“It’s Snowing Underwater”

Science through poetry

How wonderful to see these intersections happening. Dr Sam Illingworth of Manchester Metropolitan University has written a poem, “It’s Snowing Underwater”, about research undertaken at the University of Sydney by the EarthByte Group in the School of Geosciences and he has sent it to them. Professor Dietmar Muller has sent it to me, knowing I value all STEAM connections. Are Schools of Education helping potential teachers to make these connections? I hope teachers are connecting with the sciences. I hope teachers of English are recognising the value of connecting with writing about the sciences in prose, poetry and in plays. And I hope the science teachers connect with the humanities. We need to get rid of the ‘two cultures’ divide.

.We need to understand the processes going on in the sea, on land and in the atmosphere in this very uncertain 21st century, That understanding must reach the voters in each democracy. Otherwise, we’ll continue the destructive path we are treading now. In Australia the separation of STEM from HASS has denied us a curriculum encouraging the capacity to learn through a poet’s response to research. Dr Sam Illingworth, is Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University. Go to the Poetry of Science blog.



In this instance, the poem connects with research by the EarthByte team at the University of Sydney that is identifying how marine flakes – called ‘marine snow’ – are cooling the planet and how much they save the planet from warming even more. Professor Muller is the Director, ARC Basin Genesis, EarthByte Group.

Read the associated news story here


And here is another piece written up here, which focused on some other aspects of the story:


It’s Snowing Underwater

March 15, 2019 by Samuel Illingworth

Beneath the shimmering surface of the sea

Lie tiny specks of hope,

Inconsequential fragments of life

That work tirelessly to remove

The years of smut and grease

Regurgitated by higher organisms.

Locked in the loving embrace of these

Forgettable and singular plant cells

This industrial detritus falls like snow,

Giant flecks of white that drift through

The aquatic depths of night

To settle on the floor as a blanket of sludge.

The countless pressures of ages past

Are unleashed with unconcealed contempt,

Contorting each and every snowflake

Into layers of chalk and stone –

Buried secrets that rise above the shore

To be reclaimed by a hissing, envious sea.

Ungrateful and oblivious

We pour our lukewarm bile into these waters;

Those tiny specks of hope buried deep

Beneath our blizzard of filth.

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