Warning, nerd alert
I love parodies, I always have. During high school I was a Weird Al Yanchovic fan despite the social difficulties that imposed. Now, as an adult I’ve migrated toward appreciating the more clever parodies as opposed to the humorous ones. It’s amazing how much you can learn when the information is set to music. Happily the music now comes with instant videos on my computer.
Parodies have been around for a while, but instant access video parodies are a newer thing. I suppose if you’re under, say 20, you think that last statement is a joke, but YouTube has really only been around since 2005. Amazing how much it’s permeated our lives since then, having over 800 million unique visitors each month. With that much traffic you wonder how people find anything worth sharing. For me, it’s word of mouth, either a real mouth talking to me, or a virtual mouth via social media. True, most of the videos shared on social media are not worth a second glance, but sometimes you find one that really sticks with you. Most of my “stickies” are science oriented and all of them are very clever. If you like these, be careful, you might accidentally learn something.
The PCR Song
This first video is a professional job from a company, BioRad. It was brought to my attention by a student doing an internship in the lab. I think it was created to promote their newest thermocycler (for polymerase chain reactions, known as PCR) but I love how they mimic artists and relate PCR to situations that anyone can recognize; “PCR – When you need to find out who the daddy is”. Yep, paternity testing is done using PCR (comparing specific sites on the potential dad’s DNA to the same sites on the child’s DNA. It will be even more accurate when you have the mom’s DNA too). Forensic science also relies heavily on the technology (“PCR – when you need to solve a crime”), comparing DNA in blood spatters to the victim and potential suspects.
If you’d like to see just how highly some people can think of themselves, read Kary Mullis’ autobiography. He talks about how he got the idea for PCR and a bunch of other amazing science he did. Ok, he did win a Nobel Prize, so maybe he really is “all that”.
Large Hadron Rap
I really couldn’t tell you why this video is one of my favorites; maybe it’s the snappy music, maybe the cool footage from various science sites, or maybe because it made me feel like I have some inkling of an idea what the Large Hadron Collider is doing. High energy particle beams are accelerated to almost light speed, and then they collide. Particle detectors (LHCb, ALICE, CMS and ATLAS) collect information about particles that are produced from the collision. From this, physicists are hoping to learn more about basic laws governing interactions and forces. And that concludes the extent of my physics knowledge, most of which I got from watching the video.
If you’re really excited by this, I suggest you first read through the Wikipedia page to get the basics, then peruse the LHC website. It’s well set up, but the there’s a lot of information there to absorb. Unless you already have some particle physics jargon under your belt you’ll want to take it a bit slow.
Zheng Lab - Bad Project (Lady Gaga parody)
A coworker sent me this and it needs some setup for anyone who hasn’t been to grad school for a science degree. In addition to classes, you need to complete a project to get your degree. Successful completion is usually signaled by acceptance of a write-up of your work in a good, peer-reviewed journal. Cell is one of the best, and it’s a lofty goal for a grad student, but not unattainable. Most projects you get will be a continuation of someone else’s work, and the quality of the previous student’s record keeping can vary greatly. Poor handwriting, poor labeling of reagents and notes written on paper towels are pretty standard for most grad students. Your options are either to figure things out, switch projects (and extend your time at school) or drop out and become a sheep herder (that was always my back-up plan, a fellow student was convinced long distance trucking would be a better option). Or you can sing about it and become a viral sensation among PhD students. This video features the best use of lab supplies as clothing that you’ll find anywhere.
For more information on the Molecular Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease, Check out the Zheng Lab’s home page at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.
Farmer Style (Gangnam Style Parody)
I got this through a farm group and modern farming is just as much science as biology or physics as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know anything about the ‘Gangnam’ thing’s origins, and the original video isn’t any fun at all to watch, but this! Agricultural explanations at their finest! How could you not be excited over lyrics such as “Haaaaaaaaaay for my cattle”, I mean, that’s a brilliant combination of filler word (hey) with practical (hay). These guys are smart. And hardworking, and doing some awesome marketing by pointing out to people in a fun way just how important farmers are. Yes, if you like to eat, thank a farmer.
If you want to learn more about the Peterson, or watch more of their videos, they’ve got a very active Facebook page with plenty of photos and a link to their YouTube videos. Really, support your local farmers; they are the basis of everything we are.
There you have it, the most embarrassing truth about me; I am a complete and total nerd. Even if you didn’t learn anything from the videos, at least the music was fun, right? Let me leave you with one more, bonus video. This isn’t a parody, but it was early nerdliness, and it’s a really great song. From Happy Days. It’s ok, you don’t have to tell anyone you know me.