EAST LANSING, Mich. – Kate McAlpine is a viral sensation thanks to her unlikely skill: rapping about high-level physics.
The 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate and science writer's particle physics rap is a hit on YouTube with half a million views and counting.
She focused the rap's lyrics on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.
McAlpine raps that when the collider is turned on Sept. 10, "the things that it discovers will rock you in the head."
"Rap and physics are culturally miles apart," McAlpine, a science writer at CERN, wrote to the Lansing State Journal in an e-mail last week, "and I find it amusing to try and throw them together."
Others, including physicists, find it amusing, too.
"We love the rap, and the science is spot on," said CERN spokesman James Gillies.
"I have to confess that I was skeptical when Katie said she wanted to do this, but when I saw her previous science rapping and the lyrics, I was convinced," Gillies said. "I think you'll find pretty close to unanimity among physicists that it's great."
McAlpine wrote the lyrics during her 40-minute commutes by public transit from Geneva, persuaded a friend to lay down beats and received permission to film herself and friends dancing in the underground caverns and tunnels where the experiments will take place.
"We were given extra supervision in some locations," McAlpine said. Some lab officials were "most suspicious of rappers in the cavern."
McAlpine honed her physics rapping skills at Michigan State's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, where she was part of a student research program two years ago.
The rap she wrote about her Cyclotron Lab experience was based on Eminem's "Lose Yourself" — "mostly for that 'back to the lab again' line," McAlpine said.
She hasn't taken the time to record that one.
It'll be her next project.