a razor sharp perception of things. He was visiting from Caltech and he was visiting our group and he pulls me aside he goes, and it's friend of mine. So he's a white person. And he says to me, I know what's going on. I was like, What are you talking about? And by the way, things got so difficult for me that there were days I do want to, like I had to fight myself to go to work. Because people are just not talking to me. I'm trying to figure out why people are not talking to me. He goes, I know what's going on as well. What is it that goes on? Yeah. Did they treat you like a dog? Right. I was like, how you know that. Are you only here for a couple of days. Yeah, you know, well Here's what's going on. Because I overheard what they were saying. You see, they felt that they work so hard to get to where they're at. They were number one at Harvard, number one at Princeton. And now they're displaces the top place in the world for this thing. And you had it easy. You You hadn't really, I had an easy, you know, no cakewalk growing up. Yeah, cakewalk for me growing up. But I mean, I had an easy because there clearly were affirmative action programs that just made, you know, just open a door for me. And they had to work so hard. And now I can understand, from their perspective, if they assu

Eric Weinstein 2:39:40 e tha

Stehpon Alexander 2:39:42

this was the case. Yeah. And also that came with this that I just didn't have the competence. So it became a kind of catch 22 situation because how could I get if what was believed was true, right. How can I get better if not talking to me? Right, because part of the game here is I have to we did It's highly collaborative, writing papers together, right? So as a result got interested in what ended up happening was, it didn't change much, but at least I knew what they felt. I never really told anybody about my my friend told me he heard this or people saying this, and I have to swallow this pill. And, you know, integrate this fact, and kind of figure out and luckily there were people there were faculty, and a few and we had the Third World room, the other postdocs, one from Iran and one from India. And we we learn from each other and wrote papers. But anyway, to make a long story short, by the time it came time for me to apply for faculty jobs. Someone called me on the phone and said, You know, I was been pushin

Unknown Speaker 2:40:53


Stehpon Alexander 2:40:55 you to get this job. And, and I, they said, We can't find anybody like, you know, Like you said, know this guy Alexander's right down the street. And he's had like a really tough place, you should hire him. And they said, Oh, we know about this guy. He doesn't do the work. He actually rides on people's back, like people do stuff. And he gets his

ames on the paper, rig

t? So I said to him, Hey, can you go on to online and actually look at my publication record? Yeah, you'll notice that the 13 papers that I wrote that six was single authored papers, right? So the very situation that created the condition for me to write independent work, still wasn't even enough because the perception, even there when I was looking for a job persisted, right, that I wasn't a guy. And this still exists. So when we talk about things like diversity and inclusion, right, even though Yes, we know that it does bring value. It does bring different perspectives. bringing value. When you know, when a particle physicists physicists comes into, to work on a condensed matter problem, yeah, and employs those techniques and tools and

Eric Weinstein 2:42:14 erspective in that field. That's diversity and inc

Stehpon Alexander 2:42:18 usion. I agree with this. But if people are presuming, like my friends, when I was a postdoc that I had an easy if that does not address and if if it's not valued, that maybe regardless of if, what program that was necessary for me to get in, that actually, the experiences I've had and the lessons I've learned, and cognitively, what I bring to the table, right, including the fact that I actually I know differential geometry as well, right, right. Because I know my I knew my stuff. I went through the same educational system that many of them went through, they didn't they there was a presumption If those presumptions are not dealt with, right, then people are the practices they'll sit when people just gonna ge

Eric Weinstein 2:43:12

more and more resentful? Well, because the question. Yeah. Right. Like the thing that I've loved about our relationship, and I don't know th

Stehpon Alexander 2:43:21 t we've ever even talke

Eric Weinstein 2:43:22 , kept talk about Yes, is that you and I have always been able to talk about, like, in part, one of the things I hate about the current woke stuff, yeah, is that you need to go to the most dangerous stuff in order to actually remain close to know that you've gotten past the bullshit, right? Like you do. If we're going to have a relationship, we have to disposition and negotiate the superficial junk that's going to keep us apart. You remember when you we

