Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seeking an EQUATION for LOVE . . .

       One of the interesting and fun people I had the good fortune to meet at the 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, is Lisa Lajeunesse.  At Capilano University, Lajeunesse teaches a course entitled "Math and Creative Arts" and presented at Bridges a thought-provoking paper entitled "The Golden Ratio:  How Close is Close Enough?"   My close connection with her came because we both were involved in a Bridges 2017 Math-Poetry Reading.  She has given me permission to include her clever and mathy poem here.

  An Equation for Love    by Lisa Lajeunesse     

          They’ve found an equation for love

          It goes something like this
          love equals attraction times compatibility to the power of opportunity
          there’s more of course and there’s been much fiddling
          with coefficients and lesser terms
          involving age, pheromones and duration of eye contact   

          A team of chemists has conducted lab experiments
          to quantify the coefficient of attraction
          an important factor in love’s expression

          Someone suggests love should be divided by annoyance
          but the mathematicians voice concern about division by zero
          and propose division by annoyance plus one

          Annoyance is never zero the physicists exclaim gleefully
          except perhaps in the beginning
          the married physicists laugh longest

          The scientists peer down love’s curve
          examining its trajectory through time
          a software engineer and statistician are seconded
          to run simulations

          there are no surprises

          regression shows
          the coefficient of attraction
          dwindles with time
          discontinuities and zeros are found
          at points of betrayal

          the biologists stand babbling
          long sequences of A’s, C’s, T’s and G’s
          in an attempt to explain love’s prime directive

          The poets watch in deep mistrust
          they continue to craft phrases like
          Your soaring moon caresses my soul

          a bewildered youth
          in search of answers
          holds his rent heart
          in cupped hands

          intoning words like

Thanks, Lisa -- I like it!!


  1. Wow. I love this poem. (Especially because I'm a mathematician who is the child of a pair of physicists ... so I really appreciate the contrast between theoretical and applied there in the middle of the work -- it's like conversations I've had with them!)

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to add your comment!

    2. Thanks so much! I've worked most of my life with mathematicians and physicists (I'm a mathematician) and I'm happy to hear that the characterizations come through.

    3. Thanks for posting your poem!

  2. In addition to being lovely and haunting on its own, the poem is an interesting commentary on STEM practicioners who try to do their work as if it's independent of emotion.

    1. Had to try a poetic response.