When science and current events cross paths, they may become the subject of folk music. My favorite example is Christine Lavin’s history of Pluto’s planetary status set to verse, entitled “ Planet X .”

As Lavin recounted, “’Planet X’ was inspired by an article in USA Today about Pluto’s planetary status. Halfway through the article I knew there was a song inside the story bustin’ to get loose!”

Music resonates, it pulses, it leaps into our psyches. It offers a safe space for scientists and musicians alike to work through the paradoxes of modern physics, and it can be the spoonful of sugar that helps students learn—and enjoy—physics. Thousands of years after the age of Pythagoras, physicists are still discovering the harmonies of the universe.


Thanks so much to Roland Orzabal, Kate McAlpine, and Christine Lavin for their thoughtful comments. I have linked to more science-themed music videos on Twitter under the hashtag #ScienceSongSaturday.

Go Deeper
Editor’s picks for further reading

Pythagoras: His Life and Times
Discover Pythagoras in this in this 2010 reissue of Thomas Stanley’s 1687 classical survey.

Michigan Technological University: Physics of Music
Physicist B. H. Suits on the physics principles behind musical scales, instruments, and more.

NUVO: Quantum theory and classical music
Ontario-based conductor Edwin Outwater on the historical parallels between classical music and quantum theory.

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