The Unbroken Thread

By Phil Plait | January 18, 2010 7:23 am

John Boswell, the musician and producer of the wonderful Symphony of Science remixes, has created a new one, the fourth in the series: The Unbroken Thread. It features our man Carl Sagan, with David Attenborough and Jane Goodall. I like this one quite a bit.

I hope Boswell keeps making these. They’re very well done! The music is pleasant, the meaning is deep, and the words, of course, are beautiful and something everyone should hear.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Science

Comments (28)

  1. Dinosaur Teacher

    It was good enough to completely captivate an audience of 7th/8th graders. My classes are begging me to see more of the videos, and every so often I catch one imitating Bill Nye in “We Are All Connected.” These are great educational tools.

  2. It’s a very wuzzy line, and it’s getting wuzzier all the time.

  3. Caleb Jones

    Makes me want to watch Cosmos again!

    However, I can’t stand the computerized voice effect. For some reason, that kind of effect just seems tacky to me.

  4. Sir Craig

    That was beautiful. When I am once again accused by some science-denying type of failing to appreciate the beauty of life because I refuse to ascribe some supernatural origin to it, I will direct him or her to these videos and demonstrate that science does, indeed, still have the capacity for wonder.

  5. dre

    Sometimes I feel like everything is getting wuzzier all the time. But I guess that’s one of the things molecules do.

  6. @ Sir Craig:

    I’ve never understood that “you’re too rational for beauty and wonder” line.

    That’s the amazing thing about the universe: no matter how much we learn, there will always be something more to astound us.

    Add the whole supernatural goddidit factor to the equation, and that’s the end of it. How non-wondrous is that?

  7. Minos

    @Caleb Jones:

    I positively hate Auto-Tune when it’s used on singers. Fortunately, the novelty of using it on spoken word to create a song overcame my initial revulsion.

  8. Alan

    For some reason, Sagan sounds like Ernie from Sesame Street when he’s auto-tuned. :)

  9. Eric Howe

    Nice to seen Jane Goodall in one of the videos, she was my hero when I was a kid.

    The audio and video files can be downloaded from the Symphony of Science web site if anyone needs to put these in their music collection.

  10. Nemo

    I’m not that crazy about these, but I hope maybe they’ll get a younger generation to watch Cosmos.

  11. Chris

    I like the new ones just fine, but I don’t think he’s yet managed to make one nearly as good as the very first one (A Glorious Dawn). Maybe it was inspiration, maybe it was the material, but that’s the one that just blows me away every time I listen to it.

    Particularly the line:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.

    Man, do I miss Sagan.

  12. sophia8

    Thanks Phil, I’m downloading all of these.
    BTW, if anybody wants to know about the standing stones featured at the end of that video, it’s the Avebury stone circle, in Wiltshire

  13. CameronSS

    This is actually my least favorite one of the series…Attenborough doesn’t make the best singer. I like the rest equally…Glorious Dawn is my favorite musically, but We are All Connected has Bill Nye’s Singing of Science, and Our Place in the Cosmos has some pretty awesome Dawkinsing.

  14. Yeebok

    This’s a fantastic piece of work. Love it, going to look for the other 3 now, thanks Phil!

  15. I watched that one the other day — it’s brilliant! I love Symphony of Science :-)

  16. Petrolonfire

    Funny. They used a lot of famous scientists there but the only one whose voice I heard was Stephen Hawking! ūüėČ

    @ 13. CameronSS Says:

    This is actually my least favorite one of the series…Attenborough doesn’t make the best singer.

    Er, I don’t think *he’s* actually singing there somehow. ūüėČ

  17. Brought a tear to my eye. This is what autotuning is made for. Good stuff.

  18. Markle

    My least favorite of the bunch. Attenborough and Goodall don’t speak as rhythmically as Sagan did. They need a bit of Auto-meter in addition to the Auto-tune

  19. Elin

    This totally made my night.
    “Every cell is a triumph of natural selection.” Forget Lady Gaga; this is what I’m going to be humming all day long tomorrow.

  20. Naomi

    Okay, his voice isn’t quite as lyrical as Sagan’s, but Attenborough! <3 It was watching The Trials of Life at the tender age of three that got me in to science in the first place, and watching Cosmos eighteen years later that made me decide to become a scientist.

    Still, nothing has beaten A Glorious Dawn yet for sheer awesomeness.

  21. lookIntoDNA

    Let’s assume we beam this video file to outer space (e.g. by transmitting a sequence of bits) and (intentionally) we don’t include information regarding the video player (i.e., how to decode).

    At some point in time, a civilization in a very far galaxy detects and records this sequence for the first time in their history.

    There are two groups of alien scientists looking at this data: Alien scientists in the first group believe that the world came into being by random phenomenon and anything in it is based on natural selection. The second group believes in some designer.

    Question: would the belief system of these two groups affect the the outcome of their research?

    Now assume, after a long time an intelligent alien scientist comes up with an actual video player and shows this video to the whole civilization.

    Question: can the first group still claim that this video came into being based on chance? Of course they can (they would just add the following footnote in their papers: “the chance is very low”).


  22. David of Oz

    Excellent stuff, I agree that these are a rare, positive use of autotune too. One small point; isn’t he Sir David? Not sure of my protocol, but I thought we addressed him via his title until told otherwise. But I could be 100% wrong. Also Dame Jane?

  23. fred edison

    I can’t help but smile whenever I watch these videos. Light-years of kudos to John Boswell for his creative efforts to infuse us with the importance of science to our lives.

  24. Mario

    We watched it with my 2 years old girl last night. She kept asking “What’s this?”, “What’s that?”. Being my wife a Biologist, she was so delight with her offspring doing the first steps into her field.

  25. James B

    The production I like along with the idea of using autotune etc.
    Shame the subject matter isn’t proven. I haven’t seen any proof of cross species evolution. Within species evolution is fine, but jumping from one species to another has not been proven. It is still a theory and I wish people would see it as such. If it has been proven then please point me to the proof, not the surcumstancial evidence but the proof.
    Other than that, good stuff… :)

  26. Nerdista

    I totally have all of these on my ipod. When geology seems overwhelming, they help keep me going.

  27. Nurn

    “For some reason, Sagan sounds like Ernie from Sesame Street when he‚Äôs auto-tuned.”

    I agree, Alan. I immediately thought of Jim Henson when I heard it. Not a bad thing, though. At least he doesn’t sound like Bert!

    I don’t think that “The Younger Generation” need computerised voice effects to get their attention. They’re not stupid, you know. They’ll get it eventually, just like we got it eventually. And then they’ll probably complain that their youth aren’t responsible enough. Just as we are doing.


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