Today: particle physics, from Florence and the Machine. Strangeness and Charm is a bonus track from the band’s first album, Lungs.
Strangeness and charm are also two of the six flavours of quarks in the standard model of particle physics; quarks occur tightly bound together to make up the subatomic particles that in turn make up matter in the universe. In the song, the quarks are a metaphor for attraction:
Hydrogen in our veins, it cannot hold itself, our blood is burning
And the pressure in our bodies that echoes up above, it is exploding
And our particles, they’re burning up
Because they yearn for each other
And although we stick together
It seems that we are stranging one another
There’s some artistic license here, as it’s up and down quarks that make up most everyday matter (neutrons and protons); strange and charm quarks are involved in more exotic particles like kaons and D mesons. In particular, a strange quark and a charm quark together make up a particle called a strange D meson, and that particle has a mean lifetime of about 5 x 10-13 seconds. So, those quarks can stick together – just not for very long. But Upness and Down wouldn’t have been a very good song title, I don’t want to make the mustard seed mistake, and I like the metaphor at a more general level.
And now for this week’s I-just-like-it bonus: Amy Millan, from her fabulous 2006 album Honey From the Tombs. This is Baby I:
There’s one week left of summer – or at least, I’ll define it that way, since my fall semester starts after Labour Day. So, I’ll see you next week for one last installment of Music Mondays.
Today: astronomy, but also wildlife biology, and a little different perspective on science from John Prine.
John Prine was an absolutely wonderful singer-songwriter. He wrote so many fantastic songs over a long career, and his last album, Tree of Forgiveness, was among his best. But I don’t quite know what to think of Lonesome Friends of Science: Continue reading →
Today: chemistry, but also neurobiology. But the song is called Chemistry – here’s Rush, from the 1982 album Signals (sorry, no cool video):
Reaction making impact
Oh, but how
Do we make contact
With one another?
Seems to me it’s chemistry
Here the lyrics are playing with a double meaning of “chemistry”, I think – the chemistry of neurotransmission (“electricity, biology”) but also the chemistry of interactions between people and between people and music. Continue reading →
Today: some entomology. Yes, you knew I’d get there eventually.
Here’s Canadian folksinger Murray McLaughlan, with Out Past the Timberline (from his terrific 1983 album Timberline). It’s a reflection on Canada’s North, and beautifully atmospheric; it’s a real shame there isn’t a video for this song. I’ll admit the science content is a bit fleeting.
What strikes me is this lyric:
When spring waters run
The black flies come
Like a cloud of hungry dust
There are several kinds of insects one might liken to “hungry dust”, but Continue reading →