Photography by: Vanessa Leroy

Makinde’s Quantum World

Makinde is currently a PhD candidate in Physics at MIT. He studies quantum systems and how they can be tangled up, known as quantum entanglement. He helped found and runs the Harvard-MIT chapter of the National Society of Black Physicists, and mentors’ undergraduates at the two schools.

Vanessa Leroy, Portrait of Makinde Ogunnaike, 2021. Digital Photograph. ©Poetry of Science. All rights reserved.

Makinde’s Quantum World

He believes physics is not about
fancy mathematical formulas
with elegant Xs and Ys,
or discovering elusive particles.
Its inner heart
is about understanding our world —
broken and fractured
under the gravity of the eternal.
An everyday world that
is wildly weird at the
quantum level,
where he studies systems
that are Alice in Wonderland topsy-turvy worlds —
like silky strands of a spider’s web,
woven tightly into our lives by our weaving eyes
woven loosely by what we do not see
with the air touched then tangled,
with skin brushed then tangled,
with the apple touched at the supermarket then tangled,
with the tear wiped then woven away,
tanged with even things very distant like Mars dust,
that unravel themselves when
touched by our gaze—
revealing their hidden essence —
like a string pulled to unwind a knot.
Footprints of the infinite sparkle
in this teeny tiny quantum world
where he tracks God
and unravels
delicate threads of the hidden divine.
- Miriam Manglani

Poetry of Science

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The Project: Scientists of color and local poets of color are collaborating to create poetry based on the work, motivations, and history of the scientists. We are working with fine art photographer Vanessa Leroy, to create portraits of each scientist for public display alongside their associated poetry. Selected poets and scientists will be published in a dedicated issue of an award-winning literary journal. Our Mission: The Poetry of Science counters the negative associations handed down by systemic racism by creating new and positive associations between people of color (POC), the arts, the sciences, how nature is perceived, and what it means to generate knowledge. In this context, POC offer new ways to understand and create novel realities to resist systems of oppression.

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