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Best Science Song of All Time, Verse 2

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Yesterday I asked: what is the best pop science song of all time? Here’s where we stand: on the shoulder of giants (with apologies to Sir Isaac).

One of those giants is Ryan Reid, our digital art guru, who not long ago did a wonderful post on 10 songs inspired by science. So one answer to the question I posed yesterday had already been posited (there must be an explanation in quantum physics for this). Which doesn’t mean it’s closed, of course.

Ryan gives us Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army…

You know I hate to ask
But are ‘friends’ electric?
Only mine’s broke down
And now I’ve no-one to love

And, my personal favorite, Portal’s “Transcending a Mere Multiverse.”

Envision all futuristic angles
Dreamworking to dimensions of super-strata.

Yeah, I do that all the time!

The other giants are our Twitter and Facebook contributors. Here is a random selection. (Caveat: I haven’t listened to all of this. Need… more… time…):

@brendano recommends The Galaxy Song, sung by Monty Python’s Eric Idle.
@rfelt suggests “It’s Your Moon” but doesn’t give a link (sorry–suggestions welcomed).

@david_dobbs gives us Your Molecular Structure, by Mose Allison

From our stalwart Facebook followers (god bless’em):


Matthew John Gies Definitely “Why Does the Sun Shine” by TMBG. Although “The Elements” by Tom Lehrer is good too

Heather Henry: i always liked “Mammal” by They Might Be Giants.

Kathryn Duff Davis ”Weird science” winner hands down

Stephen Fuchs ‎”the nucleus i like best” by science groove… this shit is hardcore geek  also for the kids, “why does it shine?”(the sun is a mass of incandescent light) by they might be giants

The Nucleus I Like Best (by Science Groove) A song about the joys of phosphorus NMR spectroscopy. It was written for the Apr…il 20001 meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medic…

Redux Pictures: ‎’Why Does the Sun Shine?’ and ‘Why Does the Sun Really Shine?’ by TMBG

Barbara Garofalo: I remember a new-agey techno disco song from the ’70′s called “Skylab”, I assume to honour the fallen satellite.

Craig Humphrey: It’s go to be the Element song. Or the Big Bang Theory song by the Barenaked Ladies.

Stephen Fuchs: (nucleus i like best) A song about the joys of phosphorus NMR spectroscopy. It was written for the April 20001 meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. The “percussion” in the song consists of actual sounds generated by a 1.5-Tesla NMR machine.

Alison Huling Women and Men by They Might be Giants.

Stephen Fuchs heres the link for “why does the sun really shine?” the only smooth and sexy science song ive ever heard

Margaret Davis ‎”NaCl” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

Maurice Newport Without a doubt: The Intro to “The Meaning of Life,” by Monty Python

Deejay Pegleg: My vote is “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo; its not the most science-y song in the spectrum; but it certainly is super catchy!

En esta edición, Thomas Dolby y su gran éxito de 1982 “She blinded me with Scien…ce (Ella me cegó con la Ciencia” tal y como la escuchaba en la radio que incl…See

Stephen Fuchs GlaDos “still alive” (end credits from portal)

Lyrics: This was a triumph I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS It’s hard to ove…rstate my satisfaction Aperture Science We do what we must Because we can

Eleanor Bigs Theologians – Wilco (I guess, technically, theology is a social science, right?) Either way, it’s a great song.

Jim Korioth I love the Monty Python song (“Galaxy Song”) but I have to cast my vote for Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.”

Gerald McCartney Rush: Cygnus X-1

Roger Stout In the Year 2525 by Zager & Evans

Juan Carlos Godoy Albedo 0.31 – Vangelis…

Dave Thomas Weird Al Yankovick’s “I think I’m a clone now”

Margaret Unger White & Nerdy by Weird Al

Michael Shannon Link for ‘39′ by Queen

Uli Krahn Lehrer still best, Dolby close second. SciAm had an astonishing science & effects of beer song listed recently, another gem.

Eleanor Bigs Also, you can’t really go wrong with Life on Mars, or Ground Control to Major Tom.

Kelley Bird The theme song from 2001 A space Odyssey

Uli Krahn Kraftwerk: Radioactivity

Valerie Stephens Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking “A Glorious Dawn” compiled from audio recordings of Carl Sagan’s 1980 PBS Documentary Cosmos and Hawking’s 1997 PBS cosmology series documentary Stephen Hawking’s Universe by Symphony Of Science:)

Shanna Malave Coldplay: The Scientist. Or even Speed of Sound. Coldplay does a great job and pulling together science and emotions. In the academic sense, we tend to think the two are completely unrelated, but in the end, together they make us who we are.

Julie Ann Bonsall The Elements Song! :)

Marian O’Neal Radiohead: Supercollider

Art Aughey Theme song from Big Bang Theory!

