Kate McAlpine at the LHC.  Credit:  Telegraph
Kate McAlpine at the LHC. Credit: Telegraph

Physics, Science

Large Hadron Collider Rap Is a Hit

27 Aug , 2008 by

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Puzzled about particle physics? Want to know what the inside of the Large Hadron Collider looks like? Like music, fun and science? Want to know for sure the LHC won’t create a black hole that will swallow the Earth? Find all of the above in a rap song created by Kate McAlpine, 23, who used to work in the press office of CERN, where on September 10, the LHC will be powered up. The song has been a hit on You Tube, and has been downloaded over 400,000 times. Physicists say the science in the song is “spot on” and provides a rhythmic tour of the mysteries of modern physics and the workings of the LHC, while noting that “the things that it discovers will rock you in the head.” Without further ado, here it is:

McAlpine wrote the rap during her 40-minute morning commute to CERN. “Some more academic people are not too happy and they think it kind of cheapens the science and dumbs it down,” she says. “But I think mostly people are excited to have this rap out there. And a lot of people at CERN just think it’s great, so that’s exciting.”

Source: Telegraph UK

By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


38 Responses

  1. Larry says:

    Now that is just a cool way to teach and what a mind Kate must have! Good for her.

  2. fivefourman says:

    Bravo Kate McAlpine!
    This doesn’t cheapen science, it explains it. My professor used to say all the time that if you can’t explain what you’re doing to your grandma, either what you’re doing is illegal or you don’t really understand it yourself. It’s obvious that Kate understands it and is excited about it. And that combination is priceless.

  3. Sili says:

    Booo. Old spoilsports.

    That must be why the LHC doesn’t have a personal blog yet.

  4. Don Alexander says:

    I think a LOT of guys will want to marry her now… 😉

  5. Yael Dragwyla says:

    Now, *this* is what I meant about “fighting dirty” when dealing with conspiracy theorists: You have to do that on a very different level than when discussing scientific matters with real scientists, or you haven’t a prayer of changing their minds or, at least, their impact on the public. Contemporary popular music, especially when produced by a very pretty young lady, is a great way to do that — it draws a bead directly on the emotional brain, utterly ignoring the intellect and scoring a bull’s-eye on where it’s at. 😉

  6. Ross Germon says:

    Bravo Kate! Bravo!

    If this rap helps one more person take an interest then it will have been worth it.. But it will stimulate the interst of thousands! AWESOME!

  7. Van says:

    okies, somebody has GOT to put out a HD torrent of this!!! It is GREAT!!!

  8. john says:

    Kate McAlpine makes a very smart contribution to education by using the current musical style to educate us all in some very complicated concepts. She has a talent for explanation like all good teachers. Keep up the good work, we need more like you.

  9. JTankers says:

    *
    o The Rap is outstanding! Loved it! But are the folks aware of the history of the LHC Safety Story?

    Former Nuclear Safety Officer Walter L. Wagner discovered flaws with CERN’s safety arguments. He believes that the Large Hadron Collider could create dangerous particles that might destroy Earth, so he filed a law suit to require proof of safety. [1]

    In response, CERN scientists created a safety report in 2008 that argues no real chance of danger. [2]

    After review, German Astrophysicist Dr. Rainer Plaga argues that CERN’s new report does not prove safety. Dr. Plaga proposes that CERN follow additional safety procedures to help reduce the danger, including proceeding slowly. [3]

    On August 14th, CERN’s Dr. Jonathan Ellis stated that there is no real danger and they will not proceed slowly, the will begin collisions in a few weeks. [4]

    Another German scientist, Professor Dr. Otto E. Rössler theorizes that if micro black holes are created in the Large Hadron Collider, they could grow large enough to destroy Earth in just years or decades. [5]

    Dr. Rössler requests that an emergency safety conference be held before collisions begin. He is due to meet Swiss President Pascal Couchepin to discuss safety concerns.

    [1] http://www.lhcdefense.org/lhc_legal.php US Federal Lawsuit Filings – Walter L. Wagner

    [2] public.web.cern.ch/public/en/lhc/Safety-en.html The safety of the LHC, Web Site – CERN

    [3] arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0808/0808.1415v1.pdf On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantum-black holes produced at particle colliders – Rainer Plaga Rebuttal

    [4] http://www.lhcfacts.org/?p=72 CERN’s Dr. Ellis tells only half of the story – JTankers

    [5] http://www.wissensnavigator.com/documents/spiritualottoeroessler.pdf A Rational and Moral and Spiritual Dilemma – Otto E. Rōssler Safety Counter Arguments

  10. Chuck Lam says:

    Our culture could use more Kate McAlpine types in academia.

