Lorin Benedict is a theoretical and computational physicist at Lawrence Livermore labs. His work focuses on predicting the properties of materials—chiefly within extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, like at the center of giant planets and in stars. At the end of a long day studying the hearts of the stars, Benedict often finds himself heading out beneath their flickering light to sing the 12-bar blues in his double life as a Bay Area jazz singer.
Or, more accurately, a scat-singer who improvises the words and often gets asked what language he's using. But while the sounds are made-up, the feelings beneath them are intentional expressions of his art.
"We had a little dog and my step-mother and my sister insisted that the dog understood English, and my father and myself, the rational males, insisted that that couldn’t be the case. For instance my step-mother would say to the little dog, "Laddie, come here and sit down!’ and I would say 'drin svindrel vin droah din vin beel!’and he'd do the same exact damn thing. So that sort of proved my point, but it also set me on this course, because it taught me that you can convey a lot above and beyond literal meaning."
This story originally aired in September of 2015.