Uranium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

The sun really is an explosive thing.
With primarily hydrogen,
reacting with helium, carbon,
nitrogen and oxygen,
we can think of hydrogen bombs
and understand why the sun
has been able to keep us so warm
at such a far distance for so long.
But because we’ve got a powerhouse
at the center of our solar system,
our sun can even support
the heavier elements,
like gold or Uranium.

With the element Uranium named
after the planet Uranus,
the only planet named
after Greek mythology
for the god of the sky,
it’s aqua blue hue matches the sky
from it’s methane atmosphere…
Fluctuating seasons
from it’s 97 degree axis tilt,
this potentially dangerous planet
matches the metal element’s
danger to us here on earth.
So yeah, it makes sense
tat we use elements
like Uranium or Hydrogen,
elements the sun feeds off of,
to cause so much destruction
so close to home.

From hydrogen bombs
to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R
and third world countries looking
for Uranium for nuclear bombs,
even to depleted Uranium
as military ammunition
in “high-density penetrators”,
we’ll still look for ways to kill each other
with the elements at our disposal.


Wondering why our planet
has suffered mass extinctions
every 26 billion years or so,
with upwards of five extinctions
in this planet’s history
from dinosaurs to reptiles
to 96 percent of marine life
at one mass extinction event,
scientists can only guess
that comets traveling through space
caused these mass extinctions,
but no one knows for sure.

But some scientists theorized
that if comets have have long orbits,
hundreds of years,
Than a twin star to our sun
can have one even more immense.
Imagine our sun actually having
an undetected companion star
in a highly elliptical orbit…
They’ve called this as-of-yet
undetected red dwarf “Nemesis”.
And it would be our nemesis,
with an orbit so large, it would
periodically send comets
from the Oort cloud
into the inner Solar System
say, every 26 million years.

And it’s funny to think,
that if this were true,
this “Death Star” theory,
our “Nemesis”, this red dwarf star,
would travel through space,
but still be so undetectable to us,
because it’s wouldn’t even have the energy
to hold on to those heavy elements
like Uranium.
And even if this “Nemesis”
was a brown dwarf star,
it would then even be too low in mass
to even sustain hydrogen fusion.
But still, with just the right orbit,
it could send smaller
comet soldiers our way,
to let the little infantrymen
help do us in.

So, as I said before,
we’ll keep pointing our telescopes
to the night sky,
trying to keep ourselves safe
beyond our global borders,
while we use these same elements
like Uranium,
so we can threaten each other
out of existence,
in our little skirmishes
right here on earth.

Mercury poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Loving astronomy,
I’ve always looked for images
from outer space.
My computer desktop background
and screen saver images
are NASA and Hubble telescope images.
Near my desk I keep a poster
of the planets,
and I’ve tried to find miniature globes
all all of the planets
for my living room.
Saturn. Jupiter, and four of it’s moons.
Mars. Our moon.
Too many globes of Earth.
The weather patterns of Venus.
Even a W-map of the universe
just after the Big Bang.
But planets like Neptune,
the farthest from the sun,
and Mercury,
the closest to the sun,
(speeding at over one and a half times
the speed of Earth’s orbit),
those globes are hard to find.

Mercury’s eccentric orbital speed
changes throughout it’s fast orbit,
with the fitting, fast-moving name
of the Roman messenger god.
They equated the planet with the Greek Hermes,
because it moves across the sky
faster than any other planet.
Mercury’s astronomical symbol
as a stylized version of Hermes’ caduceus.
The symbol for the planet Mercury
is even used to represent the element…

We can’t land anything on Mercury
because of it’s hostile environment,
like the volatility of the liquid element
(the only liquid element considered a mineral).
People shy away from using Mercury
in thermometers any longer
because the toxic mercury can leak.

Historically they tried to use mercury
for mirrors (they use silver now),
and ancient cultures used cosmetics
containing the poisonous mercury
that often disfigured women’s faces.
Ah, the ways women hurt themselves
to make themselves beautiful —
you can still find mercury
(you know, because it stays liquid)
in eyelash mascara.

Putting a toxic element so close to your eyes,
that sounds like a good idea…

Then again, someone just told me
that doctors used to give mercury
antibiotic eye drops to babies
just after birth,
to prevent eye infections
from Gonorrhea / Chlamydia bacteria.

Ah, the many ways
we can use toxins
to supposedly help us.

We want to learn about the planet Mercury?
We send unmanned ships through space
to photograph Mercury as much as we can,
remotely check the atmosphere levels,
the temperature, the speed.
We use mercury in our make-up,
mercury is used in dental amalgams.
Mercury has also been used
in traditional Chinese medicine,
and we used mercury in thermometers
to regulate our temperature,
and used it in blood pressure devices.

Because, we want to learn,
and we want to do anything,
to use anything to our own ends,
no matter how toxic.