Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Celebrating Tom Lehrer

This is not a post about physics, but one to mark the birthday today of mathematician, teacher, satirist, lyricist and performer Tom Lehrer. Today he turns 85 – or, since he apparently prefers to measure his age in Centigrade – 29 (I must remember to use that one myself sometime!).

To commemorate the occasion, the BBC ran a half-hour long radio feature on his life and work last Saturday. This is available to listen to here for another four days; do try to catch it before then!

Even readers who have not heard of Lehrer might have heard of some of his better-known songs, such as The Elements Song. Other pieces of simple comedy gold include Lobachevsky, or New Math. But for me the best of Lehrer's songs are the ones with darkly satirical lyrics juxtaposed with curiously uplifting melodies. (These were probably also part of the reason that he never achieved the mainstream popularity he deserved.) So I want to feature one such example here:

Kim Jong-un, I hope you are listening.

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