A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Fermilab rap

12/01/09

For a growing number of so-called Nerdcore rappers, the message is that people need to support basic research and math and science education if they want to hand future generations a nation worth bragging about.

Deconstruction: Fermilab rap

Rapbassador for science

By Tona Kunz

photo
Photo courtesy of funky49

If there's one form of music instantly recognized around the globe, it's rap. The American genre informs, entertains, and has a low barrier to participation. You don't need a large vocal range or a backup band. You just need a message, delivered rapid-fire with style and bravado.

For a growing number of so-called Nerdcore rappers, the message is that people need to support basic research and math and science education if they want to hand future generations a nation worth bragging about. Rather than rapping about drugs, guns, and thug life, they take rap back to its roots as a tool for enlightenment and political discourse, with science and technology as common themes. The most famous example in the particle-physics world is "The Large Hadron Rap," which has racked up more than five million hits on YouTube; but there are plenty of others celebrating astrobiology, orbiting planets, computer codes, even E=mc2.

Steve Rush, aka funky49, a science enthusiast from Florida and Wired magazine Nerdcore Hip Hop All-Star, gained notoriety in 2009 when he was commissioned by the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry to make the album Rapbassador. He came to Fermilab in August to premier a song, "Particle Business," about experimenters racing to discover the Higgs boson at the lab's Tevatron Collider. Dan Lamoureux, producer of the documentary Nerdcore For Life, filmed funky49 rapping in front of Wilson Hall, in the CDF experimental hall and the Tevatron main control room, and next to the Cockcroft-Walton particle accelerator.

When he's not rapping, funky49 works for a medical imaging company that uses MRI, a technology based on powerful magnets made of superconducting wire and cable that were developed in the 1970s to meet the needs of the Tevatron. "I have a job because of magnetic fields," he says. "I have a job because of science."

Here are funky49's lyrics. Click the links for commentary.

Particle Business

by funky49 (a.k.a. Steve Rush)

Rock stars of physics, particle business
smash matter, anti-matter and witness
quarks, bottom to top
they don't stop
"Where the Higgs at?"
Yo that's their mark!
Go! Go! Go!

Tevatron, OG atom smasher
Say Hello to CERN's party crasher
The new 'Lord of the Rings' LHC hear me
This be competitive collaboration baby
Strippin' electrons, makin ions
Of hydrogen, now pull that proton
Give it that speed we need to make
Real Science get achieved, I believe
Shock protons, Greatly accelerated
Two tera electron volts they rated
Fated to smash and get mated
Creatin' smaller bits, energy still equated
We love collisions, Take snap shots
Till we set the right shot, learn a lot
Yo, a mad grip of events do occur
Blast fast, Data stream is a blur
Normal events–They get ignored
Higgs events–They get adored!

High over frontier. Wilson Hall tall
With aesthetics, it's a science cathedral
For the people that see with math
Collider detector and massive graphs

DZero or CDF, who's the best?
If pressed I guess who's closest
To quench the measurement thirst
And who got their results in first

Collision detectors, Fermion collectors
This ain't the 60s with pocket protectors
These peeps cool like super-conducted
Magnets, you know four nine ain't frontin'

To me, triple beams don't mean
Pushin' mad coke, Its scientists in lab coats
So you ready for insight twilight or limelight?
Research in basic science, I'll fight

Who's side you with? R&D dollars?
Or pork spending for anyone who hollas?
Brain drain. No technology policy
Ballot box for better decisions in D.C.

Rap Carl Sagan over new Vangelis Keys
Science cutter clowns get smacked down please
I'm trippin' at students slippin' in
Test scores, Against the world they're dippin'

Let's be liftin', Positive like positrons
Before we ask where we gone wrong
Down with MTV, forget what you heard
Get lost in Cosmos and Mister Wizard



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