Friday, 20 February 2009

The Radium Atom

Air: “The Tarpaulin Jacket.”

I. A radium atom was dying,
And just ere it burst up for aye,
Corpuscles, which round it were flying,
These last dying words heard it say –

Chorus: Oh, I am a radium atom,
In pitchblende I first saw the day,
But soon I shall turn into helium:
My energy’s wasting away.

2. About the laborat’ry latterly
I always have seemed in the way;
I’ve worried both Campbell and Satterly*
And many bad things made them say.

3. I often have got in a frenzy,
As down in the cellar I lay,
Being tortured by Huff or Mackenzie§
Deflecting my poor α ray.

4. The theories about my interior
Proposed by the men of to-day,
Would make me appear quite inferior –
A crowd of corpuscles at play.

5. When wishing to be in the fashion
My γ corpuscle they slay,
And state that, according to Paschen, †
‘Tis merely a swift β ray.

6. Through me they say life was created
Any animals formed out of clay,
With bouillon I’m told I was mated
And started the life of to-day.‡

7. To build up my weak constitution
I’m trusting myself to J. J.,
He’ll get the most truthful solution
Of all who have entered the fray.

8. My temperature’s very unsteady,
I’m losing in weight every day;
But if the end’s near I am ready, -
At least, life’s been lengthy and gay!

*N.R. Campbell and J. Satterly , On the use and abuse of radioactive needles for delicate electrometers, Proc. Cav. Lab., Oct. and Nov., 1904.
§A.S. Mackenzie, Phil. Mag., vol. 10, p. 538, 1905.
†PASCHEN, Physikalische Zeitschrift, Vol. 5, p. 563, 1904.
‡Daily Chronicle, June, July and August, 19045; Punch, July 12, 1905.

From The Postprandial Proceedings of the Cavendish Physical Society (1911 fourth edition), pp. 6-7.

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