Winding up the theme...
(Poem #805) Rigid Body Sings
Gin a body meet a body Flyin' thro the air, Gin a body hit a body, Will it fly? And where? Ilka impact has its measure Ne'er a' ane hae I Yet a' the lads they measure me, Or, at least, they try. Gin a body meet a body Altogether free, How they travel afterwards We do not always see. Ilka problem has its method By analytics high; For me, I ken na ane o' them, But what the waur am I?
Notes: gin: if ilka: each ane: one ken: know, understand waur: worse The poem is a parody of Robert Burns' "Comin' Thro the Rye" Maxwell needs little introduction - his eponymous "Maxwell's Equations" revolutionised electromagnetism, and much of physics thereby. Planck said of him "His name stands magnificently over the portal of classical physics, and we can say this of him; by his birth James Clerk Maxwell belongs to Edinburgh, by his personality he belongs to Cambridge, by his work he belongs to the whole world." Lesser known, however, is the fact that Maxwell was, from an early age, an enthusiastic and prolific poet: About the middle of his school career however he surprised his companions by suddenly becoming one of the most brilliant among them, gaining prizes and sometimes the highest prizes for scholarship, mathematics, and English verse composition. -- J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, see 'Biography' link 'Rigid Body' doesn't get as 'scientific' as some of Maxwell's other poems, but it's one of his best known, and IMO one of his most charming. The rigid body's philosophical look at the scientists and their analytics strikes just the right balance between playful and serious, and finishes off with a couplet worthy of Burns himself. All in all, quite delightful. Biography: There's an excellent biography at http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Maxwell.html Links: The Burns original: poem #675 A rather different poem by Maxwell: http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/skilton/poetry/clkmax01.html A long essay on Maxwell, the man and the scientist: http://physics.hallym.ac.kr/reference/physicist/lines_menu.html#maxwell Theme: This proved to be a rather popular theme - sadly, few people paid heed to the 'poems by scientists' criterion, but there were so many good science poems sent in that I decided to relax the rule. Indeed, we actually got more poems than we could run in the theme - if you've sent in a poem and it hasn't appeared, worry not; we'll run it as a standalone piece. Here's a listing of the poems in the theme: Poem #795 Harold P. Furth, 'The Perils of Modern Living' Poem #797 Lewis F. Richardson, 'Big Whorls Have Little Whorls' Poem #798 John Updike, 'V.B. Nimble, V.B. Quick' Poem #800 Miroslav Holub, 'In the Microscope' Poem #801 Anonymous, 'A mosquito was heard to complain' Poem #803 Catherine Faber, 'The Word of God' -martin