FOUND: SF pioneer Hugo Gernsback's 1924 love test. Could you pass?

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

Considering the glut of online dating services out there, you may think the idea of using science to figure out compatibility issues is a new trend. But judging by this 1924 article unearthed by the Smithsonian, it's a concept that has been around a while. Want to see how your relationship stacks up?

Written by Science and Invention magazine publisher Hugo Gernsback—a science fiction pioneer so important that the annual awards given out by the World Science Fiction Convention are named Hugo Awards in his honor—the article "Scientific Mating" attempts to use some basic scientific concepts to determine if true love is in the air.

"We take extreme care in breeding horses, dogs and cats, but when we come to ourselves we are extremely careless and do not use our heads nor the means that science puts in our hands for scientific breeding," he wrote. "There are certain basic tests which can be made today and which will give one a reasonable assurance of married happiness."

Makes sense, right? Well, kind of. Anyway, here's how it works: Gernsback notes four basic tests that can determine if a relationship is doomed.

Test 1: Physical Attraction. This phase would see both parties hooked up to electrodes to test their heart rate and breathing patterns. If you got excited when seeing or embracing your partner, you passed. If not, you're probably not attracted enough for the relationship to succeed.

Test 2: Sympathy. This one is a little weird. One partner is essentially forced to watch the other go through something troubling (the example listed it having blood drawn). If the other party has enough muscle contractions and quickened breaths, it means they sufficiently "care" for their significant other.

Test 3: Body odor. For Gernsback, this was a biggie. He believed most marriages failed because of incompatible body odor, so he recommended placing your significant other in a capsule attached to a tube. The tube would run to the other's nose, and if the smells were deemed acceptable (judged by those nifty electrodes), you passed. If not, then your significant other's stank is bringing you down.

Test 4: Nervous Disorder. This one is just nuts. The final test Gernsback recommended was having someone fire a gun into the air and measure both parties' reactions (via electrodes). The point? Marriage requires grace under pressure, and if you or your significant other freaks out too much over a surprise gunshot, you probably shouldn't get married.

So, now that you know the four easy steps, give it a shot. But be warned: If you have a significant other now, you might not by the time you force them to go through this wacky list.

(Jezebel via The Smithsonian)

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