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Science of TRON

Listen to audio from the "Science of TRON" panel, featuring director Joe Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, and science consultants Sean Carroll & John Dick. Learn More

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Science Sings the Blues

 When you hum to music from the radio, you probably aren’t thinking of mathematics. Equations aren’t forming in your mind and you aren’t solving for x as the tunes hit your ears. But according to Jason I. Brown, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University, human physiology, for some reason, is particularly suited to discovering the mathematics inherently in music. “Our bodies, our ears, and our minds are built to recognize the mathematics that lies here,” he said during his Distinctive Voices @ The Beckman Center talk on May 25, 2011.

Science: The Musical!

Have you seen it? Okay, there’s no such show called “Science: The Musical.” Not yet, anyway. But writing, performing, and recording songs about science isn’t as uncommon as it sounds. Actually, we’re willing to bet you’ve heard more than a few—though you may not have realized it.

One science tune is currently being heard every week by several million people: “The History of Everything,” also known as the theme song for the hit television show The Big Bang Theory. The song, penned and performed by the Barenaked Ladies, details the entire history of universe in 1 minute, 46 seconds. If you think that’s brief, the theme song is an even briefer 32 seconds. “The creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady were big fans of the band and they called,” remembers Barenaked Ladies’ singer/guitarist Ed Robertson.

The unlikely suspect: How geophysics revolutionized the recording industry

Chances are, when you think of Cher, the iconic recording artist, you also think of geophysics. Okay, maybe you don’t. But you should. Cher and geophysics revolutionized the recording industry – together.

It started in 1998, when Cher released her single “Believe.” The song was a major success, sitting at #1 on the Billboard charts for four straight weeks. It also featured a new, and peculiar, effect on Cher’s vocals: at key moments, her voice wobbled uncontrollably, like a robot attempting karaoke. The description sounds cringe-inducing, but combined with the song’s fast-paced beat, it sounds, well, good. Good enough to be adopted by Madonna, Janet Jackson – even rappers T. Pain and Kanye West. The “Cher effect” (as it became known) was soon a staple of the recording industry, a distortion process reinvented as an artistic choice.