Stephon Alexander on Video Games and Physics

Question: What questions keep you up at night?

Stephon Alexander: Yeah. Well, I remember, there was a- when I was, you know, in my early teens, I started really getting into video games. I mean- and the idea of- I mean, I just played video games. I remember when Sega first came out- I was into this video game. It became my new toy. And I remember when video games went three-dimensional on us, and so as I started, you know- so physics for me is no different than being- it’s a form of entertainment for me. It’s fun for me. It’s like playing this video game. And in a lot of the ways- the reason why I like doing physics- the kind of physics I do- is that there’s a lot of visualization going on, or actually, experimenting with different ways of visualizing things. And, so it becomes this interesting video game, or if you like translating, I do a lot of translation between them, these images, and equations. So, it’s sort of like you learn two different languages and the fun is in the translating from one to the other- or looking at something that’s completely understood already, and figuring out a completely different way of seeing the same thing. So physics for me has always become this- it’s like an extension of this- a video game- a video game of the mind. Therefore, I, you know, even when I- I remember when I lived in London, I used to go to this really interesting, this cool radio club- and I used to take my physics papers and my pad and go to this radio club, 4:00 in the morning, sometimes with a colleague, and we would have a pint, and we’d be doing physics in the radio club. And every now and then, like, you know, some club or some dancer would come by us and they would look at what we’re doing, and it would be a source of entertainment for them, too. <laughs> So, I don’t mean to give this- what’s the word?- to misrepresent or- I don’t mean to- what’s the word- romanticize- yeah. But, for the most part, it has been this type of- this form of entertainment for me.

Stephon Alexander says physics is an extension of video games.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Harvard: Men who can do 40 pushups have a 'significantly' lower risk of heart disease

Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Airman 1st Class Justin Baker completes another push-up during the First Sergeants' push-up a-thon June 28, 2011, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Participants were allowed 10 minutes to do as many push-ups as they could during the fundraiser. Airman Baker, a contract specialist assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron, completed 278 push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault)
Surprising Science
  • Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
  • The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
  • The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less