“Scientists may have sophisticated laboratories,
But never forget 'Eureka' was inspired in a bathtub.”
I've been savoring Joyce Sidman's Eureka! Poems about Inventors. Joyce crafts believable voices for her inventors, who range from Ts'ai Lun (paper) to Walter Morrison (Frisbee). Some of my special favorites, in addition to the poem below, are The Light––Ah! The Light (about Marie Curie) and Winged Words (about Johann Gutenberg). Thank you, Joyce, for giving me permission to share this guess-the-inventor poem from Eureka today!
Do Ya Know 'Em?
by Joyce Sidman
Do ya know 'em? Can you guess
what they invented? Can you? Yes?
If you can, you'll get a jolt a'
James Watt and Alessandro Volta
or tap along with Samuel Morse
and Wilhelm Geiger (Count, of course).
And while you're at it, do not fail
to give a cheer for Louis Braille
and his countryman – le bon docteur –
the great esteemed Louis Pasteur.
To Graf von Zeppelin, a large balloon,
with sticking pin, to make it BOOM!
And to Rudolf Diesel, clouds of smoke
to make him wheeze and gasp and choke.
Kudos to Amelia Bloomer
who must have had a sense of humor,
and to proper old Charles Macintosh
who hated rain and snow and frost.
Jules Leotard, while very vain,
flexed his muscles to stretch his brain,
while poky old Joseph Jacquard
inspected fabric by the yard.
Ever hip is Levi Strauss
whose name is known in every house;
but John McAdam – would you greet him
if on the pavement you did meet him?
And Alexandre Eiffel might,
beside his tower, seem awfully slight.
Let's hear it for Sylvester Graham
who tried to make us give up lamb
and more unhealthy stuff, in favor
of crackers that had not much flavor.
To the lusty Earl of Sandwich, cheer!
He liked his gambling and his beer
too much to stop! And so instead
he ate his meals twixt slabs of bread.
And finally let's raise our clapper
to the unforgettable Sir Thomas Crapper
who gave us something truly great:
a place to sit and contemplate.
Did you get all of those? I wasn't sure about jacquard.
James Watt – This Scottish engineer perfected the steam engine in the late 1700s and invented other devices important to the Industrial Revolution. The "watt," an electrical unit, was named for him.
Alessandro Volta – Volta, an Italian physicist, invented the forerunner of the electrical battery in 1800. The "volt," an electrical unit, was named in his honor.
Samuel Morse – Morse invented the electromagnetic telegraph in 1836, and devised a system of communicating with short and long taps (dots and dashes) known as the Morse code.
Wilhelm Geiger – In 1903, German physicist Hans Wilhelm Geiger created the "Geiger" counter, a device that detects dangerous radioactive substances invisible to the naked eye.
Louis Braille – Blind from age three, this Frenchman became a teacher, musician, and scientist. In 1853 he modified an army coding system to invent "braille," a series of raised dots and dashes that enabled the blind to read by touch.
Louis Pasteur – This influential French chemist founded the science of microbiology by proving that germs cause disease. He developed vaccines and invented "pasteurization," the method of killing bacteria in milk still used today.
Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin – A German military officer, Zeppelin developed the rigid dirigible in 1900. This cigar-shaped passenger balloon, the "zeppelin," could be steered.
Rudolf Diesel – In 1872, this German engineer invented the internal-combustion engine, and later built the first successful "diesel" engine, utilizing low-cost diesel fuel.
Amelia Bloomer – This self-educated American reformer founded a women's rights newspaper in the 1850s. She appeared at her lectures wearing trousers gathered at the ankle (under a short skirt), which became known as bloomers.
Charles Macintosh – Throughout Great Britain, mackintosh is another word for raincoat. Macintosh invented, among other things, the first waterproof fabric in 1823.
Jules Leotard – In 1859 this French trapeze artist pioneered a tight-fitting, stretchy, one-piece garment for his circus acts. "Leotards" are now used in all areas of dance and performance.
Joseph-Marie Jacquard – The son of a French weaver, Jacquard developed a loom that could weave complex patterns mechanically, using a punch-card system. Today, the word jacquard refers to a single-color fabric with a raised, intricate weave.
Levi Strauss –- Perhaps the single-most important influence on twentieth-century fashion, Strauss invented denim blue jeans (known as Levi's) in 1873. He used innovative rivets at the pocket corners to reinforce points of strain.
John McAdam – This Scottish engineer devised a practical system of road building in 1815. Instead of expensive blocks of stone, he used several layers of crusted, compacted rock, which absorbed the weight of large loads. This type of pavement, still used today, is known as macadam.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – To celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution in 1889, this world-renowned French engineer designed and built the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He also helped construct Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's colossal Statue of Liberty in New York.
Sylvester Graham – Possibly the first health-food fanatic, Graham advocated cold showers, hard mattresses, and loose clothing, in addition to the unsifted whole wheat flour that still bears his name. Graham crackers are those made with graham flour.
John Montagu, earl of Sandwich – This English statesman was said to have invented the "sandwich" during an epic, twenty-four-hour gambling stint in 1762, in which he called for bread and meat to keep up his strength.
Thomas Crapper – England led the world in toilets in the 1800s, and Thomas Crapper led England. In 1872 he developed a quiet-flushing toilet utilizing a water cistern, which was known as the crapper.
We have a good group of swappers for the Winter Poem Swap. Want to join? It is a one-time swap and, in addition to sending a poem, you give a little present. Email me soon if you haven't already.
The Poetry Friday round-up is at Merely Day by Day.