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Boiling Point

By: M Siddiqui (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences)
Competition Year: 2016
Votes (6) | Comments (0)
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At 9 years old, I knew that
I wanted to be a scientist.
Ten years later, people ask me
‘What are you doing at university?’
At 19 years old, I tell them
I’m doing a Chemistry degree.
Reactions are varied,
Amusement, scorn, surprise, awe,
‘But it’s so difficult!’ ‘Isn’t it a bore?’
One woman in particular
Sticks out for me.

‘Chemistry?’ She says.
'That’s a very dry subject isn’t it?’
In one statement
She makes my passion sound
Like a river suffering from drought
Like flaky skin on a winter’s day
Like a stump of wood left over from a felled tree
Chemistry, she says, has nothing to do with me.
Lady, if you’re reading this, let me tell you
That Chemistry is as wet as the shampoo
You use in your hair
As red as the expensive lipstick you wear
As loud as your fireworks on New Year’s Eve
As colourless and odourless as the air you breathe
As warm as the sunrise that wakes you up
As cold as the crushed ice in your plastic cup
Yes, it’s dry, too: I’ll give you that,
But the dry things, you can’t live without!
From the sodium chloride that flavours your meals
To the chromium in your stainless steel rings,
The silicon dioxide in the window that brings
Warmth and light
As you sit inside aluminium and enjoy your flight.
So you see, everything you use-
(You, a mass of carbon and oxygen and hydrogen
And more elements than you’ve heard of)-
Everything you see, taste, smell
Has something to do with Chemistry.

Chemistry is silence and noise
Colour and touch and taste
It is the blood that flows in your veins
In the pills you take for pain
In the signals sent from your brain
To your eyes, ears, mouth, nose,
In the current that flows
From your head to your toes.
It is hot and dry, cold and wet, green and blue.
Yes, Chemistry is all of those things.
But in short,
It is You.
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