G Block, bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicgo poet Janet Kuypers

G Block

Janet Kuypers

(from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #119-184)
8/31/14

While researching cold fusion
to learn about my latest periodic table element,
I see a sentence to a link for
“Approaches to element 120 (Ubn, unbinilium)”,
and I think,
‘oh no,
this can’t be,
the periodic table only goes to element 118,’
so with dread
I follow the link
and realize
that scientists can’t be happy
with the elements they’ve discovered,
of course not,
so even though there’s no place
in the periodic table
for any new elements…

Well, wait a minute,
if they’re talking about element 120,
there has to be talk about element 119,
so I looked it up, and of course, Uue,
ununennium has a wiki web page too,
so I look at their supposed location
in the periodic table,
and they’re off to the left of the table
in two separate additional rows.
119 is in period 8, the s block,
just like its neighbor, 120.

Whatever that means.
(I mean really, haven’t I
done enough research
on these elements already?)

Oh but wait, they’re just to the left
of Hydrogen, which is also in that s block.

So the periodic table contains four blocks,
the s, p, d and f blocks, giving you
details about the atoms therein.
But then I see a link there
for the “extended periodic table”.

Of course. An extended periodic table.

So I look, and because all of these
are super-heavy elements, the theoreticians
(including Seaborg, who theorized about
many of these now postulated elements)
dropped this new set of twelve
121 and up elements
into the “g block.”

Yes, the g block.
Ask any prisoner in the g block,
and they’ll swear
the prosecution made everything up
to put them behind bars.

I wonder, if all of these elements
are still undiscovered,
how much of these g block elements
are these chemists really making up?

But as far as they can hypothesize, this g block
in the periodic table contains eighteen elements
with partially filled g-orbitals in each period…

I’ve read documents postulating
the first g block element’s at 121
that claim the hypothesized element
126 would be within an island of stability,
resistant to fission but not to alpha decay.
They’ve tried to create 119, 120, 121, 124, 126 and 127,
and some scientists once claimed
discovering an isotope of 122 occurring naturally…

But wait a minute, let me think about this:
if the g block is made of twelve elements,
that would mean the edge of the g block
is element one thirty two, and still
I’ve seen that “extended periodic table”
has Superactinides and Eka-superactinides
listed all the way up to one hundred eighty four.

Razzin frazzin.
Mumble grumble.
Can elements even exist with that heavy a weight?
Isotopes of some synthetic elements
last only milliseconds, and as far as I know,
the only way these super-heavy synthetic elements
can be created is by smashing an atom
with a ton of neutrons into an atom
of a synthetic element (you know, like one
with a half life of only milliseconds).
Can scientists even be able to try
to create these only predicted
super-heavy synthetic elements?
Because it’s really unknown
how far the periodic table extends
beyond the discovered element 118.
But some predict that it ends at 128.
Some predict that it ends at 155.
Some first guessed
that the table couldn’t go past 137,
then later calculated the end was 173.

Oh, razzin frazzin,
with all these guesses
I can’t hear myself a-speechin’…
But I’m not quite sure any of these chemists
are sayin’ the right answers, either,
when everyone can only guess
if any more elements can even be created.

Okay, fine, I’m just a poet
trying to learn a thing or two,
to refresh my memory
on the periodic table
and keep my science know-how up to par.
Maybe I’ll just have to wait
until they actually discover
new elements,
and be content
when they discuss elements
in astronomy and science shows,
when I can actually understand
what they’re saying and think,
“wait, I think I knew that…”

Because okay, I’m only a poet,
but I’ll keep my scientific mind open
and welcom every new discovery as it comes
with open arms.

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“Diburnium”, bonus sci-fi poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicgo poet Janet Kuypers

Diburnium

Janet Kuypers

(bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #122, Db)
7/27/14

Spending another Saturday night alone,
I watched an old episode of Star Trek.
In this episode, Captain Kirk, McCoy and Sulu
were beamed down to a planet
with no magnetic field.

After the Enterprise
disappeared from their sensors,
Kirk hears Sulu say, “The basic substance
of this planet is an alloy of Diburnium-osmium.”

And my brain stopped
when I heard this elemental scrap.
I wracked my brain, ‘wait a minute,
I know osmium, it’s the densest metal
in the Periodic Table. But Diburnium?’

I know Star Trek mentions many elements
and isotopes when they talk science,
hydrogen, it’s isotope deuterium,
transparent aluminum, even dilithium
(which scientists are trying to use now
to boost speed for long distance space travel)…
So I had to research this elusive Diburnium.

