Sunday, May 30, 2010

The best rap lyric I have ever heard

From the song "Wamp Wamp (What it Do)" by Clipse:
Mildew-ish when I heat it, it turn bluish
It cools to a tight wad, the Pyrex is Jewish
The reason I think this is awesome has nothing to do with the Jew joke, although that in itself is pretty funny. The reason this lyric is awesome is because it reflects scientific curiosity. "When I heat it, it turn[s] bluish." Isn't that amazing? (Of course, he's talking about making drugs, but so what? The founders of chemistry were just trying to turn lead into gold, or whatever.)

Snoop Dogg once declared: "There ain't nothin in life but bitches and money." And for a depressingly large segment of the human race, that statement is sadly true. But there are non-materialistic pleasure out there in the human experience, and one of those is what Richard Feynman called "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" - the experience of mystery and wonder, the hunting of knowledge and understanding.

It is that elusive, mystic pleasure that drives us to heat things and see if they turn bluish. To test and probe and explore the world and find out "what it do". And in the long run, it is that little-appreciated human drive that has given us the magical world of wealth that we live in, that has allowed Snoop Dogg to have his "bitches and money" instead of being a poor hunter-gatherer in some sweltering tropical forest somewhere.

Pop culture, even smart pop culture, has too little appreciation of the importance of science - by which I mean not scientific facts or the technological fruits of past discoveries, but the process by which science is done. We have They Might Be Giants telling us about all the great things science has discovered in the past, but little about the mysteries that are still out there. We have plenty of our science fiction writers and futurists who assume that technological and scientific progress is a runaway train that will automatically carry us to technological godhood. But we have very little appreciation of all the stuff out there that we don't know, all the mysteries that will remain unexplored until we get off our butts and go after them.


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