This is a weekly post by Nidhal Guessoum (see his earlier posts here). Nidhal is an astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at American University of Sharjah and is the author of Islam's Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science.
This is a light post, for several reasons. First because I am right in the middle of finals week; I have already graded more than 30 papers, and by the end of the week I will have to do another 60 or so., not counting many term papers. Secondly, as you’ll see, although the content below is almost all related to science, it is in a new, fun format, though it is done in a very creative and masterful way. Third, because much of the content below relates to Carl Sagan, and you all know that he is Salman’s hero, so… wink.
It was actually a student of mine, from the introductory astronomy course, who brought these “Symphony of Science” clips to my attention. Although many of these can be found on youtube, there is a website dedicated to this work, and it explains that it is “a musical project headed by John Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.”
The clips, which are about 3 to 4 minutes long, take statements from contemporary scientists who have proven themselves particularly eloquent in conveying the greatness of science (discoveries and methods), and then meshes them into a song by adding electronically remixed music and sound-working the utterances to come out as if they were sung by their authors. Among these great science communicators, one can find Carl Sagan prominently featured, but also Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough, and others. It’s the usual skeptics’ refrain of “the universe is awe-inspiring and that’s a good-enough spirituality”, though in these clips only the first part is emphasized. It will not escape anyone that all the scientists and communicators featured there are skeptics, if not staunch atheists. No matter, the clips are very well made, and their content is in no way objectionable, even to very religious people, on the contrary; they could also be described as “hymns to creation”…
Among those clips, my favorite ones are: