I’m spending the weekend at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., where thinking productively about science is more or less impossible. Although there’s plenty to be said about the science of acoustics or the engineering of guitars, headbanging makes it very hard to write. Instead, I’ve collected an array of ten YouTube videos that show scientists can rock out too!
Symphony of Science – “We Are All Connected”
Auto-Tune finally gets used for something worthwhile as Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye the Science Guy explain the essential unity of all things.
Tom Leher – “The Elements Song”
If your high school chemistry teacher never showed you this little ditty, something went wrong. All the building blocks of the universe are sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”
Zheng Lab – “Bad Project”
Every scientist can sympathize with difficulties in the lab, and this team from the Baylor College of Medicine channel the spirit of Lady Gaga to turn disaster into delight.
They Might Be Giants – “Science is Real”
For all those times when someone fails to acknowledge a scientific fact, it’s better to turn to this cheery song by the U.S.-based indie band than to get angry.
A Capella Science – “Rolling in the Higgs”
All the excitement about the Large Hadron Collider is reflected in this impressive feat of overdubbing, where one man explains the discovery of the Higgs boson to the tune of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
GZA – “Dark Matter”
This member of the venerable Wu Tang Clan (also at Bonnaroo) plans to release a number of science-inspired albums, giving a new meaning to the common lyric “droppin’ knowledge.”
Epic Rap Battles of History – “Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison”
As heated as the “War of Currents” of the 1880s may have been, it’s got nothing on this freestyle throwdown between two of history’s greatest inventors.
“Weird Al” Yankovic – “Pancreas”
One of the most under-appreciated organs in the body gets a soulful paean from the king of odd subject matter (also at Bonnaroo), accompanied by a music video with all the creepiest elements of 1950s educational film.
BioRad – “GTCA”
The biotechnology company shows an unexpected side with this masterful parody of “YMCA,” a short and sweet tribute to DNA replication. So good, you’ll hardly realize it’s an advertisement for their new line of PCR kits!
Chris Hadfield – “Space Oddity”
The former commander of the International Space Station covers the David Bowie classic while literally “sitting in a tin can, far above the world.” The guitar may have cost $75,000 to get into orbit, but the gorgeous backdrop of this video shows it to be money well spent.