Science Of Love (A Valentine)

It’s February, and I’m already getting searches for various sorts of scientific valentines. So as a public service, I’m gonna be re-posting several of my favorites from previous years. These are not anti-love or anti-science, but you could call them anti-reductionist. Love is not something that chemicals do, it’s something that we do.

When science examines romantic attraction
(In other words, love and affection)
It uses the methods that serve us so well
But hearts can’t survive a dissection.

We study, in science, by breaking up problems
And looking at pieces and bits
Assemble the puzzle to show the big picture—
Assuming each smaller piece fits!

In life, we see love as a powerful feeling
It’s typically shared (say, by two);
You wouldn’t find love by examining neurons
But that’s something science might do.

A chemical cocktail assaulting the cortex,
Anandamide flooding the brain
Endogenous opiates running amok
And you’re either in love, or insane

Neurochemistry surely is crucial, I know,
But something important is missing
I’ve never encountered a brain, on its own,
With an interest in hugging or kissing.

Your genes play a part, I’m reliably told
By geneticists (likely, they’d know)
Though environment, epigenetically, molds
How those characteristics might show.

My heartbeat will race at the thought of your face
And my stomach gets tied in a knot
My fingers may tremble; my brow may perspire,
And other parts start feeling hot.

But none of these pieces can claim to be love
They’re mere tiles, in a larger mosaic
This modern view separates love into pieces;
My view is a bit more archaic

When I tell you I love you, you know what I mean:
Not only with all of my heart
Not only my brain, as complex as it is,
But all of me—every last part.


  1. Kylie Sturgess says

    I hope it’s okay, if I post a poem by Neil Gaiman that I often think about (especially these days):

    Post-Mortem on Our Love

    I’ve been dissecting all the letters that you sent me,
    Slicing through them looking for the real you
    Cutting through the fat and gristle of each tortuous epistle
    Trying to work out what to do.

    I’ve laid the presents that you gave me out upon the floor
    A book with pages missing, and a bottle, and a glove.
    Now outside it’s chilly autumn, I’m conducting a post-mortem
    On our love.

    I’m conducting a post-mortem on our love
    An autopsy to find out what went wrong.
    I know it died. I just don’t know how, or why
    Maybe its heart just stopped.

    There’s an eyeball in a bottle staring sadly at the morgue
    There’s a white line on the sidewalk silhouetting where it fell.
    In the dark I am inspecting all the angles of trajectory
    Of Hell.

    Was it suicide, or murder, or an accident, or what?
    Though I cut and slice and saw and hack it won’t come back to life
    And I’m severing the label of each organ on the table
    With a knife…

    I’m conducting a post-mortem on our love
    An autopsy to find out what went wrong.
    I know it died. I just don’t know how, or why
    Maybe its heart just stopped.

  2. HennaHonu says

    What kind of poem is this? I am trying to learn to write them and would like to get more information =]

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