There’s a lot about high school I’ve forgotten. I blame it on a misspent youth. But one of the highlights I remember well is a physics project in tenth grade. Our teacher, Mr. Van Arsdale, wanted us to create a skit, song or act based on science and we had to video tape it – a difficult task in the 1980s. My lab partner and I decided to write new science-based lyrics to songs. We called ourselves the Psychedelic Physicists. We rewrote and performed “Yesterday” by the Beatles. I don’t remember many of the lyrics but I know it started out like this “Newton’s laws, all his theories seemed so far away. . .” We also rewrote and sang Bad Company’s “Shooting Star.” It started out with “Johnny was a school boy when he heard his first physics equation. . . E=MC2 I think it was and from there it didn’t take him long.” My mom played the music for us on her Hammond Organ.
We were horrible but it was fun and kept us engaged. Now the folks over at the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) are accepting submissions for an all-new mathematical song competition. Similar to my physics project, contestants are asked to write their own words to a favorite tune or compose their own melody; the only rules are that the lyrics must be original and must be about math or a mathematical concept.
The winners will be announced, and will have a chance to perform their mathemusical masterpieces, at an open mic night at MoMath on Nov. 19.
The submission period closes Oct. 9. You can submit your entries here.
I’ve written about my physics teacher, Mr. Van Arsdale, before (Revealing The Science Behind A Better Education). Apparently he really had an impact on me and helped me salvage some of that misspent youth.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor. She is in search of the one-and-only Psychedelic Physicists performance. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.