Groom Duties

Big Fat Geek Wedding: Couple Measures Changes in “Love Hormone”

It’s not every day we encounter a story that will equally please fans of Battlestar Galactica, Malcolm Gladwell, and The Knot.

For thousands of years, we have known that our emotions impact our bodies. Our heart thumps, our brow sweats, our fingers twitch. The emotional translates to the physical. That’s been true from Euripides to Shakespeare to Kanye West.

And, as technology improves, so does our ability to understand, measure, and quantify this relationship between the emotional and the physical.

When we feel joy, how does our body respond? Can we actually quantify how much we care, how much we love? Can science pin down the unscientific? Can Spock tame Cupid?

One quirky genius decided to find out. A bride. Science writer Linda Geddes got married, and when she did, she decided to measure the levels of something called the “oxytocin hormone,” which she describes as the “cuddle chemical.”

Instead of measuring this hormone in a laboratory, she measured it as she walked down the aisle.

From the bride/scientist’s essay on

WE’D booked the venue, chosen the bridesmaids’ dresses and even decided on the colours of the table decorations. But finding a refrigerated centrifuge and a ready supply of dry ice in rural south-west England was proving tricky. Then there were the worries about getting blood on my silk wedding dress, and what to do if someone fainted.

Organising a wedding can be stressful enough, but we had a whole extra dimension to consider. We were turning it into a science experiment to probe what happens in our bodies when we say the words “I do”.

And the results? Check out the video below.  The summary: the focus group is probably too small to draw any meaningful conclusions, but for geeks (like me) interested in how science will chart this stuff, in the future–fascinating.

(Update: video no longer embeddable. Boo. But check it out here. And the bride’s essay itself is worth a read.)

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