Science Poetry

Spring Forward

“Outside the windows, 
Note ample accrual
Of flowers, birds, sunshine: 
The season’s renewal.  
(Hooke’s Law reminds us, 
As matter of course:
As goes the distance, 
So scales the spring’s force.)”  

As with several preceding Twitter posts, this 20 April 2020 poem celebrated the arrival of spring.  This particular piece did so by using two meanings of the word “spring”: the season and the physical object.  

“Outside the windows, /
Note ample accrual /
Of flowers, birds, sunshine: / 
The season’s renewal.”     
I find winter challenging, and the shift to spring is always a hopeful change of scenery.  By April 2020, most of life was occurring via computer screen, and “social distancing” was a phrase used more and more commonly.   I missed in-person classes, but I also missed the walks through campus to my office, which had previously incorporated chances to see the signs of spring into my daily routine.  Seeing spring arrive “outside the windows” was not the same as directly observing spring in person.         

“(Hooke’s Law reminds us, 
As matter of course:
As goes the distance, 
So scales the spring’s force.)”  
I found an intriguing echo for that sense of pre-2020 nostalgia in the scientific equation known as Hooke’s Law, which describes the action of a coiled spring as a physical object.  Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was an English scientist who made major advances in several STEM fields. 

Hooke’s eponymous law states that Fs = kx.  The force of a spring (Fs) depends on the force constant (k), which represents the stiffness of the spring, and the distance (x) by which the spring is stretched out or compressed.  Chemists use Hooke’s Law and the motion of a spring to model the motion of two atoms chemically bonded together.   

Hooke summarized his law via the statement, “As the extension, so the force,” which I echoed in the final two lines here.  Poetically, I attempted to highlight how the powerful “force” of the newly arrived season was enhanced by the fact that, in the course of a screen-focused workday, its aspects seemed further away.