Who says science doesn't turn people on? Kate McAlpine is a rising star on YouTube for her rap performance about the Large Hadron Collider, aka Earth's biggest atom smasher, which successfully began operation today.
Her performance has drawn more than two million views so far on YouTube.
The 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate and science writer raps about the groundbreaking collider—essentially a 17-mile (27-kilometer) circular tunnel at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.
(See photos of the collider.)
"The things that [the collider] discovers," McAlpine raps, "will rock you in the head."
The multibillion-dollar machine will collide two beams of protons moving at close to the speed of light so scientists can see what particles appear in the resulting debris.
"Rap and physics are culturally miles apart," McAlpine, a science writer at CERN, wrote to the Lansing State Journal newspaper in an email in late August. "And I find it amusing to try and throw them together."
Others, including physicists, also find it amusing.
"We love the rap, and the science is spot-on," CERN spokesman James Gillies said.
(Related blog entry: The Rap About Science.)
McAlpine received permission to film herself and friends dancing in the caverns and tunnels where the experiments will take place.
"I have to confess that I was skeptical when Katie said she wanted to do this, but when I saw her previous science rapping and the lyrics, I was convinced," Gillies said. "I think you'll find pretty close to unanimity among physicists that it's great."
McAlpine honed her physics rapping skills at Michigan State's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, where she was part of a student research program two years ago.
Also see "Worst Case: Collider Spawns Planet-Devouring Black Hole" [September 10, 2008].)
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