The Mathematician in Love
A mathematician fell madly in love
With a lady, young, handsome, and charming;
By angles and ratios harmonic he strove
Her curves and proportions all faultless to prove.
As he scrawled hieroglyphics alarming.
He measured with care, from the ends of a base,
The arcs which her features subtended:
Then he framed transcendental equations, to trace,
The flowing outlines of her figure and face,
And thought the result very splendid.
He studied (since music has charms for the fair)
The theory of fiddles and whistles, -
Then composed, by acoustic equations, an air,
Which, when ‘twas performed, made the lady’s long hair
Stand on end, like a porcupine’s bristles.
The lady loved dancing: - he therefore applied,
To the polka and waltz, an equation;
But when to rotate on his axis he tried,
His centre of gravity swayed to one side,
And he fell, by the earth’s gravitation.
No doubts of the fate of his suit made him pause,
For he proved, to his own satisfaction,
That the fair one returned his affection; - because,
As everyone knows, by mechanical laws,
Reaction is equal to action.
Let x denote beauty, - y, manners well-bred, -
z, Fortune, - (this last is essential),-
Let L stand for loved - our philosopher said,-
Then L is a function of x, y, and z,
Of the kind which is known as potential.
Now integrate L with respect to d t,
(t standing for time and persuasion);
Then, between proper limits, ‘tis easy to see,
The definite integral Marriage must be: -
(A very concise demonstration).
Said he - If the wondering course of the moon
By algebra can be predicted,
The female’s affections must yield to it soon -
But the lady ran off with a dashing dragoon,
And left him amazed and afflicted.
James Clerk Maxwell
At quite uncertain times and places,
The atoms left their heavenly path,
And by fortuitous embraces,
Engendered all that being hath.
And though they seem to cling together,
And form "associations" here,
Yet, soon or late, they burst their tether,
And through the depths of space career.
So we who sat, oppressed with science,
As British asses, wise and grave,
Are now transformed to wild Red Lions,
As round our prey we ramp and rave.
Thus, by a swift metamorphosis,
Wisdom turns wit, and science joke,
Nonsense is incense to our noses,
For when Red Lions speak, they smoke.
Hail, Nonsense! Dry nurse of Red Lions,
From thee the wise their wisdom learn,
From thee they cull those truths of science,
Which into thee again they turn.
What combination of ideas,
Nonsense alone can wisely form!
What sage has half the power that she has,
To take the towers of Truth by storm?
The Nature of
Matter and Energy
Percy Bysshe Shelley
A sphere, which is as many thousand spheres,
Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass
Flow, as through empty space, music and light;
Ten thousand orbs involving and involved,
Purple and azure, white, and green, and golden,
Sphere within sphere; and every space between
Peopled with unimaginable shapes,
Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless deep,
Yet each inter-transpicuous, and they whirl
Over each other with a thousand motions,
Upon a thousand sightless axles-spinning;
And with the force of self-destroying swiftness,
Intensely, slowly, solemnly roll on.
The particle scientist
is more or less
happy. He has no home.
All his ladders
go straight down
and claim the nameless.
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