Now, the Memory Alpha at Star Trek Wiki
confirmed that an abandoned Kalandan outpost
was built on an artificial planet
composed of a Diburnium-osmium alloy. And
according to the Starfleet Medical Reference Manual,
the element Diburnium had the symbol Db,
atomic weight 319, and atomic number 122.
Okay, this poet’s paying far too much attention
to the Periodic Table, but I know
that right now 118 is as high as the Table goes,
but like a Periodic Table addict
I still had to look into science fiction
that piqued my curiosity.
The Star Trek Freedom Wiki explained
that Diburnium is a metallic element
with phaser-resistant qualities.
Okay fine, maybe I’ll worry
about these undiscovered elements
only once they’re discovered,
because without actual phasers
to worry about in the present,
I think I’ll stick with the elements
we do know right now…

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

Tritium

Janet Kuypers

(Bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, molecule 3H
based on Hydrogen element #1, also known as hydrogen-3)
12/24/13

So my husband has this nice Fossil watch
that he wears only when we go out on nice dates now.
You see, he says he doesn’t need a watch
because he has his cell phone with him at all times,
and it always tells time in accordance with GPS.

But recently he broke down and bought another watch,
one that looks like a small child should wear it,
with a huge black band and face and neon glowing hands.

Lovely, I thought,
I thought just using the cell phone was bad enough.
So I asked about the glowing hands on his watch
(and thought about the original radium watch faces
painted by women who got cancer from radiation).
And he said no, the numbers and dials are covered in
Tritium.

And I thought, great,
another element that probably will leak
into people causing certain eventual death.
But he said no, this is safe, it’s only an isotope of hydrogen.

And I thought, oh…
So it’s just another boring element that we
Americans are using to try to make life easier
for people who grow tired of using their eyes.

I don’t think he liked my saying that.
So he said, wait a minute
(knowing how I seem to like learning about
Atomic bombs and World War Two and the like),
Tritium is used in the process of making the
Hydrogen bomb.

Hmmm.

So I read that Tritium for American nuclear weapons
was produced in special heavy water reactors.
But tritium undergoes radioactive decay
(ergo the glowing watch faces, I’d wonder,
though I’m sure he’s stress that there’s
no dangerous radioactivity in his watch –
oh wait, he said it’s “safe” radioactivity),
but Tritium’s used in “boosting”, increasing
the speed and yield of fission bombs.

And yeah, he was trying to get me to like
his child-like black glow-in-the-dark watch
by linking it with heavy water in WWII
and Hitler’s efforts to get the bomb first.
Scary to think that tactic might work with me,
but at least he’s trying to get me like
the watch that he chooses to wear.

Hydrogen Cyanide, bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (for Hydrogen, element #01, H) by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Hydrogen Cyanide

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#01, H)
started 9/5/13, edited 9/19/13 and 9/21/13, finished 9/22/13

He was once a college chemistry professor, so he
hoped he was a shoe-in to work with the Waffen-SS.

He ended up working at the Rundfunkhaus —
a Berlin radio station broadcasting Nazi propaganda.

But after his university was bombed, he took
what he could get and was grateful for work

that didn’t require him to use a gun. But when
the Science and Research Department at

the Reich Main Security Office gave him orders
to go to the Dachau camp to retrieve paperwork,

he solemnly went home to pack for his two-day
trip, driving there one day, returning home the next.

#

He’d seen the Sachsenhausen concentration camp,
35 kilometres north of Berlin, but Sachsenhausen

was more of a training centre for Schutzstaffel officers
before the SS men were sent to oversee other camps.

And although Dachau was small, it was essentially
the first, and set the standard for all of Hitler’s camps.

He felt the tension knot in his stomach grow,
even before saying goodbye his wife and two children.

#

Arriving at the camp the next afternoon, he learned
the lieutenant general was away from his office,

so he could only get the necessary paperwork
the next morning. Which left him alone

at the camp, in a stranger’s office. He paced.
A part of him didn’t want to go out there,

there was safety inside these office walls.
Here he could remain separate from the war.

#

After nearly an hour of pacing, he decided
to just go out there. Face it. Get it over with.

And when he stepped outside the air felt heavy;
he could feel the weight of the move he made,

the weight of his legs grew heavier; he dragged
his feet, making his way to the open walkway.

Although there was that heavy haze in the air,
he knew what chemical reactions had occurred

to leave that distinct smell in the smoke
and haze working it’s way through the air.

He saw across the clearing the doors close to the
“showers”, so he walked with a determination

to bring himself to the hall. He could hear
the sounds of people inside grow louder,

but he then caught a glimpse of a guard
that just made his way to the roof. As he

got closer, he watched the soldier open
what looked like a can, then shake it

into the vent at the centre of the building,
before closing the vent and walking across

the roof before taking the ladder back down.
From the moment anything from that can

made it’s way into that building, with
every subsequent step he took, he could hear

the wails and screams get louder and louder
from the Jews inside. He stopped for a moment.

