Space Music: Monty Python's 'Galaxy Song'


Eric Idle and Terry Jones in "The Meaning of Life." Universal Pictures

Leave it to Monty Python (and more specifically Eric Idle) to so succinctly sum up humanity's tiny place in the known universe. Their 1983 film "The Meaning of Life" contains a number of sureal, hilarious, disgusting and troubling sketches on the ephemeral nature of our existence -- and they cap it all off with this wonderful musical number:

That is of course "The Galaxy Song," a great bit of space music in its use of cosmic data to belittle humanity's place in the cosmos -- but how does it hold up today? Consider "A study of the Galaxy Song" by Eric Idle Paul Kohlmiller, which goes through the lyrics line-by-line and gives a 2003/2007 take on the accuracy.

But of course after a few decades of science, there's room for improvement. So in 2012, Idle teamed up with Brian Cox to update the lyrics with some additional mind-blowing science -- all to promote BBC2's second season of "Wonders of Life." It's pretty great, though I could do without Cox rambling on in it like the world's most stoned physicist. Let's have a listen:

The original song played on the space shuttle Atlantis during mission STS-125 back in 2009. I'm also quite fond of it's placement in DJ Irk's "Christmas Attack Zone" mix from 2012.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.