Mala RadhakrishnanThis is a featured page

Mala Radhakrishnan nsIn human chemistry, Mala Radhakrishnan (1978-) (CR=61) (SNE:11) is an American “physical chemistry professor and published chemistry poet” (Mindy Levin, 2011) or “chemistry professor and computational biophysical chemist” (self-described, Ѻ), noted for her 2003 Chemistry of the Couch Potato, twenty poems of which found there way into her 2011 collected works poetry chemistry book Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances, illustrated by American biochemist Mary O'Reilly, a collected set of 50 poems, written over a period of ten years, which employ a mix of poetry and easy-to-understand analogies, e.g. “Sex and the City” (television) to “Sex and Acidity” (poetry), to formulate what seems to be Empedocles-style / Dr. Seuss mix of poetically-rhymed chemistry aphorisms and humanized stories. [7] The following is an excerpt from Radhakrishnan’s book launch BBS interview (video below):

“When I think of chemistry, I always think of what are the atomsfeeling’ on a molecular and atomic level and in a lot of ways, the reactions that they experience are similar to the relationships that people experience.”

The poems where done, according to Radhakrishnan, in an effort to help students, particularly high school students, learn thermodynamics, kinetics, and molecular reactions in a more realistic manner, namely in the framework of subjects on the mind of the typically coming of age student, such as relationships, dating, and sex, etc.

On 8 Oct 2012, Radhakrishnan began tweeting two-line rhyming chemistry poem segments, the first of which is the following: (Ѻ)

“Hope you'll enjoy these chemical notions
Written as poetry in (Brownian?) motion ...”

As of 2 Jul 2014, Radhakrishnan has tweeted some 420+ tweets, the majority of which being of human chemistry, physicochemical humanities, and or poetry chemistry variety, having attracted some 480+ followers. Many of these tweets are dissected, discussed, and or ranked below, per interestingness, correctness, and or humor, depending.

Radhakrishnan-Street dialogs
In Jul, Aug, and Oct 2013, Radhakrishnan began chemistry-rhyming in tweet-communication with American chemist Shane Street, a chemistry professor at the University of Alabama (Ѻ), who goes by the Twitter handle @SCStreet. (Ѻ) Some of their dialogs are dissected below:

TweetsDissection / Discussion
Parenthood is a happy mess -- /
A negative dH and a positive dS.
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2013), tweet 7:17 PM Jul 30

And the excess free energy flows
Into the children so they grow
— Shane Street (2013), reply tweet 7:41 PM Jul 30

Ah, free energy -- that answers the question /
Of how my son can be active with so little digestion.
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2013), reply tweet 9:13 PM Jul 30

Little activated complexes, there's no question
They run downhill in either direction!
— Shane Street (2013), reply tweet 9:20 PM Jul 30

Well, now that I've given him his goodnight kiss, /
My son sleeps in thermodynamic bliss!
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2013), reply tweet 9:24 PM Jul 30


Tweeter: Atomic Romances | 2+ votes | Ranked
In 2012, Radhakrishnan began tweeting sections of her poetry, via her @AtomicRomances Tweeter account. The following is a work-in-progress ranking, per combined number of re-tweets and favorites, of Radhakrishnan's chemistry poetry tweets, from 8 Oct 2012 to Jun 2014, according to her 484 followers; those with equivalent number of total votes ranked in descending order of interestingness; the up/down arrows column give indication as to closeness of rhyming segment to reality (↑) as compared to distance away from (↓) a real description and hence more closer to analogy, metaphor, and or simile (↓): [8]

TotalRetweet symbolFavorite symbolAtomic Romances↑↓Date
Compare / See also

1266If elements are like letters, and compounds like words, /
Then chemistry's like poetry (especially for us nerds.)

Nov 12

1073 A toddler and fluorine are worth our comparing: /
Both small, reactive, and not good at sharing!

Oct 18

725 Are you ever under so much strain /
That you feel like a cyclopropane?

Jul 18

6The strongest of covalent bonds will unfurl, /
As we welcome our new little baby girl.

2014 May 29See: human chemical bond
642 The chiral lad says, "Though I do fancy her, /
I can't bind; she the wrong enantiomer."

Apr 9

523 Life’s the best metaphor for spectroscopy by far; /
By seeing what excites us, we learn who we are!
Dec 4
Compare: “Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman, c.1970)
532 Career paths take decades; think hard at each junction, /
'Cause happiness isn't a state function!

