Published Poems

The following poems have been shared through book publications, website links and science blogs.

Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion by Celia Berrell

Newton was a clever man.
An avid scientific fan.
He questioned many things he saw.
Like ones we had no answers for.

He thought them through right to their cores.
Then gave us many handy laws.

Newton’s First Law Of Motion:
Without a force of push or pull
an object will remain quite still.
With just one push at just one time
that object moves in one straight line.

Newton’s Second Law Of Motion:
A bigger Force accelerates
an object that is heavy-weight.
While objects of a smaller mass
don’t need much Force to move them fast.

So Newton noticed they obey
that Force will equal m times a.

Newton’s Third Law Of Motion:
Now bend a stick. Before it cracks
you’ll feel its force of pushing back.
For every action there will be
an equal one – opposingly.

Without his formulas in place
we’d soon get lost in outer space.
So Isaac’s Laws help us traverse
the reaches of our universe.

First published in Get Ahead Kids Jul Aug 2010 page 14-15. This poem can also be accessed via the website of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences

Archimedes and the crown by Celia Berrell

Back in times of Ancient Greece
a golden crown made like a wreath
had caused the king to gnash his teeth
suspecting there’s a missing piece.

He gave his goldsmith solid gold
to craft a crown of laurels bold.
The weight of which was so precise
the craftsman couldn’t steal a slice.

But did that craftsman play some tricks
by melting silver in the mix?
That way he could remove some gold
and make a profit when it sold.

King Hiero knew he couldn’t tell
unless he broke the crown as well.
But Hiero thought of what to do
to keep his crown and justice too.

The king said “what I really need is
someone smart like Archimedes.
Fetch him now with greatest speed.
He’ll work out how to prove this deed.”

So Archimedes pondered on
experiments that could be done
that wouldn’t scratch or harm the crown.
He thought of none and gave a frown.

He knew the crown weighed just the same
as that gold block from which it came.
But mixed with silver surely meant
its volume would be different.

Since silver is much lighter than
pure gold, the crown’s size would expand.
Taking up more room than just
the block of gold. But what’s the test?

Poor Archimedes fearing doom
sat in a bath to clear his gloom.
Submerging all his body stout
he noticed water trickled out.

Within a flash it came to him.
He leapt out with a silly grin.
“Eureka” Archimedes cheered.
“I’ve found it. Now it’s all so clear”.

And hastily he ran through town
to fetch that problem golden crown.
And surely made some people blush.
Not dressed, he’d left in such a rush!

With balance scales held in the air
the crown and block were level there.
Because they both weighed just the same
it looked as though there was no blame.

By dunking block and crown in bath
the water forces change their path.
The block sunk lower than the crown.
It’s density had dragged it down.

The water that the crown displaced
was more than what the block could raise.
So Archimedes proved for sure
that crown’s not made from gold that’s pure.

So when your mind gets stuck and freezes
take a break like Archimedes.
Sometimes when our thoughts run free
we make our best discoveries.

First published in CSIRO’s The Helix magazine Dec 2009 issue129.

 


Modern spectrum of the sun taken by a high-resolution Echelle spectrograph, sourced from the NASA website. (Colour has been added to enhance the effect)

A broken rainbow by Celia Berrell

The light from distant swirling stars
brings information from afar
to stretch our knowledge envelope
when landing on a telescope.

This light is split in two fine beams
that dual mirrors preen and sheen
then redirect to monitor
those rays through a spectrometer.

A complex calculation starts
to sort that beam in rainbow parts.
Revealing cracks that now infer
what’s known as Lines of Fraunhofer.

These shards of darkness; gaps in light
that mar the spectrum’s radiant sight
declare some photons stayed behind.
Remaining with their star entwined.

A perfect rainbow’s only seen
when photons from all frequencies
have spread their colours evenly
and none are missing from the scene.

An element absorbs the rays
of just one kind of photon wave.
Each element consistently
holds back that same light frequency.

Two darkened marks in yellow’s band
show sulphur’s photons stayed behind.
A rift within the deeper red
means hydrogen stayed home instead.

Astronomers have complex ways
to learn so much from distant rays.
A starlight’s rainbow, when displayed
reveals from what the star was made.

First published in the Tropical Writers Anthology Cracks In The Canopy, then posted on the ABC science blog In response to the question: How do Astronomers use light to study stars and planets?

Celia Berrell
PO Box 220
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

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