Browsing Category : Music

Why are so many scientists also musicians?

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Over the last ten years I’ve interviewed several people about their adventures in music and science, and I often asked them why they thought that music was a popular activity among scientists. “Wait,” I hear you ask, “is it, though?”. Yes. Although there are not very many formal studies, all the evidence suggests that music is an exceptionally popular hobby…

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Science songs – why so silly?

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Why are songs about science often so silly? You know what I mean. They try to fit long words in the lyrics for the sake of scientific accuracy, they’re reductionist and literal, and they’re often parodies of existing songs with the words changed to be about science. Some of them are really popular. These days, Tom Lehrer’s Elements song is…

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Wellcome Collection event about music

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If you’re in London this coming weekend, you should drop by the “Why Music?” events at the Wellcome Collection, organised in collaboration with BBC3. The weekend is packed full with three days of talks, workshops and performances all about how music shapes us. Some events are ticketed, but there are a lot of drop-in events as well, so even if…

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The Musisci List

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In the music and science survey earlier this year, I asked people to “name a musisci”. More than half of the participants answered this question, and several people gave more than one answer. Some were obvious jokes (Olivia “Newton” John; Obama), others I had to check, and some wrote out their answer as a phrase instead of a name, so…

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Daniel Levitin at BBC Proms

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It’s BBC Proms time again! Every summer, the BBC hosts several weeks of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, culminating in the popular Proms in the Park event. Last Friday was the First Night of the Proms, and on Saturday afternoon, I made my way to South Kensington to attend the next thing on the programme: a science lecture. Neuroscientist…

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Martha Meets Shakespeare

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Way back in December, the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra released “Martha Meets Shakespeare”, the ninth collaboration between musicians around the world performing the music of Doctor Who. I’m in this video a few times, playing alto recorder in a Tardis dress and playing violin dressed as one of the Carrionites (witches) from the original Martha Meets Shakespeare episode. We haven’t…

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Cell biology text books and The Beatles

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When the third edition of the popular text book Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBOC) came out in 1994, the author photo on the back cover showed the six authors walking across the famous crosswalk near the Abbey Road studios in North-West London. Like many tourists who visit the spot, they imitated The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. “We were…

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Interrailing through Europe with Borodin and Mendeleev

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This post first appeared on The Finch and Pea.   Long ago, in a kingdom that no longer exists, a bohemian traveller was mistaken for a fugitive revolutionary, and arrested. The traveller was Russian chemist and composer Alexander Borodin, who was on his way to Italy with his friend Dmitri Mendeleev. Both men were researchers in the chemistry department of…

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Musisci Quarterly

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Off the back of the musisci survey, I also started a newsletter. It only comes out four times per year, but it will be worth it! You can see issue 1 here, and subscribe here (or in the sidebar to the right of this post) to receive future issues. Issue 1 includes: -Music and science survey results -Featured music by…

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