Romancing the Nerd: Five Tips For When You've Been Blinded With Science

PZ Myers: This Superstar Has Groupies. Mad Groupies.
PZ Myers: This Superstar Has Groupies. Mad Groupies.
Pharyngula.com

While not generally regarded as a big science city, Dallas is, however, a hotbed of entrepreneurial innovation, and behind every big business swarms a bevy of nerds, locked away in laboratories churning out prolific data. Should you find your interest piqued through a rare spotting out-of-doors, track down a Mad Scientist in one of its natural habitats: crunching stats on a university campus or slamming "health food" at Maple and Motor while unwinding from a marathon shift at UT Southwestern. In wooing, keep in mind that the scientifically inclined tend to eschew fanciful affairs for grounded romps and empirically definable feelings. Sound oxymoronic? Details.

Nerds can intellectualize anything. As well they should. An apparent epidemic of inadvertently untoward sexual advances at academic conferences recently elicited a proposed solution in color coded stickers on lanyards delineating the wearer's approachability (Think: Red = Big Bang; Black = Dark Energy). Deterring as this dearth of fancy may initially sound, keep an open mind. Mad Scientists don't play games, at least not emotionally. They do often, however, like to play doctor.

In addition to occasionally referring to "love making" as "cross-pollination," steamy scientists can be somewhat slow-moving and require considerable patience. Should your absent-minded professor forget about you for a few days, don't fret; it's likely that something important came up, like a cure for cancer or a few lost days spent wandering aimlessly and chanting the periodic table, all building up to a forceful "Eureka!"

Either way, chances are your scientist's heart is all yours. Unless, of course, you have stumbled across a philanderer of Einsteinian proportions. In which case, just roll with it. Your nerd is brilliant and tantalizing to academic groupies. Like Schrödinger's cat, superstars in any field can be a bit hard to pin down. Even at the risk of a broken heart, that can be a unicorn worth chasing.

So, if you have aspirations of running fingers through Steven Pinker's hair, here are five tips for romancing that nerd. (If you just asked yourself, "Who the hell is Steven Pinker?" you might not yet be up to this challenge.)

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1. Graphic Sexuality Ever since Peter Parker was bitten by that radioactive spider, art and science have converged in technicolor, and there are few quicker ways to a nerdy heart than even a cursory understanding of the science -- well, okay, pseudoscience -- behind every superhero. Gauche as it may sound, comic books and graphic novels are a science nerd's Tolstoy and Gauguin combined.

Indulge your date (at least once or twice) by volunteering to see the newest Hollywood adaptation, and call upon the powers of Wikipedia for the inevitable discursive analysis afterward. Unless you share this passion, really go the extra mile (we're talking "I want to have your baby" level) by dropping some cash for Comic Con tickets. With the 2012 convention happening in May, there's plenty of time to start designing your Wolverine costume.

2. Darwin Does Dallas Like most any field, the science world is not without folk deities who attain legendary status. Founded by Dr. Robert Stephens (a legend in his own right), Darwin Day commemorates the loved and loathed evolutionist's birthday each year on February 12. Not quite a federal holiday -- though introduced this year as a resolution in California by Representative Pete Stark -- Darwin Day is like Presidents Day, but with copious booze. A great excuse for serious partying, help your nerd plan a sensational soiree replete with a Survival of the Fittest drinking game and a Natural Selection date auction for single friends. Refresh raucous guests with Primordial Soup trashcan punch.

3. Atomic Chemistry The intellectually curious are naturally driven onward and upward to the next great pursuit. That doesn't mean you are destined to spend nights alone while your partner knocks around in the basement lab or solitarily scratches equations on a blackboard. While most of the science projects found in books or on websites are either too simplistic or, alternatively, too dangerous for reasonable adults, practice your chemistry in the kitchen, experimenting with complex spices and unique tastes to get your Bunsens burning. For non-culinary ideas, check out the intertubes and local bookstores for inspiration, or settle for a heaping helping of "Science Projects Gone Wrong" on Youtube for your daily dose of Schadenfreude.

4. Ayo! Galileo! Taio Cruz brought arm-chair astronomy back in a big way with his hit pop declaration, "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying Ayo! Galileo!" (Don't tell us we really were only ones who misheard it that way.) When the sun goes down, grab your geek and head outside city limits where the lights are low enough for some romantic nighttime exploration of the non-geocentric variety.

North Lookout at White Rock Lake is a lovely spot that overlooks the blues and greens of the skyline while allowing some celestial light to peak through. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine and spot as many constellations as you can. Steer clear of any lines about "stars in eyes," but do keep an eye out for meteors. Though one would never admit it, even the most hardened scientist will find it difficult not to see a "sign" or not to wish on a shooting star in the right setting, with the right lab partner.

White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake

5. Hot Botany Swing back to the Lake and prepare to pollinate with a trip to the Dallas Arboretum on a cool weekend afternoon. Practice your Latin by naming as many genera as you can in the Botanical Garden, or sign up to take together one of the Adult Education classes that will begin again in the fall. Learn how to mix your own bath products from herbs or get all of your fertilization questions answered. Don't forget to grab a meal at one of the numerous restaurant options such as the luxe Restaurant DeGolyer, or prepare your own all-organic lunch from the gardens at The Green Basket. Stay late to enjoy the outdoor concert series, starting again in September and featuring acts such as Blaze of Glory (a Bon Jovi cover band) and Mickey and the Motorcars.

If Computer Geeks are more your thing, keep an eye out for our next set of tips for romancing Techies.

Follow the Mixmaster on Twitter: @the_mixmaster.
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Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

8525 Garland Rd.
Dallas, TX 75218

214-515-6500

www.dallasarboretum.org


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