Stehpon Alexander 2:43:49 e thinking about leaving? That's right. I was thinking about leaving acade

Eric Weinstein 2:43:52 ic physics. That's right. Do you know what was going on with me when you came to talk to me about this? I did. How d

Stehpon Alexander 2:43:57 d you come to talk to me? Well, mutual friend Right suggested name's

ee Smolin, a great fri

nd and colleague of mine, someone who I trust dearly, I said, Lee, I'm thinking of, you know, packing my bags and leaving a very cushy antenna track faculty position that many people will be online waiting for. Because I've had my reasons. And he said, before you make this decision, you must talk to my friend, Eric Weinstein. That was in t

Eric Weinstein 2:44:36 e year 2006. I think 2007 ran then. Do you have any idea what was mot

Stehpon Alexander 2:44:42 vating me and what I did? Well, first of all, let me say that you kept it very real me you actually the things that you said to me. If it was someone else who did not embrace the discomfort and and get into raw deal, they will. They would consider you to be a very offensive person. But because I embraced that it w

Eric Weinstein 2:45:04 s very valuable. And look at me, I'm still an academic. First of all, you come from a Caribbean tradition, we get very confrontational as p

Stehpon Alexander 2:45:11 rt of the normal means of disposition. It's a

Eric Weinstein 2:45:12 ign of love sign of love. Yeah. Right. So we have a little bit of that in the, in the, in the stronger forms of the Jewish tradition as well. Okay. So when I, I'll give you my animal that we've e

Unknown Speaker 2:45:25 er had this conversation.

Eric Weinstein 2:45:27 Oh, I'm gonna do it here. Yeah, why not? Okay, what the hell? I saw you as technically underpowered, relative to how generative and creative viewer, I saw you as a generative and creative powerhouse. You're trying all sorts of stuff, some of which I could see that can't possibly work. He doesn't know but he's gonna figure it out in two weeks, you know, but like, you are a wellspring of different ideas and you're coming at things from a really different perspective. And in essence, the superficial aspect of Okay, it's coming from the Bronx. You Your father was a cab driver, you Caribbean background. There was no part of you is anticipated by our system. There's no you have no role models, there's nobody for you to follow. I mean, you know, this world of view James gates and Neil deGrasse Tyson, al

Unknown Speaker 2:46:19

three of

Eric Weinstein 2:46:22 you are totally distinct. You're the dive

Stehpon Alexander 2:46:25 sity that you rub up. Jim was a role model, and is a role model, but not Yeah, but what's very

Eric Weinstein 2:46:33 ifferent. It's not tight. You know, it's a very different experience. You're borrowing a lot from who you are the fire that lights itself up. I don't know how you got here. And that was what was so impressive to me, which was that there was a there

Stehpon Alexander 2:46:46 ere two parallel stories. Joe Henderson has an album called inner urge a song called inner urge. Yeah, you know, it

Eric Weinstein 2:46:56 s bad. It's um, you know, there were two forms of diversity. There was the superficial or ostensible diverse anyone called superficial because it's real. And in other words, when you and I collaborate, I move towards you, language wise so that you and I can be in flow together. You know, like, I don't speak the way I speak generally when I'm speaking with you, because fundamentally, I want to be catching the balls and throwing them back. You had this other diversity, which was your creative, scientific diversity, you would generate more different approaches to a problem faster than other people. And what I saw was in part, I had, you know, Lee gave me this assignment to, like, talk to you about this. And I was trying to get out of it. Well, no, no, no, no, it was. That wasn't it. It was, what was good for the field versus what was good for you. And what I realized is, is that it was probably good for you to leave the field if you didn't change your mindset. Yeah, it was probably

Stehpon Alexander 2:47:56 bad for the field to lose you. You told me something that really mattered, though. Oh, Alright, basically it was a it was sort of like the, you know, when you're up, you're a very caring at some point as he's to grow up, it was more like, you need to grow up as a scientist and fine. And, you know, don't run away from a real problem find it and work on a real problem. And don't pus