Look, he thought, he knew what this was,
get used to this, was all he could think to himself

to get his heavy feet moving again. He
caught the soldier walking down the ladder

from the building, and quickened his pace
to catch him before he got far from the building.

Not able to see the ranking on his uniform shirt,
he quickened his pace to not yell for the soldier.

With the soldier still holding the jar in his hand,
he asked if he could see the can. Once he had it

in his hands, he looked at all elements on the label.
Zyklon B. Hydrogen Cyanide. He knew

this poisonous liquid boiled just above room
temperature, so he knew that all they had to do

was drop some from a sealed can into the open hall,
poisoning thousands in only twenty minutes.

He knew the Germans first thought of using
this Prussic acid against Napoleon in eighteen

thirteen — and if they had, it would have been
the first time Hydrogen Cyanide was used in warfare…

But look at him now, the chemistry professor,
reduced to thinking of how all the Jews inhaled

the bitter almond smell of Hydrogen Cyanide,
until it combined with their red blood cells,

causing death from oxygen starvation.
He suddenly felt he needed to take a deep

breath, get in all the oxygen he could. He saw
the blue stains on the concrete walls, then walked

back to the soldier to give him the empty can,
when the soldier, making small talk, said

“one of the older Jews pleaded to me,
‘I’m a decorated vet from WWI, I was in an

artillery battalion, we shot gas shells at the
British and Americans, I shouldn’t be here,

my paperwork’s with my luggage—’ And they
just kept telling him to go into the showers…”

And he knew in WWI we shot these shells into trenches
in France, so he shrugged and gave a slight grin,

to commiserate with the soldier, but he knew
that everyone fights their own battles in this war.

He was only a lieutenant, a lower-ranking attache
than the colonel who sent him on this job,

but he still held rank over this soldier, so he told
the soldier that once there were no screams inside

and they opened the doors to bring everyone
to the crematoriums, he wanted to be notified.

Then he walked away. At fifty metres he clutched
at his pockets to find his cigarettes and lighter;

he wanted anything to calm him down and help
him focus on anything else until it was time.

#

He stood in the field, chain smoking, until
he heard the running footsteps in the distance.

He looked at his pocket watch. Twenty minutes
had passed, as he saw a soldier running

toward him. He looked at the gas chamber
and saw they had opened the doors, so he started

his methodical walk back to where he was
destined to go. He acknowledged the soldier

with a wave, and quickened his pace
to the building. He saw a few different soldiers

this time, all waiting until the cloud of gas
was cleared from the chamber so they could work.

He walked to the doorway. It was dark,
but he could make out a pyramid of people

toward that small now closed centre vent.
From what he could tell, it looked like the Jews

tossed the babies and small children toward
the top, in an effort to keep the children alive.

One of the soldiers passed him as he stared,
so he asked him how long he had been doing this.

“Nearly a year,” he answered. So he had to ask
if doing this, if seeing this, bothered him.

The man only answered, “If you do something
long enough, you get used to anything.”

With that, he nodded slightly, and knew
he saw enough. He walked away.

#

Early the next morning, he came back to the offices
at the Dachau concentration camp, so he could

get his paperwork as quickly as possible, so he
could get out of there as quickly as possible.

#

The tension knot grew smaller in his stomach
the closer he got to his home in that drive,

but as he came to his home, he saw his wife
sitting outside their home, with all the widows open.

Once he got out of the car, he could hear
her coughing, sounding more and more hoarse

with each gasp. He only wanted to hold her,
but concern overtook him as she explained

that she just used a pesticide fumigant
throughout the house, and she could

no longer breathe while inside those walls.
He looked to the second floor of the house

for the children, and she told him they were
each staying the night at friends homes.

And suddenly he imagined that fumigant
that’s killing the vermin inside their home —

Hydrogen Cyanide was now in their home.
A form of Zyklon B was now in their home.

All she was trying to do was kill the vermin,
and he thought of the propaganda ministry

he now worked for, telling the nation to believe
that the Jews are the rats, the Jews are the vermin.

So he looked at their home, and told her
they would get out of here tonight, as far

as they possibly could. He then held her close
before they walked away, holding hands.

Fermium, poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Fermium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#100, Fm)
including the poem “Each Half is the Enemy”
8/10/13

When the bulldog ant of Australia
is cut in half,
the halves see each other as enemies.

