February 21, 2011

Goodbye, Blogspot; hello, WordPress!

When we started this blog in April 2010, we weren't quite sure what we would do with it or how it would relate to the rest of the Sing About Science project. Ten months later, it's clear that the blog is integral to the project and something that we should keep writing. To give it an appearance that is more professional and more consistent with the rest of SingAboutScience.org, we've moved it to a new WordPress-based directory: http://www.singaboutscience.org/wp/.

If you've enjoyed reading the posts here at singaboutscience.blogspot.com, please update your feed readers, bookmarks, etc. Virtually all of the content posted here is now available at the new address, and future entries will be posted only to the new address.

February 18, 2011

Grammies for science songs, part 2

Well, They Might Be Giants' stellar Here Comes Science did not win the Grammy Award for Best Children's Album last weekend, and a bunch of scientists are pretty upset. In fact, the journal BioTechniques went so far as to create its own Best Lab Song of the Year category, select nominees, and appoint itself the judge of the nominees. I'm not sure this represents the peer review process at its best, but you are welcome to view the BioTechniques article ("And the Grammy for best lab song goes to...") and decide whether you agree with the selections.

February 17, 2011

Science song of the week: "Coral Reef" by Billy B

From Geophysical Research Letters via Science News comes the word that corals off the coast of Japan are moving northward, perhaps in response to the warming of the ocean.
The team, led by geographer Hiroya Yamano of the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, analyzed maps of corals from four time periods starting in the 1930s. They found that of nine common coral species, four had expanded northward, and two went as far as temperate waters. The study confirms what marine biologists and fishermen have speculated for years.

For some background information on choral reefs, we go to a live performance in which Billy B is supported by a coral group, er, choral group, of schoolchildren. If this song doesn't teach you the word "zooxanthellae," I don't know what will!

February 14, 2011

New additions to the database: Jonny Berliner and Doug Edmonds

Sing About Science's searchable database now includes over 3700 math and science songs, which seems like a lot. But does it include virtually all of the relevant songs out there? I doubt it. Just yesterday I discovered a couple of artists of whom I was not previously aware: Jonny Berliner and Doug Edmonds. Berliner is a musician with a knack for lines like, "With Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle you can be uncertain for sure." Edmonds is a junior high school teacher who has been written up in the TribLocal branch of the Chicago Tribune ("Singing science teacher attracts YouTube following").

I look forward to discovering even more singing scientists and adding them to the database. Suggestions are always welcome!

February 11, 2011

Scientists are like punk rockers (?)

Alison McCook notes certain parallels between the guitar-smashers and the gene-cloners.
"Punk ethos is typified by a passionate adherence to individualism, creativity and freedom of expression with no regard to established opinions," Bill Cuevas, biochemist at the biotech company Genencor and music director at the Stanford University radio station KZSU, tells The Scientist. "Good scientific discipline is also typified by such qualities, including inquisitiveness and curiosity, with no entrenchment to established beliefs."

...Importantly, punk is "about the freedom to express what you want to express," says Milo Aukerman, a plant researcher at DuPont and lead singer of legendary punk band The Descendents. In many ways, research is the same -- more so than in other professions, scientists can set their own schedules and decide what they want to study. "There is a certain freedom implied there," Aukerman adds.

Unfortunately, the article backs away from the possible conclusion that more punk rock music should be about science.
Of course, even if punk music and science share many elements, the comparison can be taken too far, says Aukerman. For instance, you don't see many punk musicians singing about science. "I will probably never ever write a song about DNA," he says.

Thanks to Joel Tetreault for pointing us toward this article.