October 07, 2015

A student of chemistry. Credit: Queen's University / Flickr Creative Commons

Whether it’s meeting an OkCupid date for tapas or making a baking soda volcano for the fourth grade science fair... our lives revolve around chemistry.

This week on Innovation Hub, we throw some substances and stories into a beaker, and hope they create a reaction. For us, that means exploring the spark between people, investigating bizarre new types of cooking, and understanding how to evangelize science itself. So, go ahead, enjoy our concoction.

First up, are you better at flirting than a computer? Surprisingly, perhaps not. Scientists at Stanford listened to almost 1,000 speed-dating sessions, and developed a “flirtation-detection system” that was able to judge whether or not someone was flirting with 71 percent accuracy. If you’re not impressed by the 71 percent, your fellow flesh-and-blood humans did worse. Melissa Dahl, who wrote about the study for New York Magazine, explains the implications of the research, and tells us why HAL 9000 could have picked up on your subtle flirting signals.


Since more and more people are finding love online, determining whether or not a stranger at a bar is flirting with you might be getting less important. After all, you can just go on OkCupid, take some personality quizzes, and get an algorithmically-determined match. Sociologist Pepper Schwartz and OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder examine how the rise of online dating affects how we meet, marry, and relate to other people. It might not be the dating apocalypse after all.


If you’re wondering what you should eat on your OkCupid date, how about some beeswax-encased deer legs? Or compressed watermelon? Or cake with powdered olive oil?

Food writer Corby Kummer looks at a new world of chemistry and science-based cooking, and explains how innovative chefs are bringing cutting-edge techniques to your table. Whether it’s through centrifuges, compression, or molds, dinner just got a lot more interesting.


Moving on to a completely different type of chemistry… actual chemistry. Science is fascinating, cool, and mind-blowing, but - as you know if you’ve ever sat through a boring high-school science class - it doesn't always thrill kids. Science educator Ainissa Ramirez is looking to change that. Ramirez believes we're leaving a whole host of potential scientists, engineers, and mathematicians behind because of the backwards way we teach STEM courses. And she thinks that’s completely unacceptable. If you’ve ever been bored out of your mind in a science lecture, listen to her proposal to make chemistry, physics, and biology relatable and interesting for today’s kids -- you might just want to take high-school chemistry all over again.

online dating, food, Chemistry, innovation hub, school, cooking

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