FUN: In Tune With Physics

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Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5727.1387b

To explain relativity, Einstein lectured and wrote books and papers, but he never cut an album. He might have missed an opportunity. Setting physics ideas to music can amplify students' learning and enjoyment, according to Walter Smith, a physics professor at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Smith's Web site caches lyrics sheets for hundreds of physics tunes, including many compositions he co-wrote. There are also sound files for more than 80 songs and some chord charts so you can play along. Einstein might not have donned lederhosen and yodeled about the speed of light, but other famous physicists have channeled their musical muse. Take the Englishman J. J. Thomson, who discovered the electron in 1897 and penned “Ions Mine” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”:

In the dusty lab'ratory, ‘Mid the coils and wax and twine, There the atoms in their glory, Ionize and recombine.

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