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An Album Of Unnecessary Detail

by Helen Arney

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I used to be someone Now I’m just another sun One of a hundred thousand billion Billion You treat me insignificantly Name a tabloid after me Synonymous with paparazzi Just a backdrop for Brian Cox on TV Since Edwin Hubble it’s never been the same Those pictures of other stars pushed me out the frame You never even gave me a proper name, like Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Tauri Delta Librae, HR 2948 Or Kevin You’ve achieved nuclear fusion – oh well done! Made some helium from a little hydrogen Well every second I do that to 600 million tons If I was Marilyn Monroe you’d be… the one I can't remember the name of from One Direction... which is all of One Direction... You should have stopped at Copernicus With me at the centre of your universe You say I’m just an average ball of gas I say you’re talking out of Uranus 1.4 million kilometres That’s my diameter Tell me seriously with those parameters Have you ever tried to put a hat on there? Hip hip hip hooray I’ll be a red giant one day You earth will go up in flames But in the meantime please join my facebook fanpage Seriously, I've only got nine likes Well, it's gone down to eight now since Pluto defriended me I will shine on!
Darling, it's our wedding anniversary next week My gift for you is carefully chosen It's perfect for the couple who have everything I'm getting us both cryogenically frozen So it's You and Me and Walt Disney Dancing and singing in the 25th century Living the future Held together by sutures Ice cubes forming in our brains Industrial antifreeze running through our veins Now I've looked into this quite carefully It turns out there's a lot of contradiction "Disney on Ice" isn't literal And that episode of Doctor Who was fiction So it's You and Me but no Walt Disney Just some baseball players and 70s hippies Don't shake their hands You'll get more than you planned And please stop flirting with your great great great great great great great... ...great great great great great granddaughter's friend Just want to please you Just want to freeze you You don't seem too overjoyed, my love But it's too late to get a refund And the truth is I never liked your body much So I have only paid to get your head done Don't have a seizure It's just a freezer It's you and me, in the 30th century I'll keep your brain in a mechanical jar-on-wheels First cryonic Then bionic And we will be together Though our skin will be like leather But at least we'll be together again Darling don't complain It's just liquid Nitrogen Some people say I've got more money than sense The truth is that I have neither I bought a package from some cutprice cowboys in Russia Who didn't build a door for your freezer You're so lovely But your brain is slush puppy So it's just me at minus 200 degrees I'm waiting for the 35th century I have no regrets Except not wearing a vest And maybe I should just have bought you that Discount home cremation kit instead
There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium, And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium, And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium, And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium, Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium, And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium, And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium, And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium. There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium, And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium, There's strontium and silicon and silver and samarium, And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium. There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium, And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium, And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium, Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium. And lead, praseodymium and platinum, plutonium, Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium, And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium, And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium. There's sulfur, californium and fermium, berkelium, And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium, And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium, And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin and sodium. Update! We've got lawrencium, meitnerium, darmstadtium, seaborgium, Roentgenium and dubnium, flerovium and bohrium, Copernicium, livermorium and hassium, rutherfordium, Oganesson and tenessine, moscovium, nihonium. Those last four elements confirmed now by the chemistry consortium
You left this Earth ten years ago In search of distant comet Then last November's headline news Was that you landed on it We knew that there was something wrong When we saw your battery But, thank Newton, you weren't running any iTechnology So now I sing a lullaby And I dedicate to thee The bravest little fridge-sized probe In all the galaxy Sleep well, little Philae You've fulfilled your destiny Four billion miles on the clock To do a science – on a rock Your jump down from Rosetta It was so good you jumped again And again! Whee! Low gravity! But when you came to land It wasn't quite what ESA planned So you deployed the best technology From 2004 But that didn't stop you getting all The data you went for The newsrooms of the BBC Resounded with the echo Of presenters wrestling with these words Chim-chim-chimeny Gary-lineker-menko We watched with rising horror As your batteries ran cold Your solar panels, it turns out, Don't work so well down a hole Now the only true space cowboys are Jamiroquai and you Maybe Bruce Willis, too Like a miracle, you woke up When the sun came into view So you used your last battery To send a tweet Which of us wouldn't! So, sleep well, my little Philae You've fulfilled your destiny You rocked that rock And that's how you roll! On comet 67P
