Scientific American writer contemplates poetry and science

In the Arts & Culture/Opinion section of Scientific American posted 23 December 2020, Dava Sobel talks about being tickled to discover “a little over a year ago that the magazine had carried poetry in its earliest issues. Volume 1, Number 1, for example, dated 28 August 1845, included a poem called ‘Attraction’ that touched on gravity, magnetism and sexual allure. Within a few years, however, the magazine’s original publisher, Rufus Porter, sold Scientific American, and the new owners showed no interest in poetry.

“Between the 1840s and the 2010s, poems appeared in the magazine only rarely, most notably in January 1969, when W.H. Auden offered ‘A New Year Greeting’ to ‘all of you Yeasts, / Bacteria, Viruses, / Aerobics and Anaerobics . . . for whom my ectoderm is as Middle-Earth to me.’ That same issue contained verses from poet and novelist John Updike—verses inspired by his reading of the September 1967 special issue devoted to materials science. ‘The Dance of the Solids,’ with its rhyming references to ceramics, polymers and nonstoichiometric crystals, also appeared in Updike’s collection Midpoint and Other Poems.”

Read the whole article:  “Nature in Verse: What Poetry Reveals about Science”

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