, don't you know, sort of follow herds and things. So it was like, in other words, it was it resonated with who I was already, and I was kind of tormented about

his walk towards the pai

either pay for it. Yeah, yeah. And so, and also, right around the town, Leon Cooper told me the same thing. Yeah, say you need to find a real plan to work on it. Mm hmm. And, you know, and when everyone says that you have a problem can't be solved is because, you know, they didn't, you know, they weren't smart to figure it out. So go work on it. Find the problem and work on it. This is a person that, you know, the ingenious Cooper period that led to the solution of superconductivity. I had to take that very seriously very seriously. and was able to shape up or ship out basically. Yeah. And that was the choice because they wanted all this other stuff about diverse al

Eric Weinstein 2:49:19

this stuff is just noise really well, but it isn't. So when you if you took like Madonna came to fire two days ago or yesterday, again, even when it was you took a risk by inviting me in to what would be called a family group meeting of a research group, talking about a subject which I haven't thought about for decades, you kno

Stehpon Alexander 2:49:42 , and I came in on yours. I didn't see it as a risk. You didn't I did not see it as a risk. Now you brought me I will be probably doing more of it to snow because I saw it. I saw it as you know. What's this word? I mean, in sociology, there's a notion of inconveniencing someone. Yeah. When you're in convenience that's where learning happens. All right? Did they were issued under driver diversity comes with with that sort of that level of having a little bit of discomfort and

Eric Weinstein 2:50:16 that experience in and of itself

Stehpon Alexander 2:50:18 t's the Godzilla it's the bear with it it you learn from it yo

Eric Weinstein 2:50:22

learn you grow from this how much of our time that we've spent spent talking about math and physics have been over alcohol a fair amount, a fair amount, fair amount, right fair amount, and it's woven together and our relationship mostly why it's about most the wine well first when it Frankel is present vodka is very often it's strays off into harder stuff. But, you know, these are some of the most refined requires. Lee's question is okay, you guys both have alcohol tolerances th

Stehpon Alexander 2:50:50 t I can only dream about

Eric Weinstein 2:50:53

I've gotten much better. But the point being, that this is our style, you know, and the point is, it's completely unconstrained And it's not tied to a whiteboard. It's not tied to rules about what it means to be collegial. It's tied to bad jokes, drinking heavily crazy ideas, and camaraderie and deep friendship and brotherhood, you know, and making fun of each other and and taking the piss out of each other and putting it all we're never going up to the line where you're actually hurting the person. That kind of intimacy is incredibly important scientifically, in this bloodless culture about office, appropriate behavior. One of the great things coming into that work group we're getting we're getting into some dangerous stuff. Yeah, no, but when I went into that workgroup, hmm, is that there was this very sweet guy from Italy. He was talking about quantum foundations. And I just had to say, wake up, man, you know, like if you don't do s

Stehpon Alexander 2:51:52 mething really different, and do it and do it soon, and do it soon. You won't need to understand this for 40 years before I even try to think ab

Eric Weinstein 2:52:00 ut that. The real problem No, you know, if you're not going to be disagreeable, you're in the wrong fie

Stehpon Alexander 2:52:05 d, don't waste your life

Eric Weinstein 2:52:07

That's what you told me. Well, that's the thing. And the key point is go bigger go home, because there's no there's not enough money and just 

Stehpon Alexander 2:52:15 uddling your way through. You know, it's funny because I tell my, my postdocs, my graduate student, a similar thing as like you can make with the skill set that you pick up as a physicist. You can go out and make a killing, you know, do some machine learning, do some good stuff there. And you'll be driving a nice econo

Eric Weinstein 2:52:38 y living in a nicer house might even be happier, maybe and doing cool stuff. I'll be honest with you, even when you get the nice house and you make a little bit more money. When you move away from the privilege of working on God's own language. There's a way in which you curl up in the night and you just regret ever having gotten away from it. Because the privilege of actually working on the one thing that almost no one even gets to see this, this very low layer of reality itself, I

