19 December 2019: The three-body problem, and festive fun

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This week, a solution to a centuries-old physics problem, and holiday shenanigans.

In this episode:

00:51 Disentangling three bodies

Researchers have been working to unpick a problem that has stumped scientists since the 1600s. Research Article: Stone and Leigh

08:50 Frosty the Snowman

The first of our festive science songs, about how a certain snowman is faring under climate change. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.

11:00 Festive quiz show

Our reporters battle it out to be crowned as this year’s quiz champion. Can they describe some of the top news headlines without saying certain important words? We find out.

19:21 Carol of M87

Our second song is about the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration’s imaging of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.

20:33 News Chat

We hear about some of the people on Nature’s 10 this year. Feature: Nature’s 10: Ten people who mattered this year

30:00 Rockin’ Around Supremacy

For our final song, we hark back to October, when Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy. Scroll to the transcript section below for the lyrics.


Frosty the Snowman lyrics:

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly, happy soul

But the smile wore off as the globe got hot

‘Cause the world used too much coal.

Frosty the Snowman is a fairy tale they say

He was made of snow

But the kids won’t know ‘cause it’s them who have to pay.

Gonna’ need some magic to

Convince the world to stop

‘Cause now we’re running out of time

And he’s feeling mighty hot.

Oh, Frosty the Snowman, is endangered as could be

And the children say they wish he’d stay,

But they don’t trust you and me.

He led them down the streets of town

Right to the climate COP.

They gathered there, and Greta stared

And together hollered “STOP”.

Frosty the Snowman, had to hurry on his way

But he said we should do all that we could

For to change our dirty ways.

Frosty the Snowman, knew the time to act was now

So the girls and boys said make some noise

And we’ll get a change somehow

Carol of M87 lyrics:

Hark at the sound

Photons abound

Radio waves

All seem to say

Out in the dark

This glowing spark

We find our goal

See a black hole.

(M) M Eight-se’en

(Eight) As it was then

(tee) eons ago

(se’en) See it aglow

Data from these


Processed to give

The first image

One seems to see

With EHT

Fire in a ring

Light circling

Einstein was right,

Warped is the light,

See the lensing

Bending the ring.

Now-we see-a supermassive black hole. (M – eigh-ty- se’en)

How-we see-a supermassive black hole. (M – eigh-ty-se’en)

(M) Space time is bent

(Eight) See this event

(tee) Horizon burn

(ee) So...

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