Jun 23
Compare: “Life is a path function. It's the path that you take from the beginning to the end; the integral of that path, that's the special part.” (Christopher Edwards, 2006)
541Kinetic control is just all about timin'; /
Wait long enough, carbon's no longer a diamond...

2014 Mar 28
Thermo, kinetics in a wedding vow? /
“You’re my Mr. Right!” or “my Mr. Right Now!”
Dec 13
Compare: the Count's proposal of five-year marriage contract (Ѻ) in Goethe's physicochemical-based Elective Affinities (1809).
422What if our free will is just an illusion, /
And everything happens through random diffusion?

Jun 16

413Just when you can't handle more on your plate, /
Your life throws you another transition state.

2014 Jun 12
422"I cannot covalently bond with you, /
So these van der Waals forces will just have to do ..."

2014 Apr 4
431 Said red litmus to base, "It's tough bein' with you; /
Wherever we go, you make me so blue."

May 29

422Social media's like dense noble gases — /
We still feel alone as we collide with the masses...

Jan 30

422 When folks act like fluorine, then this we agree on — /
It's best to stay calm and unruffled, like neon.

Jan 23

422We lefties are ignored in the design of each fixture, /
'Cause humans are not a racemic mixture.

Oct 2
Ruminate on.
321Electrons and little boys, they bear some relation: /
'Cause neither one has a defined location.

Nov 6
See: human molecular orbital; human electron / free electron
Chemists and artists are similar factions; /
Both carefully toil, then await a reaction.

Aug 2

312Go runners; I know you'll pass, at a great rate, /
The heartbreak hill transition state!

Apr 21

321Oh [Red] Sox, how the balls off your bats recoil /
Like particles alpha off Rutherford's foil...

Oct 23

2Adults like stability and calm, it's a given. /
Children, however, are entropy-driven.

Feb 14

211May your love be much stronger than any can fathom, /
Dwarfing the bonds between nitrogen atoms [N≡N] .

Feb 14

211Nerves? Or fear? Or QM, perhaps? /
When my teaching's observed I always "collapse!"

Apr 18
See: wave function collapse
Be safe; a hurricane makes us see /
The power of PV = nRT.

Oct 28

2Of all of our dads are we very much fond; /
Thanks for your lasting, covalent bonds.

Jun 15
See: human chemical bond
211"Friends or dating?" You answer with hesitance: /
"It's complicated — best modeled by resonance ..."

Feb 4
Compare: [10]
211I can't surmount the /
Activation barrier /
For writing haikus...

Mar 1

2He gets to see Santa! My son shows such verve, /
But up close, he gets shy ... (like a Lennard Jones curve ...)

Dec 7

211Winter is putting your gloves, hat, and coat on, /
And at 5PM seeing the sun's last photon ... :(

Nov 13

211When it's cold I just wanna curl up in a ball. /
(My partition function becomes really small.)

Nov 11

211 Stay true to your love, if I may say so: /
A 1-to-1 stoichiometric ratio ...

Sep 17
Molar ratios –

Tweeter: Atomic Romances | 1-vote | Ranked
The following is a work-in-progress ranking of Radhakrishnan's chemistry poetry tweets, with one favorite or re-tweet, semi-ordered via interestingness: [8]

TotalRetweet symbolFavorite symbolAtomic Romances↑↓Date
Compare / See also

1Said a lover to another, all smitten and googly-eyed, /
"May a bond forever connect our nuclei!"

Oct 9

1Ten years ago he and I became "us." /
Our catalyst? Oddly, a Greyhound Bus...!

Dec 1
See: dihumanide molecule; substrate

I'm uncomfortable replacing old with new, /
Like a transition state of an SN2 ...

Oct 13

1Can't handle more input, 'cause what I do know /
Is there's just no more space left in my LUMO.

mar 19
Note: LUMO = lowest unoccupied molecular orbital
(compare: HOMO) (Ѻ)

1With a newborn, our energy's quite a bit less, /
And we all feel a positive Delta S!

Jun 3
See: ΔG > 0

1It's Spring Break: time to change your orbital's look, /
And at times, have a node at your chemistry book!

Mar 20
See: human molecular orbital theory

1Traveling spouse, tough to communicate; /
Wish we were a quantum entangled state...

Mar 22

1Reducing emotions to chemicals seems tragic, /
But to me, the chemistry of love's like magic!

