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View Full Version : Anyone else feel sorry for Katie Melua?



parallaxicality
2005-Oct-11, 07:53 AM
For those of you of a Leftpondian persuasion, Katie Melua is a British singer of Georgian (the country, not the state) extraction. Pretty in a dark way with a sweet, bubbly voice and a prediliction for slow, jazzy ballads with slightly odd lyrics. She's recently caused a minor astronomical firestorm in the UK by singing the following stanza in her recent single, "Nine Million Bicycles":

We are twelve billion light years from the edge,
That's a guess,
No-one can ever say it's true
But I know that I will always be with you.

Science writer Simon Singh fired back in The Guardian that he happened to KNOW with absolute certainty that the actual distance to the edge of the universe was exactly 13.7 billion light years, and to claim any other figure, or, God forbid, to claim it is a guess, is a slap in the face to all the astronomers who spent so many years working out Hubble's constant.

But then a second group of astronomers have apparently rushed to her defence, and though I don't have their exact quote, I imagine that they remind the general public that nothing is absolutely known in science.

It just seems so unfair. We don't hold our politicians to such a level of scientific scrutiny, why single out balladeers?

Lianachan
2005-Oct-11, 08:04 AM
For those of you of a Leftpondian persuasion, Katie Melua is a British singer of Georgian (the country, not the state) extraction. Pretty in a dark way with a sweet, bubbly voice and a prediliction for slow, jazzy ballads with slightly odd lyrics. She's recently caused a minor astronomical firestorm in the UK by singing the following stanza in her recent single, "Nine Million Bicycles":

We are twelve billion light years from the edge,
That's a guess,
No-one can ever say it's true
But I know that I will always be with you.

Science writer Simon Singh fired back in The Guardian that he happened to KNOW with absolute certainty that the actual distance to the edge of the universe was exactly 13.7 billion light years, and to claim any other figure, or, God forbid, to claim it is a guess, is a slap in the face to all the astronomers who spent so many years working out Hubble's constant.

But then a second group of astronomers have apparently rushed to her defence, and though I don't have their exact quote, I imagine that they remind the general public that nothing is absolutely known in science.

It just seems so unfair. We don't hold our politicians to such a level of scientific scrutiny, why single out balladeers?

It's pedantry, of the very worst kind. It's just the lyrics to a song! I'd be surprised if the general public, or in fact anybody outside the astronomical community, gives the vaguest hoot about it. And those who do give the vaguest hoot about it ought to take a long, hard look at themselves.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Oct-11, 08:46 AM
It's pedantry, of the very worst kind. It's just the lyrics to a song! I'd be surprised if the general public, or in fact anybody outside the astronomical community, gives the vaguest hoot about it. And those who do give the vaguest hoot about it ought to take a long, hard look at themselves.
Yeah ...

At Least, she's Trying ...

More than I Can Say, about Some People, anyway!

:wall:

Lianachan
2005-Oct-11, 09:16 AM
Yeah ...

At Least, she's Trying ...

More than I Can Say, about Some People, anyway!

:wall:

Those guys could have a field day with Monty Python's Galaxy Song.

Maha Vailo
2005-Oct-11, 10:53 AM
What's the fuss about? "13.7 million" wouldn't fit the rhythm. ;)

- Maha "...that Georgia girls are always on astronomers' m-m-m-m-minds" Vailo

Gas Giant
2005-Oct-11, 12:00 PM
Science writer Simon Singh fired back in The Guardian that he happened to KNOW with absolute certainty that the actual distance to the edge of the universe was exactly 13.7 billion light years, and to claim any other figure, or, God forbid, to claim it is a guess, is a slap in the face to all the astronomers who spent so many years working out Hubble's constant.
In his fervour to show his knowledge, he's got it wrong. It's 13.7 bn light years to the cosmic light horizon. The present distance to the edge of the observable universe is much greater, due to expansion. Current estimate is about 78 bn light years.

Maybe Katie should rewrite the first line of the stanza to read "We're eighty billion light years from the edge."

jumbo
2005-Oct-11, 01:12 PM
Well she could argue that she never said to the edge of what. So until she does people cant say shes wrong i guess.
Id say she at least deserves credit for using light years as unit of distance rather than going the George Lucas route and using it as time and then having to shoe horn a feeble excuse into the chorus!

Van Rijn
2005-Oct-11, 10:07 PM
I'd like to see the wording used in the article. As we understand the universe, a physical "edge" doesn't exist. It is a bit like talking about the edge of the surface of the earth, just as it makes no sense to talk about the center of the surface of the earth.

tbm
2005-Oct-11, 10:21 PM
Apperently Simon Singh doesn't have anything better to do with his time. People like him really bug me.

tbm

Donnie B.
2005-Oct-11, 11:26 PM
Tempest in a teapot, really.

If there's a Katie I feel sorry for, it's Katie Holmes. Deprogramming, anyone?

long live the queeb
2005-Oct-12, 12:52 PM
As her over-hyped warbling is likely to make her VERY rich then no I dont feel sorry for her.