Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Where the Higgs At?



Let me just first say that we unfortunately live in a time when physics and hip hop do not frequently come together. I could argue that this disconnect is present in all music, and I think we can all agree that this is because music reflects life, and in life physics is not necessarily a part of the basic human experience. In other words, the reasons that musicians do not write about physics are the same as the reasons that physics might not come up in a discussion at most dinner tables. However, science and physics are not totally absent from music, and upon deeper investigation we find that even with this representation in mind, they are particularly underrepresented in the genres of hip hop and rap. I could potentially put together some thesis argument about how this might be related to race issues in our country, but then I would have to also point out that physics is also mostly absent from Polka and Electronica, and we would be in a bit of a sociological mess.

That said, I have absolutely no idea what prompted funky49 to create this video.

I think I am in favor of many of the elements in this video. Doing the low-hug-point thing at the sign for one of the Fermilab experiments? Duh, that is awesome! Using a dosimeter as a prop in a rap video? Go for it! Getting scientists to put on hard hats and try their darnedest to look tough, though they end up just looking cute? Oh yes, bring it on. Saying the word "Prairie" the way a rapper might say the name of the neighborhood they grew up in? Hey, yeah, whatever! Shooting your video next to a bison proof fence while bison eat grass behind you? Uuuuuuhhhhh...I don't think I had thought about that one, but sure!

I appreciate the effort, Funky49, I really do. I appreciate that you got your name tag printed on your shirt. I appreciate that you really seem to think of these physicists as awesome people (which they are). You are no alpinekat and this is no LHC rap, but I do appreciate that you are rapping about physics. Physics is cool and rap is cool, so this makes sense, right? It is apparently not the first instance of this, and I am guessing will not be the last.

Whatever the case, Fermilab deserves some time in the spotlight, so I say more power and bison footage to funky49.


Some folks might think that the Tevatron has suddenly become obsolete because the LHC beat it's energy record this year, but that is far from the truth. Folks at the Tevatron are still working their little tails off to hunt for new physics, and their work will deeply impact what is done at the LHC. It will take some time to get the infrastructure of the LHC up and running, and even though there is some low hanging fruit (some analyses that will immediately benefit from higher energy collisions) the Tevatron will still be a contender in terms of science output. And while it will eventually be unnecessary to run the Tevatron along side the LHC, and the Tevatron will hand over its crown as leader of the high energy frontier, it seems like a waste to shut down such a magnificent machine completely. So now Fermilab is looking into how the infrastructure there could be part of a larger machine that would instead lead the intensity frontier. While the energy frontier searches for new physics, the intensity frontier searches for very rare and exotic physics.

I highly recommend you check out this very interesting article providing update from the intensity fronteir. It was written by a very gifted young writer, and appears in the newsletter of perhaps the most prestigious society in the world. Only the best for you guys.

2 comments:

  1. Don't be so modest. While that gifted young Calla Cofield is a great writer, she is no Agent Utah.

    Anyhow, nice post. I remember back when I was younger, it was Dr. Dre vs. Easy E. Now its Kanye vs. Taylor. And similarly the high energy physicists have their rivalry: Tevatron vs. LHC which appear to be fronted by Funky 49 and Alpinekat.
    Personally, I'd like to see someone like Kanye rap about particle physics and Peter Higgs rap about life in Chi-town. I'm sure APS could arrange this.

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  2. Thank you for writing about the music video! I certainly am no alpinekat. Odd, but I did try to contact Kanye West's management to see if he would like to appear in the music video but I received no reply.

    Here is information on how viable the Tevatron is with regards to the Higgs-Boson race via a quote from Dr. Ben Kilminster:

    "Fermilab’s search for the Higgs boson is definitely not ending now that the LHC has started. On the contrary, if the Higgs boson mass is at its most likely value, the Tevatron is expected to provide the most sensitive Higgs searches for at least the next 3 years. So we may one day answer “where the higgs at?” and we will definitely continue to say over the next few years “where the higgs is not at” …"

    -funky49

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