Fuzzy and the Poet Scientist

on Thursday, April 16, 2009

It is sometimes said that scientists lack the heart of a poet and because of that they end up inventing the atomic bomb. Being cold and clinical is just that; cold and clinical. Scientists can excel in the service of mankind only if they retain their contact with humanity and possess the heart of a poet.

Well, if that is true, then I am a very well trained scientist. This is because my mentor and my very first Professor of Biochemistry was indeed a scientist and a poet. Well, more of a songwriter or perhaps a jingle maker. I refer to no less than the highly esteemed Prof. Harold Baum, previously of Chelsea College and now of King's College, University of London.

Every Christmas, Prof. Baum undertakes to write a song which explains an entire complex biochemical pathway in the time it takes him to sit on a bus from his office to his home. This musical treat would then be premiered during the Department Christmas Dinner. As a result, he has actually published a songbook of chemical reactions called The Biochemist's Songbook.

At any rate, the real story for this post starts here. I got an SMS text out of the blue from my good friend, Fuzzy, of whom I have posted about before. Seems he is holidaying in Egypt. Anyway, because of that SMS, I got thinking about another post in the Fuzzy series and decided to focus on Fuzzy and his poetic skills.

Fuzzy is incredibly talented as a poet. It seems to just flow effortlessly from him. When he puts his mind to it, he can really write top notch stuff. Unfortunately, being the eccentric that he is, he often puts his talent to less socially acceptable and productive uses such as writing poems or rhymes on ransom notes for kidnapped stuff toys. Yes, there was a time in our student residences when hard working students were busy kidnapping and holding stuffed toys for ransom to the tune of several Mars Bars or other equivalent snacks, instead of studying hard. Fuzzy's humorous rhymes were often found circulating on these notes.

This was in fact the reason that Fuzzy got his name. During one such teddy bear kidnapping, the owner did not cough up the required sweet ransom but instead left a threatening note outside Fuzzy's door which read;

Fuzzy Wuzzy stole a bear
Then Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
That meant he wasn't Fuzzy, was he?

This was a thinly veiled threat that Fuzzy's bushy hair might be removed while he slept if said bear was not returned. Tut. Tut. Such a violent threat and from such an otherwise sweet girl. So the name Fuzzy came from this incident.

Finally, let's get back to the beginning of this post about Prof. Baum and his Christmas Party. Well, one of the things the students tried to do every year was to come up with a less scholastic song in reply to Prof. Baum's newly unveiled chemical tune. Unfortunately, none of us Biochemistry undergrads were good songsmiths and so we had to make Fuzzy (who was actually a rival Immunologist) an honorary biochemist for the purpose of writing these songs. Ah, what fun we had in the rarified air of academia!

Sadly, I cannot remember most of what was written but let me end with just a short sample that I can vaguely recall. This is to be sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, of course.

Jingle Bells, Sulphide Smells,
Azides on the floor,
The Student swallowed cyanide
And he won't work anymore

The cells they came out whole,
The glass was to powder ground,
The centrifuge took off
And hovered six feet off the ground.

Oh, jingle bells...........

If any of you thought that I was a mad scientist, you now know I had a good teacher and super accomplices.


Sally's World said...

LOL this explains alot...can i steal the fuzzy poem to send to a few people i know via e-mail????

Joyce's Ramblings said...

Ah,the joy of humor! It can get you thru almost anything.

geewits said...

That's cool that your old professor saved and compiled all his formula songs. My daughter can name all 50 U.S. states very quickly in alphabetical order from a song she learned in elementary school. The stuffed animal thing reminds me of a thing we used to do at work on Fridays. This guy named Matt had a Nerf brain and someone would grab it and hide it in the department and we'd be running around looking for Matt's brain. Fun times.

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Lone Grey Squirrel said...

As far as I know there's no copyright on the Fuzzy Poem. I kid you of course. Please feel free to use it to spread the joy. Just promise it will not be used for evil......like shaving someone's head. :)

Those chemical pathways are terrible. Imagine some twenty odd different steps, each step involving reacting chemicals, their products, enzymes and co-factors. Then have some of those pathways go in circles and some loop out before coming back in and you have one crazy map to remember. Putting it to song probably helped me to pass my exams.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I can imagine the fun from looking for Matt's Brain. Putting things to a song is a great way to remember things.

Anonymous said...

Fun teacher. If my older son is any measure, I don't think art and science are disconnected at all.

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