DNA and Carbon in Asteroids (oh my), bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

DNA and Carbon, in Asteroids (oh my)

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series
3/13/13

You know, us Carbon-based life forms
always wonder where we came from,
how we got here.

And with science on our side,
we’ve looked beyond
guessing and story telling
to find proof in our answers.

And still, we look beyond
what we know around us
to find out how we were formed
here on earth.

#

A couple of asteroids
just flew
perilously close to the earth.
Asteroid 2012 DA 14 intersected the iridium constellation,
flew through all of our global communication satellites.
An asteroid turned meteor blew up in the atmosphere
above the Ural mountains;
every Russian on the road
filmed the sky explosion
with their dashboard cameras,
before the sonic boom shattered windows everywhere
and injured over a thousand people.

And over two thirds of our planet
is covered in water,
just think of all of the impacts
we’re missing out on;
I mean, our news feeds
don’t come from the middle of the ocean…

So we seem to think that these stellar explosions
are becoming more and more rare,
because our planet is pocked with massive impacts
from the earth’s early history.
But now that these scientists
have been scanning the skies
and studying the meteors buried in Antarctica,
they’ve learned that many asteroids and meteors
colliding with our planet’s crust
actually carry atanine and guanine.

Asteroids carry major structures that form DNA.

It’s very possible
that throughout the early history of earth,
asteroids collided with this planet,
leaving their Carbon-rich DNA structures behind
to help start life, and populate the earth.

I mean, Scientists have always wondered
how the elemental sextet of life:
Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorous, nitrogen, calcium,
how did these elements got together
in just the right way
to eventually create earth’s Carbon-based life forms.

I guess it would help that primordial soup
if some asteroids brought along
a little bit of DNA,
so some of our building blocks
came ready-made.

Astronomers say that we’re all made out of stardust,
because all of our atoms
originate from the explosion of stars,
but for this Carbon-based life form,
it’s cool that some of these asteroids and meteors
carried our Carbon —
and some of our DNA —
here to planet earth,
to jump-start our creation
and get our genetic gears going.

Boron from the Big Bang, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Boron from the Big Bang

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#005, B)
3/21/13

The Higgs boson,
the Higgs particle.
The God particle,
as some have called it.
It’s an elusive
elementary particle
theorized about
for nearly half a century.

They call it the God particle
because it might have created
all matter.

You see, scientists
are trying to figure out
how the Big Bang
started to evolve.
You see, the theory
is that all of the universe’s energy
was created
from this massive explosion
from
nothingness.
But the question remains:
how did any
of that energy
turn into matter?

Because during the first
few minutes of our universe
after the Big Bang,
the temperature was so hot,
that it was too hot
for any binding energy
that could have supported
any matter, even hydrogen
or it’s isotope deuterium.
With temperatures so hot,
this bottleneck
delayed the formation of anything
until the universe
was cool enough
to make anything
out of anything.

But just a few minutes
after the Big Bang,
elements burst forth,
because the universe
suddenly got cool enough.
But at twenty minutes
after the Big Bang,
the universe was suddenly
TOO cool for nuclear fusion
or nucleosynthesis,
and THAT is when elemental
abundances were nearly fixed…

That means
hydrogen, helium
and trace anounts
of lithium, beryllium
and Boron
were the elements formed
in those first three minutes
of the Big Bang.
(Sorry, any elements
starting at carbon or higher
were only formed
after stars were around
to create them.)

…So the creation
of matter out of energy
during the formation
of this universe
only happened
in an insanely brief period
of the universe’s history.
Was it just
the insanely hot temperature
in this insanely short period
that did it?

And what does this
have to do with
the Higgs boson particle anyway?

Well, scientists believe
this Higgs particle is a part
of the Higgs field,
an invisible field of energy
throughout the entire universe.
That Higgs particle
interacts with whatever energy
passes through the Higgs field.
And with this interaction,
particles,
massless particles,
they trade their energy
to gain mass
when passing through.

And this Higgs field,
in the beginning of the universe,
helped create matter.

Which helped create us.

Higgs helped create matter,
including the first elements
in the universe,
from hydrogen
to the comparatively heavy
Boron.

Yeah,
five electrons is heavy
in the formation of the universe.

Yeah, Boron,
which helps keep our bones strong.
Boron treats osteoarthritis.
Boron builds muscles,
and when it comes to
trying to understand this science,
it even improves our thinking skills.

We’ve known of Boron
for thousands of years,
from the deserts in Tibet,
or from China in glazes
through to Persia
before it got to Italy,
where it was used
for medical purposes.

Well, knowing how long
we’ve used Borax for cleaning,
or even that Boron’s used
to make the strongest
magnet ever made,
it’s nice to know
that we also understand
how much this
infancy-of-the-universe
element
is vital in everything in our lives,
from our muscles and bones
to the very creation of the universe.

