From Pluto to Plato: Why is love so powerful?


Why is love so powerful? It is in our DNA.

Over the summer, I tried to recuperate from the throes of losing the woman I loved for 3 1/2 years. I rummaged through my thoughts and kept my winds about earth and I thought about love. Even in separation, my ex-partner’s presence inhabited my mind. That is the power of love.

Explaining love is best left to poets, but scientists have also been hard at work contemplating the realm of Cupid and St. Valentine. Forgive me if this seems reductionist, but the scientific explanation for love is Cellular Unification.

Human bodies are fashioned of many cells. They are long, short, stout, transparent, weird, rare, long-lived, short-lived and kamikazes. All of these cells belong to a group. Very much like our sun grouped with many other suns on the grand wing of the Milky Way galaxy, cells are part of a larger whole.

Leading the charge is our amazing brain. Professor of Astronomy Grant Miller calls the human brain the most astonishing creation in the universe. He is correct. Cellular unification means life and the brain is pulling it all together. Our brains are calling the shots. The brain is a multitasking marvel, simultaneously operating the lymphatic system (the reason we don’t get sick very often), the circulatory system (we cannot stay warm without it) and the endocrine system (it is why we grow).  Our brain also manages our heart, the poet’s home at love. Sorry Shakespeare, but love actually lives in the brain. As the storehouse of memory and emotion, the brain allows us to love.

Aristotle wrote that “love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies”

Powerful words. Our powerful brains allow humans to create and understand powerful words. We are possibly the only life forms on Earth with the cognitive ability to have words affect our physiologic outcomes. Words can uplift, words can cripple.

Love is complicated, even for our magnificent brains. Sights, smells, words, stares, winks, voices, messages, meals, sex and memories of love are interpreted by our cells. We bring it to life. Love is Life, just ask Gandhi. “Where there is love, there is life” wrote the Mahatma.

It is a fair bet that most who bask in the adulation of their lovers never consider the journey of love in the cellular world. Once the message is received, the body carries it in all directions releasing hormones, pheromones, rushing blood, sweat and that tingly sensation. Love has not yet been found to leave a genetic marker, but it does modify a persons outward presence. Poets say love changes a man. Romantics insist love brings out the best in people. Humans enjoy being in love. It feels good.

Love creates positive outcomes inside the human body insist most neurologists, cardiologists, and physiologists. Love is healthy. Lovers have healthier hearts, brains and cells. When poets says that love affects every fiber of the body they might be right.

Shakespeare wrote: “Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs, being purged, a fire sparkling in the lover’s eyes”

The Bard knew love. Scientists are learning. Cellular unification is the model.

So far, we don’t have a clear picture of how cells communicate with each other, but we know they are at work in love. Science, like romance, is a labor of love. This Valentine’s Day read poetry and sing songs of the heart, but toss a few props to your amazing brain. If you have love on your mind, you have it in your mind.


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