There once was a dog from Niskayuna…

The previous post announced a photo caption contest for a chance to win an advance proof copy of my book, How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, six(-ish) months before it’s available for purchase. I thought I should include something for the less visually inclined, though, and I do have two extra galley proofs, so…

Announcing the Official How to Teach Physics to Your Dog Poetry contest. The idea is simple: write a short poem involving both dogs and physics in one of the usual short verse forms (haiku, limerick, double dactyl, whatever, as long as it has some sort of rhyme and meter). If your poem is selected as the winner, I’ll send you an advance uncorrected proof of the book.

Obligatory contest rules and disclaimers:

  • Entries may be submitted by leaving the poem in a comment to this entry, or by emailing the poem directly to me.
  • One entry per comment/ email, please. You can enter more than once, but please put each entry in its own comment or email.
  • Entries must be received by 5pm Eastern on Sunday, June 30th, as determined by the time stamp on the comment/email.
  • The winner will be chosen by a jury consisting of the residents of Chateau Steelypips (me, Kate, Emmy, and SteelyKid). All award decisions are final.
  • The winner will be announced on the blog sometime next week, at which time I will contact the winner for shipping instructions.
  • All entries should include permission to reproduce them either on the blog or on dogphysics.com.

If you win the proof and want to post a review on the web/ recommend it to all your friends/ pass it on to your close personal friend, Oprah Winfrey, that’d be appreciated, but there’s no obligation to do anything in particular with it.

So, get to it!


  1. #1 Brian
    June 22, 2009

    Wait, Haiku don’t have rhyme or meter!

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    June 22, 2009

    Haiku have a set syllable structure, which is sort of like having meter. Close enough for my purposes, anyway.

  3. #3 Cuttlefish
    June 22, 2009

    Beautifully, Dutifully,
    Emmy the elegant
    Poses for pictures, with
    Evident ease;

    Helps with translating the
    Thoughts of her human, to
    Bunnies and Cheese!

  4. #4 cicely
    June 22, 2009

    The sleeping dog’s dream–
    Mozzarella String Theory
    and Quantum squirrels.

  5. #5 Jonathan Vos Post
    June 22, 2009

    Canine: the Crown of Creation
    with apologies to Jefferson Airplane
    by Jonathan Vos Post
    Copyright (c) 2008 by Emerald City Publishing


    “Heaven goes by favor.
    If it went by merit,
    you would stay out and
    your dog would go in.”
    — Mark Twain

    Verse and Chorus:

    You are the Crown of Creation
    You are the Crown of Creation
    and you’ve got no place to go.
    Want to go out? For a walk?

    Soon you’ll attain the stability you strive for
    because the locations of the poles of the transfer function
    are in the left half-plane of the complex frequency plot
    as we cut through this parking lot
    with telephone poles
    theory of controls
    and move more briskly, start to trot
    in the only way that it’s granted
    I’m enchanted
    now that you’ve panted
    all excited, never docile
    lesser dogs you gladly jostle
    your fidelity’s colossal
    among all canines, you’re apostle,
    in a place among the fossils of our time.

    In loyalty to their kind
    with ratio undefined
    double helix intertwined
    they’d better get resigned
    we’re ascending, they’ve declined
    they cannot tolerate our minds.
    Acceptance is hard,
    but heed Saint Bernard:
    “Qui me amat, et canem moum” *
    Who loves me, will love my dog
    got to be cruel to be kind
    with the Dog Star we’re aligned
    supervisor call instruction
    Darwinian fitness
    sexual reproduction
    as dog’s my witness
    it’s mutual induction
    In loyalty to our kind
    we cannot tolerate their obstruction.

    “It’s been a hard day’s night,
    and I’ve been working like a dog.”
    — John Lennon, A Hard Days’ Night, 1964

    Verse and Chorus:

    Life is Change
    the rocket range
    Life is Change
    derivative’s directory
    Life is Change
    integrating the trajectory
    Life is Change
    How it differs from the rocks
    the rocks with fossil bone
    one way ticket to the Twilight Zone
    I’ve seen their ways too often for my liking
    your wagging tail
    so very striking
    let’s go running
    let’s go hiking
    New worlds to gain
    your noble heart’s internal drive
    My life is to survive
    and be alive
    for you
    only for you
    You are the Crown of Creation
    You are the Crown of Creation
    and you’ve got no place to go.
    Want to go out? For a walk?
    Good dog!

