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  1. Grain of Sand

From the recording Songs From the Science Frontier

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This song was inspired by the work of Dr. Regina DeWitt, a physicist at Oklahoma State University. She uses a technique called luminescence dating to help determine the ages of archeological dig sites. The method involves measuring the amount of radiation damaged accumulated over time in the crystalline grains of a soil sample. The song describes this process from the point of view of a grain of sand.

Lyrics

I am a small grain of sand
I am a piece of the land
A crystal of quartz; A time-piece of sorts
Absorbing the energy at hand
A patient and ancient grain
of sand

Once I was blocked from the sun
My time as a clock had begun
Each radiant spark that strikes in the dark
Knocks one more electron undone
I trap them. I store them one
by one

Now I am lifted away from my site
Suddenly dazzled with blinding blue light
My trapped electrons all flow back where they belong
They glow as they go
You count the photons; You calculate my dose
Your machine lets you know
How many millennia I spent collecting
Electrons for you
Now I am reset and waiting for darkness
To start me anew

I am a small grain of sand
I am a piece of the land
A crystal of quartz; A time-piece of sorts
Absorbing the energy at hand
A patient and ancient grain
of sand