002: The Poetry of Science

Poetry and science were at a time as one, intertwined like lovers. In the words of poet-naturalist René-Richard Castel, “A poet must not aim to teach and advance a science as much as to show its advantages and make it loved.”
But as the arrow of time has taken wing into the future these two lovers have grown slowly, but ever distant. Coming together for only the occasional tryst, even these passionate rendezvous are becoming as rare as the eggs of a Campephilus principalis. Hey, that's science…look it up!
Okay, that's an ivory-billed woodpecker.
I digress.

There was a time when poetry was the vehicle for science. Discoveries in astronomy, botany and medicine were discussed in detail in narrative books of verse. Erasmus Darwin's long poem The Botanic Garden, structured in rhyming couplets touched on many aspects of science, most interestingly the beginnings of his theory of evolution. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suggest his poetry may have had an influence on his grandson Charles.

But that was then. This is now. And now I have a science poem for you, my beloved audience, both of you

Brain Beat by Shanice Hilliard

Weaving narrative with mono amines,
Amino acids, strings of neuropeptides,
Intoxicating bliss inside the center.
Front to back it conducts its own beat.

Beat, beat, little heart of thought
From us your finite infinity grows,
As copper on green silicon, not a
Free electron present, zero, each small
Element must hold its own charge.

Thinking, soupy throbbing of your head,
Depolarizes string batteries. Strange,
When finding itself within the morning break
Each echo pings the front, sounding inside
Its own empty skull.

Brain your fitting image lost to us
I held you in my hands, a little heavy,
You weighed them down, gray upon the table
Cold, lifeless, pale, intricate lump

We have a new co-host! Sophie McManus!!!

  • Ph.D. candidate/Research Assistant in a diabetes and cell signaling group in Sydney, Australia
  • Cofounded the fantastic science blog called biodetectives.co.uk, “Tracking life science stories from Down Under to Up North”

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Asshole of the Week

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and as-yet-to-announce Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States

Jeb Bush: It's ‘Arrogant' To Say Science Is Decided On Climate Change.

Who is Jeb Bush? He may not be too well-known outside of North America, but he is the former governor of Florida and likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Oh, and he's the brother of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the one that got us into two wars, destabilized the Middle East, and precipitated the Great Recession.

Remember? Yeh, his brother.

Jeb Bush is now acknowledging that the climate is changing, but claims that whether or not humans have caused this is still unclear. Bush made these comments at a house party in New Hampshire, and not long after President Obama urged the government to act toward mitigating the immediate risk of climate change.

Jeb Bush stated, “Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you.” He went on to say that this “intellectual arrogance” was preventing people from having a conversation on anthropogenic climate change.

Let's step back and have a brief look at the science. According to NASA nearly all climate scientists agree that global warming over the last century is “very likely” caused by human activities. This statement by NASA cites 18 different scientific institutions. Nine out of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, with 2014 being Earth’s warmest year on record.

Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that human activity has led to climate change. Ninety-seven percent. But Jeb Bush thinks they’re wrong. Who’s being intellectually arrogant now?

Hot enough for ya, Jeb Bush?

You have earned the honor of being the Blue Streak Science Asshole of the Week.

This Week’s Shout-out!

The Bold Signals Podcast, hosted by John Borghi
Catch this terrific podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes
John had a very special guest last week; our very own Kellie Vinal!
How cool is that?
Kellie talks about antibiotic resistance and gives us a view of the daily life of a scientist
Don't miss it!

That's it for this edition of the Blue Streak Science Podcast
The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Sonoma County, California; Atlanta, Georgia; and beautiful Sydney, Australia!
See you again next week!

About the Author
Host of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

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