Music and Geophysics: The Similarities Between Jazz and Seismology 

DataCloud’s highest value rests in our agile, expert team members behind the technology. For some insight on the characters that make our organization innovative and powerful, meet Jamie. 

Jamie Rector the 3rd, one of the first few scientists to apply geophysics to oil and gas extraction methods through seismic while drilling, has seen what this technology can improve during production. Being apart of the DataCloud team has enabled Jamie to bring about an equivalent revolution in mining production.

A seismologist and professor at Berkeley by day and jazz pianist by night, you can find him playing at hotels and bars around San Francisco. However different these passions may seem, Jamie points out that they are actually rooted in the same interests; sound and skill.

“Geophysics or seismology is sound in the ground. I play piano, jazz piano, and that’s sound in the air. But its still sound.”

Problem Solving and Creativity

Fast, adaptive thinking is necessary to create original and exciting work. 

 “I like the freedom of innovation that jazz has. Essentially, developing music and playing of it. Rather than something by note”.  

“Even one of the algorithms that’s critical, that we wrote at DataCloud, is called 'Jazz' because we had to improvise very quickly in order to respond to a need that we had.”

Playing Well With Others

Seismology is just one of DataCloud’s key players. A full band of talent, building off of and responding to each other is what allows our work to come out just right. Here is what Jamie’s idol, Oscar Peterson, has to say about collaboration:

“It’s the group sound that’s important, even when you’re playing a solo. You not only have to know your own instrument, you must know the others and how to back them up at all times”. 

Skill and Experience

It would be impossible to accurately execute the complicated technical decisions required by jazz and high-level geophysics without extensive experience and knowledge to pull from.

“You use a huge amount of intuition and memory to play jazz. And I think that that is a critical component to being - myself anyways - but I think for me, that’s also a critical component of being a scientist.

“You’ve got to have had worked in this field for a long time. Somebody that hasn't worked in it would take them years and years and years for them to figure this stuff out... I think that a lot of the younger geophysicists, they basically push buttons. And there’s very few of them that really kind of go down into the depths... It’s kind of like fixing a car. You can’t fix a car anymore because a lot of this stuff is hidden from you in computers.”

To learn more on geophysics for mining, read the Canadian Mining Magazine article on the value of seismic while drilling techniques.

Inspiring Figures

To break new ground you have to understand the past that you are moving forward from. For that, it helps to have knowledgeable mentors and icons to guide you. 

“Oscar Peterson is my favourite pianist, so I’ve listened to him as a little kid and kind of- not a kid but a young man-  and just basically copied, I transcribed his music and copied it.”

“Amos Nur. One of my advisors at Stanford. He was a fascinating guy, he developed a new theory, that actually has worked; that a lot of the early civilizations were not changed by cultural things but by earthquakes. And he wrote a book called In Search of Ancient Earthquakes. Anyways, Amos told me one time, you know, I said, “I just kind of developed theory out of observations” and he said “well thats the way all science was done prior to Einstein” and he said Einstein was probably the worst thing that ever happened for science because he was able to develop theory without observation and everybody that has tried to do that since has failed miserably. ”

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