Life arose from the sea, so they say,
And Earth’s family tree is still branching today.
Our view of the old structure way down below:
Mysterious, shrouded, a faded tableau.
A mandible here, a common gene there,
From shards of the past, a crusty forebear!
Butterflies, beetles, scorpions, fleas
Have much more in common with life in the seas
Than with other critters that you might expect,
Like spiders and millipedes, things kids collect.
The closer we look, the weirder it gets,
But it also makes sense – the twin silhouettes,
Those strange compound eyes, a similar brain …
Meet Pancrustacea, the base of the chain!
Crustaceans and insects, shrimp and lacewing,
Peas in a pod that sometimes will sting.
Cockroaches, grasshoppers, flies all a-flutter,
Think on them as you eat lobster with butter!
All in the (Bigger) Family, Pennisi (2015) Science
This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.
Did you ever watch stars, and hear distant singing?
New telescopes see that the galaxy’s ringing!
Listen now carefully, open your ears
To Johannes Kepler’s great “music of spheres.”
Celestial music, slight changes in brightness,
Give star-gazers feelings of joy and of lightness,
But even more thrilling is what we are learning,
Like what the deep cores of red giants are burning!
Formation of elements, galaxy nascence …
There’s no doubt about it: we’ve got good vibrations!
Kepler’s Surprise: The Sounds of the Stars, Cowen, Nature 2012
The Sun and the Stars: Giving Light to Dark Matter, Casanellas and Lopes, Modern Physics Letters A, 2014
This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. “Celestial Music” was first published on the author’s website in 2012.