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Rock You in the Head
November 2008

Rap
The Large Hadron Rap on YouTube
“The things that it discovers will rock you in the head”
from the Large Hadron Rap

Four million viewings will rock us in the head.  Who would imagine that a Rap about LHC would be watched by four million people?  ATLAS' own Katie McAlpine (with a little help from her friends) produced this quirky rap about the LHC and its experiments.

Katie, who is ATLAS e-News webmaster and journalist, has become a celebrity of sorts, after her quirky Large Hadron Rap video posted on Youtube.com has reached nearly four million hits.

A blogger recently wrote: "And I am still just amazed how AlpineKat [Katie's alias on the rap] is able to succinctly explain, in so few lines, things like mass-energy equivalence, the case for dark matter, how particle collision are used to detect unseen particles using conservation of energy/momentum, what antimatter is, the mystery of unequal amounts of matter/antimatter, the higgs mechanism for giving mass to particles, the weakness of gravity and its possible explanation with extra dimensions, and what each experiment (LHCb, ALICE, CMS, ATLAS) is doing."

So, how can anyone possibly bring together rapping, the music style associated with street gangs, and high energy physics, a scientific discipline? Katie has the answer: "Physics rap fuses two very different cultures. That's what makes it fun."

"It's not just a crazy idea anymore, she adds, “it's a crazy idea that worked."  Maybe it is all about finding the right formula to "rock the public's head".

Katie has been honing her skills for a long time now. After finishing a dual degree in professional writing and physics at Michigan State University, Katie joined the American Physical Society as an intern.

As s science writer, Katie has been mostly struck by the flurry of press coverage. Stories about the rap have been featured in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and Reuters, among others: "This was the strangest bit for me," she concedes. The popularity is also reflected in the promotion of a ringtone featuring the rap, see the box below.

The video has been particularly successful as a science teaching resource. "I am most proud of the fact that so many teachers have contacted me to get a copy that they can play in their classrooms," Katie says.

These commentaries from the web provide a good summary of the public reaction:

  "Check out this video for the Large Hadron Rap, by far the greatest physics rap of all time."
  "Oh that's fantastic! I got to tour Cern and the LHC last week and got a ton of great pics."
  "Scientists can't dance."
  "Great! Actually I love it. 'This should be used at school' said someone, that's right!"
  "And that must be a pretty exciting place to be working, as a young scientist."

Ringtone from Large Hadron Rap

FunMobility sent out the following email to a writer:

"I wanted to alert you to an official ringtone based off the rap that's become an overnight sensation on YouTube with close to three million views, which your readers can now download for free!

This ultra-geeky ringtone, provided by FunMobility, is a great way for physics fans to mark the unveiling of the LHC discovery machine that is attempting to usher in a new era of understanding about the Big Bang theory and the origins and evolution of the Universe.

Now FunMo.com, the makers of the famous Shaq/Kobe Rap Ringtone have now released the official (yes that's right, we got permission) Hadron Particle Rap Ringtone for all of your readers who want to take the song on the go with them."

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