London Blog

A Scientific Valentine’s Day

One of my abiding memories of schoolboy science was the Royal Society of Chemistry’s national campaign to promote their discipline, which urged pupils everywhere to ‘Cuddle a chemist and see the reaction’. You couldn’t do it today. Imagine the lawsuits.

The heady combination of science and love resurfaces again next week, when a number of events around town celebrate Valentine’s Day with a scientific twist.

My friend Annie Mole (not her real name) alerts me to something of a square-peg-round-hole event at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe. Museum director Robert Hulse will lead love-themed tours of the Thames tunnel shaft. In his own, rather mysterious words:

The Grand Entrance Hall will once again be crowded in a weekend of engineering foreplay. Love holds the key and the Brunel Museum panders to visitors with a story of love and abandonment, revolution and constancy. As well as an engineer, Brunel was a French naval officer and so his lover was the French Lieutenant’s woman. Come hear their story…

Who doesn’t love a bit of ‘engineering foreplay’? The event costs a fiver and you can apparently just turn up without booking this Saturday, Sunday or Valentine’s itself. Bet it’ll be busy, though.

A little further downriver brings us to Greenwich, where the Royal Observatory will let couples play with their 28-inch telescope (more engineering foreplay?). The evening for star-crossed lovers includes a spot of amateur astronomy, a planetarium show and a glass of bubbly. Tickets are £28.

For those looking for something a little less romantic, the wonderful Hunterian Museum host an ‘anti-Valentines’ evening in which you can ask a cardiac surgeon about mending a broken heart, and learn about the joys of syphilis. It’s a drop-in event on the 14th, and a £2 donation is suggested.

Finally, I have to mention the upcoming play Whose Blood‘, not least because their nice PR people sent me a posh chocolate bar. That always works. The production is billed as ’a tale of desire and despair set in a 19th Century operating theatre’ and, handily, it will be performed in the Old Operating Theatre on St Thomas Street (just below the looming Shard building). Prepare for a tale of ‘gin shops, body snatching and ghosts’ from the pen of Alex Burger and supported by the Wellcome Trust. It’s a little late for Valentine’s (23 Feb-12 March) but, hey, they sent me that chocolate bar.

Further Valentine’s suggestions of a non-scientific bent can be found over on my other site.

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    Lou Woodley said:

    While we’re on a scientific Valentine’s theme, there’s been some cool stuff online this week. One of my faviourites is this infographic on what happens to the brain when you’re in love. The only way it could be better is if you could pull the different levers up and down e.g. to see what happens when you have an argument or split up with your partner! Has anyone else seen anything Valentine-related that they want to share?

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