Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

New species of long-haired microbes are named after the band Rush, now here's a drum solo

Not pictured: Bitchin’ drum solo. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)
Not pictured: Bitchin’ drum solo. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Once again demonstrating that the Venn diagram of people who love Rush and people who love geeky science stuff is essentially a circle, three new species of microbes have been named after members of the Canadian rock trio. To celebrate, let’s check out Neil Peart’s drum solo from the Rush In Concert: 30th Anniversary broadcast.

According to the University Of British Columbia’s science reporting, three new types of microbe found in the guts of termites were named after the band, owing to the microbes’ long hair and “rhythmic wiggling under the microscope,” which we’ll go ahead and assume is microbiologist code for “head-banging microbes.” Patrick Keeling, senior author on the paper, said that a Spanish postdoc had asked him to recommend some Canadian music, and after suggesting Rush, the postdoc came back and told him, “Those microbes we’re finding have long hair like the guys on the album 2112!’”

Indeed, unlike normal cells which possess a few flagella, these ones contain more than ten thousand very lengthy flagella, giving the impression of long flowing hair. In honor of these microbes, let’s now turn to a Peart performance of “The Rhythm Method,” a drum solo (originally titled that on the band’s A Show Of Hands live album) here captured on the tour for Roll The Bones.

You hear that awesome part where he comes in with the melody at 1:25? Anyway, the new species of Pseudotrichonympha have been named P. leei, P. lifesoni, and P. pearti after Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. Interestingly, the microbe named for Peart also possesses a “rotating intracellular structure never seen before,” and though the story doesn’t say why, presumably the scientists named that one after Peart because of his constantly rotating upper body reaching out to the encircling array of drums arrayed all around him. Here, let’s more closely study one of his solos—and you should really put the headphones on for this one, it’s the only way you can appreciate the nuances of what he does:

God, the way he incorporates those triggers on the cymbals, am I right? And you may not notice it right away, but if you listen close, you can sense how the entire vibe of his solos changed after he learned the alternate grip. Regardless, microbiologist Keeling and his team sound like a pretty fun gang: They previously named a different termite microbe after the H.P. Lovecraft demon god Cthulhu—and now that we think about it, it’s kind of insane Peart’s lyrics have never dealt with that particular mythos. The band joins a pantheon of other artists with organisms named after them, like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Neil Young, and more.


So did you listen to that bootleg we sent you of Peart’s solos during the Hemispheres tour? You should probably listen to that first, it kind of captures the soul of where his playing went after that, especially given the more pop direction they moved in with Permanent Waves.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.

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