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From: Tom Dowling <tdowling#NoSpam.lsc.org>
I work at Liberty Science Center, a hands-on museum in New Jersey.  I wrote
a pile of scientist and inventor limericks for our newsletter, most never
got published because there were too many.  They focus mostly on history of
science & technology.

                     A Collection of Little Limericks
                      About Scientists and Inventors

The explanation or background in regular type, followed by the "poem" in
bold face.

Massage your brain with these,
Then spread the Limerick disease,
Via the net,
To see what we'll get,
Beware, your computer might sneeze.

Special Category: Thomas Edison
Februari 11
October 18
Thomas Edison, Working in Menlo Park, NJ (now part of Edison Township)
perfected incandescent lighting in 1879, improving on Swan's (and other's)
efforts.  He then devised the electrical generation and distribution system
to make it useful.

Tom Edison thought he was bright,
He invented the electric light,
Then, to his chagrin,
When turning in,
His wife said, "I'll be reading tonight."

April 27
April 2
Samuel F. B. Morse, otherwise a painter, invented a "magnetic telegraph" in
1837 and with his assistant Alfred Vail later developed Morse code.

Morse was a man of deep thought,
And a painter whose art wasn't bought,
He invented a key,
And his fame was to be,
Tapping out: "What hath god wrought?"

March 3
August 2
Alexander Graham Bell's original focus was on hearing and speech.  He (is
said to have) uttered the famous words (abbreviated below) in 1876, while
attempting to improve the telephone of 1875.  He had spilled sulfuric acid
from a battery into his lap.

Bell wanted to help the deaf hear,
And was building an electric ear,
Then acid he spilled,
Where he wasn't thrilled,
And quickly called, "Watson, come here."

April 15
August 19
September 15
The Wright brothers made the world's first powered, controlled airplane
flight on September 15, 1904, with Orville at the controls.  They chose a
breezy, sandy location at Kitty Hawk, NC to assist take off and cushion

We all know the brothers Wright,
And credit them with first flight.
They soon had to land,
With their butts in the sand,
But their wires and sticks were all right.
[or, Thank goodness their props were on tight.]

Special Category: Albert Einstein
March 14
April 18
Albert Einstein proposed his theory of special relativity in 1905, followed
by general relativity in 1916.  Time dilation is one of the consequences of
motion at relativistic speeds.

Einstein proposed that time,
Was flexible and most sublime,
Go near fast as light,
And to you delight,
You'll get home while still in your prime.

December 15
August 28
Antoine-Henri Becquerel discovered natural radioactivity from uranium in
1896.  A uranium compound exposed a photographic plate through a lightproof

Becquerel was having a go,
At what made substances glow,
With uranium he played,
And discoveries he made,
But that was the end of his show.

Cyrus Hall McCormick invented his harvesting machine, the reaper, in 1831.
The reaper revolutionized farming, by allowing fewer workers to operate
larger farms.

McCormick invented the reaper,
And the wheat fields grew wider and deeper,
The farmers got lazy,
And drank themselves hazy,
But his gadget was still a keeper.

June 1
August 24
 Nicolas-L़onard-Sadi Carnot published Reflections on the Motive Power of
Fire, in 1824, the first scientific analysis of steam engines, laying the
foundations of thermodynamics.

Carnot performed quite a feat,
He developed a cycle complete,
From torrid to cold,
His theories do hold,
And thus he's remembered in heat.

May 6
James Naysmith designed the steam hammer in 1838 to forge a huge wrought
iron paddle shaft for a ship.  The hammer was belatedly patented in 1843,
after copies of his invention had already been made.

Scotsman Nasmyth was said,
To have hammers inside of his head,
While others laughed,
He forged a great shaft,
By pounding it while it was red.

William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain invented the first transistor, at Bell Labs, in New Jersey, in 1948.

Schockley, Brattain and Bardeen,
Commanding electrons unseen,
Made vacuum tubes,
Fit only for rubes,
And those who think progress obscene.

Special Category: Marie Curie
November 7
July 4
May 15
April 19
Marie Sklodowska Curie and her husband Pierre Curie discovered radium and
polonium in 1898.  They both suffered from radiation injuries while
purifying the highly radioactive element radium.

