The XX Factor

Nerds in Love: A Commercialization-Proof Valentine’s Day Celebration

Physicists explore the strong force of love.

Has Torie’s compendium of cynical Valentine’s Day press releases got you down? Think there’s no hope for a genuine celebration of love on a holiday dominated by the Romantic-Industrial Complex? Don’t give up hope just yet. The good, romantical folks over at Symmetry Magazine—a particle physics publication (that, full-disclosure, I’ve written for in the past)—has put together a collection of their readers’ declarations of love, both to their fascinating field and to the, shall we say, collaborators, they’ve fallen for in the glow of protons smashing together at near the speed of light.

These scientists’ meet-cute stories are endearing, and their poems (believe it or not, there’s a sizable overlap between physicists and poets) are just charming. And, better yet, these odes are refreshingly devoid of the usual commercialized, heteronormative V-Day schlock—Hallmark doesn’t make a card expressing the unique kind of love that exists between a man and the quark-gluon plasma.

So check out an excerpt from one of my favorite poems below, and then, if your heart so desires, visit Symmetry for more smile-inducing examples of nerds in love.

Oh Physics,
I know I’ve been unfaithful; and strayed into another girl’s arms;
Her name is Physiology; and she has quite a few charms.
But I saw you deep in her eyes, I pleadingly placate!
For her other name is Biophysics, your very own namesake!
Isn’t that like quantum entanglement?
Not something deserving of stranglement!

And, Physics,
Yes, I confess, I’ve dallied with website design;
But she’s not the one for whom I longingly pine.
It’s you, Dear Physics, with your beauty and symmetry;
That’s the W and Z, of our super chemistry!

- Vance Avis [excerpt]