I’m into something good

Mar 27, 2019
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The joy of this job is that we are constantly reading about new research, whether its newly submitted manuscripts or just keeping up with current literature. The downside, of course, is that all of these things are written in prose. Where’s the poetry in science, I ask? (as did Feynman) You can find one recent example in a News & Views in our July issue, but I think this is only the start of something good, as Herman’s Hermits told us.*

Since all cultural revolutions have to start small, I thought I would suggest the idea of chemistry haikus, since a) they don’t have to rhyme, b) they aren’t very long (remember the 5-7-5 motif?), and c) they don’t have the tendency for the downward spiral in the same way that limericks do…

The idea is easy. Instead of writing down that your reaction went with 0% yield, try this:

Water gets in and

Messes up everything. Bah!

It’s time for a break.

Or, when your rotation student tends your reaction overnight and you return to a mess, sum it up with these few words:

All at once I find

My nice halogenation

Didn’t work at all

Finally, for those of you bioorganic folks, I think the starter ‘Oh stupid peptide’ could take you a long way… For example:

Oh stupid peptide,

why won’t you make a helix?

It isn’t that hard

Oh stupid peptide,

please come off the resin now.

TFA ran out.

You see how it works. So, with these suggestions as your rallying battle cry, go forth and be poetic! And let me know what good ideas you come up with to describe your scientific adventures.

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)

(*ed’s note, 01/31/08: a reader who is a more knowledgeable music fan than I am (or just not as inept at using the ‘interweb’, perhaps) pointed out that this song was actually by this group, not the Beach Boys, as previously indicated. Oops!)


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