Sunday, June 21, 2009

Katie McAlpine...remember her?

Surely you remember Katie McAlpine, Large Hadron Collider rap fame. Now she has a new tune..."Rare Isotope Rap".

Dennis Overbye of The New York Times wrote:

For those who like their science with a little rhythm, the rapping science writer Katie McAlpine, a.k.a. Alpinekat, has struck again. Her previous rap explaining the physics behind the Large Hadron Collider has been viewed more than 5 million times since its debut on YouTube a year ago.

Alpinekat’s new rap (above) is about nuclear physics,­ the field of science that explains why the Sun shines, stars blow up and radioactive nuclei disintegrate. The rap was commissioned by Michigan State University, Ms. McAlpine's alma mater, to celebrate a $500 million laboratory that will be built there, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or F-RIB — the theory apparently being that no organization or project is complete these days without its own rap.

"Yeah, it seems to be the thing to do in accelerator physics, if you want the project taken seriously," Ms. McAlpine said jokingly in an email message from Michigan where she works as a science writer for CERN, which built the Large Hadron Collider. The dancing, which seems a little more lively here than on the LHC video, features a crew of her friends, graduate students and faculty at Michigan State, including Brad Sherrill, the associate director of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, on eyebrows.

As the rap video explains, F-RIB will collide atomic nuclei together to produce beams of rare isotopes ­ versions of elements that have more or less than the usual number of neutrons in their nuclei. By studying the properties of these isotopes, physicists hope to learn more about the strong nuclear force that binds quarks into protons and neutrons together and how these isotopes affect the thermonuclear evolution of stars. They also hope to use the beams as tumor killers.

Or as Alpinekat says:

A more powerful machine can push the frontier.
The physicists here,
They get nuclear.

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