Cosmology In Music
This isn't really relevant to cosmology, but it was just so cool I had to share.

There is a Queen song based around time dilation when traveling close to the speed of light.

The song '39 was written by Brian May, who before joining Queen at university was studying to be an astrophysicist. The song starts out sounding like a folk tune about lost love but when you actually listen to the lyrics, it describes a dying earth and a group of brave travelers looking for a new world to settle on. The travelers find a planet in about a year and head back to earth. On return, they find that due to the incredible speed of the ship the Earth had aged 100 years and everyone they knew had died.

The second verse describes a young man who was on the ship, meeting one of his descendants on earth and feeling deep sadness about the loss of his wife. His wife had sent him letters over her lifetime to describe her life to him, but it's he finds its a poor substitute.

The last line is "For my life, still ahead, pity me". The ending is left as a sort of bittersweet cliffhanger because finding a new earth has come at the cost of everyone they loved.

I've listened to this song so many times and it just blew my mind when I learned it had this hidden depth.
Song (w/ lyrics):


Too sad. :-(


Hmm, I believe that is called 'the price of progress'. It is a choice we all have to make for our careers - to what level are we willing to sacrifice our families and our personal lives for the work that we love (or hate for some people).

This is also an interesting conundrum that the people who have signed up for the trip to Mars have already had to face in some sense by applying. I am curious what their feelings about the matter will be when it comes time to actually go where no man (or woman) has gone before? Will it be worth it?

I'm not sure it would be for me. I'd probably have the response, "For my life, still ahead, pity me."

P.S. Thanks for sharing this Mitch! I love Queen and knowing this makes me love them more. :-)

Cat Gordon

That is indeed an interesting conundrum. In physics last year we learnt about the Twins Paradox, which is basically a thought experiment where one twin stays on Earth and the other flies in a rocket into space close to the speed of light, then returns to find the Earth twin has aged. In reality, however, the difference in ages could only be seconds/minutes (depending on how fast we can make the rocket). But there is no doubt that astronauts who return to earth are a few seconds younger than people who remain on earth (in the earth frame of reference - in their own reference frame they are obviously no different in age).

The Mars One mission is actually an interesting point. I applied for the mission and ended up getting through to the next round, but from what I could tell most people who applied weren't serious about the mission. I don't think there was enough awareness of the project to find people who were really motivated to go to Mars. It's also extremely optimistic - they aim to send people there within ten years and finance it all by televising the selection process. I, for one, would be extremely surprised if this happened on schedule or even at all. Mind you, we wouldn't get anywhere without optimism like this - the best of luck to them!

Harriet Farlow

Applying for Mars One gives a whole new meaning to "participation". I think I have to give you participation marks for that!