The Romance of Science

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Even if science reduces love to a cascade of biochemicals, Alex Liu finds both science and love irresistibly romantic.

When you think of love, what comes to mind? Maybe it's the magic and mystery or maybe the aching anguish that attend this primal emotion. Or maybe you think of the artistic expression love has inspired the poetry, the paintings, the Mariah Carey. But how many of you think of the biology that drives what we experience as love and the science responsible for the discoveries?

Science has been sucking the sexiness out of life's mysteries since the first humans took measurements. Thanks to our curiosity, we know we're not the center of the universe. We're almost genetically identical to monkeys, and our deepest emotions can practically boil down into a series of biochemical reactions.

But to me, science has not destroyed romance. Rather, it is revealed how beautiful and miraculous love really is. Scientists have known for years that emotions have biochemical properties. It can sound cold and sterile, depressing even to reduce our intense attachment to loved ones. And what we find when we look deeply into their souls, to changes in the alignments of atoms in our brains. But the fact that this may new alteration of atoms, particles that are 99% empty space and so small that 200 million lined up would span a centimeter accounts for a cascade of activity that makes us delirious with desire. Well, it blows my mind. Science has only intensified my reverence for life.

Unrelenting questioning of our experience is the only way we can understand the world around us and ultimately ourselves. If we all did this, our political discourse would be more enlightening and produce more clear headed solutions. However, as the importance of science education has declined in our country, so has our collective analytical development.


Over the past 22 months, I've scrutinized campaign promises concerning education. I was pleased that many candidates pledge to recruit teachers with strong science and math backgrounds. Hopefully they'll inspire curiosity about the world, all about new discoveries and innovations and expectations that decisions be based on evidence and reason. Until then, I'd encourage everyone to dig a little deeper and brush up on your understanding of science. You might just find science a little sexier than you realized.

With a Perspective, I'm Alex Liu.

Alex Liu is a filmmaker and author.