The tap goes off when I brush my teeth My children’s bath is one inch deep Our dishwasher stays off till it’s overflowing The ideal shower time’s just four minutes Well my showers four *seconds* is the limit Is that really true Helen? With social distancing there’s no way of knowing I’m obsessed with eco schemes Because life is better with *live* streams. There’s just one thing to spoil it And it happens every time I use a toilet... So if I can’t cut down on water that’s flushed My eco status will be totally crushed But here’s the good news On every modern bathroom loo There’s not *one* button, there are *two* A short flush for a golden stream A long flush for, how can I put this? More to clean But which to choose? There are no clues And that’s when I realise… Oh my god I don’t know how to flush a toilet This decision is taking so long I’ve been standing by this toilet for a couple of weeks And I know I’ll still get it wrong I’m praying right now to all that’s holy Just label one button with a poop emoji Oh my god I don’t know how to flush a toilet at all Please, if you’re in charge of toilet design Be a friend the earth, and send us a sign Cos if you can’t fix this complication I’m going to get a serious urinary tract infection Cos I won’t go If I don’t know This dual flush Turned my brain into mush No I can’t go If I don’t know How to flush a toilet at all Alright I’ll just press both of them!
Mersenne 51 02:08
The other night Patrick Laroche and his computer found a number Not an ordinary number, but a number that’s humongous So I don’t want your mince pies, you can keep your mulled wine Cos all I want for Christmas is the world's biggest prime It’s 2 to the power of 8 2 5 8 9 9 3 3, minus one Mersenne 51, bring it with you and - *boom!* - a party has just begun So give me, oh give me, this Christmas time A twenty five million digit Christmas prime Rarer than a cracker joke that actually makes you laugh As useful as a pair of roller skates for a giraffe If I had one I could do whatever I like with it Well, anything I want, apart from dividing it Except by itself and one It’s 2 to the power of 8 2 5 8 9 9 3 3, minus one If I tried to sing it in hours I’d need about sixty nine hundred and some extra seconds So give me, oh give me, this christmas time A twenty five million digit Christmas prime Type it and text it or write it and post it, Bake it in Stollen then slice it and toast it If you can’t wrap it and send it in time I’ll take 25 million decimal places of Pi So give me, oh give me, this Christmas time a twenty five million digit Christmas prime One more recursion! Give me, oh give me, this Christmas time A twenty five million digit Christmas prime
There’s cleopatra, capulet, cap-n-collar, chickadee Breathless, bric a brac, hairy, ken and barbie Jelly belly, swiss cheese, genghis khan and gooseberry Sloppy-paired, slowpoke, slipper, slouch and say Yippee! Prospero and pangolin, Pavarotti, pygopus Crocodile, clootie dumpling, currant bun and klumpfuss Sex-lethal, saxophone, son and bride of sevenless Brainiac, amnesiac, giant, runt and tailless There’s double parked, deadpan, daschund and dodo Mastermind, menage a trois, nautilus and nemo Hopscotch, hunchback, highwire, hedgehog, homeless, Hamlet, and hippo Tubby, tinman, takeout, teashirt, tolkin, tango, torpedo A fruit fly’s DNA has lots of code that is just dross… or filler... BUT it’s *these* genes and some others that will make it a Drosophila.
Love Oh, love Love Sweet love How do I mend a broken heart? How can I tell you how I feel? How can I make you love me? I just want to hold you close Just want to make you happy But I can’t find the words to say I love you We shared a night together Tell me when will I see you again? Loving you is easy Let’s make this moment last Cos I’m loving this feeling When you wish upon a star It makes no difference who you are If you don’t say you love me All you need is love And I think I’m in love with you Love is in the air So please, let me love you Love… is a verb Love… Actually Love… Island 2018 Love ...lace, Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of How do I mend a broken zip? How can I tell what iPhone i have? How can I make You… Tube safer for my child? I just want a hippopotamus for Christmas Just want to make a phone call But I can’t find the format file PDFlatex.fmt We shared a bowl of sugar Tell me when will I see results from the gym? Loving you is... complicated Let’s Make America Great Again Cos I’m loving angles instead When you wish upon a brunch Makes no difference who you vote for If you don’t say “UNO!” how many cards do you pick up? All you need is love and a dog I think I’m in love with myself Love is in the hair So please, let me Google that for you.
