The Genius Meets The Geniuses

Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA met with scientists at MIT to do research for his next album.

GZA – a.k.a. Gary Grice, founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan – is known for an omnivorous intellect and complex lyrics that reference, among other things, astronomy, philosophy, and chess, which he has played since childhood. He was in town this week to lecture at the Harvard Black Men’s Forum.

But first, he wanted to drop some science. Specifically, oceanography. And biology. And quantum physics. So he went on a three-day tour, meeting scientists around Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and learning.

On Wednesday, there was a visit with Philip Richardson, a physicist who studies how albatrosses fly without flapping their wings. Then there was dinner with a group of young Harvard biologists. The conversation wandered all over. Why is wheat grass good for you, and is it similarly smart to eat Chia Pet seeds? (Surprisingly, yes.) What exactly is RNA, the favorite nucleic acid of Harvard biologist John Rinn, who had brought the group together – and why did Rinn call his work “genomic origami?’’

There was also much discussion of water, a particular interest of GZA, whose albums include “Beneath the Surface’’ and the classic “Liquid Swords.’’ (He’s working on a follow-up to the latter.) What makes water molecules vibrate in funky ways? Temperature, pressure, pH, and salt, said Rinn. What’s the ideal alkalinity for drinking? Around 8.5, said GZA, who recently bought a $4,500 ionizer because he was tired of spending $7 a day on Fiji Water.

Things that happen in real life that you would never imagine possible.

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