Cristy Burne


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Acrostic poem for Aussie Nobel Laureate who cracked the DNA secret of youth

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Elizabeth H Blackburn with yet another medal for her work: the 2012 American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal. Photo by the Science History Institute.

Who doesn’t love an acrostic poem? Today I’ve written just one more science poem …an acrostic science poem this time … for another Aussie Nobel Laureate and scientist: Elizabeth H Blackburn. And that’s because….today is Elizabeth’s birthday!

Elizabeth’s team discovered that telomeres at the end of our chromosomes protect us from aging. Three cheers for that!

Poetry form: Acrostic
The first letter of each line spells a word. Since this acrostic is about the role of telomeres, the lines shorten with time.

To reflect the way that telomeres protect the coded meaning of DNA, I’ve protected the meaning in each line using words formed from the letters in ‘telomere’.

Laureate: Elizabeth H. Blackburn
Elizabeth H Blackburn and her colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering that our DNA chromosomes are protected at each end by telomeres.

Telomere

By Cristy Burne

The instructions for life coded into your cells like the long lines of shoelaces untied tee term toe tome tore teem tree

Each life-encoding lace protected at both ends by a cap not of plastic but of repeating echoes eel elm emote

Like children in a spelling bee our enzymes race to replicate the coded laces lee let lore

Over and over omitting overlooking a little each time ouch oh omelet

Maybe you’re not fussed about letters misplaced melt molt

Except they protect your essence el em

Resist rot

End

Thank goodness for telomeres, right? And one of the best ways to protect your telomeres is to exercise. So, go on…put down your device and head outside for some brain-inspiring, teleomere-building fresh air and fun!

(Then come in and use that inspiration to write a science poem!)

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s other science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Welcome to Boola Bardip, your new (and fabulous) WA Museum

Excitement! After four years of waiting, the new WA Museum is open — and it has a new name: Boola Bardip, meaning ‘many stories’ in Noongar.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak-peek through this super achievement last Monday…and WOW! You’ll love it. Your kids will love it! It really does tell many stories.

More than 54,000 people were involved in creating this museum in one way or another. Nearly half a million people entered the ballot for first-week tickets (!! Isn’t that wonderful!!)

As a science writer, I was thrilled to be one small part of the incredible team who worked to create this mammoth cultural treasure. (I worked to help edit some of the interpretative panels in the Origins gallery – a gorgeous space that celebrates Western Australia from stardust to ancient civilisation to today.)

The gallery is amazing. So much detail, so much thought, so many cool ways to interact. Perhaps my favourite interaction is the dinosaur footprints you can spend hours making alongside the massive sauropod, or the chance to watch peacock spiders dance, build with ant-sized robots, touch meteorites, journey through time and space with the WA Museum team alongside to guide you on your way.

So let’s celebrate! This is a dynamic, extraordinary space that let’s us listen to many different people share their experience of what it means to be West Australian… Make sure you check it out, and add your voice to the story.

What an incredible journey, and what a privilege to have been one tiny cog in the story-telling machine. I’m so grateful!


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Kyrielle poem for Marie Curie…More fun with science poetry

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Marie and Pierre Curie in their lab

Today’s Nobel science poem is a kyrielle for the first person EVER to win two Nobel Prizes: Marie Curie…because…

today is Marie Curie’s birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!!

How to write a kyrielle:

A kyrielle is a rhyming poem originally from France. It’s written in four-line stanzas in which the last line of each stanza is repeated. Each line is eight syllables long.

Nobel Laureate – Marie Curie:
Marie Curie (originally Maria Skłodowska) and her husband Pierre Curie won the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics. Marie Curie went on to become the first person to ever win a second Nobel prize: the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. What a massive achievement!

 

Radioactivity

By Cristy Burne

 

Maria studied chemistry

She had to do so secretly

But just as well she did, you see

For radioactivity

 

From Poland to Paris she came

She found a lab, she changed her name

She worked beside Pierre Curie

On radioactivity

 

“Far out,” she said, her eyes ablaze

“These rocks give off some crazy rays

“Methinks they show proclivity

“For radioactivity”

 

She tested loads of different rocks

She measured their electric shocks

She worked with objectivity

On radioactivity

 

But one rock rocked her cranium

With more rays than uranium!

She burned to solve the mystery

Of radioactivity

 

Called pitchblende (now uraninite)

The rock contained, to her delight

New elements you could not see

Plus radioactivity

 

“I’ve found two fab new elements

“And proved it in experiments

“And one glows inexhaustibly

“With radioactivity!”

