Plutonium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Plutonium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#094, Pu)

Now, I know they named the element Plutonium
after the at-the-time newly-discovered planet,
but I can’t help but wonder
if any of those scientists
who deal with Plutonium now
feel slighted that the planet
was demoted to a planetoid.

But if these scientists care at all about astronomy,
they have to feel consoled
that, at least, their element Plutonium
is used with the element Neptunium
when extracted from spent nuclear fuel rods
And Neptunium is a by-product in production.

Added bonus, if this element’s namesake
was named after an icy ball at the edge of our
solar system, at least now the element can hang
and work with the element Neptunium,
which, like that element’s namesake Neptune,
is a bit of a gas giant itself.
Fermi discovered Plutonium,
and the silvery-white element
(looking not unlike an ice ball)
was even originally used
in weapon design in the Manhattan Project…

Because you know, even if the planet Pluto
is really just an icy ball from the Kuiper Belt,
at least in the Periodic Table
Pluto“nium” can at least hang out once again
with it’s once astronomical brother Neptun“ium”
and feel important again.


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