November 7, 2011 | 1
There is a fascination with famous scientists (for example, see today’s Google doodle about Marie Curie), and they come no more iconic than Albert Einstein. His recognizability makes him a logical choice to add to a science video in order to create one that might go viral. (You might remember my post about cute animals being an ingredient of a viral video for science).
Now let’s take Einstein and have him incongruously rap. That’s bound to get your attention. Who would ever imagine such a scene? Epic Rap Battles of History is the creative brainchild of Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter on Youtube. They have produced over a dozen other Epic Rap Battles featuring put downs between similar yet disparate historical and modern figures. For instance, authors Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss get in a verbal knock-down while musicians Beethoven and Bieber spend time trading barbs about whose music gets more women swooning. Most of the videos are quite irreverent and could be offensive to those who have delicate sensibilities, so keep that in mind if you stray further than today’s choice, which is quite tame in comparison.
Since this is Scientific American, let’s turn our focus to science. ERB’s third most popular video at the time of this writing is a faux scientific feud between Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Both Einstein and Hawking fling insults about each other’s intelligences and scientific contributions. In a less than politically correct move, Einstein affronts Hawking’s confinement to a wheelchair and speech while Hawking points out Einstein’s similarity to a troll doll, all with great comic effect.
If you know anything about Einstein’s and Hawking’s works, you will recognize immediately that the guys behind ERB did their research. Einstein slanders Hawking’s black hole theory only to be countered by Hawking reminding Einstein of his role in creating the atomic bomb. All of this mixed with references to famous rappers such as MC Hammer (it is easy to imagine how that gets worked into the world’s most recognizable equation) and Snoop Dog, we have scientists mixed with cultural phenomena that works surprisingly well.
My favorite part? A brilliant “your mama” joke expertly leveraged by Steven against Al!
And I’m tickled by references to, and a cameo by, another famous recognizable scientific expert.
Watch the video to see!
I enjoyed the subtlety and niche-ness of some of the references. Some are meant for the non-physicist and some will resonate with those of us who know way too much about the three characters who show up in the video. (Guilty!) The tune is quite catchy and I find myself maddeningly singing parts of this video, only to be laughed at by my kids, who really are to blame as they introduced me to this series!
You might also be interested in the “behind the scenes” video, so I’ve included it here.
If you enjoyed this rap battle, you can go to the youtube channel and suggest others! Any ideas for other scientific feuds? I’d love to hear your ideas, too!
Image is a thumbnail of the youtube video Epic Rap Battles of History #7