The Grapevine

New Book Showcases Scientific Ideas Through Poetry

Although very different from each other in terms of practice, rules and even goals, science and poetry surprisingly share a few common things.

For one thing, they have similar disciplines such as observation, patience and curiosity. The two also share a problem-solving element, especially with modern poetry.

And now, both two pursuits have one more bridge to gap its differences: via a newly published book that sees scientists expressing their creative sides through poetry.

Titled “A Sonnet to Science,” the book profiles six scientists from different fields, and is authored by Sam Illingworth


Featured Scientists

One of the scientists featured in the book is James Clerk Maxwell, who is best known for developing the theory of electromagnetic radiation. There’s also a chapter that mainly focused on Ada Lovelace, who wrote the programs for the Analytical Engine made by Charles Babbage, essentially making her the first-ever programmer. Besides crunching numbers for early programs however, Lovelace also took poetry as a hobby, even though she didn’t focus on it as much as her father Lord Byron.

However, Illingworth also focused on scientists who are not as well known as the two mentioned above. For example, there’s poet/immunologist Miroslav Holub and astronomer Rebecca Elson.

Science Through Poetry

According to Illingworth, while most of these scientists treated poetry as a hobby, some of them actually used it to solidify their thoughts. For example, Ronald Ross first wrote a poem to find the proper words to illustrate his findings after discovering how mosquitoes and malaria is connected.

Per Illingworth, the book also aims to show its readers how creativity can be an important part of the scientific process, and that while it mostly follows rules and equations, there can be room for creativity. Sure, analyzing data can be very methodical but that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with the facts you have. Theoretically, knowing the rules can help you bend them in your mind that can lead to more discoveries.

Through the book, Illingworth hopes to erase the myth that scientists are always thinking logically and scientifically, and that it can be more creative and challenging.

book Readers may be kinder and more sympathetic. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay