Takin’ Care of Business at SLAC


Earlier I nominated David Tong for ‘physics stud of the year,’ but it seems like Dr. Tong has an engineering student counterpart. From this month’s Symmetry Magazine, SLAC summer student Ryan Auer put together a SLAC-themed performance of Takin’ Care of Business for SLAC’s annual Family Day. The video is available via SLAC, it certainly brought up some memories of my own days as a SLAC summer intern. (There’s an interesting story about the round rock on the performance stage.)

To offer a taste, the opening verse is as follows:

We made our debut,
Back in 1962;
It’s all controlled at MCC.
Faster than the speed of light,
SLAC hosted the first website,
And you can take a tour here for free.

In terms of physics set to song, this ranks up there on my top five. Other notable songs:

  • “Particle Man” by They Might be Giants. The actual meaning of the song is up in the air, but I prefer to believe that particle man and universe man are avatars for high energy physics and cosmology.
  • Dark Matter Searches to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. In 2004 I was a teaching assistant for “The Elementary Particles and their Fundamental Interactions,” a Stanford Sophomore College course taught by Professor Pat Burchat. The students gave talks on various subjects of current research. The most memorable presentation was a talk on dark matter searches sang to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody. I wish I had a recording as it would surely be a hit on the physics blogosphere. Just like original song, the only bit I actually remember inlcuded the words, “DAMA-mia! DAMA-mia!”
  • QFT Pinafore. This is something of an urban legend. When Michael Peskin was lecturing on chapter 4 of his book, he mentioned that someone had written a physics-themed version of ‘I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.’ Again, my poor memory fails me and the only bit I remembered him saying was that the song ended with the words “…the exponentiation of disconnected diagrams.” (exercise: reconstruct the rest of this song.) update: ‘I Am the Very Model…’ is from Pirates of Penzance, not the HMS Pinafore… thanks Matt!
  • Finite Simple Group (or Order 2). This one doesn’t really count since it’s a math song and not a physics song. This is song was the claim-to-fame of Northwestern University’s own Department of Mathematics a capella group, the Klein Four Group. Call me a geek, but the lyrics never get old. Below is a video from youtube:
  • One last one: Les Horribles Cernettes (i.e. LHC). Something of an analogy to the Klein Four Group, LHC was started by a CERN secretary who had her moment of fame at the “CERN Hadronic Festival.” Perhaps Ryan Auer is destined to a similar path?

2 Responses to “Takin’ Care of Business at SLAC”

  1. 1 Matt Dolan

    Hey Flip, I think “I Am the Very Model…” is from Pirates of Penzance, not HMS Pinafore.

  2. Ah! Thanks Matt.

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