Monty Python's Eric Idle rewrites Galaxy Song with Professor Brian Cox
10 November 2012
Professor Brian Cox O.B.E. has assisted Eric Idle in rewriting the Monty Python ‘Galaxy Song’.
Brian, the former D*Ream popstar keyboard player who had the 1993 hit ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, became a particle physicist and now works at the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. In 2010 he was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to science.
He also recently appeared in an episode of Dr Who playing himself.
Monty Python star Eric Idle wrote the original ‘The Galaxy Song’ for the 1983 Monty Python Meaning of Life movie but got the physics in the lyrics totally wrong. He asked Brian to correct them and the new version is premiering during Brian’s talks in Melbourne and Sydney.
In the song Eric sings that the Earth is “revolving at nine hundred miles an hour”. Brian has corrected that to 1,038 miles an hour.
Idle’s other inaccuracies are that the Sun is “the source of all power”. Three sources are actually not from the sun.
Idle also incorrectly pointed out that we are “thirty thousand light years from galactic central point”. It is really 25,000 light years. He also got the size of the galaxy wrong in the song.
In his blog, Eric Idle explained the changes:
“There’s just one thing that is problematic,” he said, after listening to the track. And remember, this was the keyboard player from D:Ream. Was he going to dislike the way I sang it? The backing? What?
“It’s the number of stars in the Universe. You say “Two thousand billion suns.” It doesn’t seem right to me. It seems way under, I mean there are fifty billion galaxies and if each has a hundred million stars…” He picked up a pencil from the control desk and started to work on some figures. Andre and I exchanged an amazed look. Were we really seeing this? After a moment or two he said “that’s more like a billion trillion suns.”
“Oh, that’s much better” I said, “I like that.”
“And the width of the Universe, you say ‘fifteen billion light years,’ but some people argue that while we are observing the light from it, it has been expanding during the time it took that light to reach us, and so by now in real time” — he reached for the pencil again — “it’s more like ninety billion light years.”
The new version of Galaxy DNA Song will feature in Brian’s upcoming BBC show ‘The Wonder of Life’.