Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Social Aspects of Science: A Science Relationship?

Why not? Is it really so hard to imagine that a relationship can be based, at least in part, on science? Read on, you be the judge.

I was an invited speaker at the recent UCLA Department of Mathematics Career Day and I was milling around with the crowd of undergrads at the reception that followed. Some students came up to me and asked about my science lifestyle philosophy which I had talked about during my presentation earlier. One thing led to another and I described my concept of a “science vacation.” A science vacation is where you take a nice vacation and plan it around some science destination. I gave them some examples like visiting CERN (Geneva) to take a tour of the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, or Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to trek up to the twin Keck telescopes. One young man had an interesting response to science vacations:

Young male math undergrad: “You mean I’m supposed to tell my fiancé that we’re going on a science vacation?”

Me: “Well, uh, yes, what’s wrong with that?”

Young mail math undergrad: “Nothing wrong, but I may not be getting married anymore.”

That is quite a telling statement and it made me think about it. Is a science relationship so out of the question? I guess it takes the right couple, but I think it can work quite nicely. Let me give a few examples. Dates can be made quite pleasant when based on science. Instead of dinner and a movie, how about dinner and a science lecture, or maybe a picnic dinner and stargazing. Another fun thing to do is to visit your favorite bistro and share a nice bottle of wine while going over the current issue of Scientific American. Space launches are always exciting, so how about attending a Planetary Society or JPL event to witness some history. Heading out to see the space shuttle land is also a lot of fun, and you can couple the trip with a visit to a local winery for some wine tasting. Then there is coming up with some science experiments and going out shopping for parts and equipment. Or there are science and or math oriented theatrical plays or movies (like “Proof”) which can lead to some interesting conversation afterward. Or it is always a pleasure to visit your local observatory to check out the planetarium show or other displays. Don’t forget that the summer meteor showers present a good opportunity to stay out really late with your loved one, and warm up in a sleeping bag as the sky objects go zipping by.

The list of science things you and your like-minded partner can share is virtually limitless, it just takes common interests. But I guess that’s the point. To the bewildered math undergrad, I’d say maybe he should have chosen his fiancé a bit better because a life of science can cement a long-term relationship like little else. Try it, you’ll like it.


  1. You make a lot of sense. Why not a science relationship. I'm a guy, 25. I think I'll try to find a science girl next time. All the outings you list sound pretty fun to me.

  2. ok, ok, i'm going to go ask my wife aobut going on the science cruise advertised in scient. american. see what she says about it.


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