Madame Curie loved Pierre,
And together found elements rare,
But they stood way to close,
And got quite a dose,
And suffered from falling of hair.

October 21
December 10
 Alfred Bernhard Nobel invented dynamite in1866.  He later invented
gelatin-dynamite and thus founded an explosives dynasty.  His endowment
funds the Nobel Prizes.

Rare medals recall Nobel,
Who thought dynamite to be swell,
He mixed "nitro" with dust,
For a product to trust,
So we could all blow each other to hell.
[or, For warfare and mining as well.]

Louis Temple, an African-American blacksmith, invented the "Temple Toggle"
harpoon, which revolutionized whaling in 1848.  The toggle harpoon would
not cut itself free, thus reducing the number of lost whales.

In whaling days Temple was king,
His harpoon had a terrible sting,
It made sad predations,
On the noble cetaceans,
And extinction it nearly did bring.

Garret A. Morgan, an African-American inventor, patented a forerunner of
the modern traffic signal in 1923.

Morgan's ideas were so great,
'Though he suffered racism and hate,
An invention that's vexing,
And sometimes perplexing,
His revenge is our traffic light wait.

Crompton's mule was one of the machines that revolutionized the production
of cloth in the eighteenth century; he invented the mule in 1779, combining
Hargreaves' spinning jenny and Arkwright's water frame.  Displaced workers
opposed these inventions.

Crompton invented the mule,
A serious yarn spinning tool,
It put many poor slobs,
Right out of their jobs,
And today this is still the rule.

Special Category: Louis Pasteur
December 27
September 28
 Louis Pasteur is well known for his development and first human use of the
rabies vaccine on July 6, 1885.  His lesser-known early work was in optical
isomers, compounds that twist light left or right depending on their exact
molecular configuration.

Louis Pasteur, in his day,
Studied compound that swing either way,
No ifs, ands or maybes,
He paused to beat rabies,
Because isomers could stand the delay.

Januari 7
July 9
Nikola Tesla developed the first AC induction motor in 1888 and with George
Westinghouse developed the modern AC electrical system.  He built a huge
tower at Wardencliffe (NY) in a failed test of wireless, high frequency
electric power.  Today, Tesla has become a cult figure, with fringe
enthusiasts linking him to UFO's, time travel and anti-gravity machines.

Tesla thought himself greatest of all,
His "juice" is what comes from your wall,
An Edison rival,
Who's had a revival,
Thought the Wardencliffe tower did fall.

Special Category: James Watt
Thomas Newcomen developed the first "atmospheric" steam engine in about
1712. It was massively inefficient and was quickly supplanted when James
Watt's designs arrived in 1765. Watt's engine was inspired by his efforts
to repair a Newcomen machine.

Newcomen thought he would try,
To build something to suck the mines dry,
It ate coal by the ton,
And was trouble to run,
'Till someone named Watt happened by.

October 15
October 25
June 19
August 19
Special Category: Blaise Pascal
 Evangelista Torricelli invented the mercury barometer in 1643.  Blaise
Pascal actually made the mountain ascent, shortly after news of the
discovery reached France.

Nobody recalls Torricelli,
They think it might come from the deli,
Pascal then climbed,
Upon mountains rimed,
With a barometer strapped to his belly.

Howard Hughes, son of the inventor of the tri-cone oil well drill bit, was
an aviator and aircraft inventor.  His famous "Spruce Goose" a seaplane
built mainly of plywood is still the largest (320 foot wingspan) airplane
ever. It flew just once, on November 2, 1947.

There was once a flyer named Hughes,
With many strange airplanes to use,
His Goose was a riot,
But he really did fly it,
Relying on plywood and glues.

October 7
Henry Ford developed the modern assembly line in the fist decade of the
20th century.  Carl Fredrich Bentz developed the first working gasoline
automobile in 1885, much earlier than Ford's first (1893).

Ford did not invent the car,
The Germans were quicker by far,
But he found a way,
To make hundreds a day,
And that's how things got as they are.

Igor Ivanovich Sikorski built the first functional helicopter, the VS-300
in 1939.  He was an aviation pioneer and previously built the first
multi-engine aircraft.

