Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Planetary Science and the Haiku

According to the online website of the Smithsonian Magazine, the 2013 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference has taken to publishing a version of the formal Japanese poetic form haiku to summarize each of their papers. The latest 2013 conference, URL above, had thirty-two such haiku published. 

The specific form of the haiku that they are using is the 5-7-5 form: three lines total, the first line has 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables.

Now it turns out that a haiku is actually much more than just these simple rules.  But it is probably too much to ask planetary scientists to worry too much about such niceties and we should just applaud their efforts to find a pithy summary of their published work.  

Here are the four haiku that the author of the article particularly liked.  The article goes into much more detail about what the paper was about.  See the complete article about the conference here.

What a haiku is supposed to look like  

The haiku for a paper on the orbits of Phobos and Deimos, moons of Mars, was

        Two moons in the sky
        wandering by the Sun’s face
        their orbits constrained.

For a paper on the fate of benzene observed in a lake on Titan, a moon of Saturn, we have:

        Tiny little rings
        Drifting in a Titan lake
        Fade away slowly.

On the issue of the content of a meteorite, and whether it contained exotic materials, we have:

        Oh, “megachondrule”
        We were sadly mistaken
        You are impact melt.

Finally, a paper analyzing the data from an old Viking experiment to see if they could detect atmospheric conditions on Mars, has

        Whispers from the past
        Viking mostly felt the wind
        Let’s all look closer

We have previously discussed haiku on Global Wahrman here:

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