  11. hippykicker says:

    Kat McAlpine is SUPER HOT!!!!!!!!

  12. hippykicker says:

    I think I’m in love…

  13. Clan Chattan says:

    Kate , you are a star, lighting up the darkness. Thank you.

  14. One Sane Mind says:

    I’m glad I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because I don’t know if I could handle one side of my brain saying, “I know science is right.” while the other half of my brain would sit there and say, “But, I need to disprove it.” It would drive me crazy. Obviously, it’s already happened to most of the theorists.

  15. Michael says:

    This was way too cool. I could even understand the words!!(Although subtitles helped…LOL)

  16. soupy says:

    get from PERV
    ………..
    to CERN

    just changing one letter at a time in two steps

    PERV
    PERN
    CERN
    nice word play… you are good!!! lol

  17. Joseph says:

    really should have gone with a bestie boys beat…otherwise, perfectly amazing and entertaining.

  18. Don Alexander says:

    I submit the following theory for peer review in Phys. Rev. D:

    The person posting here under the name Kate McAlpine is not identical with the real Katherine McAlpine who created the LHC rap.

  19. Andrew says:

    I second the above submission.

  20. Kate McAlpine says:

    you’re probably right

  21. Sakib says:

    Kate I find it wonderful that someone young like you has dedicated their life to a worthwhile pursuit, unless you’re old and happen to look young. I fear that science and knowledge will disappear in the distant future but you are a ray of light, you are obviously smart to combine two “opposites” like academic science and “gangsta rap” because then you are broadcasting knowledge to a wider audience as well as making science accessable and “cool” to young “dudez”. I wish you luck in the future and hope you go onto bigger things. Also if guys give you unwanted attention, just kick their ass, it makes me incredibly happy that their is a fresh new approach towards science rather than a dusty academic approach.

  22. Cathy says:

    What an awesome video! I teach music and my students would LOVE this!! Break it down to its simplest form and give it a good beat. Brilliant!

  23. David Woods says:

    Bravo Kate:

    You just might force your particle visioned colleagues to take a broad, maybe even interdisciplinary look at the incredible GUT/TOE implications of the work about to begin there. Add another poet or two, maybe even a priest and a peasant and what you’ve started could go well beyond physics. A GUT/TOE explanation of how things began and will or will not end, possible via that new accelerator, could be the Rosetta Stone ending centuries of conflict and bringing science and religion together. Now that they’ve heard your rap, maybe the scientists will add a bit of poetry and fiction to their regular mental exercise programming. They might, for example, Google “Buffalo Snow Day” to get a comic but perhaps plausible look at how a broad approach to GUT/TOE fictionally transforms Buffalo, yes Buffalo, into an Athens for the 21st century. Or, e mail me and I’ll send anyone six pages of spirited fictional though reality based GUT/TOE interaction between a Nobel Laureate particle researcher and his friend, a leading “Death of God” theologian.

  24. Chuck Lam says:

    To: Keith Atkin, Much of your criticism may be correct. However, there is a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way to critique.

  25. Keith Atkin says:

    Such a pity that once again WRONG physics is presented in a RAP.
    First: energy does NOT become mass; mass and energy are simply equivalent.
    Second: we do NOT know that there is a black hole at the centre of the galaxy; there might be, but that’s all.
    Third: the photon DOES have mass; the photon has energy and by mass-energy equivalence it follows that the photon carries mass. The often-heard statement that the REST MASS of the photon is zero is totally meaningless, because no observer can ever be at rest relative to the photon!
    So, please, before we start rapping, let’s get the physics RIGHT!

  26. LLDIAZ says:

    Lighten up people its just a poem about science. I doubt she’s the first…

  27. Don Alexander says:

    @ Keith:

    First: While mass is equal to energy divided by the square of the speed of light, mass and energy are very much distinguishable entities. In a particle accelerator, kinetic energy is tranformed into myriads of particles which have thing like lepton and baryon numbers, or charge, which kinetic energy does not.
    Second: The evidence for a black hole at the center of our Milky Way is VERY strong. (e.g., recent measurements of the Keplerian motion of water masers around Sagittarius A*) Nothing can be “proven” to the very end in physics (only in mathematics), and as long as no strong counterarguments come, that balck hole stays.
    Third: When physicists speak of massless particles, they are implying the rest mass. And modern particle physics requires that the photon has a rest mass of 0. It is only the zero rest mass which allows the photon to travel at the one speed no other particle (with rest mass) can reach – the pseed of light in a vacuum.