Marian O’Neal One-eyed, One-horned, Flying Purple People-eater?

Randi Papke Symphony of science – The Poetry of Reality!

Scott Unno This is a good song about man’s impact on the Earth’s climate. Probably more a political song than science but still one of the better songs on this topic

Meli Black The American version of Girl Guides had an ad a couple of years ago of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star reworded with Science. I’ve taught to various age ranges of children since. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, You’re a ball of gas that’s really far”

David Aldred ‎’Galaxy Song’ -Monty Python

Andy Fuentes Why does the sun shine? by tmbg

Peter Pollard Tim minchin’s. Beat poem ‘storm’s
Is a rocking 10 minute rant about science v bulldust. It will win

Chris Manson Ahead by a century- Tragically Hip

Trisha Tena The entirety of TMBG’s “Here Comes Science”. So fun and my little one listens to it daily.

Bárbara Melián I don’t know how popular it might be for some of the readers of Scientific American, but to me Pearl Jam made an amazing science and, most importantly, socially relevant song, “Do the evolution” (from their 1998 album, “Yield”)  Even if you don’t like the music, the lyrics and video are worth checking out. It’s evolution, baby (8)

Declan Lyons A Glorious Dawn by Symphony of Science or The Large Hadron Rap by Alpine Kat are my nominations.

Fred Guterl About the Author: Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American and author of Fate of the Species (Bloomsbury). Follow on Twitter @fredguterl.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. thefabulous0ne 5:20 pm 02/9/2012

    Scientist, by the Dandy Warhols. Whoever posted this on youtube got the title wrong, but it’s still an excellent tune.

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  2. 2. BrianJewett 6:38 pm 02/9/2012

    BEST SCIENCE SONG ALBUM OF ALL TIME: 26 Scientists, a 2 disc set by Artichoke. 26 songs about scientists, one for each letter of the alphabet. I cant believe it’s not even mentioned! They also have an entire album about Bees and another about 26 Animals. Artichoke really should be BEST SCIENCE BAND OF ALL TIME.

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  3. 3. tintinmilou 6:55 pm 02/9/2012

    “Quark, Strangeness, and Charm” by Hawkwind.
    “Einstein was not a handsome fellow
    Nobody ever called him Al
    He had a long moustache to pull on, it was yellow
    I don’t believe he ever had a girl”

    Link to this
  4. 4. Jabfish 8:47 pm 02/9/2012

    I positively love Monty Harper’s album Songs from the Science Frontier, especially Super Scientist.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Ian UK 6:45 am 02/10/2012

    Katie Melua’s re-written “9 Million Bicycles” which has the second verse: “We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe, That’s a good estimate with well-defined error bars, And with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you.”. Winner!

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  6. 6. nwtfrosty 8:20 am 02/10/2012

    Donovan’s The Intergalactic Laxative from the Cosmic Wheels album is a brilliant discussion of outerspace sanitation needs…. (altho if I had to vote on these, Monty Python’s Galaxy song would take my vote…)

    Link to this
  7. 7. carollia 8:51 am 02/10/2012

    “Drops of Jupiter” mentions the milky way, constellations, shooting stars, Venus, etc. I love it

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  8. 8. SkyGuide 9:06 pm 02/10/2012

    In addition to many from the above suggestions (and a couple of new songs to explore!), here are some of our favorites on Astronomy.FM:

    “Lost in Space” by Aimee Mann
    “‘Round Midnight” by Amy Winehouse
    “Orbital Failure” by Andrew Fox
    “Telescope” by Andy Hill & Renee Safier
    “Planet X” by Christine Lavin
    “Space Oddity” by David Bowie
    “New Frontier” by Donald Fagan
    “From the Sun to the World” by ELO
    “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison
    “Constellations” by Jack Johnson
    “Tom Lehrer’s The Elements” by Jesse Dangerously
    “Chiron Beta Prime” by Jonathan Coulton
    “The End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M.
    “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
    “What Is the Milky Way” by The Space Songs
    “Alpha” by Vangelis
    “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Deodato
    “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

    If I had to pick one – “Glorious Dawn” by Colorpulse

    Cheers! ~Michael

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  9. 9. skunkworks 7:52 pm 02/11/2012

    Need to point this out: TMBG did not write “Why the Sun Shines”. I remember singing this song in elementary school in the mid ’70s, after listening to it on a record of space-themed songs.

    Link to this
  10. 10. SkyGuide 4:36 pm 02/12/2012

    In celebration of Chuck’s birthday – The Low Anthem – “Charlie Darwin”

    Link to this
  11. 11. blue0116 9:09 pm 04/10/2012

    Link to this

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