 

Excited by her thrilling find

She kept her nose well to the grind

“The world is better off,” said she

“With radioactivity”

 

She worked non-stop, progress was slow

She cured disease, made watches glow

And then she died, unfortunately,

Of radioactivity

 

Epilogue:

Sadly, Marie Curie died in 1934 from anaemia caused by her exposure to radiation. She was 66.

Her research and discoveries led directly to new ways of treating diseases including cancer. You can read more about Marie Curie’s incredibly legacy here.

 

What do you think? Want to write your own science poetry? Go on! It’s fun!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars s and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Double dactyl for Economic Science Laureate

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Richard H Thaler popularised the idea of Nudge Theory. Never heard of it? Why not look it up?

I know, I know….economics isn’t really science.

But Richard H Thaler studied the psychology of economics. Why do we spend the way we do? How do we decide who gets our dollars?

So, for the love of poetry, I’ve decided to double-down and say that this double dactyl poem about economics is, in fact, an example of science poetry. What do you think?

Poetry form: Double dactyl

The double dactyl has two stanzas of four lines. The first line is usually nonsense, the second line is the subject of the poem, and the last lines of each stanza rhyme.

The rhythm of the first three lines in each stanza is dactylic dimeter (ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba).

The final line in each stanza is choriamb (ba, ba, ba, ba).

And at least one line should be a single word.

Nobel Laureate: Richard H Thaler

Richard H Thaler won the 2017 Prize for Economic Sciences for behavioural economics, where he works to ‘build a bridge’ between the economics and psychology of decision-making. The first prize for economics was awarded in 1969.

Nudge theory

By Cristy Burne

Sellingly, tellingly,

Richard H Thaler is

Building a bridge between

Brains and our bucks.

Why do we spend so much

Unjustifiably?

We need a nudge ‘cause our

Self-control sucks

I love nudge theory!

Nudge theory is all about influencing behaviour, about getting us to act in a desired way.

So, why not learn a bit more about how other people use nudge theory to influence your decision-making? You’ll be amazed!

PS: That was an example of nudge theory, right there 🙂 So, don’t be influenced. Be your own person. Make your own decisions. Go do something you really want to do, like write some double dactyl poetry.

PPS: That was also a nudge. They’re everywhere!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Free verse and Einstein: More science poetry!

EisteinToday’s science poem is a free verse honouring the research of Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein.

Back in 1915, Albert Einstein published his work on relativity  — about space and time and gravity and spacetime  —and basically our brains have never been the same.

About free verse:
Free verse poems don’t follow any rhyme pattern or obey any rules.

Free verse may, however, play with rhythm, alliteration, assonance, imagery, imperfect rhyme and internal rhyme. So, basically, you’re free!

Nobel Laureate: Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his theories about the laws of physics, especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.

His theories of relativity are perhaps his most famous (and mind-twisting) works. And they’re what I decided to write about in this poem…

Thought experiment

By Cristy Burne

Ever felt that the faster you move,

The slower you go?

What if time and space were relative,

And one depended…

What if the light that bounced these words to your eyes

Was part-packet, part-wave, part-particle?

What if watching something change — somehow changed it?

…On the other?

What do you think? It was super-fun to write this super-short science poem. See what you can do with your favourite science or scientist and a bit of free verse!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Clerihew poem for Australia’s 2005 Nobel Laureates

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Robin Warren (L) and Barry Marshall celebrate their Nobel Prize win

Thanks for all the fun feedback on my Nobel science poem about Alfred Nobel and follow-up limerick about Nobel Laureate Linda B Buck.

I love the Nobel Prizes because they celebrate scientists as life-saving heroes…and they are!

So to follow up my Nobel poetry, here’s another:

This science poem is to celebrate the Nobel Prize awarded to two West Australian scientists, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall. Their prize was announced two weeks and 15 years ago today!

Poetry form: Clerihew
A funny four-line poem about a famous person. The first line is often the person’s name, and the use of non-English languages (such as Latin) is common. The rhyme structure is AABB — the first two lines rhyme, and the last two lines rhyme.

Laureates: Robin Warren and Barry Marshall
West Australians Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterium. They named it Helicobacter pylori. Over the course of their work, Barry swallowed the bacterium, making himself sick to help prove their research.

