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


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.


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


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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Kyrielle poem for Marie Curie…More fun with science poetry


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!



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



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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.