Yeah, it’s cool to see
how scientists
are starting to piece together
how matter came to be
in this universe,
because without that Higgs field,
and without that Higgs particle,
energy would never
have turned into
Boron,
to create any

thing,

or even create us.

Platinum poem by Janet Kuypers

Platinum

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

A secretary for a trading company
at the Chicago Board of Trade
started dating a trader
(even though he was a trader,
he seemed like a nice guy) —
and after he asked her to marry him
and they were engaged,
she cheating on him
by having an affair with a coworker.
They broke off their engagement
until he forgave her
and offered her an engagement ring
with a huge solitary diamond
in a thick Platinum setting.
Looking like white gold,
Platinum was more expensive,
so she was pleased
she got him to spend
more money on her.

Well, they married,
but within a few years
they were divorced.

It’s a shame that marriage
couldn’t last as long
as that Platinum engagement ring,
made out of one of the strongest
metal elements in the Periodic Table.

I wonder what they did with that ring.
I hope they returned it,
so a stronger couple
could better accentuate
that stronger Platinum ring
and be a better match for all time.

Because I know the Platinum Metal Group
elements are really strong and durable,
because Platinum’s been used in everything
from razor edges to prevent corrosion
to spark plugs, so they can be hotter
and have a longer life.

So yeah, because of Platinum’s
resistance to heat,
it makes sense that Platinum is used
in catalytic converters in cars too —
temporarily pulling the nitrogen
and carbon atoms from
nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide
until they can re-bond
into water and less dangerous byproducts
for the environment.

Because Platinum can really stand the heat,
Platinum’s used for temperature detectors
and high-accuracy electronic thermometers,
and some parts that are launched into space
have been made out of Platinum
because they could not only
withstand the temperatures,
but also prevent corrosion,
so everything being blasted off into space
could stand everything
the Universe may throw at them.

So with Platinum being so resistant to corrosion,
it makes sense that Platinum parts
are in computers, and even in parts
for neurosurgery… I’ve even heard
(though I don’t know the details)
that Platinum may be used
in cancer medication too.
(Wow, that would be great to hear,
if Platinum could also possibly
help people with cancer…)

But when I mentioned Platinum
to someone recently,
the only thing they thought
it was for was
“wealth accumulation”.
And I thought, “For what?
Like buying gold bars?”
Because even though I see
“Cash for Gold” ads,
I haven’t seen people or places
making “Cash for Platinum” calls,
but wealth accumulation must be right,
it has a higher value than gold,
and as we’ve discovered,
it could also be strobng enough
for a wedding band
to truly withstand
the test of time.

Carbon poem by Janet Kuypers

Carbon

by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I used to see the magazine ads
and the tee vee commercials.
All I was taught
was that a big busted blonde
was all I could aspire to be.
So I would dye my hair.
So I could act the dumb blonde.
I could still beat them
at any mind games,
but men don’t like the truth
shoved in their faces,
because they refuse to believe
anything that doesn’t stroke
their ego.

So yeah, I was a carbon copy
of what the media shoved
down America’s throats.

And yeah, as time went on
the dark-haired women
started to gain some popularity back,
but they still had to be anorexically thin
and they still had to battle
the notion of all men
still adoring the dumb blonde.
And yeah, as the years wore on
I didn’t have to die my hair,
but I still had to be thin,
I had to be the carbon copy
of the dark-haired, gaunt,
soulless faces
plastered on billboards,
papers and screens.

I pass the magazine stands,
see carbon copies of the models
on multiple magazine covers.

I pass the media store
with rows and stacks
of repeated tee vee screens,
showing carbon copies
to the world
of what we’re supposed to be.

I don’t want to be
a carbon copy of anything.
I want my own thoughts.
my own ideas,
and I want to spill them out
for the entire world to read and hear.

But carbon copy or not,
I end up resigned,
knowing that despite our differences,
we are all carbon—
based life forms.
I mean, when scientists
look for life on other planets,
they always only look
for water first.
Well sure, hydrogen, oxygen,
life as we know it
needs it, I get it.
But carbon-based life forms
are all we know.
I mean, whether or not
they have arms or legs,
or gills, or a mouth, or a brain,
they all have carbon in common.

So when I see
the atrocities mankind causes:

when I see Adolph Hitler,
the vegetarian artist wanna-be,
when I see Adolph Hitler
collect his cult followers
to systematically slaughter
millions…

when I see the stacks
of the skin and bone emaciation,
stacks of bodies in ditches,
or in rooms, stacked in a pyramid
to the small hole for air in the ceiling
after their final “shower”…

when I see the pope
visit Cuba
and wear a sombrero…

when I see chickens
crammed into rows of cages
they cannot move in,
for their eggs, for their flesh…

and when I see
the rows of pre-packaged
barely recognizable cow flesh
wrapped in cellophane,
row after row in the grocery store…

It is then I have to remember
that despite everything,
and as much as I hate to admit it,
we are not all that different.
I mean,
if nothing else,
we are all
carbon-based life forms.