Monday, May 01, 2006

Poetry in Science (or science in poetry?)

Poetry in Science


April was National Poetry Month and there were quite a few poems I noticed on the net with a science theme. Thinking about poetry in science, I was instantly reminded of a Feynman poem that I read in one of his books:


There are the rushing waves

mountains of molecules

each stupidly minding its own business

trillions apart

yet forming white surf in unison


Ages on ages

before any eyes could see

year after year

thunderously pounding the shore as now.

For whom, for what?

On a dead planet

with no life to entertain.


Never at rest

tortured by energy

wasted prodigiously by the sun

poured into space.

A mite makes the sea roar.


Deep in the sea

all molecules repeat

the patterns of one another

till complex new ones are formed.

They make others like themselves

and a new dance starts.


Growing in size and complexity

living things

masses of atoms

DNA, protein

dancing a pattern ever more intricate.


Out of the cradle

onto dry land

here it is


atoms with consciousness;

matter with curiosity.


Stands at the sea,

wonders at wondering: I

a universe of atoms

an atom in the universe.


--- Richard Feynman



 There were other poems about the blogsphere and internet that I noticed with a science theme. At Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted), there was this gem: Field Guide by James Gurley, dedicated to Ted Parker, ornithologist & conservationist, 1953-1993. Wonderful poem. She includes several others at Living the Scientific Life, but don't miss The Microbe by Hilaire Belloc.


Along with The Obligatory poem from Emily Dickinson , Janet D. Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science notes the trivial fact that "nearly every Emily Dickinson poem can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"." One of her readers responds that the source of this habit is from Dickinson's childhood when she was exposed to hymnals of the same metrical pattern at church. But it was Stemwedel's 4/26/06 entry that included Roald Hoffman's an unusual state of matter that caught my eye. A nice touch was addition of outside links to the words monazite, cerium, lanthanum, thorium, yttrium, and phosphate!


Coturnix at Science and Politics posts a couple of zoological poems: The Axolotl and the Ammocoete by Walter Garstang and The Axolotl by David McCord. The Student Blog at HUNBlog uses a poem called Scenic Overlook to describe for students how poetry can use geological metaphor. HUNBlog has a section called StuBlog, which is geared for students. HUNBlog's main purpose is science education and they seem to be doing a bang-up job.


Doubtless, there are other science-related poems out there, but these are the ones that I came across during the National Poetry Month of April 2006. Enjoy.

2 Epigraphic Artifacts:

Brad Hoge said...

Thanks for the plug! I like Feynman's poem, too, but how about some more "original" poems by scientists? How about yours? Got any? I'd love to see them.

Thanks again,

CFeagans said...

No problem, Brad! I try to stop into HUNblog every so often and see what's new... I'm just all over the so-called blogsphere in a short amount of time I don't get to post comments as often as I should.

Thanks for dropping in!

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