Chicago poet and Austin resident Janet Kuypers was honored to join poets and musicians at the Dripping Springs City Hall, where she was asked to do a feature for Thirsty Thursday on September st 2017 (9/2/21, or 20170921).
Included in her poetry show, she started with guitar from John while singing and performing her poem “True Happiness in the New Millennium (2017 Dripping Springs edit)”. In the remainder of her show, her poetry reading about all of the seasons as they change was accompanied by music recordings from the HA!Man of South Africa (including “big drops falling on my walk” and “the cold feeling of touch”, from his “Hotel Music”). The entire show was also accompanied by a random art generation on a computer screen of her images from around the world.
Before the show started she also released a chapbook of all of the short poems she read in this show, and this chapbook “Seasons Change” is still available online even during her reading, so anyone could (and can) download the chapbook titled “Seasons Change” as a PDF file for free any time.
Janet Kuypers (bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series) based on the original name (before Natrium) for Sodium, #11, Na started 1/16/15, edited and completed 1/29/15
I’ve been studying elements in the Periodic Table, and when I heard the word “Nitrium,” it made me laugh (thinking of Nitrous Oxide). So I looked it up online… The only thing I could find was from the Memory Alpha in Star Trek Wikia, and they could only guess that Nitrium was either an alloy or a metallic element.
But the history buff in me remembered that Nitrium is a variant of natrium, and it was the original name for the element Sodium.
(I mean, doctors even call low sodium levels in the blood hyponatremia…)
So as I read up at my Star Trek Wikia — I suddenly realized how essential this Nitrium really was:
If you remember basic chemistry, sodium reacts violently with water, disintegrating, or even exploding (no no no, you’re thinking of salt, that’s not straight sodium, that’s why it mixes with water…)
And as I read, Nitrium (which was the first name for Sodium) was prevalent in asteroids and it was used in so many places in the construction of Federation starships.
Now, when it comes to our own bodies, Sodium (or should I say Nitrium) controls blood pressure and blood volume — it’s essential in our bodies to keep them running smoothly.
So it makes total sense that Galaxy-glass vessels used Nitrium in their ships, from computers, to engines to their life support systems.
Nitrium was so crucial to the Cost of Living — you see, I expanded my research from Star Trek Wikia to straight-up Wikipedia and discovered that parasites were eating the Nitrium all over the Enterprise, jeopardizing the ship’s integrity.
Because as I’ve learned, with every Periodic Table element out there there’s a good side and a bad side: if Nitrium is used all over the Enterprise, something could easily come along to destroy it as well.
I mean, think of it in our own bodies: when Sodium (or Nitrium) reacts with water and forms Sodium Hydroxide, but this reaction gets the Hydrogen so hot that it burns.
And if Nitrium was the original name for Sodium, that probably explains why you never see a Galaxy-class starship entering a planet’s atmosphere, where there’s water in the air. Because really, the people at Star Trek learned that even just a little water in the air would be enough to make their starship disintegrate around them.
…Really, whenever the Enterprise actually goed to a planet, they never land on the planet with their big Galaxy-class starship, they send a shuttle, or they beam someone down, because in this case, the water in the air that’s embedded in the atmosphere, that water could react with the Sodium — oops, I mean, that water could react with the Nitrium — and it might actually do the Enterprise in.
As I said, with all the elements I’ve studied, there’s a good side and a bad side to them. We might desperately need them, but they also may somehow do us in if they’re mixed in the just the right way.
Because if you sit in a lab in the twenty-first century, you can watch this element react with water in a beaker — and if you’re going where no one has gone before in the twenty-fourth century, you might have to be sure your Nitrium-rich ship finds no water in space, and finds no parasites that may eat you out of your only way home.
Janet Kuypers from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#90. Th) 7/1/14
Think of how many times you’ve heard scientists say (or maybe you’ve heard it from people on daredevil tv) “do not try this at home” — knowing that someone, somewhere won’t heed this advice and end up with an unintended explosion instead of a fantastic discovery from their radical experiment…
Well, good thing one Swedish chemist didn’t decide to “not try this at home”, doing groundbreaking experiments in his kitchen flat. Though Jöns Jacob Berzelius < !—(yens yoke-ub bear-zeal-ee-us)—> discovered a few elements, he seemed so psyched to name one new element for the Scandinavian god of thunder, Thor.
And it’s kind of funny that with his affinity for Thorium, he never understood Thorium’s radioactivity (because, well, when he discovered Thorium, radioactivity hadn’t even been discovered yet).
But after Thorium was discovered, Thorium was used for powering gas lamps back in the day when the world’s light disappeared at nightfall. But wait, Thorium’s radioactive, and back in the day they didn’t know this, so did people get cancer from radiation poisoning?
