Niobium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#041, Nb)
started 7/5/13, finished 7/6/12

Niobium’s name is derived
from Greek Mythology,
from the woman Niobe,
daughter of Tantalus…

(and yes, there’s an element
Tantalum, and he’s
directly below her in the
Periodic Table, and it’s hard
to tell them apart sometimes…)

But after Niobe had more children
(seven sons and seven daughters),
and because Niobe felt she had
more prominent stature,
she asked,
“My father was a guest
at the table of the Gods.
My husband built and rules
this city. I have seven sons and
seven daughters worthy of pride.
You revere gods and goddesses
you cannot even see, but
aren’t I worthy
of goddess worship?”

Well, sounding a bit too haughty
to everyone in town,
the god Artemis
and her twin sister Apollo
used arrows for their vengeance —
Artemis killed Niobe’s daughters
Apollo killed Niobe’s sons.
I don’t know is any were spared,
but according to mythology,
when Niobe’s husband saw their dead sons,
he killed himself in grief and despair.
After losing everything.
Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus.
As she wept,
she was turned to stone,
and to this day
there is a natural rock formation there
that resembles a woman’s face,
and rainwater pours
through the porous limestone.
They call this the “Weeping Rock”
in honor of Niobe.

And sure,
Niobium is in chemicals
that are water soluble,
and Niobium is used
in superconducting magnets
(probably like how Niobe
had so many children,
and how everyone was drawn
to her beautiful face,
as she was always
resplendently adorned
in gold and jewels —
through I doubt she had
metal jewelry
made out of Niobium,
even though it turns
to a beautiful blue
when exposed to air).

Niobium is mixed with steel
to make it stronger —
since the Niobium in metal
is also more resistant to heat,
it can be used in anything
from jet engines,
to liquid rocket thrusters
for outer space.
(And as a funny twist, Niobium
is even in the main engine
of the Apollo Lunar Modules.)

You know, Niobium is often used
in commemorative coins,
with gold and silver.
So who knows,
maybe Niobe did have
Niobium in her jewelry,
as everyone admired
her beauty —
until she lost it all.

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium, bonus “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium

Janet Kuypers

Bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #099, Es
based on the poems “Beauty in the Eyes of Einstein” and “Einsteinium”

Einstein dismissed some of his theories —
even some we may know all too well.

Einstein didn’t like some of his theories
because he thought they weren’t beautiful.

And I wonder:
what is beauty?

Is it the geomagnetic aberrations
of the Aurora Borealis
dancing along the horizon
at the arctic circle?

Is it the eternally changing
wisps of volcanic trails
in the Saturn moon Titan’s atmosphere?

Or is it converting matter into pure energy
with just the right formula?

We ask, what is beauty?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So it makes me wonder…

Einstein understood
that everything was relative…

Because once he fathomed
the relationship
between matter and energy,
once he understood
the interconnectivity
between matter and energy —

he understood that his knowledge
in the hands of evil men
could mean that his Fatherland,
the land he escaped from,
he understood that Hitler and the Third Reich
could be working on an atomic bomb,
converting so little matter
into so much devastating energy.

Einstein understood the gravity
of his writing a letter
to appeal to Roosevelt
to create this bomb,
to protect us from Germany.

imagine the finality
of naming an element discovered
after the first explosion
of the hydrogen bomb
Albert Einstein.

Because really,
in a way,

So we ask, what is beauty?

Because chemists will make it clear
that Einsteinium
has no known uses…
But think about it:
is there any logical reason
to grow a certain flower
and purchase it at inflated prices
to give to someone you’re smitten with
on an early date?
Is there any logical reason
to accept the De Beers company
global stranglehold
over stopping the release
of an otherwise common crystal
so that a loved one can cherish
a clear stone on their left finger
to show the world
that they’re otherwise
Is there any logical reason
to claim a song
for a slow dance
on your wedding day?

Of course not.
But we do it anyway,
we keep dried rose petals
from that infatuating relationship,
women constantly ooh and aah
over engagement ring sizes,
and married people
intrinsically feel
they have to dance
when they hear
their wedding song.

How illogical.
But how beautiful.

So we ask what is beauty.
And all scientists seem to
use Einsteinium for now
is basic scientific research,
but that seems oddly fitting,
since that is what
Einstein did best.
To think.
To research.

And that
is beautiful.

Bismuth poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#083, Bi)

I heard NASA scientists say
that Albert Einstein dismissed some of his theories.

That Einstein didn‚t like some of his theories
because he thought they weren‚t beautiful.

And it makes me wonder:
what is beauty?

Is it how the silver-pink hue of Bismuth
tarnishes into an iridescent oxide
refracting colors from soothing pink
to bright yellow
to a deep blue?

Einstein believed
“The most beautiful thing
we can experience
is the mysterious.
It is the source
of all art and science.”

And scientifically,
no other metal is more naturally
diamagnetic than Bismuth.

I know, I know, Bismuth is diamagnetic
and it‚s not the magnetism of Bismuth
that causes the Aurora Borealis
from the Earth‚s magnetic field…

But trust me,
from what I‚ve seen,
no other element
can naturally produce
such an awe-inspiring
brightly rainbow-colored
stair-step crystal.

So we ask, what is beauty?

They say that beauty
is in the eye of the beholder.
So, it makes me wonder.