Scientific Love: A Counterpoint

So I wrote a while back about Ramon y Cajal’s advice on wives for scientists, which basically boiled down to: find another scientist. If you can’t do that, find someone that won’t distract you from your work.

Romantic, huh?

I’ve started to do research for my second scientific romance, which looks likes it’s going to be a full length novel now. (The plot and characters are starting to get away from me, in a good way.) The hero is a neuroscientist (actually, the antagonist from the first science novella) and the heroine is a physicist, whom I’ll loosely base on Lise Meitner. (She discovered nuclear fission, but did not receive a Nobel for it. Her male collaborator did.)

So I’ve been re-reading my biography of Meitner, specifically the early years of her graduate education. She was taught pretty much everything by the great Ludwig Boltzmann. Boltzmann was an advocate of women entering graduate studies (much against the inclination of his department) and ended up marrying another physicist.

There is a tiny little aside in the biography about how Boltzmann proposed to his wife. He began:

“It seems to me that a constant love cannot endure if the wife has no understanding, no enthusiasm for the endeavors of the husband, but is merely his housekeeper rather than the companion in his struggles.

After Ramon y Cajal’s bloodless advice, coming across this was quite refreshing. This idea, of two people passionate about their work, whether it be science or art or anything in between, coming together to share that passion and fall in love–that’s exactly the impetus behind these science romances I want to write. (Am writing, I suppose.)

And really, it’s still good advice even today, isn’t it?

2 responses to “Scientific Love: A Counterpoint

  1. This is definitely one of those things that I’ve learned reading historical romances vs. real history. In historical romance, almost all of the relationships are between equals who share commons interests whereas marriages historically often weren’t (with exceptions, like Ludwig Boltzmann and his wife, John and Abigail Adams, etc.). I just don’t understand why anyone thought The Dollhouse model (the anti-companionate model, to put it another way) was a good idea. It only makes sense if you start with a degraded opinion of women’s intellect and potential, I guess, which would make any sort of serious relationship with a man impossible. Blah.

    • “The Dollhouse model”–I hadn’t heard it described like that, but that’s a great way to do so. What I find so puzzling is that all of these men who thought women were of lesser intellect had a mother, presumably had sisters, wives, daughters–how can you dismiss half of your intimate companions out of hand like that?
      I think “blah” captures it perfectly.

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