Singin’ in the … lab

Mar 27, 2019
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In honor of a recent discovery of Andy Mitchinson’s secret talents (you’ll see…), I thought I’d check out what the internet had to tell me about that dangerous place known as the intersection of science and song. Everyone has heard some of the more common science-inspired songs (‘She blinded me with science’, or Kate and Ann McGarrigle’s charming NaCl), but I was also amazed to discover a vast array of normal songs that have been reappropriated as science teaching tools (here’s an example) and, even better, the Science Songwriter’s Association, a group of folks who just like singing about science. A quote from Feynman (below) indicates how they might have been inspired to not only write science songs but to band together against the void of science in song:

Our poets do not write about it; Our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. I don’t know why. Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? The value of science remains unsung by singers: you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age.

My favorite find on the ‘Find Songs’ page was this quote about Carl K. Winter, Ph.D.:

He’s been called the Elvis of E. coli.

I’m really not sure what that means, but I find it hilarious.

So, the remaining question is, if you were to write your own science song, what would the title be? Strangely, for most of the ideas I can come up with, it’s much easier to imagine them as country songs… Anyway, here are some titles I’ll be working on…

Ozone, you broke my alkene heart in two

Crying over spilled butyl bromide

Chromophore (to the tune of Kodachrome)

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)


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