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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#65, Tb)

Looking for better sound
remains at the top of the list.

Having better stereo speakers
at all group parties, meetings or settings,

having a portable sound system
anyone could take with them,

even using sound while in the car
to reduce traffic noise, hear better music,

or talk hands-free on your smart phone.

The possibilities seem endless,
but stereo speakers take up space —

so we need to use science and technology
to even help us meet our audio needs.

Companies create better and better
sound systems, earbuds for iPods

have grown smaller and smaller,
even with noise-canceling technology…

There has to be a way to use the world
around us to get us exactly what we have

decided we need.

So, after just a little research,
I discovered an element twice as common

as silver on this planet, and when it is mixed
into a compound, Terbium can help create

a “Soundbug” speaker that can turn
any flat surface into a flat panel speaker.

(Any flat surface, like an office window,
or your dining room table at home.)

You see, the Terbium-filled Soundbug
can be plugged into a headphone socket

and then suction to any flat surface —
literally turning that surface into a speaker.

Now, this Terbium-rich Soundbug
is only the size of a computer mouse,

and retailing at less than fifty bucks,
they’re targeting this to the youth market;

but a wide-range of technology users
are going to love this little gadget

that can re-purpose everyday flat surfaces
into speakers for all sorts of sound needs.

The thicker the flat material surface, the
better the sound quality of the Terbium-laced

Soundbug speaker, and yeah, the resonance
of the speaker material (wood, glass, metal)

can effect the final sound quality,
but in theory you could daisy-chain

a few of these Terbium Soundbugs together
to excite multiple electrical currents of the music

players, to excite the mock speakers,
to bring every party to life in richer stereo.

Now, I know Terbium is like a
“Swiss Army knife” for cancer diagnosis,

and I know it’s green luminescence
gives color enrichment to tee tees

and is even used in fluorescent lamps,
or lasers, or semiconductor devices…

But this whole “using what we have
to multi-purpose what we have” idea

is really beginning to stick with me.
This audio technology can work with

magnetostriction, like, in a car instead
of in a business meeting or a party:

in a car, the Terbium Soundbug
could create noise-insulating windows,

blocking out the excessive sounds of traffic
(and you know how I hate the sound of traffic…).

But to business workers in a car,
the mobile phone version of the Terbium

Soundbug could be stuck to a car windshield,
to allow hands-free, headset-free talking.

(Well, that may cost a little more
than the indoors Terbium Soundbug,

but no price is too high to stop people
from staring at their phones while driving,


So yeah, although it is more common
on earth than silver, Terbium may still be

hard to get sometimes — but if we can find
this many uses for this element,

I’m sure it’s demand will increase, because
pretty soon, Terbium will be desired

more than anything.

Barium poem by Janet Kuypers


by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

As Christmas approaches,
I get my glass ornaments out
for decorating the tree,
and it reminds me
of how the element Barium
is used in glass making
to improve the luster,
which is perfect for these ornaments.

Because I always thought
that Barium was used
to coat fluorescent lamps,
or add to fireworks
to make them a vibrant green
(not unlike a Christmas tree),
or even as a contrast agent
when taking X-rays,
and yeah, Barium compounds
can even halt the leaking
of X-rays from CRT TV sets…

A mineral containing Barium
is also a rare blue
fluorescent gemstone,
that‚s even the official
state gem of California.

So I guess it does make sense
that Barium could also improve
the luster of glassware…

But when I looked for
more information on Barium,
that‚s when I read
in the New York Daily News
and the Daily Mail
that a Tennessee woman
was actually being poisoned
by her doctor husband
with Barium. This woman,
living on Lookout Mountain,
was suffering from a mysterious
illness for months, until
she found out
that her physician husband
had been poisoning her
for five months by putting
Barium in her morning coffee.

Wow, so I suppose having a little
Barium in your system
once or twice in your life
for an X-ray won‚t due you in…
The element Barium can
add luster to glassware, or
give an intense green in fireworks,
coat fluorescent lamps, or stop
X-rays from coming to you
through your TV screen —
the element Barium can
even help doctors see better
in X-rays to help someone‚s life.
But don‚t put it in your morning
coffee every day,
because if you give someone
too much of what otherwise
seems like a good thing,
it can also be what kills you…