Helen Whittaker: Professor Itty's Last Lecture


Professor Dagmar Itty mopped his brow
And squinted at his notes – a cryptic scrawl.
He cleared his throat and in a nervous voice
Addressed the overflowing lecture hall.

‘This morning’s talk should really be about
Cycloidal drives and epicyclic gears,
But since I’ll be retiring Friday week
I thought I’d stray off topic.’ (Raucous cheers)

‘I’ve been a fellow here since eighty-nine.
The day that I arrived I made a vow
To spend my leisure time indulging in
A project I’ve kept secret - until now.’

The students all leant forward in their seats.
Professor Itty’s hobby was the buzz,
A subject of debate; a hundred bets
Were placed this week alone on what it was.

‘So let me share with you,’ proclaimed the Prof,
‘This formula I’ve found; it’s very neat,
Although you’d be advised to stand well back,
Because it does produce a bit of heat.’

I tried to follow everything he did
But it was so involved I soon lost track.
I looked around at everybody else;
Like me, their eyes were glazed, their jaws were slack.

Then suddenly a blinding flash of light,
A sonic boom, a muffled cry of ‘Duck!’
And when I stood back up the sight I saw
Punched out my breath and left me thunderstruck.

A hundred thousand glowing points of light
Hung silently about us in the hall
Each one a slightly different shape and size –
Some spiral, some elliptical, but all

Rotated slowly as they moved apart.
‘Each one’s a galaxy,’ explained the Prof.
‘I’ve just designed a whole new universe,
And now I need some serious time off.’