Professor Urey was a Noble prize-winning American scientist who more or less discovered heavy water in the 1930s and worked on the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb. Asked in the late 1940s if the H bomb might start a chain reaction which could destroy the earth, he replied, "Possible, but not probable. But I see no cause for alarm. After all, the earth is only a tiny planet in a vast universe."
This chilling, if pragmatic, statement prompted Nathaniel Gubbins to write the following poem for his newspaper column 'Sitting on the Fence'. Strangely, it has reached me via the Sudan Star of 20 February 1950, to which the column was presumably syndicated.
Only a tiny man you are in a forest of tiny trees;
Or a man on a tiny mountain top enclosed by tiny seas.
And nobody out in the hemisphere, if anyone lives so far,
Would turn a hair, or trouble to stare, if your miniature world so full of care
Turned into a flaming star.
Only a tiny man you are: in a tiny city dwell,
With millions of other tiny men,trapped in a tiny hell,
But those who dwell, if dwell they do, in worlds beyond the sun
Will shed no tear, if a flash and a smear tell all who watch in the hemisphere
Your tiny race is run.
Only a tiny man you are, you and your tiny wife,
In your tiny house in a tiny town, living your tiny life.
And none who live in the larger lands behind the Milky Way
Will feel a pang, or care a hang, or turn a head at the tiny bang
That ends your tiny day.