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If Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking Wrote Songs (an Improbable Symphony)


Symphony of Science reveals the poetic form possible in scientific talks.

The way that certain scientists, be they Carl Sagan or Oliver Sacks, have described the most amazing phenomena of life, in the cosmos and in the mind, suggests a remarkable closeness, perhaps even an intimacy, between the scientific and the poetic.

After what was likely a similar reflection, John D. Boswell (known to the music world as “melodysheep”) launched “A Glorious Dawn,” in 2009. This was the first piece of the Symphony of Science, a series of compositions that would promulgate some of the most profound sayings spoken by popular astronomers. In this first installment, an unlikely scientific and musical encounter takes place between Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, here apparently improvising some of their finest thoughts on the nature of the universe:

A still more glorious dawn awaits / Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise / A morning filled with 400 billion suns / The rising of the milky way.

Both the text and the video scenes were taken from the documentary series, Cosmos: A Personal Journey (1980) and Stephen Hawking’s Universe (1997) using digital mashups and progressions of ingenious and harmonious musical loops.

What makes this musical experiment unique is not in itself the fact that more than 10 million views far exceeded Boswell’s original goal, that of stimulating scientific interest through music. The real challenge was the flawless assembly of ideas and melodies, interspersed with inspiration for anyone to imagine the nature of the cosmos as a philosophy of life. As dictated within the song of this same Sagan, If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.

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