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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Britney makes physics sexy
Britney Spears's Guide to Semiconductor Physics
The site is a "strange" but popular way to teach science
A website using Britney Spears to spice up semiconductor physics has become a surprise hit.

Physics is not renowned as a big draw for pop fans - but the spoof site has proved that with a little imagination, science can be made attractive.

The site has had more than two million hits since it launched.

On the site, the singer explains how lasers read her CDs - as well as guiding users through the intricacies of Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers, the Finite Barrier Quantum Well and Photonic Crystals, among other things.

Figure 1: The site uses Britney to illustrate points
Figure 1: The site uses Britney to illustrate points
The site says: "It is a little known fact that Ms Spears is an expert in semiconductor physics.

"Not content with just singing, in the following pages she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format."

It mixes highly technical information with pictures of the teenage singer - occasionally mixing the two to illustrate a point.

In one diagram, Britney's neckline follows a parabolic function approximating the conduction band of electrons in a semiconductor, and a curve of her legs traces functions associated with the valence band.

The journal Scientific American says it is "one of the stranger approaches to teaching science that we've seen lately".

"And it is definitely the only site that mixes celebrity headshots and hairy equations in a unique melding of physique and physics."

Britney Spears
Britney: One of the most searched-for stars
There is a lyric competition, where entrants must write science-related lyrics to the tunes of her songs.

The current winner's lines include: "Oops, I spilled it again/It burned through the door/Made holes in the floor."

The site was created by Carl Hepburn, a postgraduate at the University of Essex, Colchester, who realised that anything to do with Britney was likely to be a hit on the web.

"I developed the website to share my research with others interested in semiconductor physics," he said on his university's site.

"I used Britney Spears to demonstrate that physics can have a fun side to it as well - most of the images used of Britney relate to physics in some way."

Professor Stephen Hawking is reinvented as a rapper
Stephen Hawking: Reinvented as a rapper
But his site is not the only one to mix science and music.

MC Hawking's Crib turns the equation around by making Professor Stephen Hawking into a gangsta rapper.

The site has constructed a history and identity for Professor Hawking's new-found alter-ego, saying that Professor Hawking turned into MC Hawking in 1988 after the Beastie Boys played a concert at his college.

"Stephen was blown away. He was utterly captivated by the pounding rhythms and twisting rhymes. Stephen had found a new passion to rival theoretical astrophysics: gangsta rap."

The site has news stories about MC Hawking joining rock band Rage Against The Machine and being sued by a former band-mate, Professor Puff 'n' Stuff.

It even has audio files of raps that use a simulation of Professor Hawking's computer-generated voice.

The songs have names like E=MC Hawking, which includes the lyrics: "E stands for energy, yo that's me/I'm a brilliant scientist and a dope MC."

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24 Apr 01 | Reviews
Britney branches out
28 Mar 01 | New Media
Surfing with the stars
22 Jan 01 | dot life
The tricks that win clicks
20 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Britney's book hits US stores
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