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Thread: Scientifically Accurate songs

  1. #1
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    Scientifically Accurate songs

    On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme Dr Simon Singh's had a spat with singer Katie Melua, who has re-recorded a scientifically accurate version of her latest single.

    Reaquires Real player

    The result

    Any other songs out there that need the Simon Singh treatment?

    (Yes this was on the thread Curse of the Were Rabbit, but that was in error)

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    Why Does the Sun Shine by They Might be Giants should be scientifically accurate.

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    I find myself quoting that one under my breath a lot. Gee, I wonder why.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  4. #4

    Scientifically Accurate songs

    Here is a nice scientifically accurate song by Kate Campbell.
    Requires Real Player

    "Strangeness of the Day"

    http://www.katecampbell.com/monumentslisten.html

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    I don't have the audio link, but Tom Lehrer's The Elements should clearly be included in any list of scientifically accurate songs. For those unfamiliar with it, it's simply Tom listing all of the elements (known in the 60's) to the melody of the Major General's song from HMS Pinafore.

    edit to add here's a link that has Tom singing the song along with some amusing animation.
    "I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." - William Thompson, 1st Baron Lord Kelvin

    "If it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be, but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!" - Tweedledee

    This isn't right. This isn't even wrong. - Wolfgang Pauli

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    My original thought was songs that had bad science in them, where we could change the lyrics to make them more scientifically accurate, like Simon Singh tried to do.

    That said, there is of course the famous Galaxy Song, (lyrics)

    An indepth analysis of the lyrics

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eta C
    to the melody of the Major General's song from HMS Pinafore.
    Sorry to nit pick here, but Modern Major General is from Pirates of Penzance, not HMS Pinefore.

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    Talking

    Biggest Reason, Why, we've NEVER Seen Any Aliens:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Idle
    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,

    Hence my membership in Team SETI.

    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

    An unassailable truth.
    They've, Given Up!!!!

    Or, My Favourite Version:

    Quote Originally Posted by "Robin Williams
    We have come to this Planet, looking for Intelligent Life.

    Oops, we made a mistake.

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    Quite right. I knew that. On the other hand, there are those who claim that all of the G&S operettas have identical plots and sound alike so it doesn't much matter which one you attribute any particular song to. The comic Anna Russel had a wonderful sketch entitled "How to write your own Gilbert & Sullivan operetta" based on that premise.

    So, back on topic (sort of) and Tom Lehrer. One could include his song "The Wild West is Where I Want to be," an ode to above ground nuclear weapons tests which includes lines such as
    Mid the sagebrush, and the cactus, I'll watch them fellas practice, dropping bombs in the clean desert breeze Yeehah!
    Then there's "Lobachevsky," a paean to scientific plagerism. But I digress.
    "I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." - William Thompson, 1st Baron Lord Kelvin

    "If it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be, but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!" - Tweedledee

    This isn't right. This isn't even wrong. - Wolfgang Pauli

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    Or for historical sticklers:

    "...Some say the Germans are warlike and mean
    But that couldn't happen again
    We taught them a lesson in 1918
    And they've hardly bothered us since then..."

    I know: irony.

    Mind you, I've never worked out why the plagiarism tag should be attached to Lobachevski: he came up with non-Euclidean geometry quite independently of Gauss...(or was that Euler?)

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    NaCl

    I always liked this one by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Scroll down the page to find the title "NaCl"

    http://www.mcgarrigles.com/lyrics/lyr_the.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eta C
    Quite right. I knew that. On the other hand, there are those who claim that all of the G&S operettas have identical plots and sound alike so it doesn't much matter which one you attribute any particular song to.
    I believe Lehrer agreed with that basic premise. Certainly I have around here somewhere an audio clip with him speaking quite disparagingly of those two gentlemen.

    There is, of course, Science Rock from Schoolhouse Rock!, as well as a few Animaniacs songs worth noting. (In fact, the Animaniacs had a universe song--"It's a great big universe, and we're all really puny/Just a tiny little speck about the size of Mickey Rooney . . . .")
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Who can forget Pump Your Blood from Happy Days. (Well actually I guess it's pretty forgettable )

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    Quote Originally Posted by TriangleMan
    Who can forget Pump Your Blood from Happy Days. (Well actually I guess it's pretty forgettable )
    It's on an aspirin commercial now. St. Joseph's Aspirin, now that they can't realistically make children's aspirin anymore, has moved on to making aspirin for heart patients, and that song appears in their commercials.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by gethen
    Why Does the Sun Shine by They Might be Giants should be scientifically accurate.
    It should be, but it isn't. Not quite.

    Consider this line from the song:

    "The heat and light of the sun come from the nucleur reactions of hydrogen,carbon, nitrogen, and helium!"

    It sounds like they're describing the thermonuclear CNO cycle right there. The problem is, the sun is too small of a star to take advantage of the CNO cycle. Instead, the sun fuses hydrogen into helium via the much slower proton-proton chain. No carbon or nitrogen is involved in this reaction at all.

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    The Final Countdown by Europe has always bothered me:
    We're heading for Venus
    and still we stand tall
    Cause maybe they've seen us and welcome us all
    With so many light years to go and things to be found
    They might mean something else, but to me it seems they imply the distance to Venus is many light years.

  18. #18
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    I haven't listened to everyone, but there is a whole web site clearing house of Physics Songs.

    Check them out...Tom Lerher is there as well as many others. Some just have lyrics, others have mp3 audio or even videos.

    And, for astronomy specifically, there is always Astrocappella.

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eta C
    So, back on topic (sort of) and Tom Lehrer. One could include his song "The Wild West is Where I Want to be," an ode to above ground nuclear weapons tests which includes lines such as
    Then there's "Lobachevsky," a paean to scientific plagerism.

    But I digress.
    So did Lehrer, a lot. I love his live stuff, the comments before and after the songs are priceless. Errrr, back on topic, his song "New Math". Taken of course from his textbook "Tropic of Calculus".

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Andersson
    They might mean something else, but to me it seems they imply the distance to Venus is many light years.
    Who says they're even inside the solar system? But screw the lyrics... gotta love 80's power-synth-pop.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataCable
    But screw the lyrics... gotta love 80's power-synth-pop.
    No, actually we don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tensor
    So did Lehrer, a lot. I love his live stuff, the comments before and after the songs are priceless. Errrr, back on topic, his song "New Math". Taken of course from his textbook "Tropic of Calculus".
    You can download a few songs from "The Physical Revue" which was an end-of-semester show put on at Harvard in 1951 and '52, written by Lehrer. The recording quality is commensurate with the era, though.

    edit: oops. Missed Hale-Bop's link, which includes this.
    Last edited by swansont; 2005-Oct-22 at 04:48 PM.

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    Queen's song "Thirty-nine" appears to be a scientifically accurate song about lovers seperated by relatavistic time-dialation.

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    Outrageously off topic (what does a talentless artist have to do to get noticed), but after recording my scientific song I realized my voice was so bad (I blame the webcam) that I'd better link to an instrumental instead. Not my song, but my arrangement

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinFoilHat
    Queen's song "Thirty-nine" appears to be a scientifically accurate song about lovers seperated by relatavistic time-dialation.
    There is an anime about that called "Voices of a Distant Star". I haven't actually watched it, but I did see it sitting on the shelves at a blockbuster once. It is about a couple, one whom is drafted for into fighting in an interplanetary war. They can only communicate via text message, and time dilation causes one to stay young while the other ages and the distances make the two have to wait years for messages to arrive. Or so it said on the back of the box.

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