As a musician, and director of the Multiverse Concert Series – a non-profit organization that combines music and science in live performances – I strive to create musical metaphors for science dreams and descriptions to share with the audience I am I think bringing artists and scientists together on stage can help them communicate the complex beauty of our world in a language that everyone can understand and appreciate.
In January 2020, I was thrilled to be invited as the first guest musician at FEMAlab, a national laboratory in Batavia, Illinois that specializes in high-energy particle physics. The original residence lasted for a year, culminating in a live concert at the lab’s Ramsey auditorium earlier this year.
However, because the epidemic has outlawed live performances, I am focusing on creating music videos inspired by lab work that can be shared in digital and live-streamed performances.
This online format is probably a silver lining, as it has helped us reach people around the world, and I will continue to work on the project – what we have called neutrino music – until we once again perform live. can not do.
As a child growing up in Coventry, UK, I enjoyed going to my father’s lab at Courtaulds Textiles. He wound, cooked and pulled my brothers and me showing fibrous polymers, sometimes giving us protoprell soaks to take us home. These experiences stayed with me, but being trained as a musician (after my mother) was pushed to the back of my mind. By the age of 17, I was on the arts track, and was encouraged to skip all science and math courses to focus on music, literature, and languages.
Fast forward to 2015, when I completed my doctorate at the University of Birmingham, UK, and found myself deeply into technological development. My composition had taken a dive into the process of translating data into music programming and songwriting – sound – and I had to race to shore up my basic science to meet these creative demands.
Ultimately, it was my graduation piece, Europa for Flute and Electronics, which united music and science in my life. Cast as a vowel poem – a piece of orchestral music in a continuous section – the piece travels the imagination of Jupiter’s moon of the same name in search of supernatural life beneath its icy surface. The flautist Karin de Fleet and I toured all over Europe, and were happy to see audience reactions to a science story told through music.
Since then, most of my compositions have been associated with science, and I founded the Multiverse Concert Series in 2017 as home to a wide variety of collaborations with scientists and laboratories.
When you ask a scientist or an artist about their work, they often speak of big questions that are unanswered, ambitious goals they hope to pursue in their next project and if you are in the long run To be heard, there are long accounts of monumental dedication required by all. Music strives to build relationships, build relationships and make the world a better place.
Scientists are required to communicate their work, but are often limited to discussing it with their immediate colleagues, who can understand the theoretical roots of the questions at the heart of the effort. I think that, together, our discipline can cross boundaries and bring profound changes in society.
Dealing with very small with very large
As Fermilab’s first guest composer, I have seen my writing entwined into new levels of complexity that require novel creative tools to share unfollowed science stories. I was able to tour the facilities in early 2020 and see some of the many experiments under construction.
I continue to be amazed that in order to do very small studies, we should build machines of increasing magnitude. Fermilab operated what was once the world’s largest particle accelerator, and is now spearheading the creation of one of the world’s most technologically advanced neutrino detectors: the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).
Nutrinos have been on my mind since my first conversation with Fermilab physicist Don Lincoln in January 2020. These sub-atoms can hold the key to many mysteries – from the basic laws of particle physics to the nature of dark matters.
I decided to launch a project in the most intriguing of neutrino properties: oscillation. There are three different types of neutrinos, or ‘flavors’ – electrons, muons, and tau – and physicists can predict which types will be produced in a particular particle interaction. However, in a process of oscillation driven by quantum mechanics, taste can change as neutrinos travel through space.
This in itself is unreliable, as the standard model of physics predicts that neutrinos are massless, and therefore unable to change.