Jun 18

When my son so happily smiles at me, /
Then I've globally minimized delta G!

Sep 13

1With toddlers, you "pick your battles" to win. /
But then you end up in a local min...

Sep 13

“Two roads diverged in a …wood,” Frost wrote, /
But if I were an electron, then I would take both!

Nov 8
Compare: Morgan Peck (M. Scott Peck) and his entropy-filled The Road Less Traveled (1978).

Green photon asks red photon, “Hey there, what’s nu?” /
“Just four-hundred-fifty terahertz…and you?”

Nov 19

You ever feel like you don’t fit in all that well? /
Well, that’s what an electron feels in a valence shell ...

Nov 12

Three toddler boys sharing? Must be an illusion! /
(They follow a variant of Pauli Exclusion!)

Nov 24

1 Stirring a reaction removes all the waiting /
By giving reactants a chance at “speed dating.”

Nov 17

A toddler stuck indoors, you ask? /
Like a heated gas in a stoppered flask!

Oct 29

Nerdy pick-up line of the eon: /
“You excite me like red light does to neon!”

Oct 25

Getting a toddler to finish his rice /
Is harder than ionizing hydrogen...twice!

Oct 11

1Is your spouse occasionally being a pain? /
Like cyclopropane, you've got some "ring strain"!

Jun 28

1My son loves new sister, adjusts in his way /
To a new steady state (like Le Chatelier?)
Though I fear it would be quite a family mess /
If (like Le Chatelier) he *opposed* the stress!

Jun 4

1I'm kinetically stuck in a paralyzed state; /
My chemistry tweets will have to wait...

Mar 6

1My son's free energy's never deficient, /
By his high activity coefficient!

Mar 1

Use caution online, 'cause it's not an illusion: /
What you say can spread faster than random diffusion!

Feb 28

1Doing what's fast (not what's best) takes its toll, /
But sometimes I'm under kinetic control...

Feb 22

1To TV are my son's eyes glued, of course, /
With the strength of the strong nuclear force ...

Feb 12
See: human chemical bond / electromagnetic force

1Reworking a paper for resubmission /
Is somewhat like tweaking reaction conditions...

Jan 21

1You'd think that with temperatures being so low, /
My life would get stable and ordered ... but no.

Jan 9
See: third law of thermodynamics

1My son's jigsaw puzzle I see on the floor, /
And I'm reminded of a hydrophobic core.

Nov 25

1My son's love for kinetics, it leaves me quite weary. /
With toy cars, he studies "collision theory"...

Nov 15

Love at first sight is a potent allusion /
To reactions limited but by diffusion ...

Nov 7

"Expressing my love, how close can I get? /
I'd need an infinite basis set ..."

Oct 8
Basis set (chemistry) – Wikipedia.

Our government should learn from ionic bond-making: /
Opposites partner through giving and taking.

Oct 6

1Multitasking is something I hate, /
In a superposition of eigenstates!

Oct 2

When art meets science, it's truly phenomenal. /
So let's stop thinking that they are orthogonal.

Sep 26
See: Alec Groysman

Quantum mechanics is simple, you see; /
It's as easy as (n equals) 1, 2, 3!

Sep 24

It's tough to relax my son for his slumber, /
To lower his principal quantum number...

Sep 22

Noteable / Interesting | Ruminate | No-votes
The following are a few interesting tweets, without actual votes, per se, but ones, nevertheless, to make note of, ranked according to interestingness, humorfulness, and or statements to be ruminated on:

TotalRetweet symbolFavorite symbolAtomic Romances↑↓Date
Compare / See also

In life we all have a simple purpose: /
To explore our potential energy surface.

Sep 4

Ignorance is bliss, 'cause you sit with a grin, /
Unaware that you're just in a *local* min.

Nov 25

My first gray hair ... the imposition /
Of a slow, unwanted phase transition ...

Oct 31
See: Henry Adams

The events in our life we consider fantastic /
Are not planned or determined, but are often stochastic ...

Oct 27
Ruminate on.

Happy New Year; may you reach a new low /
Of your free energy; may your happiness grow!

Jan 1

One's love for another cannot be undone, /
Like two wavefunctions linked and convolved into one...

Feb 14

...And I reach such thermodynamic bliss /
By giving my sweet little daughter a kiss!

