Cristy Burne

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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.