Sonnet VI

>  Logo of the Center for NanoScience was “written” by pushing around
atoms of Gold [PTCDA = Au(11) using a nanomanipulator.”]

Sonnet VI

Atomic beach balls tossed beyond the bumps
of solid golden strips will now design
a strange imaginary landscape. Clumps
of particles appear to now entwine.
Electrons guided with some magic wands
create a message to my covered eyes.
These nanonistic, small molec’lar bonds
reveal to me all earthly matter ties.
I track and hover through the quarks of chance
enthralled by how our measurements can rule
the future of all technical advance;
A strange discovery: a student’s tool.
By thought and reason great ones had their turn.
now, with my hands, some new things I shall learn.


I wrote this one in 1993 after attending an IEEE convention in Seattle and learning about the Nanomanipulator. Warren Robinet was speaking and he said, “Imagine atoms the size of beach balls…” He was referring to a futuristic version of the nanomanipulator, where a virtual image of atoms (like a hologram) would be in the air, right in front of your face. You would have the capability of moving atoms around, like moving beach balls in the air. But that would not be a dream. That would not be a game. It would be a virtual interface to a nanomanipulator, and you would really be moving around atoms within the scanning tunneling microscope. He discussed how in the future, this could be a pedagogical method of teaching chemistry. That is, the students would learn molecular structure by actually moving around the virtual atoms and creating molecules.

His presentation was very stimulating, so I wrote this sonnet. I sent to him, and he sent it to the lab. They posted the sonnet on the bulletin board in their lab, and then Russell M. Taylor  published the sonnet in the appendix of “The nanomanipulator: a virtual-reality interface for a scanning tunneling microscope.”

A great link to get an idea of how a nanomanipulator moves atoms around would be

About zongrik

For those of you who do not know the handle "zongrik," that would be Bat-Ami Gordin. Most people call me "Tammy." Bat-Ami means "daughter of my nation" in Hebrew. It's a heavy name to carry around. I answer to either name. I also answer to "mama." Some Basic Things about me: Animal lover, mom, poet/writer, dramatic soprano, photographer, teacher/tutor, CERT/Technician and, oh yeah, aerospace engineer. I consider myself "The Astro-Poet." To learn more about the origins of the word "zongrik" see whats-a-zongrik?

Posted on June 5, 2011, in Poetry, Sonnets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. Interesting topic. Cool poem.

  2. Amazed by all of your accomplishments. Found the poem interesting, if not a little scary. But scary is good too. Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s not scary, in and of itself. Nanomanipulation has been creating composite materials used for aeronautical and astronautical purposes which will revolutionize structures of aircraft, thus making them lighter and cheaper to fly. Also less fuel will mean less pollution of our atmosphere. The scary thing is if evil people get their hands on bio-nano-robots. That’s seen a lot in sci-fi these days, such as in the “First Patient” by Michael Palmer.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Being a former science guy and present writer, I love this blog. The mixture of science and poetry is marvelous, and something that is perfect for our age. The quarks are there for us to share, and molecules ensnare us.

    Great stuff!

  4. Classical craft and quantum physics combined! If only more people merged their hearts with the mind.

  5. Love the opening line,quite an image & an attention grabber- Atomic beach balls… Thanks for sharing your poetry. All the best- LL

  6. A very accomplished, brilliant work – fascinated by how easily you connect science to poetry, there’s something very unique in this particular poem which is why it caught my eye. Your writing is VERY musical.

    • Thank you fro your kind words. You are quite perceptive. I’m an aerospace engineer, who also has a BA in English, and an opera singer. Throw in the passion and that’s the secret.

  7. I love it. The line breaks & descriptions are impeccable.

  8. Love all your sonnets. I could never write them, and respect anyone who can make it look easy.

  9. My fave line-“molec’lar bonds reveal to me,all earthly matter ties”love the intermolecular physics driven core and the melodic cadence o each line.thanks for sharing.means so much!!

    7 hours agovia web

  10. Hi, love your science poetry, especially last line/s very tight.

  11. My apologies! Always wary of poetry I stumble across online, and it’s late – looks like I miscounted! “Measurements can rule” is a great pun, and I love the way “quark” feels on my tongue, but the last couplet left me a little unsatisfied.

  12. “some new things I shall learn?” Sounds like you made it to the last line thinking, Whew! Long, complex form poem DONE! and forgot to choose something with as much auditory and visual punch as the rest of the piece. Under the great laws of Show, Don’t Tell, that’s a phrase that’s about as lacking in compelling imagery as any I’ve read. Does a diservice to the great witing that came before it to end it so dully; it’s a sharp poem.

  13. actually, there was a specific meaning to that…in that with Warren Robinet said that in the future Chemistry students will be able to see gigantic beach balls in front of them, which by virtue of being connect by a computer interface to a scanning tunneling microscope, would mean that by moving the beach balls with his hands, a student would manipulate the atoms in the nanomanipulator and create new atoms. in that way, the student would be learning with his hands…that is, learning molecular structure by moving atoms with his own hands. that…as opposed to learning by rote, or just by looking at diagrams, or just by solving chemical equations.

