23 April, 2009

An ODE to Radioactivity

One fine day, the century before last,
Henry, a Becquerel, found himself aghast.
The photofilm that he hath so carefully shielded,
To some mysterious radiation had somehow yielded!

But he could protect it, he found, with some layers of lead,
The scientist began to think himself not too right in the head.
The clue lay in an adjoining drawer, a salt of the rare uranium,
Bequerel, satisfied to the core, thanked profusely his cranium.

Scientists soon pounced on the element, and happily played,
It emitted three rays, it seemed, and the emission decayed.
The three types were then baptised, alpha-beta-gamma.
Alpha was the heavyweight, but gamma did the harm-a.
(The radiation, though exciting, was indeed damaging,
Not all the researchers met their deaths by aging.)

The part of radioactivity that's most weighty
Is that you can write a very simple O D E
Although you have to reason a little bit
About the atoms per unit time go oblit.

It's random, jumbled, funbled, culled,
Poisson being the god of that world.
But watch! If there be more atoms,
More must undergo the swat-ems.
If there're fewer for the guillotine
Fewer than previous 'll be keen.

We lay down a new Law this day,
A law that decaying atoms obey.
The number that goes kaboom,
Every fleeting second of doom,
Is proportional to it's brethen,
The number that sec breathin.

And thus, more to see them,
Means more to disappear,
And The Law so ordained,
Is an exponential - swear.

And thus, the atoms die,
One after another, sigh,
Often the offsprings,
Atoms so produced
Decay themselves,
A Little bemused.

But in the end,
Every single
One mingles
With dust.

Or Strong
Ol' Lead.
The end



  1. I see the profile of the winged victory of Samothrace, is that intentional?

  2. Unintentional. :) The curving is intentional, though, supposed to be this:

  3. Well, it is really well written, and comes from someone who knows his nuclear physics. It is a refreshing change to read some of your more creative work after such a long time. Hats off!