Jun 26
Re "thermodynamic bliss", see: pg. 90. [1]

Go Red Sox – how awesome a game is this? /
You bring us such thermodynamic bliss.

Sep 4
Ditto (per above)

It's instinct -- such negative delta G /
To smile back when my newborn "gas-smiles" at me!

Jun 26

Here's a lesson from metallic reactions: /
Stay *positive* in all of your interactions!

Jun 21

Finding love and good friends are stochastic missions; /
Just try hard and hope for productive collisions!

Mar 30
See: collision theory

Warm weather increases each rate of reaction - /
My son quickly took his nap - no distraction!

Apr 12
Compare: Q&A (segment: 44:00-47:15), of 16 Apr NIU lecture,

Spring cleanin' this weekend? No way, I'll be livin'! /
The weather's so warm I'll be entropy-driven!

Apr 11

Social media may increase collisions, /
But each encounter sees less fruition...

Jun 19
See: collision theory

Some paths aren't reversible — no turning back — /
Like the coordinate that captures the tenure track ...

Mar 13
Compare: “I did not embark on experiments on consciousness in alert people until after I had obtained the security of academic tenure.” (Benjamin Libet, c.1990)

Decisions would cause less trepidation /
Under many worlds interpretation ...

Jun 6
See: human quantum mechanics

Stability's what diverse friendship brings; /
Be like carbon and bond to multiple things!

Mar 1

Congrats to the grads — your future awaits, /
With newly accessible microstates!

May 30
See: S = k ln W

Stay balanced — the secret to life, they say; /
Keep trying to get Q to equal your K.

Apr 23
Note: If Q > K, then there are more products present than equilibrium and the reaction will produce more reactants shifting the reaction to the left. If Q > K, then there are more reactants present than equilibrium and the reaction will produce more products shifting the reaction to the right. If Q = K, then the reaction is already at equilibrium and there will be no shift. (Ѻ)

It's Spring, and my son goes outdoors with gumption /
And boosted translational partition function!

Apr 3

It might be rough; few things may seem bleaker, /
But stay afloat - don't precipitate out of the beaker.

Feb 24
Compare: “I have almost finished your book, which I really enjoyed by the way. I can agree with the adult-adult bond; however, I tend to view the child as a possible product or precipitate, not as additional bond. I am coming from a mechanical engineering background, so my vantage point is different. I tend to see life, learning, and relationships as Carnot cycle type events.” (Melanie, 2009) (Ѻ)

All this snow - I'm sick of it! /
Its chemical potential — infinite!!

Feb 18

My spouse, a year older? Let's fix the confusion. /
Birthdays, they quantize time — an illusion...

Feb 9

The better team? Well, you do the math... /
Which one has the greater mean free path?

Feb 2
Compare: William Ramsay’s 1898 ‘football players’ explanation of kinetic theory, wherein the players are likened to a ‘throng of human molecules’.

Can kids feel eclipsed by a sibling that's new, /
Like a leaving group made by a swift SN2 ...?

Jul 1

Now that my week's work is all done, /
I'm on couch; my partition function is one!

Jan 31

In auto-pilot by my own admission; /
My days have periodic boundary conditions ...

Jan 28

Your finals are done. May your days now be merrier; / Congrats on surpassing the energy barrier!
Dec 20
See: activation energy

Just aimlessly seeking my best — know the feeling? /
'Cause life's just a run of simulated annealing ...

Nov 7
Simulated annealing – Wikipedia.

Patience: required with kids, but the wait /
Can be quite an unstable transition state!

Oct 5
See: Mirza Beg

Perhaps we'd unite and we'd see beyond borders /
By modeling all people to only first order.

Sep 19

Entropy's got me feelin' encumbered /
By fatalist laws of very large numbers ...

Sep 3

Our vacation will make the whole family merrier, /
But packing's a really big energy barrier ...

Aug 22

If our energy's low but high pressure we feel, /
Then, just like a gas, things won't be ideal.

Aug 22

Now all that *our* love lives should need is patience /
(and our own personalized Schrodinger equations!).

Aug 19
See: Moriarty-Thims debate (comments: #11, #18, etc.)

How neat that molecular romantic relations /
Can be modeled by partial differential equations!
Aug 19

Your core group of friends will stay with you through hell. /
The rest of your friends are your valence shell.

Aug 19

Life is like chem; the goal's to be able /
To bond well with others so we can be stable.