    * St. Bernard, In Festo Soneti Michaelis: Seermo Primus, 1150

    11 Feb 2008

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    June 22, 2009

    My poem requires footnotes which may not work in the comments, so here is a link to it:


  7. #7 Erin
    June 22, 2009

    Must entrants be human to qualify?

  8. #8 Nathan Myers
    June 22, 2009

    The best dog poetry I know of, sadly ill adapted to physics education, showed up in a contest run by The Oregonian in the early ’90s: “You gonna eat that? / You gonna eat that? / You gonna eat that? / I’ll eat that.” which Google finds attributed Birch, kept by Karen Shepard, as noted in http://www.doggyspace.com/profile/10999 and elsewhere.

  9. #9 Cuttlefish, OM
    June 22, 2009

    Hungry dogs love the
    Many worlds hypothesis:
    Bunnies made of cheese!

  10. #10 Uncle Al
    June 22, 2009

    Emote to the theme of Gilligan’ Island, The Yellow Rose of Texas, or nearly anything written by Emily Dickenson (if you’re brown-nosing a grade).

    The Queen of Niskayuna

    A dog once sought to quantify
    What others had observed.
    She sat and rolled for Maxwell,
    That skeptics thought absurd.
    She barked so at path integrals
    That Maple shed a tear.
    And ere Taylor converges,
    I’ll buy her doggie beer.

    She’s sweet with Gauss’s field contours,
    She’s tart with del-squared phi.
    She’s salty with free bodies,
    All bitterness denied.
    You boast about your undergrads
    Incoming then forgot.
    My dog from Niskayuna
    Is smarter than the lot.

    My grading sheet rests heavily,
    With numbers not with names.
    Student bodies matter not,
    Performance but remains.
    My dog from Niskayuna
    Blew all of them away.
    Diversity will sue my ass,
    Will process served today.

  11. #11 John S. Wilkins
    June 22, 2009

    There once was a fortunate dog
    Who barked about “Physics, by god!
    “My wonderful master
    “has made all disaster
    “Seem simple and not merely odd!”

    I know. Keep the galley proof…

  12. #12 Thony C.
    June 23, 2009

    Chad you forgot one important rule; the science interhedron poet laureate, Cuttlefish, is banned from participation! Given that competition it’s not worth trying!

  13. #13 Tanja Cilia
    June 23, 2009

    Physics Fun!

    An adiabatic circut
    Is a jog around the block
    Stopping at Betti’s.

    Visiting Aunty –
    Birkhoff’s relativity…
    Free will forgotten!

    A Buckingham Pie
    No cloning and No-broadcast –
    Breakfast at Clairaut’s !

    Bragg–Gray cavity
    Time for a dentist’s visit…
    Noether’s wisdom tooth.

    Parallel axis
    Hellmann–Feynman mayonnaise
    And Haag’s fruit yoghurt!

    An optical sine
    There’s no-communication …
    Density function.

    Bell’s carnivora
    A canine fluctuation…
    New Pekingese!

    Cluster decomposition …
    Leggett–Garg chew-bones!

    Caniformia words…
    Mermin–Wagner diction’ry…
    Lee–Yang pedigree!

    Mustard with a very sharp bite…
    My canis loves it!

  14. #14 Cuttlefish
    June 23, 2009

    Braggingly, waggingly
    Emmy the Emporess,
    Smart as a Shepherd, and
    Sly as a fox

    Facile with words like “Ge-
    Still wants the cat in a
    Very real box

  15. #15 Cuttlefish
    June 24, 2009

    Quick question, with regard to local dialect: Does Emmy (and for that matter, do you) pronounce “squirrel” as one syllable, or as two?

    Also, I have looked a few places, and maybe I am missing an obvious link, but do you have chapter titles listed somewhere?

