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…

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.