Stehpon Alexander 2:53:09 ould like that to change. I would like to I would like to see people who actually do. So for instance, I have a buddy, brilliant, brilliant theoretical physicists. And he did some actually. And he actually went off to some big stuff. It didn't quite work out. So he went and did a startup. And every now and then, because I think, I mean, there's still things I feel I can learn from him. I still call him on the phone, and we talk physics. Yeah. And I would like to do, I would like to see more of those types of things formalized in a way. You

Eric Weinstein 2:53:43 know, I really think that whatever you and I

Stehpon Alexander 2:53:44 get together, we do that. We do that. But I would like to see more of that in a way where it's a little bit more formalized people that may have transitioned into a different lifestyle. They're not doing it professionally all the time. But it doesn't mean That they don't that they're not still thinking they might

ave contributions to make ways of plugging in p

ople and the more sort of professional, right. Act academic, you know, now we have private foundations that are doi

Eric Weinstein 2:54:19 g researc

Stehpon Alexander 2:54:21 . There must be a way of, again, I'm not talking about do people have tried like the more corny ways of doing this, talking about something that's real. That's Eric, I'm thinking about this problem. The cosmological constant problem. You came to my seminar my my talk my technical talk, and you thought that my Graviton leg was hitting a fermion. Yeah. And you said something to me that was very useful, that I got an outsider's perspective that I didn't get from within these things that you'd have to be outside. I'm more radical, but you are, but it's necessary. It's useful, it's valuable. It is generative. W

Eric Weinstein 2:54:58 ll, this is progress, but what I need Let me tell you what my dream is for you not that I can tell you your business. You need a private jet to go to Tobago. Yeah. Tell me about it take you with you. I need you to make sure that you're inserted in a position to help not necessarily the people who are coming in from the perspective of ostensible diversity. But you need to be in a position where you can find the actually uncorrelated individuals and shove the neural diversity, the diversity of intellectual approaches down the throat of this monoculture that should never have erupted in the most important and precious of all fields. I think you need to be in a position where you have purse strings that you're controlling for the benefit of others. And I don't know how to do that yet. But if this podcast can continue to grow and the influence can start to see In that there is a place that can advocate for the academy that isn't coming from the academy because the academy isn't free to say what I'm free to say. I've given up I can't go back in any standard fashion but I'm still invested I mean the instant I hit your seminar room I'm just thinking about like the tippet Odeon singer index theorem or I'm thinking about what is the effect of a Graviton hitt

Stehpon Alexander 2:56:27 ng an electron given that was you also thinking about quantum foundations now because you when you talk to those those people an

Eric Weinstein 2:56:34

it's gonna and this that the thing is like, let's when when do we pop the champagne and start having a party again, as opposed to listening to about the efficiency with which we use taxpayer dollars transparency, diversity inclu

Stehpon Alexander 2:56:47 ion, it's boring as shit.

Eric Weinstein 2:56:50 That's just do it anyway, I just do it anyway, do it anyway. And let's let's take back our own system listener. I could talk to you for forever, as you know, come back anytime you know who I'd really love. To get you on the program with our mutual f

Stehpon Alexander 2:57:05 iend, Priya Nutter R

Eric Weinstein 2:57:08 jan, oh, she's the truth. She's the truth. But as you know, I've been having these conversations with her and I don't want to tell it. I'm not a huge fan of the of the dime store version of diversity and inclusion. She is some next level human being thinking about all of the ways in which these these weird matters of gender, of race of class, like she's even focused on the issue of like, when you take people from the Indian subcontinent, what class are you take what strata of society. She's got all sorts of interesting thing and it goes into the physics. It goes into the science. The thing that I don't like about this discussion, in general, is that once you start talking about, like minorities and stem, it tends to be at the self consistent system. You're never talkin

Unknown Speaker 2:57:57


Eric Weinstein 2:57:59 neutrinos anymore. Right? I would like love to have the world listening to a conversation between you, Priya and myself on the show and maybe a few other people who can actually animate this and say, here's what the payoff is this can cash out in science, it doesn't have to cash out in some sort of sanctimoni

