Why the diabolical earworm “Baby Shark” is so popular
Videos for “Baby Shark,” a diabolical earworm, have been watched 3.3 billion times in a viral children-song craze that spans the globe. But why?
The difference between a song people can’t get enough of and a song nobody cares about is…well, no one really knows. And it’s not for lack of trying. Musicians, musicologists and music theorists, statisticians, analysts, and even psychologists have tried for years to figure out the formula. Now they’ve got the slide rules and metronomes out again for a children’s song whose videos have collectively been viewed a jaw-dropping 3.3 billion times. The song is so simple it seems like it couldn’t possibly be the object of such adoration, and yet there it is. “Baby Shark” is a reminder of music’s perplexing hold on the human spirit.
The Baby Shark phenomenon
The song itself appears to be based on a well-worn nursery and camp song going back at least a decade, if not further. It’s not completely dissimilar to the French singalong “Bébé Requin.”
“Baby Shark” began its swim to the top in a 2014 South Korean video from Pinkfong, an educational platform that’s produced thousands of videos for kids. The company’s spokesperson explains to Quartz how the song was composed: “We took a fresh twist and re-created on a traditional singalong chant with our Pinkfong’s Baby Shark.” Pinkfong also added a snippet of Dvorak’s New World Symphony to the front for dramatic effect.
Warning: The song is desperately catchy.
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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