Aug 17
See: chemical teleology

(add discussion)

Nonsensical | Analogy over-stretches | Off / Incorrect
The following are rhyming tweets, albeit ones without underlying correct logic structure:

TotalRetweet symbolFavorite symbolAtomic RomancesDate
Compare / See also

Cleaning is futile. Denial's a flaw. /
There's no use in fighting the second law.
Sep 21
This is what is called thermodynamic folklore. Nowhere in The Mechanical Theory of Heat does it state that rooms become messy because of the second law.

Your choices to no one should e'er be subordinate, /
'Cause you should control your reaction coordinate!
Sep 21
This one has issues galore; Goethe, e.g., devoted what he referred to as his "best book" to this subject, even naming the title cryptically (see: title decoding) as such:

Die Wahlverwandtschaften [] The Choice [of one's] Electives [or] Attractions [to things or people]

We do, however, see Radhakrishnan, to her credit, recanting towards correctness in 2014, per tweet reform, see: “free will” section (below).
211What's the state function that's best for my measure? /
It's enthalpy ... (I'm under constant pressure).
Sep 23
Incorrect (but close): the state function for earth-bound freely-running reactions is free energy; this is because they occur in isothermal and isobaric reaction conditions. This was explicitly explained by Lewis in 1923; see: human free energy (theorists). Regarding the general query: “whoever said state functions apply to humans?” (JHT potentials), see: Moriarty-Thims debate (2009), e.g. comments: #128, #160, etc.; The Literate Engineer's Jun 2005 comment (in Libb Thims (attack)); and also: Ilya Prigogine’s 1977 Nobel Lecture “obviously” comment.

My son loves his noodles, but rather than eat 'em, /
He explores their vibrational degrees of freedom.
Oct 1

My brain can't accept your contribution. /
(It's officially a saturated solution...)
Oct 11
Sounds off?
413The perfect lecture, paper, or rhyme? /
The limiting reactant is always ... time.
Feb 6
Correct: time is not, technically, a limiting reactant; only a chemical species can be such.
211 Some call it "hump day", but as chemists, we say, /
"It's Wednesday, the energy barrier day!"
Nov 20

2My productivity I'd like to keep, /
But the limiting reactant now ... is sleep!
Jun 5
Correct: sleep is not, technically, a limiting reactant; only a chemical species can be such.
2Thank you, Enya — best catalyst by far /
For getting my son off to sleep in the car ...
Mar 21
Note: something seems amiss in this fragment; to the effect that a person who gets someone to fall asleep, say by singing a lullaby, does not seem to be an actual “catalyst”, such as how Goethe (1809) defined Mittler, the mediator, as the facilitator of marriage reactions; how Johann Dobereiner discovered (1823) that platinum (the “catalyst”) sponge could cause the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen at room temperature, a process he referred to as “contact action”, later to be called “catalysis” by Jacob Berzelius (1835); or how American chemical engineer Scott Fogler, in his 1992 Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, argues that a person who starts a riot and then ducks out before things get violent would be an example of a human catalyst: [11]

“A catalyst is a substance that affects the rate of a reaction but emerges from the process unchanged. A man inciting a mob to riot and then ducking out before the tanks roll in can be regarded as a catalyst.”

See: human catalyst

In catalyzing my son's naps, I am the worst; /
'Cause during the process, I fall asleep first!
Feb 2
Ditto (per above)
321 Some opportunities aren't to be missed. /
So go for it – be your own catalyst.
Sep 8
A molecule cannot be its own catalyst; this seems to be put self-help nonsense.

1The contents of baby's colon and bladder — /
They violate conservation of matter!
Jun 26
Correction: there is no law "violations" in or between humans, e.g. violations of the second law, or energy conservation violations, etc..

O, thermal equilibrium, take hold at last — /
Please bring me some heat from Alaska real fast ...
Jan 24
Something seems amiss here [?]

Changing son's outfit requires a wait /
Through his half-naked high energy transition state...
Nov 10

On couch and watching the Sox on TV; /
I've achieved my minimum delta G!
Sep 7
Something doesn't make sense here??

