Standard Model now also captured in Dutch particle poems

27 August 2021

Dutch poets have captured the Standard Model of particle physics in twice seventeen poems about the elementary particles. The poetic Standard Model is published today in the Dutch Journal of Physics, NTvN.

The poems are the result of the jubilee competition of the Netherlands Society for Physics (NNV), which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. In total, over 100 authors submitted almost 300 particle poems, which were judged by a professional jury. Literary quality was a requirement, but also that the poem is physically correct.

The selected poems can be read on the magazine’s website. They are also read by the poets themselves in an audio clip. Some poets submitted multiple particle poems. A few even included an advance on particles yet to be discovered.

Nobel Prize winner Gerard ‘t Hooft (Physics 1999), a member of the main jury, also added his own limerick for each of the seventeen standard particles. About the Higgs particle, for example, he wrote the following (translated for convenience, originals are all in Dutch).

Although it had to provide all the mass
The Higgs particle kept itself well hidden for a long time.
It has no spin,
and what is its origin, what is in it?
That secret is kept until tomorrow.

The winning poem about the same particle is by poet/painter Annette Akkerman.

after a long hunt
they managed to outsmart him –
cornerstone of al

The jury gave another honorable mention to the poem about the Standard Model as a whole by physicist Herman de Lang.

Physics be praised
For Veltman and ‘t Hooft
They renormalized
What Yang and Mills taught us
Thus all particles came together
In one Lagrangian