  14. Didn’t say I didn’t get your meaning, just that you could have found a much more compelling way to write it. I make it a habit not to offer blind praise; I tend to get frustrated that people don’t feel comfortable saying anything about poetry other than that they ‘like it.’ “hands” wasn’t bad – but it also wasn’t in the section I quoted.

  15. I know. I like real comments. There is no way to improve without it. That is why I am engaging in this discourse with you. I’m not changing this poem, I wrote it too long ago, and it’s in the first dissertation of its kind on this topic. Yeah, for years, people have complained about my couplets. Check the others ones out.

  16. Another day, maybe. Doing all this browsing on my Kindle cause I can’t afford wifi yet. Remind me another time and I will.

  17. k will do. thank you.

  18. I could picture in my head what you were describing…it wonderful…thank you for sharing 🙂

  19. I could picture in my head what you were describing…its wonderful…thank you for sharing 🙂

  20. Even before I read the piece after your poem…I was wandering a virtual space in my head, interacting with these golden balls….

  21. Great poetry!! Loved it!

  22. Art and knowledge mixed ~ brilliantly done

  23. Good to see a scientific idea, receiving poetic sight, as let’s be honest science is pretty much the most creative endeavour out there, you don’t get to be a great scientist without exceptional powers of both convergent and divergent thinking. I confess, being a bit of a science geek, in this case I’m more interested by the actual Nanomanipulator; that’s no disrespect implied towards your poem, it’s just such a fantastic and fascinating idea….the reality of which would be wonderful….

    • Well, in my blog, under the poem, I sited the most famous dissertation on the nanomanipulator, and two of the most famous scientists in the field. That should get you started in learning about it. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. Check out the other sonnets.

  24. very good makes ya think

  25. i recently visited the physics dpt. of basle university and we had a presentation and demonstration on nanotechnology…and it was just fascinating…and i just loved every single line of your sonnet

  26. this really is fascinating the things that are being accomplished but also the way you write about them…you make science magic and bring it to life..and i agree it can seem a bit scary in thoughts that it got into the wrong hands….

  27. I like the history of your words and how they’ve become scientific evidence to the naked eye.

  28. When I saw the word Sonnet I was thrilled. When I read your sonnet I was impressed! Sonnets are usually romantic, and you turned something scientific into something romantic. Brava! I love to write sonnets.

  29. Wow! Poetic science. I love it!

  30. Great write for the prompt…must have made for a fascinating session

  31. wow, love the pic and
    way to express you scientific amazement into a poetic device such as a sonnet.

  32. wow…for the sonnet
    wow…for the technology
    and wow…for merging the two together so flawlessly.

  33. You make science so beautiful zongrik.

  34. Echanting and fascinating– what a deft hand! xxxj xxxj btw– my poems are always at my other blog, not the word press one– — xxxj

  35. 1993. Shew that’s long ago. Still a very technologically futuristicly cool!

  36. That would be so fabulous, to not just see it in front of your eyes but to actually be a ‘part’ of it too. Would help students to understand it so much more. How far we’ve come in the past 10 years, I wonder what the next 10 years will look like and in 100 years this will be all so old fashioned.
    Lovely combination of poetic science.

  37. Your sonnet shows me how very little I know or understand about the subatomic world I live in–The part of me that embraces my ignorance wants to dance with the pictures that you paint–off to dance and learn–Thank you!

  38. Love the poem, the image, and the story behind it all. Congratulations on your achievement, its recognition, and above all for making such an intellectual topic so fascinating.

  39. serious this sounds like some fascinating stuff…science just blows my mind at times…but i am so glad that you open mine to it as well on a regular basis…great to see you at the pub…smiles…

  40. I loved reading both the poem and it’s background. Thank!

  41. Standing on the shoulders of giants indeed, …technically spot on , and your sneaky apostrophised molec’lar brought a smile.

  42. What an odd topic for a sonnet. I think you pulled it off spectacularly! ^_^

  43. this is my second comment, and you know what…I still find it scary, that people can make atoms and molecules…well done tho, Tammy!

  44. Nicely done! Science is awesome !

  45. Nothing but praise from me. I only wish my dear husband were alive to read your work. He would have had such cogent things to say and he might bring me up to the point where I could discuss it with you on a level plane. They still send me the monthly mag from MIT and I read the articles but sometimes get lost. Higher math is required for making quantum leaps, but I feel a sonnet and you’re as skilled at writing as everything else. Color me impressed!

  46. Thank you for the sonnet and the explanation. I went back and re read the sonnet after reading the explanation. I’m learning so much from you…thank you.

    Siggi in Downeast Maine

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