The point, to note, in listing the above "incorrect" poetry segment rhymes, is for the sake of clarity. Incorrect statements, done in fun or pun, may often germinate and lead, in science in particular, to a proliferation of confusion; the classical 1939 John Neumann-Claude Shannon conversation about entropy, and the so-called Shannon bandwagon that followed, is the prime example. [9]

Free will
The following shows Radhakrishnan's probing tweets at the free will problem, as physical chemistry sees things, listed in in reverse chronological order, showing her getting closer to mark, i.e. correctness, as evidenced by more tweets, as time progresses, as she practices and improves on earlier tweets:

What if our free will is just an illusion, /
And everything happens through random diffusion?
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2014), Jun 16 (4 votes)

Classical, quantum — both give me a chill, /
'Cause both do imply that I have no free will ...
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2014), Feb 1 (0 votes)

What if our free will were just an illusion, /
Our "trajectories" laid out by steered diffusion?
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2014), Jan 21 (0 votes)

Your choices to no one should e'er be subordinate, /
'Cause you should control your reaction coordinate!
— Mala Radhakrishnan (2013), Sep 21 (0 votes)

(add discussion)

Human chemical bonding
Radhakrishnan, in her aggregate Tweets, employs the concepts of: strong nuclear force, ionic bond, covalent bond, triple bonds, and the van der Waals force, each in various scenarios, as analogy models of the human chemical bond.

(add aggregate discussion)



Man married to two women 300h
Left: the space-fill model of the molecule krypton difluoride (Ѻ), which, according to Radhakrishnan, is a happy atomic threesome, formed via covalent bonds; a legal bond according to the laws of chemistry. Right: an image of a Washington man married to two women, i.e. a trihumanide molecule, which is illegal under federal and state laws. (Ѻ) The so-called moral or ethical nature of marriage has recently been a topic of debate, particularly in regards to same sex marriage, many recoiling back to Biblical views to find their bearings. (Ѻ) To cite one recent position, arrived at by three scholars: (Ѻ)

“We must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions, such as slavery, would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians.”

Here, Radhakrishnan would seem to concur and advocate for the use of the physical chemistry texts, over that ancient texts, to regulate modern ethics and morals, a position argued by Goethe some 200 years ago.

Radhakrishnan subtly touches on aspects of the implications of the physicochemical purview in regards to questions of human morality and social norms. The following are the last three stanzas from her "The Flirt and the Inert" poem:


Here we see Radhakrishnan touching on what is otherwise known as the Goethean revolution, namely the paradox between the rules of chemistry and the rules of humanity, which are inconsistent on many points, in regards to legality and morality. A man, e.g., can legally marry a woman, whereas, in most societies, polygamous or polyandrous societies aside, a man cannot marry two women legally nor can a woman marry two men legally. In chemistry, however, one krypton Kr atom can bond “blithely”, as Radhakrishnan puts it, to two fluorine F atoms to form krypton difluoride KF2, a bonding that “broke town convention”, as she says. This is quaint statement is reminiscent of Goethe’s late December 1809 famous defense statement, when attacked by a woman, about his physicochemical-social interaction theory (i.e. human chemical theory), as reported by Heinrich Laube (see: best book), namely that: “conventional moral norms can turn into sheer immorality when applied to situations of this character.” Town conventions and human-made rules, in short, are rooted, historically, in world religions, 75 percent of which are rooted in Anunian theology, and in turn the negative confessions (backbone to the ten commandments); subsequently, in the Bible, the morality go-to text for 33 percent of the world, we find 16+ proscriptions (Ѻ) about marriage, such as:

“It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”

These types of god-based commandments, via comparison with Radhakrishnan poetry, as we see, do not corroborate. Either singlehood or a two-some is the only bound state or bond sanctioned as moral in the Bible. Likewise, once bonded, e.g. in matrimony, or in united as a dihumanide molecule, in hmolscience speak, or say in a dihydrogen molecule H2, the two “must not separate”, but if they do they must remain unmarried (unbonded). If, however, hydrogen breaks from its bond with hydrogen, it may very well bond with oxygen to form water H20, which is something proclaimed as “immoral” according the rules of the Bible, but not so according to the rules of chemistry, as Radhakrishnan points out.

This is what caused Goethe, in 29 Jan 1830 commentary to Carl Zelter, to gripe (see: Goethe timeline) about the inconsistencies between the ten commandments and rules and laws physical chemistry and how his Elective Affinities (1809) was themed on a dialectic about the sixth commandment (thou shall not commit adultery). The subtle implications of this correction to human thinking will invariably result in an “immense sweep of consequences [that] will affect the whole scope of morals and social order”, as American woman's rights activist Victoria Woodhull put it in 1871. As to when this moral revolution will actuate, is anybody’s guess? If, by comparison, it took 2,369-years for atomic theory to become accepted as fact (Leucippus’ circa 460BC introduction to Ostwald’s 1809 recant) and some 1,940-years to accept heliocentrism (Aristarchus’ circa 250BC proposal to Newton’s 1687 Principia), who is to say how long it will take for the acceptance of Goethe’s 1809 proposal to matriculate?

