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Friday, October 9, 2009

Here Comes Science! An interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

It isn't often that kids and adults can agree on music. Your parent's might have been thinking less about making you happy and more about their own sanity when they bought you your very own ipod. But alas, there is hope! Parents, kids and especially teachers will all agree that They Might Be Giants' new cd/dvd Here Comes Science is totally awesome. You won't be able to resist tapping your feet and singing along to songs like "Photosynthesis" and "Roy G. Biv". And the great animations make it impossible to ignore all the fascinating facts about science coming your way. Eco-minded kids and parents will especially like the song "Electric Car". See video below (...isn't it amazing how many animals you can fit into one electric car?!?)

John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants was nice enough to answer some questions about their new release.

Green Guide for Kids: Did you like science when you were a kid?

John Flansburgh: Neither John nor I were good students, but we were curious about the world. Books like "How Things Work" and pop science television shows were fascinating to me as a kid, just as Mythbusters is to me now actually!--just understanding the real systems and phenomenon within nature and technology.

GGFK: In the DVD, you make being a Paleontologist seem so cool. If you weren't a musician, would you like to be a scientist?

JF: Even if I wasn't a musician I don't know if any of us have the patience or focus to be scientists! Danny put that song together, and his kids are pretty dinocentric and I think the song came out of that interest. The video for the song has gotten a little bit of criticism from actual paleontologist because it shows Danny working in what looks like an archeological site, where most paleontologists evidently do their research indoors.

GGFK: When I was listening to Here Comes Science, I learned so many amazing facts. For example, one million Earths could fit inside the sun. What's the most amazing thing you learned while making this CD?

JF: That living things are mostly made up of just four elements!

GGFK: My favorite song on the CD is Electric Car. Do you drive an electric car?

JF: My most recent car purchase was an impossibly old Ford pick up truck for hauling logs around in the Catskill Mountains. but maybe that counts just on the recycling side of things! I don't think there are any fully electric cars on the market, although every day there is another tantalizing miniature electric car prototype in the news. It would be very exciting to see them take over New York City. A couple of friends of mine have hybrids and I have to say driving in near silence is pretty cool. It just seems so much smarter in the engineering than gas cars. But while the song is kind of an idealized dream of a world of electric cars, I feel a little nervous that it's message might inadvertently end up feeding shortsightedness on our national--or really worldwide--environmental challenges. It's simply not a given that electric cars for the moment won't just shift much of the problem from one behavior to another. How we're going to fuel any vehicles of the future is a huge unanswered problem, and as a culture we urgently need to focus developing alternative energy sources. Personally I think it's important that people know there is no such thing as clean coal no matter what the ads on tv say. Okay. I'll step down from my soap box now.

GGFK: What are some things They Might Be Giants do to protect the environment?

JF: As I am on the road touring with the band is a harsh reminder that as a business we are so far away from being eco-role models. I've been able to make more progress when I'm back in New York. My wife and I actually can often eat entirely locally grown food as much when we're in the country, which isn't hard since there is so much local farming. I feel I'm just waking up to how to actually reduce my consumption in small doable ways, but it is a constant issue. Our friends got my wife and I into composting which is much less gross than I thought, and a great way to avoid creating landfill. I've completely flipped over to green cleaning products which is honestly ridiculously expensive, but I can't see ever going back. They smell way to good.

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