I was listening to a few songs by They Might Be Giants about science, which are not bad. We used to listen to They Might Be Giants while driving to math meets in high school, so it’s good to see that they joined the nerd club formally and are writing songs for the youth about science. My favorite song that I’ve found is My Brother the Ape, which encourages us to think about all of life as a relation, which the data suggest is accurate. (However, I’m not sure my actual brother with whom I share 50% of my genome would be thrilled to hear me singing this song, since he’s kind of hairy.) It’s a good song, but you know, not as detailed as you might hope for your introductory biology class.
I recently wrote some lyrics for my intro class when we discussed the Hardy-Weinberg Principle, one of the central ideas in population genetics that helps us understand if a population is experiencing microevolutionary processes. It allows you to predict the frequency of alleles and genotypes in a population when it meets a set of assumption, assumptions that fit very nicely to music of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a song that today’s students and their aged professors still seem to have in common. (Through a series of trial and error, I have learned that they do not know This Land is Your Land or Blowin’ in the Wind, which you may also find shocking and horrifying.) I have been singing Somewhere, Hardy-Weinberg, and maybe you should too. (But don’t sing anything in parentheses below!) It won’t offend your brother (the ape, or otherwise).
(Somewhere Over the Rainbow)
Somewhere there’s a population, of infinite size
(Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high)
With random maters and no mutation, selection, or migration.
(There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.)
Somewhere the probability that two alleles will meet
(Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue.)
Will be a product of their free-ee-ee-quencies.
(And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.)
The likelihood of Big-A Big-A (AA) is going to be p times p,
(Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far)
And little-a with little-a (aa) will be the frequency of q times q
(Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops that’s where)
(you’ll find me.)
Somewhere there’s a population of infinite size.
(Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly.)
Alleles meet in random order
(Birds fly over the rainbow)
In Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium.
(Why then oh why can’t I?)
And don’t forget the heterozygotes (Aa), they’re out there too
(If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow)
it’s p times q times two!
(why then oh why can’t I?)