This song is about a scientist who is so caught up in his work that he neglects his girlfriend, but realizes it eventually and wants to "go back to the start" and begin fresh.
The music video shows lead singer Chris Martin driving with his girlfriend. They get into an accident, she goes flying through the windshield and dies. Chris just walks out of the car, out of the forest, and into a city. This is all backwards. The video was shot normal direction and then played backwards, while Chris sang the lyrics to the song backwards. (thanks, student - New York, NY, for above 2)
Chris Martin (from Rolling Stone July 14, 2005): "On the second album I was thinking there was something missing. I was in this really dark room in Liverpool, and there was a piano so old and out of tune. I really wanted to try and work out the George Harrison song 'Isn't It A Pity,' but I couldn't. Then this song came out at once. I said, 'Can you turn on the recorder?' The first time I sung it is what's out there."
Coldplay performed this at the 2003 Video Music Awards. They were introduced by Justin Timberlake, who is a close friend of lead singer Chris Martin and credits Coldplay as "The best band in the world." (thanks, Britney - Calabasas, CA)
This song was featured in the 2003 movie Wicker Park. It was played at the very end when the main character played by Josh Hartnett is going through an airport and finds his true love he hasn't seen in years. (thanks, Brittany - Richmond, KY)
For the video Chris Martin had to learn the song in reverse to create the proper effect for the video. After listening to the song in reverse over and over again Chris realized how beautiful the end of the song was when played backwards. He thought it sounded so wonderful that during Coldplay's Twisted Logic Tour, right after they played this, a reverse sound clip of the end of the song would be played while the band set up for their next song. (thanks, corey - north wales)
In a track-by-track reveal Martin explained the development of the song: "That's just about girls. It's weird that whatever else is on your mind, whether it's the downfall of global economics or terrible environmental troubles, the thing that always gets you most is when you fancy someone."
The word "Scientist" does not appear in the lyrics, though "science" crops up several times. The liner notes from A Rush of Blood to the Head state: "The Scientist is Dan." 'Dan' being Dan Keeling, the A&R man who signed the band to Parlophone.
The song made its first appearance on the Hot 100 in October 2012 when a cover by the Glee Cast peaked at #91.
Irish actress Elaine Cassidy portrayed the female passenger in the video. She is best known for playing the lead character Abby Mills in the American CBS TV series Harper's Island and Katherine Glendenning in the BBC TV series The Paradise. Cassidy recalled the filming of the clip to The Mail On Sunday's You Magazine: "At a party I met a director who asked if I wanted to be in a pop video. The film clip was recorded in reverse, Twin Peaks-style, so Chris Martin had to learn the song backwards – I know it backwards now, too. We were supposed to kiss in the original script, but Chris refused – he'd just got together with Gwyneth Paltrow. So I was snubbed by Chris Martin!"