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

Californium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#98, Cf)
reflecting on the poem “i am the woman who loves pain”
10/23/13

They tell me that I am settling.
They tell me this is not love.

I keep telling myself
there’s nothing natural about you,
but when I try to take you in,
it seems you work your way
deep into my bones
and I just can’t get rid of you.

It’s like I just can’t get
of the idea of you
out of my head.

But you try to tear me apart
if you ever actually stay with me.

So when it comes to you,
I seem to be
the woman who loves pain.

Because I know you’ll do
the same things,
act the same way.
I’ve gotten used to it.

I look for you,
and whenever I find you…
Everything tarnishes
when we’re together,
but… I don’t know any better.
I don’t know how to stay away.

They keep telling me
that this is not love.

But I’ve never felt love,
and although I am hurting with you,
it’s better than hurting alone.

And you always leave
before I get the chance
to feel attached,
you think,
so you turn away
and you belive
you leave scott-free.
So, okay.
If that is what you do,
then… Don’t worry.
Despite what you do,
despite how you always
seem to react so much
when you’re with me,
I’ll still go across the country for you
I don’t know how many times.
I see your lights,
I see your glow,
because you still
intrigue me so.

I can’t help it.
I don’t know any better.
I must love this pain.
I keep coming back for more.

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

Darmstadtium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#110, Ds)
started 10/14/13, finished 10/15/13

Element one one zero
in the periodic Table,
Darmstadtium,
originally didn’t have a name,
so when the scientists
gave a space-filler name
to element one one zero
they gave props
to the Greeks and Latins
by calling it
Ununnilium.

I’m sure it’s said
oon – un – nil – ee – um,
or maybe oon – un – neel – ee – um,
but knowing a thing or two
about the town of Darmstadt
during the Nazi regime,
I’m tempted to call it
oon – un – nile – ee um.

Oon – un-nihliate.
Get that heavy water
into the hands
of Nazi Germany,
and you’ll understand
the word play.

#

When Nazis took power in Germany,
Darmstadt was the first city
to even force Jewish shops to close.

German scientists knew
they could use “heavy water”
in an effort to make a nuclear bomb…
And when the allies bombed
the Nazis in nineteen forty-three
the air raid forced Nazis to move
all of their “heavy water”
to Germany for protection
(at places like Darmstadt,
where the super-heavy element
Darmstadtium was later discovered).

Then again, prominent members
of the German resistance
against the Nazis
were citizens of Darmstadt.

And Darmstadt is where the
big German accelerator is situated…
The GSI Heavy Ion Research Centre
is in Darmstadt, and elements
are discovered there
(like Darmstadtium). You see,
they had to make Darmstadtium
in this big machine
just to discover it, because
this synthetic element
isn’t even present
in the environment at all.
I mean, we’ve only been able
to make just a few atoms
of the super-heavy Darmstadtium…

But then again,
from what we could tell,
it’s insanely radioactive,
has an insanely short half life,
and no stable isotopes.
With all going against the nature
of Darmstadtium, it’s no wonder
that there isn’t even much concern
over guessing it’s potential physical
and chemical properties.

With such a short half life,
there’s no point in wondering
about the effect it might have
on the human body
or even on the environment,
because it just instantly decays
into lighter elements instead.

With such a short half life,
we’d have to slow down time itself
to even confirm it’s potential
silvery-white luster.

Hmmm, slowing down time itself.
Maybe that’s what we’d have to do
to learn a thing or two
about you,
Darmstadtium.
Because with your
history of instability,
with such short amounts of you
creating only a flash of damage,
we’ll let others wonder
about the potential for
oon-un-nihilation
before we truly
learn a thing
or two.

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium, bonus “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium

Janet Kuypers

Bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #099, Es
based on the poems “Beauty in the Eyes of Einstein” and “Einsteinium”
9/30/13

Einstein dismissed some of his theories —
even some we may know all too well.

Einstein didn’t like some of his theories
because he thought they weren’t beautiful.

And I wonder:
what is beauty?

Is it the geomagnetic aberrations
of the Aurora Borealis
dancing along the horizon
at the arctic circle?

Is it the eternally changing
wisps of volcanic trails
in the Saturn moon Titan’s atmosphere?

Or is it converting matter into pure energy
with just the right formula?