  16. #16 Chad Orzel
    June 24, 2009

    “Squirrel” tends to be two syllables, though when Emmy gets excited, it comes out as one.

    The table of contents for the book is in this post. The pagination has changed, of course, but those are the chapter titles.

  17. #17 Cuttlefish
    June 24, 2009

    Rats, and thanks, respectively!

  18. #18 Cuttlefish
    June 24, 2009

    One necessity of teaching: a facility for reaching
    Through the mass of preconceptions that can settle like a fog,
    And may block new information, or bring misinterpretation;
    There’s a remedy for some of this: try thinking like a dog!
    That’s the premise of the method that Professor Orzel plied
    With the Queen of Niskayuna by his side!

    She told him of the habits of the Niskayuna rabbits
    How they sometimes seemed to vanish in the Niskayuna air
    It would help her with her chases if she occupied two places
    And could trap the little bunnies as they’re running to their lair.
    Oh, the yummy little bunnies would have nowhere left to hide
    If the Queen of Niskayuna could divide!

    “Spooky barking at a distance” clearly needed her assistance
    So they wrangled with entanglement and tackled it with ease;
    She learned how to beam a bunny, which to humans may sound funny
    But to dogs it’s just as plausible as bunnies made of cheese.
    There are laws of Quantum Physics—and they will not be denied—
    Which the Queen of Niskayuna takes in stride.

    Here the uses and mis-uses (and occasional abuses)
    Quantum Physics has been saddled with, are rendered clear for you,
    With occasional referrals to the Niskayuna squirrels
    (Who are never to be trusted, and are evil through and through).
    So begin the thrilling journey that these essays will provide
    With the Queen of Niskayuna as your guide!

    (I am saddened to discover it’s not Emmy on the cover
    But some fancy dog professional who likes to cock his head.
    He may look all nice and quizzical, But Emmy’s quantum-physical,
    Although, perhaps, as royalty, she’s not one to be led.
    Though the picture on the cover she was callously denied,
    It’s the Queen of Niskayuna who’s inside!)


  19. #19 Henry de Koeyer
    June 26, 2009

    A short poem for dog

    When the food is gone, my pup wags its tail
    Wanting more but with no prevail
    I watch that tail wag
    Going up with a bounce and down with a sag
    Newton, under his apple tree
    came up with brilliant hypothesi
    What goes up must come down
    And thats what moves fido’s tail around

  20. #20 R. de Koeyer
    June 27, 2009

    m-E Limerick

    Emmy is both dog and equation

    and leads to energy conservation

    with rest mass Newtonian simplistic

    which bunnies of cheese make relativistic

    That’s Einstein’s mass-Energy relation!

  21. #21 Adrian Morgan
    June 27, 2009

    A dog who seeks morsels organic
    Such as bunnies that tremble and panic
    Must be fast and observing
    And strong and deserving
    And informed about quantum mechanic

  22. #22 Sandy Dog
    June 27, 2009

    I wait on the floor
    In case some food might fall here.
    I am ready now.

  23. #23 Adrian Morgan
    June 28, 2009

    Minor edit on my submission, #21. Replace second line with:

    “Such as bunnies that run when they panic”

  24. #24 zayıflama
    June 28, 2009

    She told him of the habits of the Niskayuna rabbits
    How they sometimes seemed to vanish in the Niskayuna air
    It would help her with her chases if she occupied two places
    And could trap the little bunnies as they’re running to their lair.

  25. #25 zayıflama
    June 28, 2009

    She told him of the habits of the Niskayuna rabbits
    How they sometimes seemed to vanish in the Niskayuna air
    It would help her with her chases if she occupied two places
    And could trap the little bunnies as they’re running to their lair.

  26. #26 cicely
    June 30, 2009

    My final effort:
    Dog and God Particles meet–

    (hopefully posted just in the nick of time)

  27. #27 Robert McLoed
    May 24, 2010

    Thanks wouldappreciateletters thanks rushing out

  28. #28 RobertMcLeod
    May 24, 2010

    ThanksI have been writingsomeon and off.wouldlike instructions toimprovemy work,write scientifically and philosophically, artist

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