I’m not ashamed to admit that I LOVE the band They Might Be Giants. Some might think, at first listen, that this is a band for kids. But, as my boyfriend so aptly put it “a wannabe punk rocker and a wannabe lounge singer got together and this is what happened”. Their album Here Comes Science is a treasure to science geeks like me, and might even have you singing phrases like “The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma” nearly unaware that you are actually learning and loving science.
This song itself is an example of the iterative nature of the process of science - a fancy way of saying “science circles back on itself so that useful ideas are built upon and used to learn even more about the natural world.” The TMBG song is actually a cover of a song from the 1950’s that goes “the sun is a mass of incandescent gas”. Though catchy, this is actually incorrect. The scientific consensus has evolved to include even more types of matter than just the solids, liquids, and gases, like many of us learned in grade school. TMBG originally covered the song to include the incorrect lyrics. After learning that the sun is actually made of a type of matter known as plasma, they re-wrote the entire thing. Hear the story from John and John themselves in their interview on NPR.