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Ten Songs

Space Rock The Final Frontier: Sir Patrick Moore On Pop
Joel McIver , June 29th, 2009 08:10

From 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' to 'Supermassive Black Hole' Joel McIver played Sir Patrick - the greatest living Englishman with a monocle - interplanetary rock and pop and asked him about the science behind the songs

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"It feels like a different age now," ruminates Sir Patrick Moore, the 86-year-old TV presenter, astronomer and xylophone player, when you ask him if the 40 years since the first moon landing have gone quickly for him. As well he might: he's packed more into his long life than any other three people, presenting The Sky At Night for over half a century, establishing a global reputation as a maverick eccentric and making the mysteries of the cosmos understandable for the populace in doing so. On the release of an anniversary DVD of the 1969 Apollo 11 landing, what better time to ask Sir Patrick for his views on the juxtaposition of science and rock'n'roll? We took 10 songs with a cosmic, planetary or otherwise scientific theme and presented them to the great man for his opinion.

Listen along to Sir Patrick with a Spotify playlist of the tracks (with a little help from Psychic TV)

The Prodigy 'Out Of Space'

Sir Patrick says: "I must be quite honest with you: this isn't my kind of music."

'Out Of Space', warbled Essex techno crew The Prodge, via the gift of a Max Romeo vocal sample (from 'I Chase The Devil'). Does space have a boundary, in fact, and if so what lies beyond it?

"Well, we're rather stuck here. Either space is finite or else it isn't. If it's finite, then what's outside it? Maybe there's nothing – no more space. If the other hand space is infinite, you can't think about something that goes on forever. My brain won't do it and nor will yours. You can't describe infinity in ordinary words: I can't and neither could Einstein. I know because I asked him. Ha ha!"

What is the furthest we can see with telescopes?

"At the present moment we can see over 13 thousand million lightyears. If the Hubble law is good – that the further away you are, the greater velocity you attain – then at about 13.8 thousand million lightyears you're going so fast that you're travelling at the speed of light, at which point all communications are cut off."...

...The full version of this article is available in Point Close All Quotes: A Quietus Music Anthology. Buy it now in the Amazon Kindle store.

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Jun 29, 2009 2:25pm


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Rich M
Jun 29, 2009 5:07pm

I literally laughed out loud at his comment on Muse. Wonder if there's a shorter way of writing that.

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Hugh Platt
Jun 30, 2009 12:49pm

Sir Patrick Moore = heroic.

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Dash from RouteNote
Sep 22, 2009 11:54am

Patrick Moore is a legend in his own lifetime. I met him when I was at college - he'd written a book on astrophysics with my physics teacher. I recognised him as the GamesMaster from that godawful show, another example of his great sense of humour and willingness to poke fun at himself. You should check out all the sky at night episodes they have online:

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D.M. Edwards
Oct 14, 2009 1:27pm

What a great idea and what fun. But aargh! What a missed opportunity to play him Roger Ruskin Spear's "Patrick Moore" track (complete with stolen passages of Joe Meek's "Telstar" and morse code messages). I hate to think he might die without hearing it.

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A Einstein
Nov 6, 2009 4:47pm

Patrick's refusal to to use the word "billion" instead of "thousand million" is insufferable! It's a misplaced worry people will think he means "million million". No-one uses that definition anymore.

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Kat Duke
Nov 25, 2009 12:21pm

Love this article. Patrick Moore rocks, whether he likes rock or not. He must be the only person alive I can tolerate slating Bowie.

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Paul S
Dec 1, 2009 2:41am

Brilliant, funny, informative. More please!

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Dec 8, 2009 3:05am

He hates everything. Except classical music, I bet.

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Dec 13, 2009 4:21pm

This is weird...I've loved astronomy, space exploration and science fiction since I was about 8 years old in 1963 and rock music also...The Beatles,Stones,Kinks,Yardbirds,Animals,Pretty Things...and then on to The Floyd,Cream,Hawkwind...all the psych,prog,krautrock stuff...on to the universe of amazing stuff that's out there 2 heroes would be Patrick Moore and John Peel...It was just as exciting for me to stay up to watch The Sky At Night or The Old Grey Whistle Test or listen to Peel,s radio show...we were promised jet packs...the dream faded...the wonder is gone...Monty...

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