Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Modest Mouse Song That Correctly Applies A Scientific Principle.

Over on Thinking The Lions today, I completed .0768% of my quest to discuss each of the songs on my iPod -- it's more entertaining that you would guess from that description -- using song 7 as a springboard to discuss how "science" either misleads us or almost blew up the world, twice. (See? That sounds better, doesn't it?)

That put me in the mood for a little more science-bashing and a little more Modest Mouse-listening, already two of my favorite activities. Hence, today's Showdown, which lets me bash science, listen to Modest Mouse, and use "hence" in a sentence.

The showdown today is between "Gravity Rides Everything" and "3rd Planet," two songs that, as the title notes, correctly apply scientific principles while also being very good songs. I've always said, if there's one thing music is good for, it's correctly applying scientific principles. And it's good for distracting me when I'm working out, keeping my mind off the fact of just how hard it is for me to do anything even remotely active these days. But mostly music is all about correctly applying scientific principles.

Most of what I know about "science" and "scientific principles" comes, not surprisingly, from areas other than "scientists." If scientists have to make up dinosaurs and cannot remember Einstein's equations, how can I trust them to teach me "science?" Answer: I can't. So instead, I know about science from three sources (outside of pop music): Mr. Hassemer, my 10th grade chemistry teacher; comic books, and Douglas Adams' sci-fi series "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy."

This is what I learned from each of those sources:

Mr. Hassemer said that the greatest tool invented by mankind was the grooved arrow, which when used allowed an animal to be shot by an arrow and bleed out, so that the hunter could track the animal through the blood trail, and the animal would bleed to death even if the initial wound was not fatal. I don't know how that related to chemistry, but, then, I also did not do very good in chemistry.

Comic books have taught me that there are multiple universes, that the color of a star's light affects gravity's pull on you and may allow you to fly, that white dwarf star material can be made into a belt, that time travel is possible, and that superpowers are just around the corner from us all. Plus, according to comic books, if you're a nerdy guy, you'll get chicks once you have superpowers, even if your secret identity remains a nerdy guy.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy taught me that improbability is the second greatest force in the universe, second only to things being Somebody Else's Problem. Also, that space travel is fun and that the Earth was created as a computer program using organic materials and then populated by an exiled race of hairdressers and phone sanitizers.

So I will use those rock-solid scientific sources to rate the accuracy of each of today's entry, on a scale of 1-5 Mosquito Explosions -- and you'll have to read Thinking The Lions today to find out what that means. But 5 explosions is greater, and better, than 1.

First up: "Gravity Rides Everything."

Accuracy Rating:

According to Mr. Hassemer:
1 Mosquito Explosion. There's nothing in that song about arrows or blood grooves at all.

According to comics: 0 Mosquito Explosions. If gravity rides everything, then how does Superman fly? How do Legion of Superheroes flying rings work? Explain that, Modest Mouse.

According to The Hitchhiker's Guide books: 4 Mosquito Explosions. In several instances in the books [VERY VAGUE SPOILER ALERT] characters fear falling or actually fall.

And now, "3rd Planet:"

Accuracy Ratings:

According to Mr. Hassemer:
2 Mosquito Explosions. There are still no blood grooves; Mr. Hassemer would no doubt question whether these songs were about "science" at all, absent blood grooves. He would also tell me to pay attention. But he would like the part about the "oceans in our bodies... given that our blood is just like the atlantic" because that points out that our blood has the same level of salt as ocean water, which I heard once and believe to be true... and "heard once and believe to be true" pretty much sets out how "science" works these days, right?

According to comics: 5 Mosquito Explosions. [SPOILER ALERTS BUT YOU DON'T KNOW WHICH COMICS I'M TALKING ABOUT, SO IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER, DOES IT] Throughout comics, various characters ranging from The Beyonder to the Monitor to the Spectre to the Guardian on OA watch our planet-- and Modest Mouse has it right there in the song: the third planet is certainly being watched. Plus things swimming in the water = Aquaman. Plus, "if you go straight long enough you'll end up where you were" is a comic book universe in microcosm -- nothing ever really changes, right?

According to The Hitchhiker's Guide books: 1 Mosquito Explosion: There's some references to oceans, and [ANOTHER VAGUE SPOILER] the oceans kind of figure into the series because of the dolphins and all.

So, with a score of 8 Mosquito Explosions, I name 3rd Planet The Best Modest Mouse Song That Correctly Applies A Scientific Principle. If you want to really know about science, ignore "scientists" and listen to that song. And Mr. Hassemer.

Click here to see all the other topics I’ve ever discussed!

Snack Food:

Thinking The Lions is the only website where you can find out why Velociraptors are fake, learn how to play "Cloverfield," and otherwise follow the hilarious adventures of a guy with a lot of kids, a lot of love of 70s music, a lot of time to watch Battlestar Galactica, and a very patient wife. Life, only funnier.

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