Monday, November 16, 2009

Sagan sings



What started out as just another YouTube video may be competing with the bird-baguette-LHC urban legend for being the best way to get physics some attention from the public. In "A Glorious Dawn," composer John Boswell remixed clips from the vintage pop-science show Cosmos into a pretty darn catchy song. "A still more glorious dawn awaits—not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise, a morning with 400 billion suns, the rising of the Milky way." Thanks to AutoTune, the software that gave Cher's voice that robotic sound in "Believe" and helped Saturday Night Live comedians record their rap hit "I'm on a Boat," Carl Sagan sings his words of physical/philosophical wisdom.

It turned out the video isn't just for the geeks—NPR gave it a nod on their music blog, Monitor Mix, and on November 9, the Telegraph reported that White Stripes frontman Jack White is releasing "A Glorious Dawn" on his label, Third Man Records. Great timing—Carl Sagan, who died in 1996, would have been 75 on that very day. (If you miss the great man, you can watch old episodes of "Cosmos" on Hulu.)

The video is part of a project called "Symphony of Science," a way, says Boswell, to "bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the masses, in a novel way, through the medium of music." A follow-up, "We are all Connected," brings in Bill Nye (the science guy), Neil deGrasse Tyson (of the Hayden Planetarium), and Richard Feynman. Highlights: the rap-video-esque shots of Bill Nye (as Monitor Mix pointed out) and Richard Feynman's broad Long Island accent, still detectable through the AutoTune. Just for that, I think it's even better than "A Glorious Dawn."



Hilariously, Neil deGrasse Tyson did an entire NOVA ScienceNow episode on AutoTune, interviewing Andy Hildebrand, the electrical engineer who invented the now famous—or infamous— "pitch-correction" software. Hildebrand is a former Exxon engineer who used sound waves to detect oil reserves beneath the ocean floor. And now? Well, you can thank him for TPain. (Warning: the following video contains scenes of an astrophysicist in the shower.)


1 comment:

  1. There is hope for Western Civilization...

    ... and to science journalism

    (culture is however another matter)

    ReplyDelete