atom’s song

To understand the world around us

and know the cosmos with less doubt

To comprehend that there is something

instead of nothingness throughout

If we are to make sense of the big picture

ask the “why?” that matters most

We should turn our focus inward

and think small, to the smallest motes


Enter the atom, the heart of the matter

the elemental cornerstone, the merest speck of stuff

of which the whole universe is made


For centuries great thinkers

pondered, “How’s the world comprised?

Is there an underlying constituent

to this scene before our eyes?”


Ancient Greeks proposed a particle

so infinitesimally small,

they called these constructs “atoms”,

meaning “uncuttable by all”


They imagined the world composed of atoms—

forming all perceivable things

but the atom’s not irreducible

rather contrary to its name


With the aid of quantum mechanics

to elucidate the way

the structure of the atom evinced itself

and is agreed upon to this day


First, a nucleus sits densely

in the center of a sphere

at its core are protons bound

to neutrons—

the atom’s mass is mainly here


About the nucleus buzz particles

that are vastly smaller still;

their negative charge

lets them spin at large

but within their orbitals


These electrons jump their orbitals

with a photon’s passing light;

from this raised energy

comes the ability

to make chemical bonds hold tight


In each atom of an element

the electrons match

the protons there,

and the neutrons vary considerably

with each isotope compared


From the structure of the atom

all the elements are known,

and from elements come molecules—

of this, chemistry has shown—

and from chemistry comes biology

with which all life is grown


In a world of tangibility,

all that matters is the atom—

minute in size, but of huge import

It’s the basis of

our life-support: the foundation

of it all


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