Science Rapper Returns: East Coast/West Coast Feud Rises Again
Jan14

Science Rapper Returns: East Coast/West Coast Feud Rises Again

Not to be outdone by the Chemistry Jocks, whom I posted about last week, Zach Charlop-Powers (aka the Science Rapper) has answered back with a new rap video of his own. In June 2010, I pitted the two science-based performers against one another in a friendly Thunderdome-like rap-video competition. At the time, the Chemistry Jocks, a group of undergraduates at UCLA, seemed to best Charlop-Powers, a graduate student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. But Charlop-Powers isn’t taking it lying down. He’s released a new video about famous astronomer Edwin Hubble and his calculations proving the expansion of the universe. Let us hope that this new East Coast/West Coast rivalry doesn’t turn ugly like the one that cost us Biggie and Tupac. Charlop-Powers says that his inspiration for this new clip is an impressive lecture by MIT physics professor (now emeritus) Walter Lewin in which he “starts by explaining red-shift calculations of light,” calculates the Hubble constant, and then “right before your very eyes, calculates the date of the Big Bang.” “I was somewhat floored by the neat way of tying together something simple like the measurement of the wavelength of light with something so grand as the origin of the universe,” Charlop-Powers adds. So he drafted some verses and eventually made this video. As for the British accent the grad student, who hopes to defend his thesis in a few months, adopts for the clip, Charlop-Powers says no accent coach was required. “I enjoy accents,” he adds. But “I can’t always keep them straight—sometimes Scottish magically morphs into Jamaican.” Good luck with your defense, Zach. And if you travel to Los Angeles anytime soon, I’d watch your...

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Video Thunderdome
Jun14

Video Thunderdome

Newscripts has recently been barraged with music videos by undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors alike. YouTube, it seems, has the power to turn even mild-mannered chemists into pop stars. We’ve sorted through some of the submissions and selected a few stand-outs. To ruthlessly narrow them down further, we’re taking Aunty Entity’s approach and sending a few into Thunderdome. Two videos enter. One video leaves. Alright, alright—we’re not going to obliterate the losing video. We’ve just got a couple of good ones to share with the blogosphere. Maybe the losers will be forced to watch Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” video from the Mad Max sequel. The first submission comes from Zach Charlop-Powers (aka the Science Rapper), a graduate student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. We’ve blogged about Charlop-Powers before, when he released a video about PCR. This time he is rapping about structural biology and its accompanying lab practices. He tells Newscripts that he wrote this song as a parody of Saturday Night Live’s classic “Lazy Sunday” video. Although Charlop-Powers has released a few videos now, he says that his “operation” is still pretty nonprofessional. For instance, he says, the first recording of this video was flubbed and resulted in a lot of footage of the videographer’s feet. The second submission comes from Neil Garg, a chemistry professor at UCLA. This semester, Garg taught an organic chemistry class for life sciences majors. To get the students motivated, he offered an extra-credit assignment to make a music video about organic chemistry. Out of about 250 students, Garg says that he expected maybe 5 to 10 videos to be turned in. “In the end, 61 videos were turned in!” he tells Newscripts. This video, “Chemistry Jock,” was Garg’s favorite. And although the creators of the video didn’t get any extra bonus points for standing out, Garg says that he showed it in class and sent them a congratulatory note. One of the “chemistry jocks” responded, saying, “I am so honored that our video was your favorite, and to me, this e-mail is worth more than any amount of points you could have given us.” Awww, shucks. To see UCLA’s coverage of Garg’s assignment, click...

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