Delicious

By Cristy Burne

Barry Marshall

Was rather partial

To Helicobacter pylori

You need guts for Nobel glory

What do you think? Want to write your own clerihew? Or would you rather drink Helicobacter?

(Clue: One of these options is going to be way more fun that the other!)

What do you think? Want to write your own science poetry? Go on! It’s fun!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s other science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Science poetry: Nobel limerick for Linda B Buck

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Nobel Prize-winning biologist Linda B Buck

Another science poem!! YAY! I’m had so much fun writing science poetry about Alfred Nobel, so here’s a science poem about another cool Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

Today’s poetry form is the much-loved limerick!

Poetry form: Limerick

A funny five-line poem with a rhyming scheme of AABBA. The ‘A’ lines have 7–10 syllables and the ‘B’ lines have 5–7 syllables.

Nobel Laureate: Linda B Buck

Linda B Buck and her colleague Richard Axel were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work in unravelling the brain chemistry of how we can smell. Before this work, we had little idea of how smelling worked in our brains. My limerick is an homage to this work 🙂

What’s that smell?

By Cristy Burne

There is a gene puzzler who knows

If you smell a big stink (like your toes)

All your odourant receptors

Are protein detectors

That signal your brain from your nose.

How good are limericks!?!?! So much fun to write! Anyone want to write another science limerick? Go on, make me laugh! (Or cry, but that’s harder with a limerick ;-))

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Dynamite Idea! Alfred Nobel’s life and times…in rhymes!

Nobel_PrizeTomorrow, the first of the Nobel Prize winners for 2020 will be announced. So I wrote a funny poem to celebrate 🙂 Because funny things are fun 🙂

Right now, the world needs heroes more than ever. And scientists are those heroes. Every day scientists strive to make the world a better place. That’s why I’m so thrilled to be part of Aussie STEM Stars, helping to spread the word of our great Australian scientist heroes.

Every year, some of the world’s scientist heroes are awarded a Nobel Prize for their contribution to humankind. Fewer than 1000 people have ever won a Nobel Prize! Prizes are awarded for work that benefits humankind in physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature, peace and economics.

Since Alfred Nobel is the guy who gave us dynamite–and also the Nobel Prizes–I had a bit of fun writing his life (including his childhood home burning down!) into a science poem.

I hope you enjoy the read 🙂

The Boy With A Dynamite Idea

By Cristy Burne

 

One day in 1833,

Alfred is born. Hooray! Yippee!

But Andriette, his mum, cries “Wait!

“We’re much too poor to celebrate.

“Your dad’s a way-smart engineer,

“But this has been an awful year.

“Our barges sank, our house is ash,

“We’re high on kids but low on cash.”

Al’s dad, Immanuel, agrees.

“I’ll start a business overseas.”

Al moves to Russia, starts at school

He thinks that poetry is cool.

But Dad says: “Son: let me be clear…

“You’re going to be an engineer.

“I’ve found for you this sweet-as chance

“To study chemistry in France.”

Young Al is shipped across the sea

To train in a laboratory.

And there, when Al turns 17,

He learns of nitroglycerine.

It’s runny stuff that looks like snot

It also blows up, quite a lot.

“Too dangerous!” they all agree.

“One goof, and bye-bye factory.”

But Alfred’s mind is churning fast

He thinks this snot is quite a blast…

“Now, just imagine, if you please

“That we develop expertise

“And learn how to control this stuff…”

“I’m in!” cries Dad. “You’ve said enough!”

So Al and Dad work, night and day

They try and fail. “Alackaday!”

But does Al quit? Well, do pigs fly?

He’s really not that kind of guy.

Our Al tries more, and more, and more…

Until: “Huzzah! Whoopee! Encore!”

Al launches his first factory,

The rest, they say, is history.

For blasting rock! Building a road!

Digging a mine! Watch this explode!

Al’s snot sells fast, he swims in dough,

But does he rest? Does red mean go?

He keeps inventing, working late

And really starts to innovate.

Then lo, behold, Al’s happy shock:

When mixed up with some chalky rock,

The snotty stuff turns into dough

It kneads and moulds, is safe to throw,

Only explodes right when you please.

“This stuff’s the bomb,” young Al decrees.

“I’m going to make it day and night,

“I think I’ll call it…dynamite!”

Al’s dynamite is safe to use

It catches on, it’s in the news.

Soon Al’s built 90 factories,

He’s rich as rich, the real bee’s knees.

