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organic chemistry poetry

golly, ‘been so busy lately w/ TAing and researching and tennis.  thank god the us open is finally over – i can have my evenings back now.

still can’t proffer a real post (my code has yet to bloom into the beautiful flower it wants to be).

instead, i’ll post a piece of poetry i heard at a poetry reading yesterday.   mala radhakrishnan, former TA to christina and labmate of one of my labmates writes wonderful poetry – about organic chemistry.  it’s delicious; the science geeks in the crowd ate up her reading.  all 5 of us.

one of her poems i found online (that she in fact read yesterday):

The Radioactive Dating Game

By Mala L. Radhakrishnan

I used to sleep ’til my electrons would drool
At P-32 element-ary school.
The things we were taught were just totally boring.
A mole of us atoms would always be snoring.

But one thing I learned there I’ve kept to this day:
“Soon, my students you’ll beta decay
To become more mature and to capture the label
Of “S-32″, and then you’ll be stable.

And when that time comes you will celebrate
‘Cause you will be ready to graduate.
So look around now, and count every peer.
Today there’s a mole, but you’ll soon disappear.”

So I watched as my friends around me decayed.
I felt left behind, slow and dismayed.
Abandoned by those who were thought to be deft.
In two weeks there was but half us of left.

Meanwhile I’d hoped to impress my young lass
But was now in the bottom half of the class.
I spent all my class time planning to court her,
But remained, two weeks more, in the leftover quarter.

By two weeks more yet, and I still hadn’t parted.
Now six weeks had passed since this challenge first started.
What was my problem? I kept losing faith.
The fraction of atoms left was one-eighth.

Another two weeks and my hope for love waned.
One sixteenth of a mole of us atoms remained.
My lass had now probably found a new mate.
By the time I escaped here, it would be too late.

So I studied the past eight weeks with great courage.
And suddenly a pattern started to emerge.
I realized, from evidence existential
That the decay of the class size was exponential.

See, every time two weeks came and then went,
The class size went down by fifty percent.
‘Twas one mole times e to the minus kt,
Where k was ln 2 over 2 weeks, you see.

And “t” was the time in units of weeks
Since the teacher that lesson one fine day did speak.
This equation did serve as a useful tool;
I could predict, at time t, the number in school.

But then it happened – I had my decay!
I was S-32, and I liked it that way.
Success carried with it the sweetest aroma,
My electrons excited as I got my diploma,

Which oddly contained a most curious addition.
It read: “You’ve earned honors and recognition
For insightfully doing the mental athletics
Of uncovering the inherent first-order kinetics.”

When my love saw this honor she screamed out loud,
“Oh, my brilliant darling, of you I’m so proud!
Your wit has won over my heart in a snap.
Let’s let our orbitals overlap!”

So the one thing I learned from that school, ’twas the worst,
Is ’tis not about who’s quick or who finishes first.
Everyone matures at different rates.
(But those who know learn chemistry will always get dates!)

i thought i’d also link to the site of jennifer matthews, a singer/songwriter who put on a 4-song set before the poetry reading.  she was so good that christina and i bought her cd on the spot.  it’s crazy, i can’t recall the last cd i bought before this one.  sadly, i still found a way to shaft the artist: i came up a dollar short and jennifer just let it slide.  hope this blog plug / increase in google page rank score makes up for it!

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One Response to “organic chemistry poetry”

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