Platinum poem by Janet Kuypers


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.

“Iridium” poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I was looking for different pieces of jewelry
at the more expensive jewelry store;
I knew Christmas was coming
and I wanted to splurge on an expensive gift.
But I wanted something truly unique,
so more than thinking about the gemstones
I was looking for the most original setting.
Silver, 10k, 14k, 24k and White Gold, Platinum…
Then I thought I should look at the Periodic Table
to see what other elements there are in the
same Platinum group metals,
so I can find just the right metal
for the perfect setting.

Okay, on first glance at the Periodic Table,
before I even looked at the Platinum group metals,
I see Aluminum. But that’s right out,
when it can be as flexible as tin foil…
Tungsten’s used for environmentally-friendly
Bullet shell casings, but I don’t know…
Wait a minute, if I think aluminum’s
too malleable, then IN the Platinum group metals,
actually right next to Platinum in the
Periodic Table, what about Iridium?
It’s the 2nd densest element there is,
and it look silvery-white like Platinum,
but also has just a hint of a gold hue to it.
This sounds perfect.

Wait a minute, I think because Iridium
is so hard, it’s also brittle — I hope
it wouldn’t break apart. So actually,
because it’s so dense and resistant to heat
or corrosion, people probably can’t
work with it to actually make it
into anything… So I guess Iridium’s out.

But the fascinating thing about Iridium
is that when scientists studied the
Cretaceous period and Paleogene period
boundary from 65 million years ago,
they found a strong layer of Iridium-
rich clay… And although no one knows
for sure, scientist Luis Alvares
lead a team in 1980 who theorized
that a massive asteroid collision —
or a comet impact — which historically
drove the dinosaurs to extinction —
that these interstellar objects that
collided with the Earth — were rich
in Iridium, leaving Iridium in the clay
that separated these two geologic periods.

It’s just a theory, but it sounds
kind of cool, and it’s just one more way
to find Iridium so fascinating.

It’s a shame I can’t have it made
into the right jewelry setting…

And you know, Iridium is obtained
as a byproduct of copper and nickel
mining, and was even used in 1834
in fountain pen nibs mounted on gold,
so apparently they were able
to work with Iridium then…

Now that I think about it, there might be
something to this Alvarez hypothesis,
because right now there is
what they call the Iridium satellite
constellation, which literally is
a set of satellites covering voice
and data storage around the world
for everyone using cell phones
or mobile electronic devices…

So yeah, if Iridium can relate to
a change in geologic historic periods,
and if it can relate to satellites
orbiting the Earth now for our communication,
that’s all the more reason to admire
this dense, heavy element anywhere
we can find it.

Chromium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Closing the door
to my stainless steel refrigerator,
I thought about the popularity
of stainless steel;
everyone wants to get
stainless steel fronts
for all of their kitchen appliances.
Costs more at the store,
but that’s the price for looking good.

So I thought, stainless steel,
okay, what is that, iron?
But my wrought iron bed frame
and sets of candle holders
are pretty much black,
some of it’s rusting,
so what do they do
to make this iron a shiny,
different kind of metal?

I looked online
and the answer
was 24.
Not 42, not the meaning of life,
but the atomic number.

You know, when I turned 24 at work,
our rep from our press called me,
and I told him it was my birthday.
So he asked me how old I was,
and I said 42.
He sounded surprised, so I told him,
“Oh, you didn’t ask me
how old I felt.
I’m 24.”

But really, chromium
is atomic element number 24,
and to make stainless steel
they add over ten percent
of chromium to the iron to form
a steel alloy that doesn’t corrode.
(Good thing
my refrigerator
won’t rust…)

So maybe it’s the
magnetic properties of chromium
that make this metal so appealing
to people now…
But this protective element
has protected weaponry
from Chinese dynasties
thousands of years ago,
so the Chinese knew,
even then,
that coating things with
this magnetic metallic element
would stop corrosion.

I mean, we’ve all heard
of things that are
chrome plated, right?
Chromium not only makes things
last longer, but
chromium is also known for
its luster when polished —
which really makes
for a great sell.
Just go to any hangout
for motorcyclists,
probably on any summer
Sunday morning,
and see the parked line-up
of one motorcycle after another,
each outdoing each other
with decorative chrome plating…

But then I thought…
Chromium’s even used
as chrome yellow dye
for school buses…
Chromium salts are used
for wood preservatives
and tanning leather…
The refractory applications
of chromium even work
for blast furnaces, cement kilns,
molds for the firing of bricks
and also for the casting of metals.

I guess chromium can really
extend the life
of what we see around us…
So I guess it’s fitting
that when my birthday
coincided with this element,
I jokingly said
that the number in question
was actually the answer
to life, the universe,
and everything…