Sikorski perfected the chopper,
With rotors and engines most proper,
With blades in a whirl,
He could pick up his girl,
And fly to place he could drop her.

August 9
July 9
Amedeo Avogadro originated the key hypothesis in the molecular theory of
gasses beginning with an 1811 paper.  Later scientists including Perrin
(1909) and Millikan (1917) worked towards accurate determinations of N0,
(Avrogado's number), now held to be 6.022045 x 1023.

Avogadro conceived a number,
Used to make Chem' students slumber.
He cast atoms and moles,
In mathematical roles,
Which give us such pains to remember.

Februari 22
Januari 1
 Heinrich Rudolph Hertz demonstrated electromagnetic waves in 1888.
Gugliemo Marconi took out the first (UK) patent on radio in 1896.  Karl
F. Braun invented the crystal receiver, and shared the Nobel Prize (1909)
with Marconi.

Marconi sent signals through air,
On waves of which Hertz was aware,
With sparkers and bristles,
On galena crystals,
'Till radios were found everywhere.

John Phillip Holland, working in Paterson, NJ, developed the first modern
submarines. The Fenian Ram was an experimental 3-man boat of 1881.  The
Plunger was to be the first diesel sub, but was never finished, c. 1901.

The Plunger and Fenian Ram,
Were two boats that just barely swam,
They were Holland's folly,
But gee-whiz and golly,
Soon navies their offspring would damn.

July 18
March 3
Robert Hooke, a brilliant and versatile scientist, is remembered for his
Micrographia of 1665, a work containing images of microscopic creatures and
an "undulatory" (wave) theory of light.

Old Hooke, he looked at flea,
And others that bite you and me,
With pictures and words,
Described cork and curds,
And the parasites of bird and bee.

December 25
March 30
Special Category: Isaac Newton
 Newton devised his famous laws of motion between 1684 and 1686.
Although he had the ideas earlier (1665-6). Newton shares credit for the
calculus with Willhelm Gottfreid Leibniz (published 1684) but in their day
there was much acrimony between them.

Newton was brilliant of mind,
A genius of rarest kind,
His new laws of motion,
Caused quite a commotion,
But Leibniz shared his best find.

Februari 11
 Leo Szliard demonstrated the nuclear fission chain reaction of U-235 while
working with Walter Zinn at Columbia University in 1939.  He persuaded
Einstein to write the famous letter to Roosevelt.  Szliard joined Fermi on
the first nuclear reactor in 1942, and turned to biophysics after the war.

Do you know Leo Szilard?
He never though physics was hard.
Then scientist-spooks,
Stole the plans to the nukes,
So shelters we built in our yard.

October 5
August 10
In Massachusetts, Robert Hutchings Goddard designed and flew the first
practical liquid fuel rocket in 1926.  Supported by a Smithsonian grant, he
moved on to test ever-larger rockets in the desert near Roswell, NM.
Goddard was the first to work out the physics of a manned moon mission, but
did not live to see it done.

Rockets were launched in Roswell,
A place that is hotter than hell,
They say men from space,
Have crashed in the place,
Where Goddard's old missiles once fell.

March 27
Februari 10
November 8
Willhelm R५entgen discovered X-rays (sometimes called Roentgen rays in his
honor) in 1895 while experimenting with Crookes (electrical discharge)
tubes.  The medical uses were almost immediately appreciated.

The integument used to so hide,
The organs and bones deep inside,
'Till R५entgen discovered,
Rays that uncovered,
Whatever was wounded, save pride.

November 14
Februari 21
Sir Fredric Banting, a surgeon and Charles Best, a physiologist isolated
insulin in November of 1921.  The gathering of flies at the sugary urine of
dogs that had undergone pancreatectomy was a crucial clue.

Researchers Banting And Best,
Were doing a pancreas test,
They saw the flies huddle,
At a sugary puddle,
And with insulin the world was blessed.

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was one of the world's greatest aircraft
designers.  He created the P-38 of WWII, the F-104, the U-2 and the Mach 3+
SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft of c. 1964.

"Kelly" could p*ss off [or, torment] the Reds,
With his sleek titanium sleds.
The swiftest of Migs,
Seemed slow as pigs,
When the Blackbird flew over their heads.

