Chemistry Art

Lyrics to The Devil Went Down to Claremont

A chemical parody of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Ari Nieh ’01, December 1997.

The Devil went down to Claremont, he was looking for a prof to nail.
And all throughout the 5-C teachers quivered and turned pale,
But at Mudd, he saw a chem prof giving a lecture and doin’ it hot,
So the Devil jumped up on a nearby wart, and said, “Boy, let me tell you what.”

“I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a chem professor too.
Maybe you think you know your stuff, but give the Devil his due.
Well if you care to take a dare, I’ll let you try your luck.
I’ll bet a mole of gold against your class ’cause I think your lectures suck.”

The prof said, “I’m Van Ryswyk, and it might be a mistake,
But I’ll take your bet. You’re gonna have trouble keeping THESE frosh awake!”

VR, get your lecture notes and do your demos fast.
The devil’s teaching frosh chem and nobody’s gonna pass.
And if you win you get a mole of elemental gold,
But if you lose the devil gets your class!

The devil stood at the podium, said, “I’ll start this lecture, bud.”
And fire burned in his eyes as he glared at the frosh of Harvey Mudd.
The doors of Galileo hall closed with a resounding slam.
And the students quaked in fear of what they’d face on the exam.

(insert satanic chem lecture)

So the Devil finished, VR said, “That’s a decent lecture, son.
Now take a seat, you amateur, and I’ll show you how it’s done!”

Thermite in the flowerpot, run, boys, run
HCl forms when exposed to the sun
Rawhawk in the lecture hall, pickin’ out puns
VR throwing chalk with an arm like a gun

The devil bowed his head, because VR was the better speaker.
He placed that shiny mole of gold in Hal Van Ryswyk’s beaker.
“Now devil, come to recitation if ou ever need more correction,
’cause I’ve told you once, you son of a bitch, don’t sit in the NC section!”

He said,
Thermite in the flowerpot, run, boys, run
HCl forms when exposed to the sun
Rawhawk in the lecture hall, pickin’ out puns
VR throwing chalk with an arm like a gun

Haiku replacements for Microsoft Windows error messages

In Japan there is a grass-roots movement to replace the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict rules of construction: each poem has three lines and only 17 syllables: five syllables in the first, seven in the second and five in the third. Haiku is used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity. Here are 16 actual error messages from Japan, approaching the essence of Zen:

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao — until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky
But we never will.

Having been erased
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Drawings About Chemistry

  • The Comic Strip Chem Crash, by an anonymous general chemistry student, found on the last page of his final exam, December 1993.
  • Charcoal on paper Still Life with Glassware, by Amy White ’98, September 1995.
  • Pencil sketchThe Demonstration, by a Claremont High School student in the spring of 2001.
  • Pen and inkMusical Neurochemistry, by Liesl Van Ryswyk during a Joint Music Program concert in December 2006.