We ask, what is beauty?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So it makes me wonder…

Einstein understood
that everything was relative…

Because once he fathomed
the relationship
between matter and energy,
once he understood
the interconnectivity
between matter and energy —

he understood that his knowledge
in the hands of evil men
could mean that his Fatherland,
the land he escaped from,
he understood that Hitler and the Third Reich
could be working on an atomic bomb,
converting so little matter
into so much devastating energy.

Einstein understood the gravity
of his writing a letter
to appeal to Roosevelt
to create this bomb,
to protect us from Germany.

Now:
imagine the finality
of naming an element discovered
after the first explosion
of the hydrogen bomb
after
Albert Einstein.

Because really,
in a way,
it’s
ironically
beautiful.

So we ask, what is beauty?

Because chemists will make it clear
that Einsteinium
has no known uses…
But think about it:
is there any logical reason
to grow a certain flower
and purchase it at inflated prices
to give to someone you’re smitten with
on an early date?
Is there any logical reason
to accept the De Beers company
global stranglehold
over stopping the release
of an otherwise common crystal
so that a loved one can cherish
a clear stone on their left finger
to show the world
that they’re otherwise
“taken”?
Is there any logical reason
to claim a song
for a slow dance
on your wedding day?

Logically?
Of course not.
But we do it anyway,
we keep dried rose petals
from that infatuating relationship,
women constantly ooh and aah
over engagement ring sizes,
and married people
intrinsically feel
they have to dance
when they hear
their wedding song.

How illogical.
But how beautiful.

So we ask what is beauty.
And all scientists seem to
use Einsteinium for now
is basic scientific research,
but that seems oddly fitting,
since that is what
Einstein did best.
To think.
To research.

And that
is beautiful.

Alumium? Aluminium? Aluminum?, bonus poem from from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Alumium? Aluminium? Aluminum?

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#13, Al)
7/20/13

So back in the day,
this is how researchers
conducted science
when working with things
they didn’t know…

So when a Denmark man
in eighteen twenty-five
discovered element thirteen,
(and wanting to know
everything about it),
he tasted the element.
Thinking it was bitter
(and made his mouth
tighten like he ate alum),
he posed the name
for element thirteen
to be Alumium.
But I think the scientists
that formed the
element-naming community
didn’t like that name,
so the called the element
“Alumunium”.

But the element’s name
is Aluminum,
Aluminium is a British thing,
so why is it known
in the states
as Aluminum?

Well, I heard a man
explain that he heard
(now I don’t know
if this is true,
but hear me out)
he heard that in the states
when a company
(wait, it might have been
the Aluminum Company
of America, ALCOA,
but I’m not sure)
when it was starting,
it filed it’s name
to the federal government,
and when meaning to write
“the Aluminium
Company of America,”
they forgot
the letter “i”,
so their name became
the Aluminum Company
of America.

And, well, it stuck,
not only to the company,
but also to the science
community in America,
and because someone
forgot to write
the letter “i”
for registering
a company name,
all American-speaking countries
now say “Aluminum”
instead of “aluminium”.

So from tasting like alum
to mis-spelling a word,
Alumium, I mean,
Aluminuium, or
rather, Aluminum,
now has quite a list
of aliases…

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

Holmium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry”” series (#67, Ho)
7/18/13

Got a set of poetry word magnets
(so you could arrange words on your fridge
to write a message, or write a poem),
and even though I remembered
that magnets have two sides with two poles,
I still took one of the magnets
(I think the word on this magnet was “stick”)
and turned it around, to see
how it wouldn’t stick to the fridge.

Now, Holmium has the highest
magnetic strength of any element,
so I thought about this magnet’s poles —
but I didn’t know that scientists
have been using Holmium
to try to discover the widely theorized
and avidly debated “magnetic monopole”
(a magnet that only has one pole).
Grand unified and superstring theories
predict their existence, and these
magnetic monopoles could explain a ton
about space, time, and the laws of physics.
But the theory is that there’s so little of it,
and nobody’s been able to even find it,
so they’ll keep using this magnetic Holmium
to try to find this hypothetical particle…

And it’s strange, when it comes to Holmium,
I mean, it’s used to color cubic zirconia…
And when it comes to that magnetism,
Holmium can even absorb nuclear neutrons.
But the cool thing is that Holmium
is used for dental and medical purposes,
and it’s even used with solid state lasers
to remove some early stage cancers
with only a local anesthetic.

Wow, that
and it can help scientists
understand more about the universe
(even if it’s only on a quantum level).

I guess there was a reason why
I was so drawn to these qualities….

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.

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.