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Rolling in the Higgs
August 24, 2012 7:53 AM   Subscribe

"I'm a harmony addict working on a master's in theoretical physics; what ELSE was I going to make a YouTube channel about?" And so was born A Capella Science, brainchild of lifelong harmonics junkie and physics master's student Tim Blais. His first track, "Rolling in the Higgs (Adele parody)", takes on the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs boson.
posted by Laminda (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That must have taken weeks.

...

Good application of the creative procrastination principle, really.
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2012


Now that is some high end geek shit right there.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 AM on August 24, 2012


This is hilarious and great.
posted by curious nu at 8:29 AM on August 24, 2012


This is brilliant, thanks. I listened to it in a tab in the background, then clicked across halfway through, saw the expressions on his various faces, and cracked up. Guy's a genius.

This reminds me of AstroCappella, an a cappella album about astrophysics about which I am deeply ambivalent. Pros: Great science (...as far as this non-physicist can tell), original music, great performances. Cons: catchy in the same way that ebola is catchy. Seriously, I listened to this song (linked in the frame on the left of the page) about the SWIFT satellite maybe five times over the course of a week, five years ago. And the damn thing still pops up in my head from time to time, and hangs around FOR HOURS ON BLOODY END. So, er, it's fun music but have the mind bleach on standby.

Tenuously related: Makin' ATP ("Make it rain" parody), Large Hadron Rap.
posted by metaBugs at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2012


I really don't get people who insist on using words like addict and especially junkie to describe their passions when their passions are something other than trying to inject street-grade shit into collapsed veins (before giving up and just shooting it right into the muscle instead). You wouldn't say, "I'm so excited that it's election season; as you know I've always had a total case of political cancer!" or "I'm finding myself trying exotic restaurants more and more! I don't know when it happened but I totally contracted food AIDS!"
posted by item at 8:45 AM on August 24, 2012


Well, for one thing, cancer and AIDS are actual diseases (or collections of diseases), whereas "junkie" and "addict" convey that one's attachment to the thing/person/activity/phenomenon/fluffiness is so psychologically and emotionally strong it has (potential) physical ramifications. It's about the attachment, not the consequences, because while addiction does tend to have consequences, there are separate names for them (like, "cirrhosis of the liver").

Note that we do use "cancer" metaphorically to describe things that are seen to be destroying a system from within, as in, "the Tea Partiers' obsession with not raising taxes on the wealthy is a cancer on the U.S. economy."

So unless you see an overwhelming love for harmony as systemically destructive and/or inhibiting one's immunity to anything other than, say, barber shop choruses, I don't think your examples would apply here.
posted by Superplin at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2012


(I adored this video, by the way. Thanks for posting it.)
posted by Superplin at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2012


"Addict" as a figurative, non-drug-related noun usage, goes back nearly a hundred years and the OED's citations for it start only slightly later than the citations for the literal use. The originally figurative verb and adjective forms modern "addict" is derived from go all the way back to the 16th century.

OED notably does not have any specific content on figurative uses of junkie ("junkie" itself as a drug-related term cites back to the early 20s), but some quick Google Books searches against date boundaries suggests "political junkie", specifically (and that is I would guess by far the most common figurative collocation that junkie sees) looks like it may have sprung up in the 80s, possibly originally more specifically as a nonce reference to hardcore politicos in the game as much for the game as anything, though it's gotten broad use for a good while now as a reference just to being really into the news cycle and horse race and in-the-weeds stuff of political activity and recruiting.

I think people mostly use it not so much as an insistence thing (you don't have a lot of people marching around trying to organize their right to use the phrase) so much as basic idiomatic stuff. A trope is a trope, a cliche is a cliche. I can see how from more of a "seriously, drug addiction is a serious fuckin' thing" perspective it might seem weird, but from outside that perspective it's just people using the metaphors they inherent from other speakers and writers.

In any case, it's kind of a derail so maybe let's not totally sabotage the thread.
posted by cortex at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2012


I love me some harmonics ;)
This is fabulous, Laminda- thanks!
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2012


Nice work! BTW I definitely marked Tim's assignments as a TA for modern physics.
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2012


This is SO relevant to my interests. My a cappella group just had a "listening party" last night to look for new music. So there may be some extra songs to send to them after going through this material. *rubs hands gleefully*

Also, seconding metaBugs' recommendation (and I choose to see that as a recommendation) of The Chromatics' work. AstroCappella is awesome, but not their only tech/science related work. They're awesome. (Full disclosure: I'm friends with a few of the members, and a big fan for many years...)
posted by blurker at 11:07 AM on August 24, 2012


I'll never find
Some Boson like you...
posted by Renoroc at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This video really did make my day: I shared it on Facebook and Google+ (where other people also reshared it), and watched it a few times when I needed a joy break.

It's right up there with that video of pandas playing on the slide, in terms of cheer quotient. Thanks again so much for posting it!
posted by Superplin at 11:25 PM on August 24, 2012


Delightful! All he needs is a cat cameo.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:46 PM on August 25, 2012


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