Curiosity Did Not Kill Schrödinger’s Cat

Why am I a scientist?

Partly due to personal perseverance

And perspiration.

But I wouldn’t even have had the chance

To work

Up

A

Sweat

If I had not been encouraged from an early age

That the world was my experimental stage.

So, when I asked my mum and dad

For the tenth,

The twentieth,

The hundredth time,

BUT WHY?!?

They could have blanked me with a sigh.

They could have told me:

To shut up,

To pipe down,

To stop being a nuisance;

But they didn’t.

Instead they took me to the exotic land of Halifax,

Where I spent hours at the Eureka!

National Children’s Museum

Learning about forces and fulcrums,

Pulleys and potentials;

All the time wondering why when Archimedes

Got out of his bathtub

He appeared to be missing

His penis.

 

At primary school, Mrs Harrison and Mrs Cornish would take

Us on trips to the butterfly house at Roundhay Park;

And because I was such a ‘good’ little boy

They’d hold tight to my hand from light until dark.

It was here amongst the tropical greenhouses of West Yorkshire

That I learnt about the peppered moth and

Developed a deep and completely unscientific phobia of

Spiders.

Their bejewelled eyes staring unblinkingly at me

From behind the confines of their translucent mausoleums.

 

“Lord give me strength with this child!”

Mr Monday would say as I asked him for the tenth

Time that day why the sky was blue,

How fish could sleep,

What they did with their poo.

And exactly what it was about the Saragossa Sea that made it so attractive to eels.

And then he’d stop.

And sit.

And tell me why.

 

At secondary school, Mr Cross and Mr Crane

Introduced us to physics;

Throwing aside the curriculum,

As we journeyed across the Universe via blackholes and supernovae.

One-time, Mr Crane even brought in some

Chocolates from Chernobyl and we all passed

A Geiger counter over their milky interiors;

Greedily gobbling down the worlds that he spun

From his blackboard pulpit.

 

Curiosity never killed the cat,

Unless it was somehow stuck in a

Box with a radioactive vial;

Eking out a pseudo existence

Of simultaneously being both

Dead and alive.

But if Dr Gurman and Professor Raine

Had never taken the time to explain

Schrödinger’s approach to the waveform

Then I would never have known to look

Inside that box,

And by not doing so

My result would have changed.

Diagram of the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment (Image Credit: Dhatfield, CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons).

I was inspired to write this poem by Merck’s ‘Always Curious’ initiative, which is in celebration of the company’s 350th anniversary. Over this time Merck have helped to make a difference to the lives of people across the globe via innovative medicines, vaccines, and animal health products. These innovations have in turn been developed by scientists through a combination of perseverance, perspiration, and inspiration.

Inspired by this scientific curiosity, I wanted to write a poem which reflected my own curiosity as a scientist, but which also celebrated the support that I have received in pursuing these endeavours. The Always Curious initiative is focussed around imagining what the next 350 years of scientific development might look like and in my opinion, this will depend to a large extent on the support that is made available to ensure that everybody has the same opportunities to be curious, and that they are encouraged throughout this process. I am incredibly grateful that I received this support, and I hope that I can now inspire and enable others to both look inside and think outside the box.

Disclaimer: This post has been produced in cooperation with Merck.

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