Physicist proposes to girlfriend with geeky academic paper
Those not conversant in the jargon of science journals might scan this paper -- entitled "Two Body Interactions: A Longitudinal Study" -- and dismiss it immediately.
When physics grad and science educator Christie Nelan's boyfriend gave it to her, she knew what to do. She read the abstract and skipped to the conclusion, and realized what it actually was: a marriage proposal.
"The summary of the findings of the study are presented in Figure 1, and show that the projected happiness is upward with high confidence," the paper concludes after a helpful figure entitled "the happiness over time."
"Taking these results into account, the author proposes to Christie (Nelan) the indefinite continuation of the study."
Nelan and her now-fiancé, physics PhD student Brendan McMonigal, met as advanced physics and math students at the University of Sydney, according to Australian media accounts of the proposal, which went viral this week after Nelan posted it on Reddit. It's been viewed nearly 1.9 million times.
McMonigal told the Sydney Morning Herald that he brought Nelan to the spot on campus where they met, saying he needed help with a paper he couldn't understand.
"I subtly got down on one knee to get the paper from my bag and hand it to her, then stood up to wait for her reaction," he told the Herald. "She hadn't noticed what was happening at all, but as a typical physics grad, she read the abstract and then skipped straight to the conclusion and quickly cottoned on."
The couple, who have been dating for seven years and will be married next month, have received torrents of congratulations, along with the occassional cheeky comment.
"Wait. Was this peer reviewed first?"
Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen.