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Large Hadron Collider Rap Is a Hit

Kate McAlpine at the LHC.  Credit:  Telegraph

Kate McAlpine at the LHC. Credit: Telegraph

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


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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sakib August 28, 2008, 5:00 PM

    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.

  • Cathy August 28, 2008, 7:21 PM

    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!

  • David Woods August 28, 2008, 10:57 PM

    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.

  • Chuck Lam August 29, 2008, 6:02 AM

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

  • Keith Atkin August 29, 2008, 3:51 AM

    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!

  • LLDIAZ August 29, 2008, 11:45 AM

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

  • Don Alexander August 29, 2008, 9:28 AM

    @ 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.

  • Seymour Particles August 29, 2008, 12:33 PM

    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


    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.

  • Laughing Brain August 29, 2008, 1:38 PM

    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.

  • Tyler Durden August 29, 2008, 9:16 PM

    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.

  • Raoulvdb, IT September 1, 2008, 12:53 PM

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

    Thanks Miss Kate! :)

  • Joann Saraydarian September 1, 2008, 9:34 PM


  • Tom September 2, 2008, 9:07 AM

    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!

  • Bond, J. Bond September 3, 2008, 8:22 AM

    White folk can’t dance. Stick to science.

  • Bo's Son September 3, 2008, 10:42 AM

    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.

  • ALIEN September 3, 2008, 11:41 AM



  • Gosiak September 10, 2008, 5:49 AM

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

  • Ripley November 1, 2008, 6:10 AM

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