Baby, I’ve looked at this empirically And I think you’re the one for me Plus or minus three You’re my man And I want you to understand How it feels when I hold your hand So I’ll draw a Venn diagram Statistically I love you Mathematically I need you Graphically I want you And on average, I’m going to make you mine You’re beautiful My love for you is irrational It’s constant, it’s recurring* and it’s infinite And you can use it to calculate The circumference of a circle of any known diameter Maybe that’s not love Maybe I’m just thinking of pi Aah… pie… Statistically I love you If you were a logarithm I’d be your exponential When you grasp my arithmetic I find it very sensual Give me your raw data and I’ll show you my conclusion Give me a new equation and I’ll name a biscuit after you Like Choco Leibniz Fig Newton Petit Four-ier ** Chocolate Neils Bohr-bon Thomas Hobbes-Nob and Pythagoras Cream Statistically I love you Therefore logically I need you And rhetorically: do I want you? And theoretically, you are already mine… * the word “recurring” should be “non-recurring”, of course :) ** Technically a cake
I’ve been watching your behaviour And I think you’re in the mood So if you’re lonely, well I’m here to save ya Let’s get out of here and get us a room Let’s make love like animals I think you know what I’m talking about Let’s make love exactly like other animals Get your zoology textbook out Let’s make love like rabbits, a hundred times a week, Let’s make love like hedgehogs, you know… carefully Let’s make love like salmon living in fresh water You leave it in the bath I’ll come and pick it up later Let’s make love like animals It’s been happening since the stone age Let’s make love exactly like other animals Open up that Wikipedia page Let’s make love like angler fish, yeah It’s kind of complicated but it’s worth it You use your highly developed olfactory sense to swim towards me for several days And then you bite me That releases an enzyme that then dissolves your skin and your flesh and your fins Leaving only a pair of genitals attached to the side of my body For me to use When it’s convenient. I’ve been waiting to find someone so animalistic Misunderstood just because I like badgers and whippets And seagulls and snails, who incidentally fire love darts Well I’ve brought some chocolates If you like them I’ll dance like a squid Or croon like a humpback whale Let’s make passionate love, a beast with two tails Or a porcupine: I’ll spray you with wee and if you don’t scream we’ll get to it Actually, skip that one, let’s not do it Let’s get it on like pygmy chimpanzees You know – constantly Not rest until we’ve done some things that even seem odd to me I am the man to put the “ooh” in “zoology” You can be my queen I’m the drone in our colony But let’s leave the metaphor there because as everybody knows When a gentleman bee is done his genitals explode Oh no, I’ve said too much, now I’m alone, confused, waiting Like a self-cloning lizard, too much pseudo-copulation Let’s make love like animals, yeah It’s like a biology GCSE but sexy I know what will get you in the mood to love like an animal I’ll get out my David Attenborough DVDs So we’re sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea This is not getting us anywhere I’ve never seen a praying mantis in HD I guess we’ll end up being the same animals we’ve always been... Pandas.
Seventeen, twenty-eight, thirty-six, thirty-four, Forty-seven, thirty-three, count the hours: twenty-four, Thirty-eight, forty-five, twenty-nine and forty-three, Seven, eight, sixteen, Magic number? Yes it’s three! Forty-one, thirteen, twenty-seven, thirty-five, Twenty-three, fifteen, Jonny says he’s Five Alive, Nineteen, twenty-six, thirty-one, and twenty-two, Forty-six, fourteen, all the answers: forty-two, Forty-four, twenty-five, thirty-seven, thirty-nine, Thirty-two, forty-eight, legs eleven, forty-nine, Two and four and six and nine and eighteen twelve and twenty-one, Fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, ten and end with number one. Thanks for your applause, I cannot claim to be a hero, If Matt was here he’d make me to do it all again but start from zero.
From a poem by Bec Hill. Did you hear about the act at the circus? Tonight she’s trying a new part You’ll be on the edge of your seat with her amazing feat She's a Strongwoman with the Broken Heart The Strongwoman with the Broken Heart She fell in love with a handsome clown And they began a glorious affair But life can be cruel and not all fun Ironic when you live at the fair The woman who was mightier than 20 men Was slowly falling apart But she had been taught "On with the show!" The Strongwoman with the Broken Heart She’s the Strongwoman with the Broken Heart The pain in her chest grew intense, in tents, and She booked in a doctor to treat her He said: "Your heart is just a muscle like all others Don’t let this set-back defeat ya" So she took his advice and began training Cos she needed somewhere to start Remembered the saying, “No pain, no gain” The Strongwoman worked out her heart The Strongwoman worked out her heart Every time she used her heart, it grew and grew She learnt to laugh again at clowns Lifted weights while she juggled dates Toned up her smile and lost her frown Did you hear about the act at the circus? Tonight she’s trying a new part She’s mightier than 20 men - plus one The Strongwoman with a strong heart The Strongwoman with a strong heart.
Use your mind And you will find Countless zeroes before each number starts Though Matt explains It hurts my brain Digits to infinity fill those parts To the left It’s not bereft Zeroes continue till whenever Do you know How far they go…? Digits are Forever Forever
Widely digitally delicate primes. Infinitely many fragile primes. A N plus B plus all the values of D times 10 to all the values of K where K is just every possible positive integer. Forever. Digits are forever.
One is a person or a place or a thing One head on your shoulders One note that you sing You could use the word “it” but there’s another way When you’re counting One’s what you say And that includes you Yes, you’re a One too! One person Unique in the things that you do Doobee doobee doobee doo You’re the one You’re the one You’re the one for me In the thoughts that you think In the dreams that you dream That’s what makes you One: Your identity Now, back in your brain, in the place you see One What games can One play When One wants to have fun? Come on let’s play some games! Hide and seek? Catch me if you can? Pass the parcel? This doesn’t work when you’re on your own… On a blank canvas One can get around It can move left and right It can move up and down But among so much nothing Poor one can’t begin To tell where One is From where One has just been You’re the one You’re the one You’re the one for me When One’s the only one There’s one thing wrong That One needs another to know they’re not lonely One needs a friend to run from or run to Doobee doobee doobee doo You’re the one You’re the one You’re the one for me In the thoughts that you think in the dreams that you dream Doobee doobee doobee doo
What’s the equivalent of... An X-ray at the dentist? About 50 bananas What’s the equivalent of... A weekend in Cornwall? 300 bananas   What’s the equivalent of... Lying next to someone as you sleep? About half a banana What’s the equivalent of... Eating a banana? That’s one banana What’s the equivalent of... A handful of Brazil nuts? 100 bananas What’s the equivalent of... Flying from London to New York? 800 bananas What’s the equivalent of... One month living in the UK? About 3,000 bananas What’s the equivalent of... One month of living on the International Space Station? 133,000 bananas What’s the equivalent of... The maximum annual limit allowed for employees of the US nuclear industries? 500,000 bananas Or 1,400 bananas a day Radioactivity looks kinda harmless When you measure it out in bananas In actual fact it’s more complicatey So please don’t use this song for your Health and Safety Potassium in your body doesn’t accumulate So don’t go putting radioactive stuff on your plate Unless it’s a banana
Snug and warm, tucked up in bed Dozing off, your sleepy head Is still upon your Ikea flatpack bower But as the earth rotates you’re moving at 600 miles an hour As you lay down to sleep tonight Don't let those existential bed bugs bite So while you sleep, I’ll let you know That’s not the only place you’ll go Cos the earth’s revolving round and round the sun At 67,000 miles an hour, give or take a tonne I find this helps me to know my place Which is insignificant in the vastness of space Because our galaxy is turning, spiral arms all in a spin 515,000 miles an hour for the bit our solar system’s in This queasy feeling may disappear In the coming weeks, months or possibly years Because our Milky Way is still moving from the moment of the Big Bang We are currently cruising at 1.3 million miles an hour You might be feeling still and tiny But you‘re moving faster than lightning                      With relativity You’re a space traveller in your sleep
The first time that I jumped out of a window I’d just turned five And gravity released its hold on me Oh, boy, it was really somethin’ Life began right there and then I wiped my knees and climbed again Risin’ up and fallin’ free I wanna fly I wanna soar I’ll spread my wings Like no-one else has ever done Before I won’t say “try” It’s do or die! Just watch me fly These Flight School guys, they tried to give me backtalk Oh, they sure did try! “Are you the air hostess?” they said Did I respond? I did not. Who’s got time for all that shtick? I grabbed my Stearman by the stick This pilot did what pilots do instead I’m gonna fly I’m gonna soar I’ll show the world What I can be then give them Some more I’ll hit that high Queen of the sky Just watch me fly Why do we do it? Why do we do it, oh! Feel elation Wind whippin’ through my hair Exploration I’ll take you anywhere Elevation Lift my sisters up right there (Ninety Nines!) Aviation is a woman’s place A woman’s place is in the air We’re gonna fly We’re gonna soar We’ll break the ceilin’ Smash the glass Make it our floor Wave goodbye As we pass Each and ev’ry guy See ya later! On the flip side, honey We’re headin’ above the sky. Just watch us fly! Yes, I have some firsts in my credential That’s right, I do And I won’t waste one second of my time Oh I’m sure of that, honey I know that every life has limitless potential If only others help them as they climb I was born to fly I was born to soar I’ll do ev’rything That it is possible to do WALLY 22 What if it’s not enough? WALLY 82 It's enough. It's been... exquisite. And you know what? The best bits are still coming for ya. You ready? WALLY 22 I’m always ready. So…? What’s in store?


An album of science songs, as heard in A Podcast Of Unnecessary Detail from Festival of the Spoken Nerd. To listen to full episodes, search for "Unnecessary Detail" in your favourite podcast app, or visit

It contains a near-complete collection of songs from Series 1 and Series 2 of the podcast.

If you like these songs, help me to write and produce more like this by paying what you want when you download them.

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released September 1, 2020


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Helen Arney London, UK

"Geek Songstress" Helen Arney is the UK's finest purveyor of comedy songs with a scientifically verified twist.

"Champion of musical whims" Evening Standard
**** ”Harnesses the spirit of Ben Folds & the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon… delightful” (Chortle)

Also one third of Festival of the Spoken Nerd and author of "The Element In The Room"
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