A Cycle of Cavitation Limericks

Based on inspirations from the 1997 NATO Advanced Study Institute on Sonochemistry & Sonoluminescence and written on the plane flight back.

        A lovely spot, an oasis,
        for Advanced Study, the place is
        the town Leavenworth.
        We say with great mirth
        Washington, please, not Kansas!



I hope you will take no offense:
These poems are meant with no pretense
of humor wry
or knowledge high.
So anger here would make no sense.

But if in fact your feelings hurt,
please let me know, I'll be alert.
And make another one more pleasing
better yet than these poor wheezings.
So soothe your feathers and be not curt.

The Sound and the Fury

There was a small bubble in heat
that bounced up and down to the beat.
What surprises her friends
is the way that it ends,
with a flash of light: really neat!

There once was a bubble a flashing.
It made quite a hit; really smashing.
Once a cycle it'd show,
even gave off a glow.
That's why trenchcoats are always in fashion.
--William B. McNamara III

Cavitation is found in water,
In bubbling brooks when they're louder,
A depth-charge's get
is a submarine jet.
And in tea kettles as they grow hotter.

The cavitational hot spot
heats up until things are quite hot.
Then the bubbles calm down,
and emit quite a sound,
cooling faster than atoms can trot.

Cavitation at a surface
shouldn't make a chemist nervous:
The bubble forms jets,
the surface clean gets,
And reactions take off with a purpose.

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
a hero perish or a sparrow fall,
atoms into ruin hurled
a bubble burst and now a world
created half to rise and half to fall.
--after Alexander Pope

There once was a photon named SL
Who could hardly be seen in his vessel
With big bang he took flight
In small bubble of light
With his hometown address confidential.
--Larry Bernstein

Twinkle, twinkle, my poor bubble.
Glowing liquid, oh such trouble.
How I wonder at your source,
dit and dotting away in Morse,
turning physicists' theories to rubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
From this witches brew
comes a chemistry new:
Fierce and strong, but also quite subtle.

Cavitation comes from liquids.
It's found everywhere, it's ubiquitous.
While completely despised
in engineers' eyes,
to chemists it's worth lots of quids.

"Single bubbles are nice to abuse,"
the physicists say as they muse.
But the chemists all know,
single ones are no go.
There's not enough in them to use.

Biochemists had ultrasound fears.
It would bring their proteins to tears.
But then Suslick showed them
it doesn't unfold them.
Instead it makes microspheres!

The Bubble-heads

We're bubble-heads so say us all
with sounds too intense to be dull.
With white noise and pink,
the bubbles won't sink.
They collapse and make a hot ball.

The cavitational crowd,
with bubbles all are quite wowed.
The froths and the foams
lead to papers and tomes.
"There's too much to read!" they all howled.

Loomis way back in '28
discovered that ultrasound is great!
Breaks bugs like a wand,
and the chemical bond
gives up with nary a wait.

The Moscovite bear, Abramov,
was known to quietly sound off,
"My sonic alloys
are really great toys.
The hydrogen vibrations pound off."

Bob Apfel, ex-president,
called for theories too evident.
"To test them," he cried
"by experiment tried!"
Made theorists all hesitant.

In the South was President Crum.
Mississippi kept him quite glum.
So he shrank down his bubble,
moved north on the double,
where Seattle makes him just hum.

Too hard to count only by one,
two photons a time gets it done.
The flash isn't as slight,
but now its done right.
Gompf, the German, has killed all the fun!

The colloid man from Down Under,
Franz Grieser, not likely to blunder,
brought soap to his bubbles,
surfactants no troubles,
which leaves us to puzzle and wonder.

Grignard turns in his tomb in Orsay
at ultrasound's uses today.
For Mg metal,
he was given the Medal,
but now for us it's just play.

Thierry Lepoint and his spouse
made electric discharge their own grouse.
Sparks flew, they will sue!
But the answer's too true,
Their theory ain't worth a dead louse.

Detlef and Brenner, the two,
had a theory both wondrous and new--
The bubbles were Lohse
and the nitrogen saucey:
Single bubbles have chemistry too!

Longett-Higgins, the curmudgeon royale,
doesn't play according to Hoyle:
Quantum this, quantum that,
pulled out of his hat,
And to questions protests with recoil.

Barbier's reaction's a kluge,
like sliding downhill on a luge.
It never worked well,
often went straight to Hell,
until its improvement by Luche.

Margulis from Moscow did come,
with theories outrageous and dumb.
When rebutted with force,
all he said was, of course,
"Impossible!" then he was mum.

In England, reactions all hasten,
sonicated by Timothy Mason.
To Coventry sent,
his time is well spent:
Demonstrations make a fine lesson.

When a student, he went on the lam,
ended up as a real mountain man.
When needing some moola,
returned Tom Matula
with doctorate now in his hand.

Gareth, a young man of Bath,
thought polymers were such a laugh.
He gave bubbles a try
and now they take dye,
cutting the Price full in half.

Andrea, good Prosperetti,
Italian and full at the ready,
Thought that he'd missed 'til
he'd broken a crystal.
"It's fractoluminescences!" said he.

Putterman off in LA
saw flashes of light one fine day.
Too short to be real,
they became a big deal.
Now they're longer, so all is OK.

A bibliographic nightmare:
Sonochemist's names please beware.
There's Riesz and there's Riesse.
They're both very nice,
but the pair of them seems rather rare!

Jacques Reisse has caused quite a stir
by mixing things fast as a whir.
"Ultrasound is just fine,
but it's nothing sublime.
Mix it faster, reactions will purr!"

Suslick, ahead of them all,
thought Chemistry just a bit small.
So he studied Acoustics,
and came up with new tricks:
Sonochemistry has them in thrall.

What is fame? An empty bubble,
A transient, shining trouble.
The spotlight of Science
in our moment of triumph
collapses with a sound undoubled.




Overview Suslick Group
Full CV
List of Publications
with PDFs
Words of
Humor and
A Chemist
Meets Hollywood
"The Seminar
A Chemist
In Court
Time Flies
Like a Banana
The Distillers
of Waters"
Laws of
the Universe
of CLS
Expert Witness
& Consulting
Cartoons of
Humor and
Cover Art


Nature Cover 2002

Science Cover 1990

Science Cover 1991

Accounts Cover 2018

MRS Cover 1995

Supramolecular Chemistry 1998

The Journal of Physical Chemistry 2006
Nature Cover 2002

Science Cover 1990

Science Cover 1991

Accounts Cover 2018

MRS Cover 1995

Supramolecular Chemistry 1998

The Journal of Physical Chemistry 2006