The Scientific Activist

Last year’s Valentine’s Day entry was quite a hit, so here it is again.

(13 February 2006) We all know how normal people celebrate Valentine’s Day: either going out on a hot date or, more likely, sulking alone at home and possibly crying themselves to sleep. Many of you, though, may wonder how scientists–those mysterious folks who drape themselves in white lab coats and lurk in the shadows, hidden away from the rest of society–celebrate this dubious holiday.

You’ve wounded me, dear;
And how can it be?
You’ve reached in and disabled
My p53.

Something is growing,
You’ve heard the rumour
Love grows in my heart
And it isn’t a tumor.

–Josh Siepel

Well, there’s your answer. While others may send each other romantic valentines, scientists send each other valinetines, named after the illustrious molecule valine, one of the twenty amino acids that act as the building blocks for all of the diverse proteins in your body.

A diagram of the amino acid valine, taken from here

Here’s another example:

If I could draw a structure of our love,
I’d draw it in Lewis dot.
Fuck the Fischer projections, baby,
Cause your lone pair gets me so hot.

–Jen Dulin

What exactly is a valinetine? Jen Dulin, a graduate student at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the world’s foremost expert on valinetines, explains:

The time has come for us all to express our darkest sexual feelings to our friends and loved ones by composing poetic valinetines. Let’s all continue the long-standing tradition of blending science terms and crude, vulgar sex into romantic poems.

Although she is widely credited for founding the valinetine movement, Dulin explains that the valinetine is a longstanding sacred tradition:

It is the combination of two basic human desires, sex and science, in its purest form, like Hofmann acid. I should emphasize that even though we have only been doing valinetines for five years, it is a tradition older than time, and its origin can never be revealed. It is too powerful for the human mind to comprehend. The message of the valinetine is that science, at its core, is intensely sexual, and that as scientists we should embrace that and use it to our advantage. The best way to enjoy the valinetine is by sharing a bottle of 15-year-old port with a loved one, or a co-worker. As long as there is paralyzing sexual tension in the air, the valinetine has done its job.

Science and sex? Who could ask for more?

What follows are authentic valinetines from four scientists-in-training, all of whom graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in biochemistry and/or genetics and are now attending graduate school in various corners of the globe. Also, in order to prove that I don’t hate The Battalion, A&M’s student newspaper, I have linked each name to a time that person appeared in the paper.

We’ll start things off with the founder herself, Jen Dulin:

Lover, whenever you look at me
I feel like my heart is electrophoresed
The voltage of your lust moves my DNA
In a style even tris buffer cannot delay.

–Jen Dulin

Here is a contribution from yours truly:

Although I can’t assign your love,
Like a 3D protein spectrum,
I know magnetic attraction
Means to you I will always come.

–Nick Anthis

Next, we have Jason Ford, who is currently studying at the University of Keele:

I love your jokes and your funny tricks
With your flowing dress the color of chromium six.
You make me smile, you make me laugh.
Let’s sneak away to the 37 degree water bath!

–Jason Ford

Finally, we wrap things up with a great one from Josh Siepel, a graduate student at the University of Sussex:

Pardon me dear
If I may be so bold,
But I want to find out
What makes your proteins fold.

It’s not that I wish
To disrupt bonds hydrophobic;
I just want to engage
In a bit of aerobics.

Your active site
Is so terribly appealing
And I might say your reagents
Are especially revealing

Of the intentions you have
For a chemical reaction
So let me bust out my zinc loop
And let’s get with the action.

–Josh Siepel

Do you have your own original valinetine that you’d like to share with everyone else? Feel free to post it in the comments to play a role in keeping Jen Dulin’s dream alive. Let’s have some fun!

Disclaimer: I take absolutely no responsibility for what you’ve just read. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to take credit, but instead I have to concede that I’m just not creative, original, or funny enough to come up with this kind of stuff. Instead full credit goes to Jen Dulin, who invented the valinetine and is a hell of a scientist as well.


  1. #1 iChrix
    February 14, 2007

    The noise that just came out of my mouth was a “science joke laugh,” and nothing more.

  2. #2 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 14, 2007

    The Evolution of Love
    Jonathan Vos Post

    Plants compete for the sun’s favor.

    Lovers compete for the kisses’ flavor.

    We seek the complete, and die braver.

    Dinosaurs died when the flower was

    Love likes the petal, but keeps the thorn.

    What smiles at night may kill by morn.

    Odds against us are always great.

    Survivors must anticipate.

    Love waits for a chance

    We wait and wait.

    Love is a problem we try to solve.

    The loser’s extinct, the winners evolve.

  3. #3 jason ford
    February 14, 2007

    nick! happy valinetines. hope all is well at oxford.

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