Astronomers Make a Music Video: Fund Me, Maybe?

by Guest on February 6, 2013

This is a guest post by Emily Rice, an assistant professor at College of Staten Island of the City University of New York (CUNY) and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. She studies both the observed and synthetic spectra of low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and exoplanets as part the BDNYC collaboration.

Scientists are stereotypically considered smart but single-minded, socially inept, and frankly, boring (I’m looking at you, The Big Bang Theory), but every year at the AAS I am reminded how much fun science and scientists can be. This year, inspired by a Spitzer GO program that Trent Dupuy noticed and shared on Facebook, I decided to showcase the creativity and humor of scientists in the form of a lip-dub video. (NASA Johnson Style is one of my favorites to date. Also see Bad Project.)

Niall Deacon (of Sh*t Astronomers Say fame) and I wrote new lyrics to the ubiquitous pop song “Call me, maybe?” to explain the trials and tribulations of applying for grant funding. As part of the inaugural Hack Day at AAS I assembled a film crew and hit the exhibit hall looking for enthusiastic (or easily convinced) scientists to lip sync our new words, aided by vocals recorded the previous night by the very talented Duane Lee. The final version is sung by Jocelyn Ferrera.

By the end of an exhausting whirlwind day we filmed over 50 astronomers, from community college students to tenured faculty and NASA missions project scientists, showing us their science (or at least dancing for their funding). Even with very little filming experience and completely amateur equipment (a point and shoot camera, a mini tripod, an iPhone, a portable speaker, and an iPad for lyrics), what we ended up with is a testament to the awesomeness of scientists and how much we love our work.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Victor February 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

The CARRLYRAE music video was awesome! No mention of RR Lyrae stars, though… On the topic of music videos made by scientists, there was a series made by a group of biology grad students (from the faculty right next to where I did my PhD in Barcelona) about life in grad school that is hilarious. There you go:


2 Emily February 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I didn’t actually track down my inspiration until after I had filmed the video, thus no RR Lyrae lyric. I need to keep better track of my references! 😉

3 Mark Marley February 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

This was great fun and shows a lighter side of astronomers, so all good. I would encourage everyone to remember though that the “pie” everyone wants a piece of comes from taxpayers, including people moving crates around for Walmart on a dock someplace or driving a truck or digging a ditch. I’ve found from talking to relatives and others who do hard physical work that they really get turned off by too much lightheartedness in the discussion of the spending of their tax dollars. Not a negative comment on the video at all, but just something to keep in mind.


4 Emily February 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Good point, Mark. I think I once heard Judy Cohen say something like “astronomy is a luxury”, and getting paid to do astronomical research certainly is. I actually hope that videos like this will (in some tiny way) help people understand where their tax dollars are going, or at least convey that astronomers are grateful for what they receive. (At least I didn’t say, “Please please fund my $6 billion space telescope”…?)

5 Tim February 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

we need to know so bad – yes!


6 KT February 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Good work, guys, that was awesome! Really made me smile 🙂


7 julie February 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I would really like to have the song on my music track. The lyrics are awesome and I could listen to them while I work or drive. Pretty please???


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