They Might Be Giants is interfering with my teaching

From time to time in the past, I’ve given my intro astronomy class the following assignment: Listen to Why Does the Sun Shine, by They Might Be Giants, and critique it for accuracy.  The answer is that it’s mostly very accurate, but there are a couple of things it gets wrong.

I’ll have to be careful assigning this in the future, though, because TMBG have written a followup song, Why Does the Sun Really Shine? (The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma) that gives away part of the answer.

I learned about this via the radio show/podast Radio Lab.  One of their recent podcasts was all about TMBG and their new album of science songs for kids. (The part about the Sun starts at about 12:15, but it won’t kill you to listen to the whole thing.)

(In case any of my future astronomy students are reading this, the correction song reveals only one of the two things wrong with the original song; the Radio Lab interview reveals the other.)

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Ted Bunn

I am chair of the physics department at the University of Richmond. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate physics courses, I work on a variety of research projects in cosmology, the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. University of Richmond undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research. If you want to know more about my research, ask me!

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