If you could be a watt, all the power that you got
Could be written as a number on your head (like a light bulb)
We used to say joules per second but eventually we reckoned
It was easier to say watts instead
We named it after James, you know Watt was his last name*
The industrial age’s greatest engineer
The steam engine made more sense with a separate condenser
And Watt was a power pioneer.
If you could be a kelvin, then you wouldn’t be a lord
But a temperature in absolute degrees
We named it for a hero who said absolute zero
Is the temperature where even atoms freeze
Two seven three below is where the zero ought to go**
When we want a proper thermometric scale
Lord Kelvin was the man who defined thermodynamics
And for temperature, the kelvin tells the tale.
If you could be a curie, then I’d really start to worry
‘Cause too many curies could be pretty bad
We named it for Marie who studied radioactivity
All the scientists agree she was rad***
Radiation is reckoned in activity per second
Madame Curie was the finest in the field
And her work was so nice she won the Nobel twice
Found new elements twice
Founded medical institutes in Paris and Warsaw
And invented a mobile X-ray machine…
And some curies can cure you but too many more could kill you
So you’d better count your curies carefully!
There are scientific crowns for the names of great renown
Written down at every university
Like Newton and Ohm, Tesla and Coulomb
But that isn’t how they want their names to be
For Faraday and Joule, winning accolades was cool
But they’ll never need a trophy in a case
Because a Nobel’s nifty but the very greatest gift
In lower case.
*Line 5 may cause confusion, with somebody asking:
“So, Watt was his last name?”
And I say, “Yes, that’s the point of the song.”
And they say, “Okay, but Watt was his name?”
And I hesitate before saying, “That is correct.”
And we both stand there awkwardly, wondering Watt is the problem?
**Absolute zero is -273 degrees celsius. Celsius was a scientist, of course. So was Joule.
***This terrible pun is not my fault; blame Jeff Bohnhoff.