Top Ten Science Songs of Pop Culture

10 02 2007

A little reward for living the Girl-Nerd Life of the Mind!

I just found “For Those About to Hypothesize: We Salute You”, browsing Snook’s newest blogroll link to girl geeks.
Hope you find some very unschoolish ways to use and abuse the songs on this fun top ten list but note: as always, Thinking Parents will want to pick and choose carefully using their own best judgment.

“. . . Like the wave-particle duality of light, sometimes these beats behave like science, sometimes like music. . . at least they get us through the day in an entertaining way.”

Here are the first and last two honorees just so you can get the flavor.

A top-ten list to brighten the day of the most oppressed Petri-dish slave.
by Kate Fink, 24 January 2007

10. What We Need More of Is Science by MC HAWKING . . . pro-science, anti-fundamentalist lyrics on his album “A Brief History of Rhyme” in computerized voice – as though from physicist Stephen Hawking himself. The song “What We Need More of Is Science” rails against “the pseudo-science of quacks, morons and fools” and acts as a rallying cry for science education and reason over creationism:

“But maybe there is still hope for the young / if they reject the dung being slung from the tongues / of the ignorant fools who call themselves preachers / and listen instead to their science teachers.” The song manages to parody a scientist while delivering a passionate message. Clever work, MC.

“Creationists always try to use the second law [of thermodynamics] to disprove evolution, but their theory has a flaw: the second law is quite precise about where it applies, only in a closed system must the entropy count rise” . . .
9. The Planets by GUSTAV HOLST

This 1916 orchestral suite by Gustav Holst contains seven movements, each an ode to a different planet. We learn that Jupiter is jolly and Mars, with rapid staccato beats evoking a marching army, wants to go to war. The piece is more about astrology than astronomy, with the attitude of each planet recalling the Roman god for which it was named. But even this literary interpretation of space exploration will attract science enthusiasts. . . .


2. Mammal by THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS They Might Be Giants – Apollo 18

. . .playful yet informative song not only manages to name obscure mammals (echidna, monotremes), but also ventures deeper into scientific territory with detailed mention of the mammals’, “four chambered heart” and “very high metabolic rate.” Even while educating, They Might Be Giants maintains cuteness (“they raise a paw.”) Maybe it’s narcissism, but I’m in love.

1. Sounds of Science by BEASTIE BOYS Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique – A true classic and class act, the Beastie Boys’ seamless rhyming and eclectic subject matter find fertile ground in the field of science. The scientist-luminary name-dropping ranges from Isaac Newton to Ben Franklin, and explorer Ponce de León and his search for the fountain of youth even get in on the action. Beyond that, their scientific method wanes, but they do add “I got science for any occasion / postulating theorems formulating equations” . . .




2 responses

10 02 2007

When you and your family are ready for more serious science-music fun, here’s a book to check out or buy:
“Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science” by Thomas Levenson, associate producer for “Nova” on PBS.

10 02 2007

And you gotta love this science of why we love music:

Why Music Gives Us the Chills
By Corey Binns

For a willing music audience, the art of drawing emotion from notes is classic.

Composers play with subtle, intricate changes and rates of change to try and elicit emotion. In recent studies, scientists found that people already familiar with the music are more likely to catch a chill at key moments:

* When a symphony turns from loud to quiet
* Upon entry of a solo voice or instrument
* When two singers have contrasting voices

People covered in goose bumps also tend to be driven more by rewards, and less inclined to be thrill- and adventure-seekers, according to research conducted at the Institute for Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine in Hanover, Germany.

“Our results suggest that chills depend very much on our ability to interpret the music,” said Oliver Grewe, a biologist and musicologist at the institute. “Music is a recreative activity. Even if it is relaxing to listen to, the listener has to recreate its meaning, the feelings it expresses. It is the listener who gives life to the emotions in music.”

The researchers’ latest findings are currently being reviewed for journal publication, while their previous research has been published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Music can do more than just give you goose bumps. A melody can:

* Ease labor pain
* Reduce the need for sedation during surgery
* Evoke strong memories
* Lessen depression

Listening to your favorite hits can shift your breathing pattern and speed up your heart rate.

Shivers down the spine even show up in brain scans, according to research at McGill University. As chills grow in intensity, bloodflow increases between areas of the brain associated with euphoria-inducing vices like food, sex, and drugs.

In the near future, the German research team plans to further study the central nervous system’s reactions to music that gives fans the chills.

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