Well, maybe if there was enough Thorium in those gas lamps, and maybe if that Thorium wasn’t stopped from getting to humans by the glass surrounding the lamps… Because only if you’d eat Thorium (and maybe only the supernatural God Thor would eat Thorium) maybe only if you ate it only then might it make you sick. I mean, they still sell it today in camping lamps, unless you actually look for a lamp that’s Thorium-free…
But even when it came to eating Thorium, some people would do it back in the ‘30s with x-rays for detecting their cancer, because at the time Thorium was perfect for saving lives thanks to those x-rays. So with Thorium for cancer x-rays, the new cancer risk seemed like a fair trade-off before they could find a safer x-ray detection agent.
So yeah, there’s no way a Swedish chemist could have guessed it when he discovered the element Thorium and wanted to name it after the God of Thunder, but Thorium can bring some light into our world, as long as we use Thorium in just the right way.
Janet Kuypers from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#105, Sg) 7/28/14 (started 7/27/14)
I’ve always loved the sea. When standing at these Pacific shores I’m always intoxicated by the action there, at the vibrancy, the sense of life. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of learning, to California’s desire to explore and discover.
There was a scientist, Glenn Seaborg, who later worked through U of C Berkeley. And when it comes to discovery in California, Seaborg really had a hold on the chemistry market. Because during his career, he did theoretical work in the development of the Actinide series in the Periodic Table, and he even helped discover ten elements (many in that Actinide series).
But one element that wasn’t in the Actinides series that he helped discover, element one oh six, that was the element people petitioned to be named after him (you know, because of all he had discovered for the Periodic Table). But scientists in Dubna Russia were also wanting to claim the naming rights for element one oh six, and naming this element after Seaborg caused quite a stir, because elements are only named after dead people, they said. But the Americans actually pulled it off and got the new element named Seaborgium.
Transuranium elements like Seaborgium are only artificially made with particle accelerators, and I know those scientists, after finding elements that way only acquire one or two atoms, and they can only guess the element’s properties by their location on the Periodic Table… I mean, Seaborgium’s isotopes have half lives only seconds long, and there’s no use we know of for Seaborgium other than scientific research (like for scientists like Seaborg or Albert Ghiorso, or the leader of that Seaborgium discovery team).
But after the element was named Seaborgium, and since Seaborgium is the only element named after a living person, it may have been possible to send Glenn Seaborg a letter addressed in chemical elements: send it to Seaborgium, in lawrencium (for his Lawrence Berkeley Lab), in the city berkelium, in the state californium, and (if the letter’s being mailed from outside the U.S.) in the country americium… I don’t know if any letters like this actually got through to him, but for a man with that many discoveries under his belt, sending letters to him using only Periodic Table elements almost seems like icing on the cake.
Janet Kuypers from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#104, Rf) 7/3/14
And when I get that engagement ring… I don’t want Zirconium, I want a diamond! I want something stronger! Even the band, everyone wants Gold, but Platinum is stronger, even Tungsten (which has a cool goth sound to it)… What’s the strongest element out there – Iridium? Hey, that’s the stuff that was in the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs! ‘Cuz that stuff’s so strong that it’s brittle and can’t even be bent into a wedding band… But I want the biggest, strongest ring on my finger because I want EVERYONE to know that I’m gonna be the bride!
Because I’ve really had my heart set on this one amazing man, Ernest. (Isn’t that the coolest name, Ernest? I mean, I’m being earnest with you, that’s his name, and it sounds so cool!) You see, he’s from the Rutherford family and I’m so taken with him. Oh, and get this, he was born in New Zealand and now lives in the U.K. — this man must know the world, and I think I’m gonna melt! But the things is, whenever he’s around he’s only around for fleeting moments, he mixes with friends and his isotopes are around for as long as an hour, but sometimes only for ten minutes, and sometimes just for a minute or two… So I ever get the chance to be with him long enough to tell him how I feel.
My friends tell me not to bother, because his radioactive personality (that I’m so drawn to) means that if I get too close he might be trouble for me.
Well, I may not be the smartest girl if he is such a strong and intelligent man, but I’ve been doing all the research I can about him. When it comes to researh, I want to work with him, and I want to learn. I only hope he’ll let me.
Janet Kuypers from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#75, Re) (started 8/7/14, written 8/8/14, finished 8/9/14)
Okay, so I’ve been researching these elements in the Periodic Table, and when I got to Rhenium (named for the Rhine river, by the way), I was kind of stumped. What comes to your head when you hear the word “Rhenium”? Other than the fact that “Rhenium” was an LP from Parliment released in nineteen seventy, I was stumped.
But hey, this element was named after the Rhine river stretching through Europe, but in ancient Greek Times, they thought of the Rhine as the outermost border of civilization and reason, beyond which were mythical creatures. No lie.
But I don’t know if that mythical nature of the unknown is what drove scientists to search for this element, and to learn everything they could about what was otherwise unknown to them…
I mean, Mendeleev, the “creator” as we know it of the Periodic Table, postulated this element’s existence, but it wasn’t found in his lifetime… and it was later predicted by an English physicist in 1913, but it still hadn’t been discovered.