    Finally: This is a lighthearted raps tune. It has no room for footnotes.

  28. Seymour Particles says:

    DIRECTOR’S CUT FROM MOVIE
    “FINAL LAST VIEW ”
    by Seymour Particles

    Movie script :
    Movie end
    scene final

    New LHC collider scene everyone making fun of doomsday predicters…Beautiful Rap star singing ….all the cool scientists drinking champagne …everyone laughing .
    Scene changes to inside of collider and a strange looking new particle pops out and merges with one of the tiny fizziling black holes and then ….coinciding with the pop from a champagne bottle ,,, a slightly larger black hole is born..

    Fade to new black hole

    THE END

    Deleted scene:
    To be beginning of possible sequel

    Scene 1 take 1 :

    Beautiful rap singer and LHC professors escape via LHC contingency space craft to remote galaxy somewhere far from whats left of the Beautiful Blue Earth which is diminishing in size..while the black part is growing larger in the center…

    Second cut scene:
    leading to possile second sequel.

    A New Earth with two Suns is eventually terraformed and all the children are classical violin virtuosos and scientists named Sherlock , Holmes , Watson , and Kathryn , of course, who are determined to build a bigger and better safer new collider than their parents …no matter what it takes.

  29. Laughing Brain says:

    Great stuff. I really like it. The combination of rythm with actual physics themes was very exciting for a nerd like me.
    But Seymour Particles movie script make me laugh my ass off.

  30. Tyler Durden says:

    RE: LHC destroying the Earth

    Besides there being absolutely no science to support that as a possibility, consider:

    When have the Swiss ever destroyed anything?

    They’re the most neutral people on the face of the planet.. I have a hard time picturing them as the reapers of the human race.

  31. Raoulvdb, IT says:

    Love that rap.
    Explains in simple words what the LHC intends to do… vulgarisation helps non-experts!

    Thanks Miss Kate! :)

  32. Tom says:

    Nice job, Kate! Very well done! Nice to see science portrayed in a fun way. I can imagine you had a blast making this. Keep up the good work!

  33. Bond, J. Bond says:

    White folk can’t dance. Stick to science.

  34. Bo's Son says:

    LHC may be our only hope and we need Kate’s help in pushing it along !

    Most of these naysayers are mental midgets and even I am almost certain the LHC people worldwide have done all of their theoretical homework and their analysis is infallible

    Things are going too slow in the elegant mathematical theoretical modus operandi style as used by Einstein.

    Einstein , with the help of others developed relativity theory on paper using mathematics , although he make some small errors in his proofs of E = MC^2 other things.

    As Cosmologist Lee Smolin said , string theory entails infinite possibilities and is very elusive in describing our universe.

    Maybe that dog won’t hunt.

    There are infinite branches to that tree. too many to model and narrow down and fit our particular universe even with M-theory , so although it is an elegant approach , just like Einstein’s unified field theory , we don’t want to be spending all our time on it when the experimental data starts coming in.

    So the shotgun LHC approach may find the answers quicker and after all , string theory has been around for 40 years .

    However , they should proceed with caution as some scientists have warned and even Seymour Particles has described in his movie script , because the infinitesimally small probability of a growing black hole must weigh in against the infinitely large negative gain if the unthinkable occurred.

    You don’t wager your wife and kids entire family and neighbors and your casa and all of your land and earth unless there is no reasonable doubt and you are on the jury.

    If the data do not fit (100% almost) you can’t permit.

    the almost is the problem.

    If a boson , which carries some theoretical mass , could mate with a small black hole under special unknowable unspeakable conditions or anything even crazier just might possibly occur , then we should hesitate .contemplate , and postulate …. before we congratulate…

    And after all , we are firing up this LHC because we aren’t certain about the complete quantum physics in the first place or we would’nt need to fire it up.

  35. ALIEN says:

    I AM HERE IN UFO SINCE EONS AGO.
    I TOO BUILT COLLIDER AND MADE QUICK EXIT FROM TYPE IV CIVILIZATION .
    THATS WHY CONTACT NOT MADE BY ANY OTHERS.
    ALL MADE SAME MISTAKE
    I AM FAILURE TO SPECIES,RACE,PLANET, STAR,GALAXY AND UNIVERSE.
    BUT NO SPECIES IS PERFECT

    ANCIENT ALIEN

  36. Gosiak says:

    ; / It isn’t funny. You talk about realy serious things…

  37. Ripley says:

    No rap. Very bad thing ! What a pity ! listen real music and enjoy with.

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