The Young Scientist

A poem by Zach Roberts, Rangiora High School, one of the Top 10 entries in the Masters category (Year 11-13) of The Art of Science Competition 2020.

Beyond our plane, where time has no meaning
Two figures meet, a primordial convening.
One is old, uncountably so,
With awareness so vast, from them knowledge flows.
The other… less resplendent
They are mortal, no ascendant.
Yet with a gleam in their eye, this acquaintance they greet
As if they’ve been handed the greatest of treats.

Young scientist, the universe says with a frown.
Why is it you ought to have my workings written down?
On this eternal timeline, your life’s a small blip
And in the blink of an eye, from this realm you’ll soon slip.
Yet here you are, troubling me, your great composer
With all these questions – a determined secret exposer.
You know quite well you’re insignificant and tiny
And nothing you could learn could let you stand beside me.
So I repeat your question back to you – why?
Why is understanding where your heart does lie?

Our universe, the scientist replies with great fondness
To your nature, yes, my questions are boundless.
And while my life may be brief, one moment in eternity.
I will spend this time to give my kind more clarity.
For how majestic is our cause – to seek truth about everything
From the brightest of stars, down to tiny benzene rings.
And with understanding comes a mighty potential
For a breakthrough that triggers revolution, consequential.
My life is conditional, but the lessons I teach
May bring to humanity the solutions they beseech.

The universe smiles in the most pitying of ways
Young scientist, your dreams have led you astray.
For while yes, your kind may have propelled your world forward
Prevented illness, changed lives, connected without borders.
Those Flemings, those Newtons; those Hawkings and Einsteins.
Are one from a thousand other, unrecognised great minds.
Your studies, oh, how you toil over them for years.
May fail to peek even the interest of your peers.
Surely you see, how futile it can be
To dedicate your life to needless discovery?
The scientist grins – how could the universe understand?
As we’re dealing with something so very human at hand.
The thing I want most of all is not
To carve a legacy, though that would please me a lot.
But what pulls me to my lab each day
To whip out my pencil, to switch on my display
Is a curiosity so pure and buoyantly joyful
It’s almost childlike, so recklessly playful
I don’t need to have a reason for my endless asking
Because if the answer exists, then I’ll be doggedly hunting.
And it’s not just applications that make me grope for the light
As learning a truth is reward in its own right.

Beyond our plane, where time has no meaning.
Two figures diverge, apart they are now leaning.
And while the universe departs with no greater understanding
Of why man could find pure knowledge so outstanding
The scientist marvels at the universe’s unknowing confession.
For it seems that humanity is not alone with its questions.