Bohemian Mechanical Rhapsody

Blame Bryan O’Sullivan for this– after his comment about misreading “Bohmian Mechanics” as “Bohemian Mechanics,” I couldn’t get this silly idea out of my head. And this is the result.

I like to think that this was Brian May‘s first draft (he does have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, after all), before Freddie Mercury got hold of it:

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Do objects have real states

Or just probabilities?

Open your eyes

Look up to the skies and see

Studying quantum (poor boy), I need no sympathy

Because I’m easy come, easy go

A little psi, little rho

No interpretation ever really matters to me, to me

Mama, just killed a cat

‘Least I think I might’ve did

Won’t know ’til I lift the lid

Local realism was fun

But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away

Mama, ooo

Didn’t mean to make you cry

If I’m incoherent this time tomorrow

Calculate, calculate, as if nothing really matters

Too late, my state’s collapsed

Sends shivers down my spine

Decohering all the time

Goodbye determinism- you’ve got to go

Gotta leave you all behind for random chance

Einstein, ooo – (anyway the wind blows)

God should not play dice

I sometimes wish I’d never read Born at all

I see a little silhouetto of a psi

Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango

Action at a distance, very very spooky to me

Gallileo, Gallileo,

Gallileo, Gallileo,

Gallileo where’d you go? I don’t know (oh, oh, oh)

I’m just a physicist, nobody loves me

No information has speeds more than c

Spare all our brains from non-locality

Easy come easy go – will you let me go

Bell’s theorem! No – we will not let you go

let him go

Bell’s theorem! We will not let you go

let him clone

No cloning! We will not let you clone

let me go

Will not let you go

let me go (never)

Never let you go

let me go

Never let me go – ooo

No, no, no, no, no, no, no

Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go

Heisenberg has a matrix put aside for me

for me

for meeeeeee

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye

And then decohere me and collapse my psi

Oh baby – can’t do this to me baby

Just gotta get out – just gotta get right outta here

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah

Nothing really exists

When no-one can see

Nothing really exists – nothing really matters to me

Anyway the wind blows…

If you want a reminder of the tune, and a better parody than I’m capable of, look here:

A few of the more obscure jokes explained for the less geeky:

  • “Psi” is the Greek letter ψ, traditionally used for the wavefunction in quantum mechanics. “Rho” is the greek letter ρ, used for the “density matrix,” which is another way of expressing quantum states.
  • “Born” is a reference to Max Born, who was the originator of the interpretation of wavefunctions in probabilistic terms.
  • “Bell’s Theorem” shows that quantum states have to be non-local; that is, that measurements at one position can affect measurements at another position instantaneously, rather than being limited to transmission at the speed of light c.
  • The “No-Cloning Theorem” by Bill Wootters and Woijciech Zurek shows that it is impossible to make an exact duplicate of an unknown quantum state.
  • One of the earliest versions of quantum theory was “matrix mechanics,” developed by Werner Heisenberg (of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle).

And, just for kicks, the original:


  1. #1 Reynir, .is
    May 14, 2010

    Good science filk.

  2. #2 Kate Nepveu
    May 14, 2010

    I’m just a physicist, nobody loves me

    Aww. SteelyKid and Emmy and I love you, though if you actually killed a cat, SteelyKid and I will be upset.

  3. #3 cisko
    May 14, 2010

    I started doing this in my head after your Facebook post yesterday. This is much funnier than what I came up with. (Damning with faint praise, etc.)

    I was all prepared to be bored by the Muppets video, but it’s actually pretty fantastic…

  4. #4 Josh
    May 14, 2010

    Thumbs way up :)

  5. #5 Blaine
    May 14, 2010

    Now we just need Jonathan Coulton to see this…..


  6. #6 Erik Schwiebert
    May 14, 2010

    Awesome! Reminds me of old rasfw-rj filk… I’d love to see Jonathan Coulton cover this!

  7. #7 Shobeir
    May 14, 2010

    Do we have any Grammy for the geekiest music? I guess we have a candidate :D

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    May 14, 2010

    A pretty good job of it.

    We can’t compare to what Weird Al Yankovic would have written, because he opted to give “Bohemian Rhapsody” the polka treatment instead.

  9. #9 Clay B
    May 14, 2010

    I read that last post as “Bohemian Mechanics” as well…

  10. #10 Cherish
    May 14, 2010

    I think I just died laughing…

  11. #11 george.w
    May 14, 2010

    I want Weird Al to cover this…

  12. #12 Joseph Hewitt
    May 15, 2010

    When you said Bohemian Mechanical Rhapsody, this is the version I thought of:

  13. #13 Peter
    May 15, 2010

    He would be perfect to cover it.

  14. #14 A. Pease
    May 15, 2010

    “Mama, just killed a cat
    ‘Least I think I might’ve did
    Won’t know ’til I lift the lid”

    Too funny! Thanks for this.

  15. #15 Comrade PhysioProf
    May 15, 2010

    Dude, that’s fucking great!!@@!!!!! You gotta sing it and post a fucking Youtube!

  16. #16 Constance
    May 15, 2010

    This was awesome. Thanks for the day-brightener. :)

  17. #17 Beverly Millson
    May 16, 2010

    Forwarding to all my favorite physicists.

  18. #18 Ron
    May 16, 2010

    That is made of *awesome*. Next time you’re doing a fundraiser, singing it for us would be a great hook!

  19. #19 felicity
    May 20, 2010

    I love it!

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