Geopoetry by Kat Allen
Kat Allen, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, started writing poems about science as a graduate student, in part to make studying for qualifying exams less painfully serious. At Lamont, she sent out a poem with each week’s reminder about the geochemistry department’s coffee social hour. Her “Geopoetry” blog grew from there because, she says, “It was just too much fun to stop.” Kat is currently an instructor in Columbia's Frontiers of Science program.
Satellites cast their wide gaze
At night, on the bright Bakken blaze;
Bright as a large, sparkly city,
Up close, it’s not quite as pretty.
What fate might this appetite bring?
In government halls, squabbles ring.
Key to the carbon debate
Is the last Termination’s change rate.
What’s our scenario worst?
Was warming or CO2 first?
New ice core studies profess
A 200-year lag — or less.
A puzzle to solve ere we burn:
The process of compacting firn.
Synchronous Change of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature During the Last Deglacial Warming, Parrenin et al., Science 2013
Leads and Lags at the End of the Last Ice Age, Brooks, Science 2013
Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link, Gillis/NYT 2013
A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark, Krulwich/NPR 2013
The New Oil Landscape, Dobb/National Geographic 2013
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 3/1/13 on Allen’s website.
Upon our little spinning rock,
Cosmic rays and debris knock.
Through great fields and waves we race,
Not empty, our broad path through space!
We’re touched, long fingers from afar:
Energy from our bright star.
A fusing, roiling dynamo,
Magnetic fields induced by flow.
Eleven circuits round our wheel,
Her heartbeat’s pulses we can feel.
In search of answers, models run,
Probing rhythms of the sun.
Further reading: Modeling the Solar Dynamo, Science 2013
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 4/5/13 on Allen’s website.
More cuddly than a dino,
The Zanda woolly rhino!
This pioneer of old
Grew shag before the cold.
The high Tibet plateau
Was higher then, you know!
And when the ice expanded,
(with you I will be candid):
They did some procreation
And made a woolly nation!
We still have some Tibetan yak …
But I want that rhino back!
Further reading: Out of Tibet: Pliocene Woolly Rhino Suggests High-Plateau Origin of Ice Age Megaherbivores, Tao Deng et al., Science 2011
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 9/2/11 on Allen’s website.
Mountains of snow line the street,
And some days I envy a beard.
Ask any shoveler you meet –
The weather this winter is weird!
How strange is it, really? Some wonder,
If sea-ice melt unleashed the Vortex.
Has warming torn systems asunder;
Should we invest big in Gore-Tex?
We’ve been gripped by deep-freeze before;
Sometimes it’s just wicked cold.
The overall trends worry more:
How will it be when we’re old?
Thermostat’s tending to heat;
We wait as the sea gently rises.
Our future we surely will meet,
And always, we’ll get some surprises.
Photo Credit: Figure generated by Cameron Beccario (EARTH.NULLSCHOOL.NET); Results sourced from the NCEP/NOAA Global Forecast System
A letter in Science Magazine: “Global Warming and Winter Weather”
Maps of recent temperature anomalies: Climate Reanalyzer, University of Maine
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Visit Allen’s website for more.
Out in the ocean, where strange things are growing
(Jellies and fishes and creepies unknown)
You might be surprised how many are GLOWING,
With Halloween faces that chill to the bone.
At twilight depths, where darkness meets light
Life’s a grim game of hide-and-go-seek,
A massive migration when day turns to night,
All eyes are peeled for a peek.
If you’ve got the right stuff (or bacterial friends):
Some luciferin and luciferase,
You can flash, you can glow from your eyes to your ends –
And put on a show to amaze!
“I’m not good to eat,” “I’d like to have sex,”
“You’re blind, now I’ll run away,”
“My belly’s the sky,” and subjects complex,
Such wonderful things you can say!
Further reading: Bioluminescence in the Ocean: Origins of Biological, Chemical, and Ecological Diversity, E.A. Widder, Science 2010
This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 5/14/10 at Allen’s website.
Just imagine: one fine day, a fish revealed to you …
With proto-limbs, a monstrous face, all tinged with silver-blue!
Huge and strange and other-worldly, long thought to be lost,
In the flesh (starting to smell!) so many epochs crossed.
The coelacanth! Good Old Four Legs, to some, the “Living Fossil,”
The animal itself is big, its history colossal!
Ms. Latimer, she recognized its weirdness and allure;
Decades later, of its story some things were not sure.
But now we have its genome clear and plain for all to see,
Shedding light on autopods, immune systems, and pee!
More closely tied to humans than to tuna or to trout,
Holding secrets of the beasts who from the sea, climbed out.
Living fossil genome unlocked, Nature News
African coelacanth genome provides insights into tetrapod evolution, Amemiya et al., Nature 2013
First posted 4/19/13 at Katherine Allen’s website.
Behold! New treasures from the Burgess Shale,
In black and silent strata long held firm.
From features soft, a bold ancestral tale …
Be proud, descendants of the noble worm!
Oh, glorious the hemichordate line,
Spartobranchus tenuis among them,
On slime and mud they heartily do dine;
History has surely under-sung them.
From which deep root, vertebral creatures grew?
A scarcity of fossils long obscured;
Into this question we can dive anew,
With gorgeous, detailed imprints that endured.
A wondrous time, the Cambrian Explosion …
Move over, Eve; my roots are in the ocean!
- Tubular worms from the Burgess Shale, Nature / News & Views by Henry Gee:
- Tubicolous enteropneusts from the Cambrian period, Caron et al., Nature 2013
First posted on 3/29/13 at Katherine Allen’s website.