Cosmic Queries – The Science of Love

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About This Episode

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day, StarTalk style? Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Chuck Nice delve into the science of love, thanks to a little help from returning guest Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who is a Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and the chief scientific advisor at Together, the trio tackle your toughest questions about the biology and physiology of love, from whether human love is more than just a chemical interaction involving dopamine and oxytocin, to whether romantic love is more effective, evolutionarily speaking, than choosing a mate intellectually. You’ll learn whether animals can fall in love, and whether the love we feel for our pets or favorite car is related in any way to the love we feel for our soul-mate. Discover whether there are genes for promiscuity, and whether evolutionary forces favor polyamory or monogamy. Explore what love has in common physiologically with thirst, hunger, and addiction, and whether the opposite of love is hate or indifference. You’ll even find out why love hurts – and what you can do about it when it does.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries – The Science of Love.


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  • sebanoe

    While i agree that humans are selfish with love and we are monogamous with it, we will fight and kill for it, Equally we are not built for monogamous sex as humans especially men will risk everything social position, jobs, family and long term relationships to have random sex with another person, you see politicians do it all the time; case and point Bill Clinton was the most powerful man in the world, he risked it all for sex unfortunately he lost. Risk is the keyword here and it’s all for a few moments of joy. The relationships we are in today aren’t realistic especially for men, i feel women get the better end of the deal in marriages as most women crave emotion over all else, not that they don’t need to be satisfied in other ways but emotion seems primary for them, men crave sex from different partners and usually emotion from one partner so we get the raw end of the social construct. In any case the idea of marriage and relationships needs reconstruction.

  • Delver01

    All right, all you Eugene haters out there… Chuck interrupted waaay more on this episode than Eugene ever did. Relax and enjoy the humor. I love the funny co-hosts and appreciate the flavor they add to the conversation.

  • BestDayOfMyLife

    Lovely! Another interdisciplinary sci take on love is “Sciencing Valentine’s Day” –

  • Lance Monotone

    Dr. Fisher says polyamorists want a primary partner and have a lot of romances on the side. This is not entirely accurate across the spectrum of those of us who practice polyamory. There are many poly people who are perfectly happy without a primary partner because they are ‘married’ to their career, because they have a preference for living alone, etc. The phrase ‘on the side’ is also nettlesome because it implies that these non-primary relationships are frivolous and not emotionally significant to those involved, and worse, that they may be illegitimate or secret. Polyamory by definition is focused on loving relationships with the full consent and knowledge of all partners. As is always the case with relationships, some work and some don’t but most are entered into with serious thought and a desire to both care for and be cared for by the other partner to whatever degree those partners negotiate for themselves. Dr. Fisher is correct that humans are not naturally good at sharing, but there are many of us who reject the painful and non-affirmational feelings of jealousy and mistrust that monogamy forces upon us. We choose instead to imbue our relationships with honesty, lots and lots and lots of communication, and openness about our attractions and needs with the understanding that while humans may not share well WITH each other, they are awfully good at cheating ON each other. We hope to take the stigma away from these very natural feelings of attraction to others and allow ourselves and our partners to explore them instead of repressing them (painful to ourselves) and lying about them (painful to our partners). All that said, it would be nice to hear a discussion about polyamory unaccompanied by wisecracks or judgments (Chuck’s ‘They’re lying’ about being able to overcome jealousy, which is difficult work but very possible and very rewarding) and equating it to polygamy or swinging, both of which involve multiple partners but are quite different in practice and intent. Neil and crew, please look this stuff up before you start talking about it and perpetuating misinformation.

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