Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Toward a New Drug

December 24, 2010

One shies away from foolish words like “geek”
and “nerd.” But think of the alternative,
a word for something Eisenhower warned
us of in 1961. “Elite.”
The waxing “technocrat,” authoritative.
Ike’s talking point, however badly formed,
was simply this: Society must keep
the modern scientist at some remove
from the complexities of truth, the thorn
and rose of our experience, and seek
to shine him on the nano-*explitive*
from which the pharmaceutical is born.
We need a drug. Not just another tweak,
another “me-too” statin or proactive
dosage aimed at helping us perform
in bed. Friends, the contemporary peak
in our regard for science is a shiv
we’ll fall upon one day. Or do we storm
the laboratory? Put the science freak
to work again? We’ll reinstate his native
state in service to mankind, reform
the so-called Age of Reason to its Greek
foundation, scorn the “nano” and relive
The Huge. Donnez-nous une drogue énorme!

Christmas Lecture,
Royal Society,


Sonnet to Modern Science

July 17, 2009

“The first step towards the attainment of a real discovery
was the humiliating confession of ignorance”
—Humphry Davy

Myopic genius, feeling in the dark
to find a switch installed so many years
ago, put down your hands and face the stark
reality. Forget the chandeliers
you count on to illuminate a world
of walls, for they are gone with your succinct
mathematics. The discoveries you squirreled,
those notebooks and the hard drives are extinct.
You’ll have to trust your instincts after all
and maybe listen to another voice
that sings to you from far outside the Hall.
You’ll recognize it now, you have no choice.
There isn’t any guidance on the shelf.
The light is in the world outside yourself.

Borman, Lovell, Anders, and Armstrong

December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve, 1968

Layin’ Pipette

July 11, 2008

Laboratory Lotharios Pimpin’ Overtime


May 8, 2008

By the 2030s, the nonbiological portion of our intelligence
will predominate.–
Ray Kurzweil

Are science and religion converging? No.–Richard Dawkins

Un-ring the bell? Impossible. It’s come,
Dispersed itself in every bronchiole
And office tower. Now the isotope
Of unknown metal bangs in every hole,
The slam of withered hand against a drum
Advancing like some crimson-slippered pope.

A lock of numbers. Law of propagation.
Our biology becomes a field
Of leapfrog, silicon evolving from
Petroleum. The softer senses yield
To matrices of predetermination,
Measured by a hand across a drum.

A rapture of electron retinas,
Robotic dreams, and sacramental math
Reforms the logos to a barcarole
That chokes the solace of our doubt. The path
Ahead is cleared and charted by antennas.
Silos rise. A fire in every hole.

..for Measure

May 1, 2008

My villanelle “Under Glass” is in the current issue of Measure, which is now a biannual journal of formal verse. I’m flattered, because most villanelles suck and these guys know it.


April 28, 2008

It’s everything that made you stay away.
The band-sawed bodies, flesh become concrete
and peeled artistically from bones that play
at basketball or dance. A human meat
extravaganza: Sideshow! Science! Sales
receipts! The likelihood you’ll never eat
another ham. But apprehension pales
before experience, which I have gained
begrudgingly. I’ll spare you those details…
and tell you how they carved the heart and stained
the arteries. And thus you will experience
a human travesty, your views obtained
without a tad of morbid dalliance.
By this, my harrowing might come to good,
and yours not compromise your abstinence.

A moral question rises, and it should!
The casting call: A score of Chinese damned,
dissected, torn or simply milled like wood.
It seems the Chinese century has slammed
into the Seaport like a ton of bricks
as disregard for human rights is rammed
into Manhattan like the threadbare dicks
of these cadavers dangling in the light
of high-rent public space. The New York Knicks
should get this kind of play! It isn’t right.
Apparently it’s legal…in Madrid
as well as in Vienna. Gesundheit!
Just thinking that the pitcher may have “did”
somebody with the fingers squeezed upon
a pristine ball is messin’ with the kid!

We voice a strong objection and move on—
beginning with the basic skeleton
bedecked in musculature. Gone
the pliant skin and “exogelatin”
of anything remotely humankind.
The fat is out, the acetone is in,
which leaves us with a polyester rind
that resonates with monster matinees
and robot porn. Move forward and we find
the veins and arteries in lighted trays
of…could that be formaldehyde? Perhaps.
We seem to be beyond all EPAs.
It’s red and blue. Astonishing. These chaps
have laced a bloody galaxy of gore
together—valves and pipes and bubble traps.

And next the nervous system. Which is more
or less a snoozer in comparison
to all those brilliant tubes they had next door.
It’s gray, like the intestine… and so on.
Attention spans are merciful sometimes.
It all blends into one big Fulan Gong
of dancers having done their time for crimes
unknown, extracted from some hidden jail,
then plasticized and peeled like plastic limes.
The specimens, it must be said, are male
except for one—and there it is, all right.
an overlit, explicit piece of tail.
A temporary sign hangs to the right
suggesting that they may have gone too far
with fetuses ahead. An amber light.

And as we pull our heads out of the jar,
a bone of metaphysics come to mind.
We trundle to the subway or the car
to Jersey or Long Island in a kind
of disassociation, having seen
the mechanisms of our lives. Remind
me, though, exactly how this magazine
of shattered parts we viewed comes back together,
how the system acts when lights turn green
and how our bodies are a kind of weather
vane and metaphor for light, betrothed
and married to a single spirit. There
is little at the Seaport treasure trove
that speaks to me of bodies! That cement
is nothing like the flesh in which I’m clothed.

© Rick Mullin

Uncracking a Cryogenic Obit

March 27, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, 16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008

41 Junior High School Science Projects

February 25, 2008


Count ’em.

Separation Anxiety

May 6, 2007


With haploid days and chiral nights ahead,
still basking in our novel enzymes, why
traverse a simulated moving bed
or acquiesce as columns liquefy
and separate our racemates? The yin
and yang go left and right with no regard
for God or nature. Peptide ringlets spin
unhooked from awkward ligands limp and scarred.

But chemists in discovery have passed
this process to development where scads
of geeks will scale it up til we’ve amassed
the fingerprints of fifty undergrads.
And symmetry is such that, pulled apart,
one always gets the brain, and one the heart.