The head attempts to devour the tail.
And the tail,
in an effort to defend itself,

battles for up to thirty minutes
to sting the head.
And this battle happens everywhere

in the world, because life is always
that battle
between the two halves of the whole.

#

Because everything contains that twin,
one part good,
and one part you’ve construed into something

so horribly wrong. And you want to tear it apart,
that other half,
you despise everything about it —

everything that somehow is a part
of you.
So you, in life, always possess that battle.

#

This even applies on a molecular level.
Consider hydrogen:
it’s in our water we drink and bathe in,

and atomically, we’re sixty-seven percent
hydrogen.
But on November first nineteen fifty two,

“Ivy Mike” was the code name
for the first
successful test of the hydrogen bomb.

It’s funny how we can take something
so needed for our life
and, like our sun, turn it into something

to destroy everything we know.
Because as I said,
one side gives life, the other kills.

#

And thanks to “Ivy Mike” and that
hydrogen bomb,
two elements were discovered —

one of them was named after physicist
Enrico Fermi.
You see, Fermi worked on “Chicago Pile-1,”

the first nuclear reactor. Fermi worked
in a space
under Chicago University’s then unused

football stadium bleachers. That’s because
the school
had not used the football stadium

for three years, because the school
thought sports
were a distraction from academics.

Fermi, “the father of the atomic bomb”.
also worked
on the Manhattan project, and Fermilab

outside of Chicago was named after him.
And here’s the kick:
the hydrogen device that produced

Fermium was designed by Richard Garwin,
Enrico Fermi’s student.
So for all that Enrico Fermi had done,

it seems fitting that Fermium is
the heaviest
element formed by the nuclear

bombardment of lighter elements
(like hydrogen).
And this highly radioactive element

was initially kept secret due to the
cold war.
But it’s amazing what we can discover

while taking something we so need
for life,
and turning it into an instrument of death.

#

Because Fermium was classified
in the cold war,
Swiss scientists bombarding oxygen,

discovering an isotope if it, and wanted
to name it
centurium (to honor element one hundred).

Good thing Fermi’s nuclear work got
declassified, so they
could honor Enrico Fermi with “Fermium”.

But wait, Fermium is bad, it’s radioactive,
there can’t be
any good applications for it…

Well, consider the two sides of any twin:
Fermium’s the only
element that can use it’s alpha particles

in radio therapy for cancer. And yes,
it’s radioactive,
but it’s short half life means it decays

quickly. Because as I said, it’s amazing
how two sides
can be both bad, and also so good.

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.

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

Cerium

by Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#58, Ce)
including the poem “Jumping from the Skyline to the Clouds”
8/6/13

Joining commuters driving
toward the Chicago Loop,

I watched majestic skyscrapers
frame the skyline,

as I witnessed over Lake Michigan
early morning clouds —

thin at the top, each cloud looked
like a snow-capped mountain,

framing this flat-land city, and
surrounding the skyscraper skyline…

But all those clouds
were only formed in the mornings

by the early morning weather,
pulling water daily from Lake Michigan.

When the water from the lake
is warmer than the dew point,

water rises until the air is cold enough
so that lake water forms those clouds.

But the thing is, Lake Michigan
is more than hydrogen and oxygen —

at times they even warn the public
to not go into the unsafe water

(the same water Chicago filters
for everyone to shower in, or drink).

So I checked some of the studies
on what foreign compounds

Lake Michigan actually contains —
at times you can find everything

from cadmium, mercury, lead or zinc,
to copper, chromium, even selenium.

That list included harmful elements,
but the numbers that were really

off the charts came from Cerium.
Cerium acts like calcium

in the human body, and you can
find a lot of Cerium in tobacco plants —

and with Cerium’s moderate toxicity,
prolonged exposure can lead to

itching, heat sensitivity or skin lesions.
And wait a minute, Cerium can

spontaneously ignite if the air
is hot, and you may be thinking

that if Cerium’s in water it should
be safe, but water can’t be used

to stop a Cerium fire, since Cerium
reacts with water to make hydrogen gas.

Well, if Cerium fire fumes are toxic,
then so much for Lake Michigan being

good for you — even when Chicago
has multiple water purification plants.

Because Cerium in the water
that forms those morning clouds

is one thing, but no matter the toxicity
of Cerium, remember that us humans

are over seventy percent water.
With all the compounds

that Cerium goes into,
it’s probably best if Cerium’s left

to it’s industrial uses, instead
of working it’s way in our water…

And besides, it’s nice to think
that those beautiful morning clouds

framing the Chicago skyline
with snow-capped mountains

are actually more than just hydrogen
and oxygen, because every once

in a while, look at that morning sky.
Because in just the right way,

a little Cerium
can really go a long way.

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.