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When nerds go viral

When something goes viral online, the first things you generally think of are cat photos, videos of more Gangnam style parodies or more ‘go home you’re drunk’ memes. You don’t normally think of science. However, one of the fastest growing pages on Facebook right now is a page called ‘I F*cking Love Science

The page was founded in March of 2010 by UK biologist Elise Andrews after she was convinced by her friends to create a page for all the funny and wacky science things she posted on her personal Facebook page, and in a beautiful moment of creative procrastination, IFLS (as it gets shortened to) was born.

The page took off like a rocket and gained 1,000 followers in the first day and this month it hit 3million followers. Yes, that’s right – there are 3million people on the Internet who are happy to declare that they don’t just like science, they f*cking love science.

Now, I love nerding it up with the best of them, and have been known to be found laughing along with my PhD candidate brother about episodes of the Big Bang Theory, jokes about spherical chickens in a vacuum and Schrödinger’s Cat (seriously, Schrödinger’s Cat jokes never get old). So when IFLS suddenly started appearing in my Facebook feed, I instantly texted my brother to say ‘you need to follow this page!’

 

The page has a mix of the weird, the wonderful and the downright out-there. From stories about CERN Google hangouts and fish with transparent heads, to jokes about pseudoscience and homeopathy and my favourite Chemistry Cat memes, the page is constantly updating, which means my brother and I are texting each other back and forth all the time; ‘did you see this one?!?’ ‘hilarious!’


The barreleye fish with a transparent head, Chemistry Cat making a joke about 0o Kelvin

Admittedly, some of the jokes are funnier if you are a science nerd and will get the references to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, jokes about the speed of light and needing algebra to fit as many watermelons in the back of your car as possible, but even without my levels of nerdery the page is still one of the best on Facebook.

The name IFLS is mildly controversial for those that are easily offended, but also for teachers who wanted to use the page in class but couldn’t use the name, so a mirror page (Science is Seriously Awesome) was created because the founder Elise refused to change the name on the grounds that science is f*cking awesome.

With a reach of 3.1million likes, 3.3million people talking about the page and reposts from social media superstars like George Takei (which is another story in of itself), IFLS is taking science nerds mainstream and hopefully managing to combat what Paul Ehrlich at Stanford University calls ‘the Endarkenment’ when talking about the growing movement of people who wish to reject enlightenment values of basing beliefs on empirical evidence (hello climate change deniers!).

But at the end of the day, what IFLS is about is celebrating science and creating a group of people who want to proclaim that they f*cking love it. Maybe this means it’s now cool for me to wear my caffeine molecule t-shirt at the gym?

 

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