Bleats

If The New Bachelor Is An Astrophysicist Does That Mean He Knows My Star Sign? And Other Questions

Look, it's a roundabout way to get more science on TV but we'll take it.

Melbournian Matt Agnew is the titular Bachelor in the Channel 10 show of the same name, and much is being made of the fact that he’s an astrophysicist.

But what even is that, and how does an interest in space relate to the pursuit of lurve? Glad you asked!

What does an astrophysicist actually… you know, do?

They study the physical and chemical makeup of the universe in order to answer fundamental questions about the cosmos. It’s a fascinating career, and there’s never been a more exciting time to be doing it – so, if anything, he shouldn’t be dating on TV when there’s data from LIGO that needs poring over.

Does that mean he knows my star sign?

That’s astrology, which isn’t science, and not astronomy which is science. Also, you just need a calendar to work out someone’s star sign.

Also, it’s garbage.

But yeah, probably.

OK, fine. What was his favourite NASA mission?

The Pathfinder mission to Mars in 1997, according to his pre-interview. Which, to be fair, is a pretty cool one: it had the Sojourner rover which was the precursor to all the subsequent planet-roaming robots.

He’s also very keen on finding other Earthlike planets, so is probably all over the current exoplanet surveys.

Mars, being pathfound.

Wait, have we found any of those?

Not yet. We’ve found a couple which are close-ish; there’s one called Kepler-452b that’s about 1.2 times as big as Earth and about the same distance from its star, but we don’t know much about it yet.

It’s also 1400 light years away, so not exactly next door.

Hold on, was this an excuse to force me to learn something about science?

Definitely not, perish the though. OK, yes.

How will we know he’s a scientist if he’s not in a white coat and holding a test tube?

Why… why would an astrophysicist have a test tube? They don’t do experiments with sun-juice, you know.

Will he be pepper his Rose Ceremony statements with lame puns about space?

Almost certainly.

If star signs aren’t a thing, why was NASA’s pre-Apollo mission called Gemini, huh?

[angry silence]

What should a potential partner ask him?

His thoughts on recent theories that all elements heavier than iron are created in neutron star collisions, and whether that sort of ruins the romance of the whole “we are all made of stars” thing or makes it HEAPS MORE AWESOME.

Or, you know, how he’s doing. Either’s good.

Will his mission to love solve any fundamental questions about our place in the universe?

Absolutely. Provided that the winning bachelorettes is an organic chemist specialising in extreme environments for life, or an engineer with senior qualifications in aeronautics.

Sure, not everyone would hanker for a finale that ends with a project proposal being submitted to a funding body, but we’d watch the hell out of that show.

Katy Perry Is Ruled To Have Ripped Off A Song But She's Far From The First

Let's be honest, there's only a finite number of notes out there.

Katy Perry has just lost a court case which ruled that her song ‘Dark Horse’ “improperly copied” Flame’s 2008 song ‘Joyful Noise’. Supposedly it’s about the beat which… look, you be the judge as to whether anyone got ripped off.

But she shouldn’t be ashamed. The history of musical lawsuits going in unexpected directions has a rich history and has involved some pretty high profile numbers.

For example:

‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Got To Give It Up’

Blurred Lines was already controversial for sounding awfully like a smirking endorsement of date rape, but that wasn’t what got it dragged before a judge.

No: in an impressively The Castle move, it was the subject of a case over the vibe of the thing. Specifically, that it ripped off the mood of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’.

And the songs sound a bit similar, but up until this point a song had to lift a recognisable melody or chord progression to be considered plagiarism. This time around it was the rhythm, elements of the arrangement and the “feel” of the track, which hadn’t previously been thought to be copyrightable.

This set a dangerous precedent for artists ever making something which was inspired by something else. Over 200 artists co-signed a brief used in the 2018 appeal, which still failed to overturn the ruling.

The case was also notable for supposed co-writer Robin Thicke insisting that the song was entirely written by Pharrell Williams. Solidarity, Rob!

‘Down Under’ and ‘Kookaburra’

In another weird case the publishers of ‘Kookaburra’ (as in “…sits in the old gum tree-ee”) successfully argued that Men At Work ripped off the melody via Greg Ham’s flute riff.

What’s even weirder is that no-one had noticed until it was a question on Spicks and Specks in 2007. Ouch.

The 2010 case and appeal was cripplingly expensive for both sides and reportedly broke Ham’s heart, and he passed away in 2012.

The lesson here: music trivia has wide reaching consequences.

Bonus: Don’t lift things from the Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, like many artists, do not own the rights to much of their early material

The Verve – or, more accurately, singer/wongwriter Richard Ashcroft – never made any bones about the fact that ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ was based around a sample from a Rolling Stones song, specifically an orchestral version of ‘The Last Time’ which was used with permission from Decca Records, but not by Alan Klein who owned the publishing, and who demanded 100 per cent of the song.

However, in May 2019 it was announced that the situation had been sorted and the rights had reverted to the band.

If that seems a bit petty, a similar situation happened in the early 90s to the rather less well known Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine for their song ‘After The Watershed’, which contained three Stones-related words in the chorus (“Goodbye Ruby Tuesday”). Three. Freakin’. Words.

There was an injunction which killed the song’s radio play, and then Jagger and Richards were added to the credits as co-writers.

Which means that the men who wrote the horrifically sexist ‘Under My Thumb’ are also credited with writing one of the most brutally grim anti-child abuse songs of all time. Yay?

How Long Does It Take You To Get To Work? It Might Be Quicker To Jump Interstate

Which of our cities are getting least fun for the work-travelling classes?

The average Australian commute grew from 3.7 hours wasted to 4.5 dead, dead hours to every week, which is a long time to get to work unless you’re immortal.

And all those smug people who live in the smaller cities and got to boast about how quick their commute was – Canberra and Adelaide, basically – had that condescending smile wiped off their dumb faces with the news that they were still spending nearly an hour getting to work.

“Sydney had the longest average daily commutes (71 minutes). In 2017, it was followed by Brisbane (67 minutes), Melbourne (65 minutes), Perth (59 minutes) and Adelaide (56 minutes),” the Conversation has reported.

“Reasons for the increasing commute time vary among different cities but may include increased road congestion, urban expansion and poor public transport services.”

Also, the proportion of people travelling two or more hours to work is now almost one in five. So… yeah.

So what are the answers to this slow growth of daily time burned off in traffic that you don’t ever get back?

One way would be for companies to move to where people are living, but that’s generally a big ask; the other costs of running a business are generally lower in places where stuff is easy to get. Also, businesses tend to clump together, which is why you get central business districts.

Some employers allow their staff to claim their commute time as work provided that they’re on their computers and phones during the journey. That could work OK for writers and helpdesk staff, but probably less useful if your job is selling hot chickens.

That also assumes that people are on trains and buses rather than in cars, which becomes less and less likely the further from the CBD one gets; especially in states where the approach to public transport is more death-by-a-thousand-cuts than about serving the commuting classes.

Another is to do a better job of high-density living than we’ve managed so far. After all, there are many, many, many cities which rather nail the lots of people in limited space thing. However… well, Sydney’s recent history of building robust apartment blocks has been somewhat chequered.

Or we could just go “seeing as though a huge slab of our jobs are about to be taken by AI anyway, maybe it’s time to abandon this whole notion of ‘working all the time and then eventually dying’ idea and evolve to a better way of living.”

So yeah. Maybe download a lot of podcasts; on the current evidence you’re going to have an increasing amount of time to kill.

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