In Poems

Joanna Buckley

All alone and fearfully unstable,
A gas atop the Periodic Table.
As tiny bubbles, you were barely viewed,
Until years later we could finally conclude
You were a unique gas all along,
And Boyle and Paracelsus were both proved wrong.
Fame and recognition were your real wish,
Bestowed on you by Henry Cavendish.

For one so small, you’re so diverse,
The most abundant element in our universe.
With an atomic mass of 1.008,
You reacted with oxygen whilst trying to inflate
The Hindenberg airship and keep it afloat,
Which lead to your most infamous anecdote.
A mistake, sadly, you couldn’t repeat
And for that application, you’re now obsolete.

Today, in fuel cells you’re novel and green
And help to form fats found in margarine.
You help make fertiliser, drugs and plastic,
As elements go, you’re rather fantastic.
You’re also used to make large sheets of glass,
Because of your protective atmosphere, and tiny mass.
I’ve only scratched the surface of your potential,
For one so small, you’re completely essential!


About the Author

I’m Jo and I work for the Royal Society of Chemistry and teach in the Kroto Schools Lab in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield. I enjoy sharing my love of food chemistry here

I’m a Chocolate Orange hoarding gym addict who enjoys cricket, artisan gin, touring car racing and long-distance swimming. I have an 85-year-old tortoise called Fred who wreaks havoc when the weather is warm!