Nothing Says “I Love You” Like a Non-Orientable Surface

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollFeb 15, 2010 2:42 AM


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Feeling like Valentine's Day is a little too cutesy for an intellectual heavyweight such as yourself? Nonsense; the heart may have its reasons, but reason can certainly figure them out, given sufficient grant funding and some diligent graduate students. Jennifer Ouellette points to a talk by Mary Roach that is safe for TED but arguably not safe for work, and shares some brain scans to prove that love is really blind.

If all that biology is a bit too squishy, Sarah Kavassalis does the math. Here you will find the right functions to use to draw hearts -- my favorite is the fourth heart curve from Wolfram|Alpha, shown at right -- and how to construct topologically nontrivial versions out of construction paper and scissors. Who says mathematicians aren't practical? Nor are they above venturing into the realm of the literary.

Roses are red. Violets are approximately blue. A paracompact manifold with a Lorentzian metric, can be a spacetime, if it has dimension greater than or equal to two.

Shakespeare, maybe not. But the course of true science never did run smooth.

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