Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are you Metal: Part 2

Me, being rather un-Metal
There's this genre of music that the youngsters seem to have embraced in the past couple of years called Dubstep.  Yes, I'm keenly aware that you can trace the origins of this genre to the late 90s - but that doesn't make it any better.  You may have guessed that I'm no fan of the genre as a whole, but that's how I treat most genres aside from the untouchable Jazz.  What troubles me most is the somewhat understandable comparison some people make between Dubstep and Heavy Metal.

Sure, they can both be pretty heavy at times and make nods to subjects on the fringe of society - but is that enough to make the comparison.  To put it bluntly, no.  To put it obscenely no fucking way in hell.

So what's the difference?  I could make the argument that Heavy Metal requires sweat.  You can't sit at a computer or turn table and churn out Metal.  You don't need fancy effects for your music videos, or even actors.  To make Metal, you have to have pressure, sweat, anger and conflict.

In other words, you need a measure of something completely, irrevocably badass

These clouds are the like the Honey Badger, they don't give a sh*t.
As I previously referenced, volcanoes are pretty goddamn badass.  Not only do they spew molten liquid rock up from the depths of the earth at enormous pressures, they spawn some of the most magnificent and terrifying scenes in all of Earthly nature.

But let's not forget how fucking metal clouds can be.  What's that?  You can see a bunny in that fluffy collection of water vapor?  Maybe a hand?  The 'face' of god?  How about pure,  unadulterated terror.

A single bolt of the lightning in this picture is about 50,000°F.  To try and put that truly astronomical number in perspective, the surface of the Sun is about 10,000°F.  So the surface of the life-giving center of our solar system is only 20% as hot as a bolt of lightning produced in a bunny shaped cloud.  Apparently, bunnies are pretty Metal as well.

But the Sun, and more specifically stars more massive than our sun, have a one-up on clouds, lightning and even volcanoes.  You see, without massive stars, there would literally be no heavy metals in existence.  To simply create heavy metals just willy nilly wouldn't be nearly Heavy Metal enough - indeed such a process would be completely mundane and, well, dubsteppy.  No, a massive star as to explode in a Supernova to create any elements heavier than iron.  

To skimp on the nerdy details (a simplified version of those details can be found here) and get to the point here's what happens in my derpy layman's terms:

The burning inside a star is caused in the beginning by Hydrogen atoms under enormous pressure undergoing a process called nuclear fusion, which results in Helium atoms and an incredible amount of energy (remember E=MC2?), which is why stars are so damn hot.  After awhile (in astronomical terms) the Hydrogen starts to run out, so Helium begins fusing into Carbon and Oxygen resulting in a comparable amount of energy (that is to say, a fuckton).

More massive stars keep the fusion chain going past Silicon, but hit a brick wall (see what I did there?) with Iron.  Iron can't be fused, even at these high pressures.  This means the star can't produce any more energy and the outward pressure created by the energy of nuclear fusion and the massive inward pressure of gravity fall out of balance leading a chain reaction and...

In the complete and total madness of a supernova a process called neutron capture occurs, where neutrons (being electrically neutral) collide with the nucleus of lighter elements in mad fury to create heavier and heavier elements, Heavy Metal style.

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