Poet of a classical Japanese style
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night and feel them. Why do poets not speak of science? paraphrased from Richard Feynman
These poets do! Science isn’t the realm of robots, but of vibrant human beings, and therefore, of poets.
Celebrate The International Year of the Periodic Table with a poem about all 118 chemical elements (entitled ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’). It got an honorable mention from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s (RACI’s) Stories from the Periodic Table Competition. Today it’s part of an audience poll to determine the people’s favorite elemental story.
Read ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’ by my friend-in-poetry, Michael Leach, and find more science poetry at surveymonkey.com/r/stories3 (The links are in the survey.)
Be sure to vote for your favorite.
Shape of electron shells as designated on the Periodic Table
Why is the periodic table worth a celebration? Because it’s laid out to show you how atoms are structured, how the shape of electrons’ probabilities lets you predict how chemistry will happen! When I realized this chemistry-stuff wasn’t just rules some grumpy, old teacher insisted I memorize – it was the shape and structure of reality – that’s the moment I groked chemistry. I hope you do, too.
UPDATE: the votes are in and ‘The Chemist’s Couplets’ won first runner-up. View the results with links to the winners here.
Three platypuses in Australia were ‘deliberately killed’ in the last few weeks, and two of the animals were found beheaded in what wildlife officials are calling a ‘horrific act of cruelty.’ time.com
Horrible! In honor of the platypus, I’m reposting an old favorite.
Victorians called her primitive,
A mammal under-done,
Chimera of cold austral streams,
Life’s ladder, on a lower rung.
With lizard bones and otter fur
That’s waterproof and soft as silk.
Laying eggs as lizards do,
Then nursing babes on milk.
She hunts her prey in bottom mud
With tactile snout exquisite;
More delicate than human touch,
She senses nerve cells with it.
Life branches out a thousand ways,
Ignores our human urge
For categories neat and trim.
Nature’s on a splurge:
Formed a creature that’s most elegant,
Beauty’s her attraction.
Admire now the platypus,
A honey of adaption.
by Kate Rauner
More science inspired poetry
Myths and legends usually belong to folklore, but Australian aboriginal tales helped scientists find meteorites and traces of a tsunami. One “legend describes the landing of a meteor in Australia’s Central Desert about 4,700 years ago.” Anglo prospectors found pieces of meteorites and the area is now Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve. Another led to the discovery of “a layer of ocean sediment, about 2m down… between 500m and 1km (0.6 miles) inland” that indicate a tsunami.
These indigenous peoples may have unique legends. Isolated on Australia for 50,000 years, they avoided the invasions, diasporas, and assimilation that swept larger continents. They also developed “very particular beliefs about the importance of telling stories properly… [and] employ a rigid kin-based, cross-generational system of fact-checking stories… rock paintings, drawings and engravings.” Stories that retain their basic truth for five thousand years and more leave me – holding my pile of defunct floppy disks – in awe.
With their devotion to accuracy, these Australians were the first citizen scientists, before science was invented. And they have more to teach us.
“Earlier this year, another team of researchers presented a paper arguing that stories from Australia’s coastal Aboriginal communities might ‘represent genuine and unique observations’ of sea level rises that occurred between 7,000 and 11,000 years ago.” This may be the only human record we have from the end of the last ice age.
Thanks to bbc.com for their article, which is quoted above.
I don’t usually go for the “weird creature of the week” post, but this is too good to pass up. Several outlets covered the capture of a rare deepwater fish, probably because of the great image taken when it was transferred to an aquarium. It’s the frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus).
It seems no one can resist calling the fish a “living fossil” which is a pretty silly term. The frilled shark has been swimming the oceans and adapting as nature requires for as long as any of us. It’s just that some of us encounter changing environments and others – not so much. But it is a weird looking fish.
“The frilled shark has been scaring the bejeezus out of humans who pull it out of the water to find an animal with rows of needle-like teeth in a gaping mouth.” Who can resist that?