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Blog

A Bohemian rhapsody on string theory

By Matin Durrani

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has had the seemingly bright idea of remaking a well-known song, altering the lyrics so they’re about some “cool” aspect of science, and then unleashing a cataclysmically awful video to the rest of the world, with the original song mangled to death.

So I braced myself before playing this new a capella version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, entitled “Bohemian Gravity”. It is sung and performed by Tim Blais – a student in theoretical physics at McGill University in Canada, who recently completed his Master’s thesis under Alex Maloney.

But right from the off, you can tell this is a class apart from anything else in the genre. It’s witty, it’s fun, it’s clever and Blais appears it to have sung it entirely by himself in the full five (or however many) part harmony that featured in the original version. It even includes a brilliant singing Einstein puppet at about 2.40 minutes in.

I’m not sure where he found the time to create the video, but Blais has performed a heroic job in stitching it all together. You’ve got to love the lyrics too, which start off with just the right level of doubt about whether string theory is actually a framework that says anything about the world:

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality

But for all the controversy over string theory from the likes of Lee Smolin and Peter Woit, it appears Blais is quite content with a stringy universe. As he sings:

I see extended 1D objects with no mass

and

Now we need 10 dimensions and I’ll tell you why

The video has, at the time of writing, clocked up nearly half a million views on YouTube and you can also buy the song on iTunes. But if you really want to know what string theory is about, I recommend Physics World‘s classic 2007 feature “Stringscape” by Matthew Chalmers.

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2 comments

  1. Judy

    I can handle misspelling “parametrize” – but misspelling MALDACENA!!!!!!!???!!!

  2. Robert L. Oldershaw

    Wow! Well done!

    And now string theory has found its niche: pop music. It’s an art, doncha know.

    Win-Win

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