Poetry | Technique
The following is Radhakrishnan's poetry technique, from her Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances (2011), which she seems to employ paragraph after paragraph, namely to make the last words of of the first and second sentence, and third and fourth sentence, of each stanza rhyme:

Radhakrishnan poetry technique
This technique, to note, becomes rather tedious; by page 29 of her Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances, e.g., things begin to feel rather repetitive; though, once into the thermodynamics and kinetics poems, in pages 60-90, wherein the mind slows, as the blurry transition from analogy to realty ensues, the poems begin to flow better.
Mala poem
An excerpt from Radhakrishnan’s poem “The Foiling Point of Water”, comparing the boiling points between methanol CH4O and water H2O, wherein one can sense the Dr. Suess flow of presentation. [6]

Radhakrishnan gives descriptions of, for example, how “atoms and molecules fall in love and cheat on each other”, among other extrapolations, and or realisms, such how her poem "The Ion without a Name", about an ion who meets another ion on a bus, is similar to how she met her husband on a Greyhound bus. [3] In her poems, she seems to use a mix or blend of the extrapolate downward and the extrapolate upward approach; although more so, it seems, the former over the latter. In her own words: [5]

“I really try to humanize atoms and molecules”.

In this statement, to note, there is a bit of a backwards irony, in the sense that a human is in fact a molecule, at least according to the modern 21st century molecular formula or rather human molecular formula definition of things, and thus efforts to "humanize molecules", must be approached with a strong grain of salt, so that the humanization process does not become a game of incongruous charades or possibly false statements.

A few classic ventures down this path include: Dutch chemist and physician Herman Boerhaave stating that that force of affinity is “love, if love be the desire for marriage” (1732) and French chemist Jean Dumas commenting on this “there is some truth in Boerhaave's poetic comparison” (1837); speculating about the "feelings" (or not) of molecules in relation to each other's proximity (James Maxwell, 1878, in commentary on Carl von Nageli); speaking of “living and dead hydrogen atoms” (Albert Mathews, 1924); making assertions about the "free will", or lack there of, of molecules in respect to human molecules (C.G. Darwin, 1952), among others, each of which must be investigated in great detail, so that the entire presentation does not result to be a slipshod mess of agenda-based panpsychism (e.g. Christian de Quincey, 2002).

Someone who may well represent a sound middle ground in this approach is French engineer and chemical thermodynamicist Francois Massieu who in the 19th century compared humans to molecules, in their chemical composition, and then in this mindset addressed the puzzles as to how a molecule, such as water H_2 0 \, (or by extension a human) can have a body and soul (in the scheme of water being split up into oxygen O_2 \,and hydrogen H_2 \,); or be alive vs dead; have morality, exist, and other philosophical issues. Modern approaches to these questions are well addressed in the the task of assigning chemical education homework problems to students to work out solutions on their own, although not without first giving some guidance of paths to avoid, as having traditionally being dead ends.

In circa 1998, Radhakrishnan wrote her first poem for an on-campus poetry reading, and the feedback was so good that she kept writing them, eventually becoming known in the Boston poetry scene, though typecast, she says with a laugh, as the ‘chemistry poet’.
Dancing moleculesAtomic Romances, Molecular Dances
A comparative illustration of “dancing molecules” from English chemist Maxwell Eidinoff’s 1947 book Atomics for the Millions, in which, similar to Radhakrishnan, he employs analogy and or realism for illustrative teaching purposes. [4]
Cover to Radhakrishnan's 2001 Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances which uses poetry and anthropomorphic chemistry illustrations to teach chemistry and physical chemistry concepts. [1]

In more detail, her parlay into poetry started when a friend invited her to an open mic poetry slam (when?), where she observed and became fascinated with what was going on. Although her first poems weren’t about chemistry, they eventually turned to this subject. Her first chemistry poem was “As the Magnetic Stir Bar Turns”, which she read at the open mic. One of her opens discusses the concept of a matchmaker as a human catalyst

Some of her other poem titles include: "Limiting Love", "The Flirt and the Inert", "Bridge Over Troubled H20", "The Radioactive Dating Game", and the "Amalgam in the Middle".

After completing her undergraduate degree at Harvard in 2000, in chemistry and physics, she spent several years teaching high school chemistry at San Jose, California, through the Teach for America program, during which time she began to employ the poetry teaching tactic to facilitate learning. After leaving San Jose to attend MIT, she continued to write scientific poems. When she realized that her poems could be educational, not just entertaining, she began choosing topics that students tend to struggle with, such as entropy and thermodynamics. [3] Her poems have since appeared in a textbook and in journals, to name a few: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, ChemInformation, Technology Review, and Tech Talk. [6]

Radhakrishnan completed here AB in chemistry and physics at Harvard College in 2000 and her PhD in physical chemistry, with a dissertation on “Tackling the Bigger Picture in Computational Drug Design: Theory, Methods, and Applications to HIV-1 Protease and Erythropoietin Systems”, from MIT in 2007. Currently she is an assistant chemistry professor at Wellesley College, where her research interests are interdisciplinary, combining chemistry, physics, biology, applied mathematics, and computer science (computational modeling), with focus on understanding modeling of drug-receptor interactions (see: drug-receptor thermodynamics) at the molecular level. [2]

See also
Literature chemistry
Literature thermodynamics
Equation of love
Barri Gold (ThermoPoetics, 2010)
Erich Muller (similar teaching style)
James Ferri (ChBE student-produced HT-applied video projects)
John Hodgson (Molecules Humans, 2002)
Johann Goethe (top ten greatest poets; Elective Affinities, 1809)
● “The Story of the Contented Molecule” (1941)
Primo Levi (The Periodic Table, 1975)

A 2011 BBS interview with Radhakrishnan about her chemistry poetry.Radhakrishnan reading her poem "The Radioactive Dating Game".

1. (a) Radhakrishnan, Mala. (2011). Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances (abs).
(b) Marder, Jenny. (2011). “Drooling Electrons, Thermodynamics, and Beta Decay … in Verse.” PBS Newsroom, Science Thursday, Nov. 17.
2. Mala Radhakrishnan (profile) – Wellesley College.
3. Shay, Sara. (2011). “The Bard of Chemistry, Technology Review, Nov/Dec.
4. (a) Eidinoff, Maxwell L. and Ruchlis, Hyman. (1947). Atomics for the Millions. Whittlesey House.
(b) John. (2009). “Maurice Sendak’s first book was a science textbook”, Apr 06, SuperPunch,
(c) Dancing molecules (photo) –
(d) Anon. (2009). “Arts and Sciences”, Collecting Children’s Books, Mar 24,
5. Levine, Mindy. (2011). “Mala Radhakrishnan: an Interview”,
6. Filosa, Michael P. (2011). “Book Review: Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances Chemistry Poetry by Mala L. Radhakrishnan”, Nucleus, Oct.
7. Levine, Mindy. (c.2011). “Dr. Mala L. Radhakrishnan: an Interview”, The Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society.
8. (a) Atomic Romances (Mala Radhakrishnan) – Twitter.
(b) Note: a few of the more non-interesting, and or non-chemistry based , e.g. “adjusting to two kids can seem problematic / ('cause stress vs. number of kids is quadratic!).” [3 favs], are not included in the rankings.
9. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (url), Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 8(1): 1-120, Dec 19.
10. Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One) (resonance, pgs. 241-43). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
11. Fogler, H. Scott. (1992). Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering (catalyst, pg. 242). Prentice Hall.

Further reading
● McCarty, Eric P. (2003). Dancing Molecules: An Intimate Dance with the Divine (poem: Dancing Molecules, pg. 21). iUniverse.
● Heinemann, Lynn. (2005). “Q&A: Graduate Student Experiments, Discovers Poetry in Chemistry”, MIT News, Mar 30.
● Sargent, Ted. (2006). The Dance of Molecules: How Nanotechnology is Changing our Lives. Thunder’s Mouth Press.

External links
Mala Radhakrishnan (directory) – Wellesley College.
Radhakrishnan, Mala Lakshmi – WorldCat Identities.
The Radioactive Dating Game – Facebook.
Amalgam in the Middle (2005) –
Chem poetry –
Atomic Romances (Mala Radhakrishnan) – Twitter.

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