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Swift quakes and new podcast music inspired by the fine-structure constant

Glester, Andrew


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Andrew Glester
Senior Lecturer in Science Communication


James Dacey


Whether you’re a Swiftie, a devout metalhead, or a 1980s synth pop aficionado, there is something for every musical taste in this month’s Physics World Stories.

In part one, podcast host Andrew Glester is joined by Jacqueline Caplan-Auerbach, a geophysicist at Western Washington University, US. She has analysed “Swift quakes”, a seismological phenomenon during Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, answering two important questions. Are the quakes triggered by the music or the crowd? And how does their magnitude compare with similar events like the 2011 “Beast quake” triggered by celebrations at an American Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. It turns out that Swifties (dedicated Taylor Swift fans) are queuing up to share data for geophysics research.

Regular listeners will notice that this month’s episode has a new podcast jingle. In part two, Glester is joined by the song’s creator Philip Moriarty, a physicist and science communicator at the University of Nottingham, UK. Titled 137, the song is inspired by the fine-structure constant, and is packed with cheeky references to this dimensionless constant and the physicists closely associated with it. (Yes, you can expect bongos!) Moriarty reveals even more about the song in his article “H1dd3n variab7es: the fundamental constant on which the new Physics World podcast music is built“, where you can also listen to the tune in full.

Digital Artefact Type Audio
Acceptance Date May 28, 2024
Online Publication Date May 28, 2024
Publication Date May 28, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2024
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