Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, May 16, 2016

Winners of the Science Haiku Contest!

It took a week, but I have now judged all the entries to my haiku contest scientifically. By which I mean I studied them under a microscope, heated them to a boil, compared them against a control group of other haiku, and then threw out the results due to bias.

Thanks to everyone who entered! All your haiku (except the one my dad wrote) were such monumental creations that it was tough to pick the winners. So, in the end I let a nicotine-addicted monkey do that for me.

I shall now unveil my findings, soon to be sent off to a scientific journal. Probably the one I keep in the bookcase in my office. (But hey, if you haven't done so already, make sure to check out all the electrifying entries.)

Not Entirely Honorable Mention
My brother-in-law, Tom, may know a thing or two about nuclear energy, but I believe we may disagree on how many syllables it has.

Ernesto P. Santiago had a lovely haiku... that had nothing to do with science. Alas, including a living creature does not make it biology.

And as for Emilia's? She was clearly pandering.

Honorable Mention

I'd accuse Marian Allen of pandering as well, but I'm not sure she knows I have a cat named Schrödinger.
My tuna is gone
And yet it is not eaten.
Damn Schrodinger's cat!

My 5-year-old nephew, Solomon, outdid his mom's 5 entries. (Note: There's not one shred of scientific proof that I have a completely legitimate bias against her poetry.)
Mars: a hot planet
Because of all its red sand
So says Solomon.

Rena's entry recalls one of my fondest memories of high school chemistry (although ours was done with cesium).
Sodium metal
Is serene in glycerin.
Explodes with water

And Sam Cook nearly took a prize with this one, mostly because of all the big words.
The phenomenon
of quantum entanglement
questions everything

First Place - Humorous

Instead, Sam won with this one. Getting popular culture, "science," and one team's 107 years of futility all into 17 syllables? Well done, sir.
Back to the Future
was wrong about time travel.
The Cubs never win.

First Place - Traditional

Keith A. Simmonds not only got some great prose into this entry, but it was also one of the few in which each line could be read as a separate phrase (as traditional haiku do), rather than breaking up a longer phrase to fit the 5-7-5 scheme. That combo netted him the win.
The ozone layer…
a furnace of desires
sears the heart of man

And that will bring my 7th annual haiku contest to a close. Sam and Keith, if you'll please write me at, I can send the Amazon gift cards your way.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, shared, and/or re-tweeted this contest! Let's do it all again next year!

One piece of advice
For future haiku contests:
Wear safety goggles.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Haiku Contest: Science!

*** The contest has ended. View the winners. ***

Congratulations! You’ve unearthed my 7th annual haiku contest!

We've previously performed experiments on ninja, pirates, robots, space, the ocean, and heroes & villains. But now it's time to document the natural world properly: in the form of science haiku!

Here’s how you do it:
Write seventeen syllables.
Eureka! You’re done.

Simply follow standard haiku structure (5 syllables, then 7, then 5 again) and make it have something to do with science. However you interpret the theme is entirely up to you.

To enter, write your haiku in the comments section below. Two or three lucky winners will receive $25 million in gold bullion $25 Amazon gift cards.

I will be selecting the best haiku in each of two categories:
  • Humorous/Creative
  • Traditional (i.e. eloquent, evocative, etc.)
In addition, I may also reward a third entry. I won’t know for sure until I’ve completed my findings.

The deadline to submit a haiku is this Saturday, May 7 at 5:00pm (Eastern Time). Official "rules" are below.

Official "Rules":
  1. To enter, post science-themed haiku in the comments section below. Multiple submissions are allowed, but if you submit more than five (5) entries, you'll have introduced too many elements and they will become unstable. Thus, excess entries will be disposed of safely and efficiently.
  2. Standard haiku rules apply. To qualify, each entry must be a three-line poem, the first line containing exactly 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables. If you miscount, your results will not be repeatable. And since I won’t be able to repeat it, your entry will not win.
  3. The contest is open until Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 5:00pm, Eastern Time. If your entry arrives after the deadline, I will assume you’ve failed in your attempt to bend time. Failed experiments are not yet ready for public consumption and will be rendered invalid.
  4. Entries must be in English. (i.e. Using Japanese kanji will not help you win for best traditional haiku.) If, after careful examination, I cannot understand your entry, I will deem it purely theoretical and remove it from consideration.
  5. Anonymous entries will not win. In the sciences, attaching your name gives something credibility. If you can’t grasp the gravity of this, your entries will be unceremoniously dropped.
  6. Prizes will be awarded in each of two (2) categories: Humorous/Creative and Traditional. A third prize may be awarded depending on how I react to certain variables.
    • First place winners will each receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
    • An indeterminate number of Honorable Mentions will receive both mention and honor. Not necessarily in that order.
  7. I will act as sole judge, and select the winning haiku based on the aforementioned criteria, as well as other criteria I make up as I go along. All decisions are final, and will not be changed under any circumstances. Unless you can give me some sort of superpower. Though they may evolve.