The Night Before a Science Christmas

Sparkly lights. Something that science and Christmas have in common.

Sparkly lights. Something that science and Christmas have in common.

’T was the night before Christmas, when all through the lab
Not a creature was stirring, it was well kept lab that didn’t happen to be involved with animal research.
The cultures were placed on the counter with care,
In hopes that bacteria soon would be there.
The scientists were nestled all snug in their beds,
While sleep-spindles and k-complexes danced in their heads;
And The X Factor and The Apprentice I decided to snub,
And instead settled down to watch BBC Science Club.

When out on the lawn something caused oscillation,
Received by my ear which passed on the vibration.
Resultant action potentials were perceived as a sound,
Psychoacoustics accomplished I thought I’d best look around.

The moon was at gibbous phase, its left 69% illuminated,
And just enough light to keep my retinal rods activated,
When, what should my occipital lobe perceive to exist?
But a miniature sleigh, and eight scientists,
With much acceleration and a tiny explosion,
I knew in a moment it must be the Higgs Boson.

The Boson was anthropomorphic this poem will claim,
So it could whistle, and shout, call the scientists by name:
“Now, Feynman! Now, Curie! Now, Einstein and Franklin!
On, Newton! Watson! On, on Crick, and Hawking!
Complete a parabola! To the top of the wall!
Sorry scientists not included, I can’t name you all!

Some festive particles.

Some festive particles.

As protons that in the hadron collider do fly,
When they meet with another proton, or lead nuclei,
So up to the house-top the scientists they flew,
With the sleigh full of discovery, and the Higgs Boson too.

And then, in a jiffy, an actual measure of time
The time taken for one Fermi to be travelled by light.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney the Higgs Boson came with a bound.

It had no spin, electric or colour charge,
Though he gave substance mass he was not very large.
How I could see him was quite the enigma,
But I was sure that I had with a confidence of five sigma.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
I was starting to suspect it was hallucinatory!
But I wasn’t too worried, so didn’t make a fuss,
At this perception in the absence of a stimulus.

I was falling asleep, and so went my logic
It was likely to be hallucinations, hypnagogic.
It had a broad face but what was most farcical,
Was its misleading badge that said, “The God Particle.”

For the name originally used by Leon Lederman,
Wasn’t supposed to be God but instead was “Goddamn.”
But this mild swear publishers wouldn’t allow,
So we’re stuck with this misleading name just for now.

The Higgs Boson coughed, for my attention I think
Which was fairly amazing given it lacked a larynx,
It went on to speak, which was even more impressive,
And in its bosonny voice, imparted its message.

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us. There is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

None of that rhymed, the verse structure forsaken,
And the quote has been stolen from the brilliant Carl Sagan.
But what the Higgs Boson meant, was you don’t have to be religious
To experience joy, wonder, family, with science at Christmas.
And this is an extra verse, these are extra lines,
In the structure of the most parodied poem of all time.

But enough of that rubbish, let’s get to the end.
The rhymes have been tortured and the rhythm of the verses has been difficult to determine at times.

The Boson sprang to its sleigh, to his team gave a yell,
And away they all flew, as if from a noxious smell.
But I heard it exclaim, as it drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!
Especially the scientists!”

Horribly mutated and adapted from A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore.

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