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Rap and Physics Collide in Performance on Youtube

September 2, 2008

The Associated Press

Who says science doesn’t turn people on? Kate McAlpine is a rising star on YouTube for her rap performance – about high-energy particle physics.

Her performance has drawn a half-million views so far on YouTube. The 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate raps about the Large Hadron Collider, the groundbreaking particle accelerator that has been built in a 17-mile circular tunnel at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

McAlpine raps that when the collider goes into operation on Sept. 10, “the things that it discovers will rock you in the head.” The $3.8 billion machine will make two beams of protons moving at close to the speed of light collide so that scientists can see what particles appear in the resulting debris.

“Rap and physics are culturally miles apart,” McAlpine, a science writer at CERN, wrote to the Lansing State Journal in an e-mail last week, “and I find it amusing to try and throw them together.”

Others, including physicists, also find it amusing.

“We love the rap, and the science is spot on,” CERN spokesman James Gillies said.

McAlpine received permission to film herself and friends dancing in the caverns and tunnels where the experiments will take place.

She honed her physics rapping skills at Michigan State’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, where she was part of a student research program two years ago.

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