Stehpon Alexander 2:58:19 us, good for you feeling. Yeah, I mean, you know, just say like, one thing I find really powerful is you're saying that that's been a big payoff for me. Regardless of whether or not I'm gonna, you know, the problems I've worked on over the years are going to be fruition is that I, this this semester, I'm teaching our graduate general relativity course right differential geometry, at least the way that the poor physicists know it, right. And but you know, it's, it is one of the most advanced classes in my class. The three black physics majors In this class, they're all under a graduate l

vel course.

including one guy who is. Got some nice tats up there. Yeah. You know he has, right from Philly, who is a freshman? Yeah, an ace into class. Yeah. And sitting in front of the room and very comfortable in his skin. And if I, I truly believe that when that happens, that's when you're doing your best. And if I can provide a space for students like that, who's going to be to our benefit, that kind of genius to come to their full fruition? Right, meet their full potential, because they are truly them

Eric Weinstein 2:59:57 elves. And you know what? Yeah. I think is so important to recognize that when you have an untapped population, and am I right that when it comes to really senior black physicists, there's almost no one beyond who I've mentioned. I mean, there's Shirley Jackson, it's very few of us very, very few of us. Clifford Johnson, Clifford Johnson, USC. The way I view it is different. You have a situation by which that community is like an untapped oil fill. Assume that you had no interest in helping anybody. For sociological reasons. All you wanted to do i

Stehpon Alexander 3:00:44

to get the best physics, the fact that almost no matter what they say, like I know most of pretty much all the black we are all committed to right. We're not. We're, we're all committed to bringing through th

Eric Weinstein 3:00:58 t next generation. Right. Okay. So the thing the thing thing that I find most with excellence with excellence. The thing that really excites me is that when you find an untapped population, you get a huge wish. Whereas if you find a tapped population look, nobody is going to be surprised if there's the next Nobel prize goes to an Ashkenazi Jew. My population has been tapped. We've been located we've been found. We've been doing really well. However, it's not going to give you the huge whoosh when you find like an oil field that nobody knew about. Because then you hear you're just tapping the something that has never been tapped before. That means that the potential that's trapped in black physicists, physicists is enormous and female says yes, yes. Right. So the really exciting guys, I don't get excited from the point of view of obligation or sanctimony. I get excited from the point of view of greed. If I want the greatest opportunity to find new mines, I'm going to go to the places that have be

Stehpon Alexander 3:02:00 n traditionally in caves. So you're agreeing with me basically, when I say, when we talk about, you know, this when we talk diversity, anything, if we don't address, right, the presumptions that we're making, right, truly understand and come to the conclusion that you and I both have come through, through our own experiences, that when you bring in, right, women and minorities into these fields, yeah, right. The

're gonna bring, they may bring, they

ay bring, right, exactly. new things, new

Eric Weinstein 3:02:34 erspectives, value Intel, right? Sometimes it's valuable. Sometimes it's not. So for example, there is a thing that comes in with women in physics that I don't love, which is a presumption that physics is science is communal. And I hear this more from women scientists than I do from men, scientists that say everything is social. Well, I understand that women may have a more social aspect and that they're more males were either isolationist and kind of don't want to deal with other people. I'm pretty social. You are. So I am so most gregarious, but I have a part of me. That's e

Stehpon Alexander 3:03:14 tremely isolation. Right? I

Eric Weinstein 3:03:15 m true. I do have I think there's an aspect of social, which is incredibly important. And I think women do a great job of managing it. I do think that there's an aspect where they try to deny that there are certain things that are not only non social, but are actually a social where somebody is flipping the bird to the community, and they're actually more productive than the entire community. So that's, that's like one of these things where there's it's a double edged sword at a minimum. The specific things that I really love about well, I love and fear about the black experience is that you have to know that this whole Charles Murray thing about race and IQ means that a lot of people somehow believe that black faces assisted black scientists and black academicians are substandard. The really weird thing about this whole eugenics thing, right? And the point that I want to make is, I want to talk about it because normally people don't talk about it because they secretly carry a belief that blacks are less than. Now, I have three things that I care about is a weird IQ test, because I don't like IQ tests, because I d