June 23
Februari 10
Alan Mathison Turing, a British mathematician described a "Turing Machine"
in 1937 and the "Turing Test" in 1950.  During WWII he worked at Bletchley
Park on electromechanical computers that helped defeat the supposedly
invulnerable Nazi "Enigma" ciphers.  His top-secret clearance was later
revoked because of his sexual orientation.

Turing was scorned in his day,
When it wasn't OK to be gay,
But his electronic brain,
Gave Hitler a pain,
Taking the cloak of enigma away.

March 24
John Harrison, English, (1693-1776) was a horologist (clock maker).  He
sought the Longitude prize, of ः20,000 for a method of determining a ship's
position at sea.  He built several chronometers, from 1735 on, to the
famous No.4 (1757) a mere 5 inches in diameter.  Harrison was finally
awarded the Longitude prize in 1773.  For the whole story, see The
Illustrated Longitude, by Dava Sobel, now available as an illustrated
edition, too.

For ages, the ships on the sea,
Could not reckon where they might be,
Till Harrison's eyes,
Saw the longitude prize,
A true clock for the Admiral-ty.

Thomas W. Dowling

July 5-12, 2000, Edited 1-30-2001

physics chemistry
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Inspired, perhaps, by the Unabomber, reader Chris Marks composed
three original scientific limericks with the common theme of
"Explosions of Various Sizes". They appear, for easy reference, in
order ofincreasing magnitude of destruction:

        A cautious young chemist named Mound
        Was surprised (but not hurt) when he found
                That A mixed with B
                In the presence of C
        Made a hole (ringed with dirt) in the ground.

[note; in this limerick, (r) represents the "registered" symbol]
        A scientist working at Sandia(r)
        Found a way to make larger bombs handier.
                The result of a test
                In the desert Southwest
        Turned the land close at hand even sandier.

        Great minds have been known to recite,
        Or in papers they publish, to write
                That before time began
                There occurred a Big Bang --
        But the theory has never been quite

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Januari 2
April 6
From: jcamara#NoSpam.jet.es (Javier Camara)

Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me what makes skies so blue,
And I'll tell you why I love you.

Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,
Tropisms make the ivy twine,
Raleigh scattering make skies so blue,
Testicular hormones are why I love you.
-- From the Joke Book of Isaac Asimov

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From: "Heydon" <heydon4#NoSpam.rogers.com>

If chemistry has is attraction,
Try this - Make a charcoal compaction
   With sulphur and niter
   Then touch with a lighter
And notice the speed of reaction.
                                - Alex Heydon                                                                               

physics chemistry biology
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From: Mini-air 2000-01-10
                     AIRhead SciFaiku -- The 1st Load

Last month we made the mistake of asking for new poetry that is
compressed, intriguing, and about science. Many of you made the
mistake of writing and sending some. Here is the first selection
of this non-art non-form called Scifaiku:.

Test tubes -- don't listen
To taunts. They're just trying to
Get a reaction
	--Alice Waugh

Repulsive pole!
You give me but half
A moment
	--Steve Brunt

My red, ripe tomato
has altered genetics...
What smells like fish?
	--Bob Wakulich

I have posted my
Findings on a friends web site
So I must be right
	--David Emigh

Uncle Henry's wife
Broke her hip. A victim of
Auntie gravity
	--Gary Hallock

2000-02-07	More Lamentable SciFaiku

The flow of bad new poetry -- poetry that is compressed,
intriguing, and about science -- is undiminished. We must dispose
of it somehow. Our experimental method is to dump it on you. Here
is another load:

Tiny, ancient mariner
cast adrift on Chaos' sea;
Cap'n Higgs' bos'n wades ashore.

Barbara Stewart
My cleaning fluid
Lacks argon thirty-seven:
Missing neutrinos!
	--Eric Schulman

Centrifuge was set
Too high. Uh-oh -- now I see
Bugs climbing the walls.
	-- Alice Waugh

Butterly waggles
wings in China garden. Six months.
Win98 doesn't crash. Awe.
	--John L. Wilson

My twin is ancient
Tricked into staying at home
While I toured the stars
	-- David Wall

next:7.2 compare scientists (using lions, elephants, primes etc.) | Index | Comments and Contributions


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