So does he think it’s time to stop?

Does rain fall up? No, it does not.

Al sets to work inventing more,

Soon piles of gizmos heap the floor,

Al’s doodads help with different things:

One warms, one cools, one shines, one flings

And Al still writes, cause he’s no fool,

He still thinks poetry is cool.

He writes about all humankind

He writes about his peace of mind…

And then he hits on an idea:

He’ll fund awards, year after year,

For those who help us all to grow

For those who learn new things to know

For excellence, one prize apiece,

In med, chem, physics, lit and peace.

Al donates almost all his cash

The crowd goes wild, there’s quite a splash.

And now, though Al Nobel is gone,

His Nobel Prizes still live on,

An honour huge for those who dare

To work through doubt, to face despair

To help mankind in all we do,

Who knows? One year it could be you.

One thing is sure, Al lived the dream,

Of taming nitroglycerine.

More on Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel was a Swedish engineer who made his fortune by inventing dynamite. On his death, Alfred established the annual Nobel Prizes, donating the equivalent of 250 million dollars in today’s money.

Today, Alfred’s Nobel Prizes are perhaps the most prestigious in the world.


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Aussie STEM Stars: We have launch!

Last Friday, Dianne Wolfer and I worked with the team at Paper Bird childrens books to launch the Aussie STEM Stars series!

Thank you to our amazing speakers for your time and inspiration and for spreading hope and good news!

It was only a small launch…we filled the room with RSVPs in just the first few hours, and I’m so sorry more of you couldn’t be there to help celebrate with us. It was such a gorgeous night.

Scientist and illustrator extraordinaire Aśka did a superb job of launching and MCing the whole evening. The room was buzzing with excitement and hope and laughter…

Thank you everyone for supporting this series. If ever there was a time for inspiring true stories of finding success despite adversity, of working towards a better future for all, now would be that time.

Di Lim from the Fiona Wood Foundation speaking about the project at the launch

We were incredibly lucky to have Di Lim from the Fiona Wood Foundation, who spoke about her involvement with the project.

Di was my first point of contact with Fiona and has been working with me for over a year to bring the book, Fiona Wood: Inventor of Spray-on Skin, to children everywhere. She spoke so passionately about Fiona’s inspiring journey, her belief in the power of science and technology, and her hopes for the series. She quite literally brought me to tears.

Danny Burkett also spoke. Danny’s brother lost his leg in a motorcycle accident and became Munjed al Muderis‘ first osseointegration patient. It was a real privilege to hear his first-hand account of how Munjed’s innovative work changed his brother’s life.

And although Clair Saxby couldn’t be with us, Sally Murphy shared some of the inspiring achievements of Georgia Ward-Fear, an environmental scientist who shows kids just how much difference one person can make.

There’s another launch in Albany, Western Australia, this Friday night, and hopefully the celebrations will continue online and on couches as kids and their parents and librarians discover these amazing stories.

Can’t be with us in person?

If you can’t celebrate with us in person, check out these amazing resources:


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Happy Book Birthday to Aussie STEM Stars!

OUT TODAY!!!

Happy Book Birthday to this wonderful story! The true life of Prof Fiona Wood, burns surgeon, inventor, Australian of the Year and National Living Treasure.

Aussie STEM Stars: Celebrating scientists as heroes

The release of this book is part of the launch of the Aussie STEM Stars series… Aussie STEM Stars is an innovative and inspiring new series of narrative non-fiction biographies, written especially for upper primary readers.

Published by Wild Dingo Press, each book tells the story of a world-leading Australian scientist, from childhood through to the magnificent achievements that made them famous.

Were they smart?

Were they rich?

Was it easy for them to do what they did?

Writing the Fiona Wood biography for this series was just a sensational experience. I was so gobsmacked to have the opportunity to work with Fiona, to hear her story. And so nervous about the massive challenge and responsibility of doing justice to her story. What a huge job!!! To tell the true story of such an inspiring, important person. (Fiona would probably cringe to see me call her that, but it’s true!)

I worked really hard on this book, because I had to get it right. It’s not my story, and that makes it all the more vital to tell it well. All my fingers and toes are crossed hoping that I did a good job.

What does a good job entail? I want readers to come away inspired, encouraged, humbled, determined, excited and feeling braver than when they started. No small order, but I really hope that’s what we’ve achieved.

Recommended for 10- to 13-year-old readers….and their adults 🙂

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