Stehpon Alexander 3:04:26 n't do that well on

Eric Weinstein 3:04:28 hem. I've never taken one smart man do I probably? Well, there's one thing called processing that kills me. It's one of the four components. The three things that really matter to me, music, science and humor. Now, if I take our two populations, right, when it comes to humor, it's about even whether blacks or Jews make better comedians, I would say you've got great examples. In both cases of totally genius level comedians, there's no question that that requires a kind of plasticity of mind brilliant insight quickness. I would never want to go up against Jamie Foxx you know, I would never want to go up against Mel Brooks either. Right okay. It's a draw from my when it comes to science, we're kicking your ass when it comes to music you've been kicking our ass well open the floo

Stehpon Alexander 3:05:28 gates was the thing we're inside and you guys few of yo

know Celeste we did jazz weapon that and in my book I make the case that you know this but this is the same cognitive types of things going on i

Eric Weinstein 3:05:42

Bebop jazz is built into it. That's exactly the point. What are the odds that Stanley Jordan couldn't do quantum field theory? It's like zero

Stehpon Alexander 3:05:50

There's no way that that up really fast. out 

Eric Weinstein 3:05:53 o you. Right. Or, or Eric Lewis or any other cats, right. The issue that we have that's different is Because of this relationship to music and to humor, I'm absolutely positive that this particular population is a genius based population. The black experience, in my opinion, is dependent on high pressure, very quick, extremely generative analytics. And you find this in head cutting contests. You find this in playing the dozens, you find this in poetry slams, you find this in preference for Blitz chess over regular chess, right? It's very deeply woven through the black experience, which is like, Hey, we can't have access to the regular world. So we're gonna have a lot of very high intensity contest to figure out who can cut it and who can't. Which is why m&m could rise up the rap, you know, circuit because there was an open mic. Same thing with jazz, it's like, if you're good enough, take the stage. Don't get blown off. I'm sorry. You know, we're not going to cry in our beer over that. True inclusivity that is true inclusivity based on merit. Yes. And there's no group that I've ever met is more terrifying when it comes to merit to black A

Stehpon Alexander 3:07:13 erica. That's true. Okay. We have so much out so that was the thing that was partially generative to the

Eric Weinstein 3:07:18 rowth of like Bebop jazz, but particularly Miss mittens Playhouse and Marlon Hawn the whole point is that you get somebody who's sounding off that they know how to play you're like, Okay, let's do this in seven days time and C sharp,

Stehpon Alexander 3:07:34 ou know, your Phrygian or something? Yeah, you know what you should check. You should hear the there's a nice story that I'm the late, great. Genius. Roy Hargrove talked about George Coleman when he went up to you know, to smoke to a jazz club called smoke and Saturday and he was calling all these tunes and all these crazy keys and

Eric Weinstein 3:07:56 ifferent time signatures. Well, I love you know, I think we talked before about the story of About the botched piano on Giant Steps because it does do art. You know, the whole point is I want to tap this tradition, I want to say let's look at the intrinsic black tradition, about using merit above everything under high pressure circumstances to to select for the very best and when we unlock that population, I'm excited because of greed. I'm not excited because of

Stehpon Alexander 3:08:33 us. This is good fo

you. Good. And you know, that our National Society of Black physicists, we're going to be all about this. Yeah, in my manner in the next two years. Can't wait my friend. Yes, I'

Unknown Speaker 3:08:47

thanks for the con

Eric Weinstein 3:08:49 inued support. All right. You've been through the portal with Dr. Stefan Alexander, the author of jazz and physics who i

Unknown Speaker 3:08:59

welcome back at any tim

Eric Weinstein 3:09:03

tomorrow Almost anytime. Please subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify wherever you listen to podcasts, go over to YouTube. Not only subscribe to our channel but also click the bell to be notified via that icon whenever our next video drops and we hope to