A Sonnet of Significance

Inspired by Dennis Overbye’s nice article in the New York Times about the plethora of false detections in physics and astronomy, and another one in Physics World by Robert P Crease with a similar theme, I’ve decided to relaunch my campaign to become the next Poet Laureate with this Sonnet (in Petrarchean form) which I offer as an homage to John Keats. I’ve slavishly copied the rhyme scheme of one of Keats’ greatest poems, although I think I’ve made all the lines scan properly which he didn’t manage to do in the original.  Nevertheles, I’m sure that if he were alive today he’d be turning in his grave.

Much have I marvell’d at discov’ries bold
And many gushing press releases seen
But often what is “found” just hasn’t been
(Though only rather later are we told).
Be doubtful if you ever do behold
A scientific “certainty” between
The pages of a Sunday magazine;
The complex truth is rarely so extolled.
So if you are a watcher of the skies
Or particle detection is your yen,
Refrain from spreading rumour and surmise
Lest you look silly time and time again.
Two sigma peaks – so you should realise –
Are naught but noise, so hold your tongue. Amen.

2 Responses to “A Sonnet of Significance”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Butterworth, Peter Coles. Peter Coles said: A Sonnet of Significance: http://wp.me/pko9D-1Ju […]

  2. […] whole poem, which turned out to be a very sensual and well-constructed sonnet, as opposed to the cack-handed parody I put up recently. The title of this poem also of course furnished the name of a well-known […]

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