MASHUP: The lives of Rosalind Franklin and Rumplestiltskin combined


What’s in a name?

Two fairy tales, both alike in tragedy,
in fair FermiLab, where we lay our scene.
There’s a laboratory deep under the earth
where we find the remains of a lone researcher
who once worked to unite science and magic.

Ron L. Silliman stood
at a generous 4 and a half feet tall,
so it appeared that the subterranean facility
was really just a place for the dwarf to feel comfortable
like a hobbit hole hidden from human eyes.

His opponents said he practiced alchemy
in this chamber of secrets;
he would beg to differ. In his buried fort,
deep in the recesses of the world,
away from radioactivity and other outer space particles,
he followed the ‘X’ of a treasure map
to find elusive dark matter residue.

These WIMPs, as they were named,
(which stand for “Weakly Interacting Massive Particles,
through there’s no need to remember
what the letters designate),
were his golden ticket to fame and fortune.
And so Silliman stayed in his laboratory
beneath the layers of rock and water,
sickness and laughter,
death and wonder,
sight and sound,
waiting for the hidden gems of physics
to show themselves.

A patient labor of love
was the only way for a lonely dwarf
to have a baby of his own.
By breathing life into the unnamed universe,
it was like a long pregnancy
where a discovery grew
in the womb of the earth;
from just a twinkle in a scientist’s eye
to a full blown scientific gold mine.

After countless lonely months of searching
in a fortress of solitude,
the sneaky WIMPs suddenly burst forth like
Sleeping Beauty awoken from night terrors
by a firework set off on her hair.

And Silliman?
He emerged from his cave a rich man
like he discovered a way to transform
hay into precious ore;
though no one saw the irony
that the rising star of particle discovery
struck gold by leaving stardust out of his equations.
Those were the golden years,
a time when “Silliman” was a name
spoken widely throughout the Nine Kingdoms of Science.

But the short man was not welcome
at such great heights,
and his opponents did not hesitate
in their quest to destroy him.
They claimed his data was wrongfully gained
like a baby given away by a shady adoption agency.
His child was stolen in the night
by enterprising competitors
who requested that The Holy Journal
erase Silliman’s name in publication.

Soon after his authorship was revoked,
the lonely Ron L. Silliman was forgotten;
though they say there are days that while caving,
you can feel waves of dark matter
gathering in the shadows,
awaiting the physicist’s return.

3 thoughts on “MASHUP: The lives of Rosalind Franklin and Rumplestiltskin combined

  1. Great post. I had the pleasure of visiting fermi labs once. Such great minds. there will always be those who set out to ‘steal’ the work of others. Brilliantly written!

    1. That’s so amazing that you got to visit! And thanks or the praise! So is it true what they say, that we’ve kidnapped a black hole and are keeping it locked up in the particle accelerator for a rainy day?

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