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Out of the Lab: Konstantin Batygin

This event premiered on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

The Caltech professor speaks about the role music plays in his life.

Hailed by Forbes as the "next physics rock star," Caltech planetary science professor Konstantin Batygin (MS '10, PhD '12) is also a prolific musician who, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, actively performed with his band, The Seventh Season.

Batygin speaks to Caltech public programming director Michael Alexander about how art shapes his life and science, and shares some of his music, including a piece he recorded with the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO) in 2019.

A live Q&A with Batygin followed the interview.

three pictures: the top of a conductor from behind, the bottom left an orchestra, and bottom right a man with a guitar

"It may seem very different on the surface, but being a scientist and being a musician involves the same mental process. Coming up with an idea, then building it into a song, and then arranging that song—it has direct parallels with formulating a hypothesis, developing it through research, and turning it into something that can stand on its own. But as similar as those two things may be qualitatively, it's still remarkable! I never thought being a professor at Caltech would lead me to playing in the symphony. In what other universe would I have wound up playing with the Miami Symphony?"

Konstantin Batygin is professor of planetary science at Caltech, and also a double alumnus, having earned his MS from Caltech in 2010 and his PhD in 2012.

In March of 2019, Batygin performed with the Miami Symphony Orchestra. Batygin, who first hypothesized the existence of an as-yet-undiscovered ninth planet in the solar system with Caltech's Mike Brown, performed a new song written by Miami Symphony conductor Eduardo Marturet; the song's creation was inspired by the Planet 9 hypothesis. Batygin regularly plays guitar and sings with the band The Seventh Season, but this was his first time on stage with a full symphony.

Learn more about Batygin (in his own words) on his website.

Watch Konstantin Batygin's 2016 Watson Lecture

Watch Konstantin Batygin's 2016 Watson Lecture, "Planet 9 from Outer Space"