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iSGTW - International Science Grid This Week

Home > iSGTW - 3 November 2010 > Link of the Week - Physics for poets


Link of the Week: Physics for Poets

Woodblock print of ‘The Sea off Satta,’ from ‘36 Views of Mount Fuji’ by Hiroshige Utagawa. Image courtesy Wikipedia under Creative Commons license

At the scifaiku website, fans of science fiction can express their passion for time travel, spaceships and aliens in haiku.

The rules of this ancient Japanese poetic form are relatively simple: each poem is composed of a maximum of three lines, with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the next, and 5 on the last.

But while traditional haiku make a reference to nature; “scifaiku” call for a science fiction reference, such as:

Asteroids collide
without a sound . . .
We maneuver between fragments.

It seemed unfair that science fiction fans should have all the fun, so we tried our hands at this art, focusing on the theme of computing. This can be a challenge, given the distressing number of syllables in phrases such as “distributed computing infrastructure concertation.”

Other disciplines seem easier; someone from the field of physics wrote:

Waves are approaching.
Try to capture them. You can’t.
Now they’re particles.

And an assistant chemistry professor wrote:

True luminescence
Is seen on a summer’s eve
In a fire fly’s light.

Meanwhile, we’re still trying to come up with a haiku for grid or cloud or volunteer or high-performance computing . . .

Our readers are invited to give it a try, and send in their best computing haikus (“compukus?”) to the iSGTW Forum on the Nature Networks site. Or send them in by e-mail.

To sweeten the pot, the creators of the best haikus will receive the glory of seeing their name — and their poem — in print online as part of an iSGTW Link of the Week.


—Dan Drollette, iSGTW

Note: Since writing this, the Haiku Society of America contacted me to say that due to the way the Japanese count syllables and the whole concept of syllables (“London” has 4 of them, to the Japanese way of thinking), the syllable count is much more flexible. In addition, there is much more emphasis on imagery, season words, and line division. My apologies. You can read more about pure, true haiku at our iSGTW Nature Networks forum. Meanwhile, because it would be unfair to change the rules in midstream, we’ll continue with our present, impure system for the purposes of this contest.


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