SOURCE: “Milky Way mapper: 6 ways the Gaia spacecraft will change astronomy,” Nature, 09 Sep 2016, as used in the post “That’s a big map.”
ABSTRACT: Writing this song was fun; recording it was a nightmare. Linux, you have not yet defeated me… but almost. Somehow, installing a desktop publishing program a couple days ago (I think this is the culprit) knocked out some kind of relationship that the previous drivers had with the soundcard in Wine so that I could hear everything, but suddenly the line-in jack didn’t register any audio going into the computer. I still don’t know why that is, and am clueless how to fix it.
Plus, I got up to six Reaper crashes in half an hour – a risk, I suppose, of having more than 10 tracks, but not fun at all.
So I swapped over to a household netbook (with Windows 10) and recorded all the non-electronic stuff… using its onboard mic (because IT had a line-in jack that it shared with the headphones, so that you needed a special cable to record a thing and listen to it at the same time). One thing after another.
The resulting audio was rough enough that I figured, what the hell, and made it sound like a vintage field recording. Or an astronomical radio signal intercept. You decide.
Writing it, as I said, was easy – I basically stole a melody from a bunch of sweet-voiced Swazi schoolchildren on YouTube… because, for whatever reason, songs about astronomy always want to be African songs in my head. Still puzzling over that link. It’s all voices and a couple ukulele tracks, and me thumping the netbook with my thumb, and a drum and bass track.
And it’s really a song about math. How big is a billion? This telescope is going to watch how all these stars move, so it can make a 3D map… of 1,000 times 1,000 times 1,000 stars. Which is a pretty awesome number. So many stars! We’re going to name them all.