But people in different countries claimed the discovery through X-ray analysis, but after a ton of dispute this elusive element was finally found, and as all scientists like to think, this discovery has to mean something, I mean, we have to use this discovery for ssomething, so people will appreciate our precious work!
Well they found out that Rhenium (now that airplanes were being used more and more by both vacationers and business travelers) can be used with super alloys to make jet engine parts (well, I guess that’s cool for the jet-setters out there…) but, after people figured out that putting lead in high-performance fuel might not be good for the environment (okay, or for people), they found that Rhenium could be a catalyst for making lead-free high-octane gasoline.
Since we now have means to travel faster and farther (thanks to Rhenium in part, by the way), we might not think of the Rhine as the edge of our existence with anything beyond it being so mysterious. But when it comes to Rhenium, it’s one of the rarest elements in Earth’s crust (I wonder if that’s why it took so long to discover it.) Because of it’s radioactivity, it’s used in the treatment of liver cancer (and maybe pancreatic cancer too), but with the skyrocketing price of this rare element, scientists still worry about the potential toxicity of Rhenium. So, maybe like the mythical creatures beyond the Rhine the Greeks foretold, maybe, after discovering Rhenium, maybe we should be looking at both the bad — and the good — that can come out of the rare, but radical, and remarkable Rhenium.
Janet Kuypers Bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #15, P 11/4/14
Overheard a crime scene investigator, after witnessing in a home large amounts of Red Phosphorous say this must have been the lab site for making crystal meth.
So, as the reporter in me comes to life, I instinctively turn over my mobile device and type in Red Phosphorous space meth
and hit enter, and lo and behold, the first site lists a Red Phosphorous and Iodine methamphetamine synthesis.
And I swear I’m not looking to make crystal meth, but my thumb must have pressed a link (I hate these mobile devices) and the site came up for an amalgamation of many different methods for the simplest, fastest and cleanest method for producing meth-amphetamine in the highest yields possible.
Like I want to make crystal meth.
I wonder if the government’s going to be on my back for following this link — because recently, after renting a biography audio CD from the local library, I saw ads appearing on every web site I went to for a week suggesting I purchase the autobiography I just rented. So if government agencies are selling their data to the highest bidder, maybe I should also rent while visiting on the Internet Hitler’s Mein Kampf along with books on building a nuclear bomb.
That and I’ll send a ton of emails including the President’s name.
’Cause if corporate America and my ever-intrusive government are watching over me, I may as well try to get on their hit list.
I mean, a girl can only hope.
But then I looked down at my crystal meth web page, and quickly closed the window, but then I thought about it — we need both Phosphorous and Iodine in our bodies. You can even find Red Phosphorous in every matchbook, in flares and fireworks, but we humans had to go mix it with what’s in Sudafed to make crystal meth…
And you know, I’m tired of only being able to purchase one package of Sudafed at a time, and I still have to sign for it and scan my driver’s license — you know, because I have sinus problems.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned I’ve found that all the elements we need can also be used to destroy us. I think of all the Hydrogen in our bodies and the H bomb, or then I think of how our bodies need Potassium but we use it for lethal execution injections, there are some elements used for cancer detection in x-rays that are products from nuclear explosions, the list of good and bad things from elements goes on and on, trust me… And you may think, “but it’s just crystal meth,” and you may be right, if you only do it once it probably won’t kill you, but it supports my point: we ingenious humans find a way to take everything we need, everything that makes us… us, and make it all something that can also lead to our destruction.
It’s funny how we humans do that, how we search, explore and discover to find that the flip side of the elemental coins that keep us alive — well, it’s scary to see when we flip the coins just how messed up the other side can be.
Janet Kuypers from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#91, Pa) 7/1/14
Wanted to talk about P A, element ninety one, but gotta keep this brief, because the first people who discovered an isotope of element ninety one found it had had an insanely short half life, so they wanted to name it “brevium”.
Than again, after a German scientist found another isotope with a much longer half life, they figured that maybe they’d try “protoactinium”, because this element is the progenitor of element 89, Actinium, because when element ninety one decays and loses and alpha particle, Actinium (element 89) is created.
But proto-actinium? That still sounds a little long, maybe we can remember that brevity of the one isotope’s short half life and call it Protactinium instead.
But really, this stuff’s radioactive and highly toxic, and no one has found a single use for this element besides maybe scientific research. But right now they’ve discovered when measuring the ratios of Protactinium and Thorium isotopes in ocean sediments, they can reconstruct the movements of bodies of North Atlantic water during the melting of the last ice age.
Kind of cool. But an ice age can take millions of years. Hardly brief, like the first isotope discovered of Protactinium.
But who knows, maybe if Protactinium is only good to us humans for scientific research, maybe we will start to learn some cool stuff about Earth’s past — and maybe Earth’s future — thanks to a brief little element we otherwise have no use for…