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How I Came to F***ing Love Science

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A geeky male wearing thick glasses and a lab coat peers at a fizzing test tube. He has a 'Eureka-moment' look on his face, apparently untameable hair, and he probably looks a bit like that boy in your class at school who you avoided like the plague. You know, the one who knew all the answers to the teacher's questions, but wasn't very popular with the kids. This is the stereotypical image of a young scientist - but it's also an outdated one.

Now take a look at the Facebook page, I Fu*king Love Science. Founded in March 2010, the page gained a thousand followers on the day it went live, grew to 50,000 likes in a month, and 6 months later it hit one million likes. IFLS currently has 2.7 million followers, and is growing at around 150,000 new likes a week. That's more than Paris Hilton's fan page has - though that may not be saying much.

I Fu*king Love Science continuously displays a minefield of scientifically-accurate and current information to its followers, for free. It delivers mind-blowing, irresistible facts in a bite-size, easy to digest format. The admin has a knack of conveying brain-twisting information through a paragraph or two of jargon-free but science-based explanation. These summaries reach and unite those from science backgrounds and those without.

But those aren't the only reasons the page is so popular. It has a great sense of humour. Its posts blend art with technology through the use of crisp photography, revelations of the strangest and most awe- and grimace-inspiring facts, and continuous, relentless, hilarious, knocks at pseudo-science. This is not just a page for nerds and geeks, or our ideas of them. It's a page for humanity, blending the most spectacular feats of the human mind with nature's most potent anomalies and anecdotes. You won't find this information easily anywhere else online, especially with the passion for accuracy and balance that IFLS stands for.

So who's the admin? A team of professors, you say; a collection of social outcasts? Wrong again. 23-year-old Biology graduate Elise Andrews runs the fan page alone, and she works for a scientific media company in Canada in her free time. Or maybe it's the other way around. Elise founded the hugely popular page in what she calls 'a fit of boredom', and IFLS is certainly an antidote for that.

Is this part of the science revival in Britain? When she made the page, Elise says that she 'never had any idea in a million years it would be so popular.' But look at the comments on any single post in IFLS and you will find that they demonstrate a united front of thousands of similarly science-obsessed people, surmounting huge, vast distances and differences to come together to make puns about the evolution of mankind, learn about obscure creatures from around the world that don't make it to mainstream media streams, and to take Schrödinger's Cat riddles to the nth degree.

But Elise doesn't mention herself in her posts, and many of her followers don't know who the person behind their science-tutorial-via-social-networking-hit is. After all, this is not a celebrity endeavour, but a scientific one. In other words, this is science for the love of it.

And it's not alone. A more widely-known site dedicated to sharing scientific knowledge is Physics graduate Randall Munroe's web comic xkcd, which is aesthetically simplistic with its stick-figure drawings, yet is simultaneously intelligent, sarcastic, geeky, and immensely popular. In fact, xkcd is one of the most popular web comics online, attracting 60-70 million page views every month. That's a lot of geeks. And there's no denying the science-obsession here - to say that Munroe likes mathematics would be a gross understatement. He worked for NASA, and his speciality is infographics, computer programming, satire, philosophical ponderings, scientific in-jokes, and also such humorous topics as computer science, technology, language, pop culture and romance.. You get the picture. (If you don't, just Google 'xkcd'.)

Munroe says that 'The one thing that I didn't anticipate at the beginning was how much fun I had doing infographics'. He could do any number of things with his skills but instead he chooses to draw xkcd comics for fun. His sketches are also conveyed with a rare kind of simplicity that means you don't need a science degree to understand the punch lines - though it might help you to appreciate them more.

So why are these science-obsessed pages so popular? Apparently when you blend scientific expertise with humour, you have a win-win scenario. xkcd is already a worldwide phenomenon and many sketches have been translated into a dozen languages. IFLC is growing by the minute and, one day soon, it will probably- hopefully- have more likes than Justin Bieber. Now that's something to look forward to. So whenever you feel that the world is in turmoil, remember that the masses are rapidly awakening to the beauty of science, and all it has to offer us. A world of knowledge and the appreciation of intelligence may overtake the current one of celebrity and materialism. The possibilities are endless.

Now that we've vanquished all doubt and accepted that science is f*cking cool, let's take a moment to really appreciate the fact that for every celebrity-obsessed-teen on the TV, there is at least one science geek somewhere in the world sharing his wisdom, online, with those who crave it. And he's calling to you. Now is the time to embrace your inner geek. We'll just have to learn to live with the puns.