Why am I a scientist?
Partly due to personal perseverance
But I wouldn’t even have had the chance
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 hundredth time,
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
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
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 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.
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.