“Any way you quantize, you encounter infinity.” Trying to follow in Freddie Mercury’s shoes would be ambitious in any given situation, but when you rewrite the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” to include string theory, then record yourself singing every part a capella, and throw some snazzy animations in for the hell of it, you’ll get my attention. A Capella Science has my attention.
And I haven’t even got to Sock Puppet Einstein yet.
A Capella Science is the work of the clearly multi-talented physics master’s student Tim Blais of Montreal’s McGill University. “Drawing inspiration from Weird Al, Bill Nye, Mike Tompkins and Vi Hart he created A Capella Science, which may be the single most comprehensively nerdy endeavor ever conceived.” Well, I don’t know about most nerdy, but I’d say this has to be in the top one percent at least. And while my layman’s enthusiasm for physics and high-order math may fail me when it comes to actually following most of Blais’ lyrics — to say nothing of the equations he’s scrawling on a blackboard throughout the video — I still still direct a deep and reverent bow in the general direction of his harmonizing.
Blais posted the “Bohemian Gravity” video on September 16th, and it’s currently hit 1.6 million views on YouTube. That’s pretty damned impressive for a video sporting lyrics that, for most of us, might as well be in Klingon. (Okay, that’s a bad comparison. I’m sure some of you out there speak Klingon.) But it’s a testament to Blais’ musical talents and the overall impressive quality of the video that you don’t have to be able to grok his physics to enjoy the song.
Can I also just point out how much I love that Blais links to his friggin’ master’s thesis on the video page? Where else can you get YouTube comments like this: “No no. We need the ten dimensions so that the conformal anomalies on the worldsheet cancel out.” I think this thing has single-handedly raised the average I.Q. of YouTube comments the world over. (Which means they currently rank slightly below my kitchen sponge. The guy’s a physics student, not a superhero, he can only do so much.)
“Bohemian Gravity” isn’t the only nerd-tastic musical parody Blais has created. He posted a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” — called “Rolling in the Higgs” — a year ago, but it didn’t blow up nearly as much as this latest project. That’s at least partly because “Bohemian Gravity” is a huge step up, combining the musical mojo and knack for scientific lyric replacement with some more impressive production values. There’s just more going on in this one, and it all works beautifully. Here’s hoping Blais knocks another one of these out soon, but “Bohemian Gravity” was absolutely worth the wait.