Can a Lab Notebook Help You Find Your Perfect Match?

Business Tips for Scientists

In the process of scientific discovery, there is perhaps nothing more important than a lab notebook. As I have noted in previous posts, lab notebooks are the “primary record of research” and contain significant hypotheses, dates, experiments, results and observations. Due to the contents of their record, lab notebooks have frequently been used as evidence in patent and legal proceedings. Many scientists will certainly attest that lab notebooks serve as the solid foundation in any laboratory. However, did you know that lab notebooks have also been useful in helping someone find love?

holding hands
Can a Laboratory Notebook Help You Find Love?
Image Courtesy of Flickr User Takumi Yoshida

In June 2012, Chris McKinlay was a PhD student in Math working on his dissertation at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Frequently, he would spend the night on campus in the math sciences building, remotely running cycles on a supercomputer in Colorado, because it was easier to obtain bandwidth when nobody else was using it.

While waiting for his data processing to complete, he would often open up a second window on his computer and browse his OkCupid inbox in a futile attempt to find love. OkCupid works by mathematically matching compatible people together when they correctly respond to a bank of questions. Unfortunately, as documented by Kevin Poulsen in a Wired Magazine article, McKinlay’s profile didn’t appear to be getting much attention. So he decided to change his approach and use statistical sampling to figure out which questions to answer so that he could have the best chance of finding his soul mate.

Eletronic lab notebooks have an organizational advantage over traditional books
Wouldn’t an electronic lab notebook be easier?
Courtesy of


He began a series of experiments using fake profiles each answering different banks of questions in order to identify the right ones to answer in an optimal profile. He created a series of scripts that would test his hypotheses and gather data from the site. Throughout this entire process, he recorded the tests and the results within his lab notebook.

Soon, McKinlay’s profile started receiving more traffic. He started going on dates, often as many as two in one day. After each date, he would carefully record the results in his lab notebook. By the time he found his match, he had manually recorded the results from 55 first dates, 3 second dates, and 1 third date.

McKinlay’s story ends well, and he did eventually find love. However, would he have found it faster if he had used an electronic lab notebook rather than a manual one?

Electronic lab notebooks offer a couple of advantages over the traditional lab notebook, including the following:

  • Electronic Data Collection – Initially, McKinlay gathered data from the OkCupid website using a series of scripts. He then manually recorded these results in a lab notebook. Had he used an electronic lab notebook, the data could have been automatically populated electronically, ready for analysis. Thus, he could have spent more time thoughtfully reviewing the data rather than recording it.
  • Collaboration – Another advantage that an electronic lab notebook offers is the ability to easily share data or results with other colleagues. By sharing his findings, his peers may have been able to offer help identifying additional patterns in the data. This collaboration may have allowed him to reduce the number of first dates he went on, by narrowing in on better matches more quickly.

Lab notebooks are important in the laboratory because their rigor compliments the process of scientific discovery. Electronic lab notebooks maintain that rigor, while increasing the ability to collect and review data and collaborate with others. Turns out, this is not only helpful in the lab, but also in matters of the heart.

Please visit our website to learn more about the benefits of electronic lab notebooks. You just may find the perfect match for your laboratory needs.

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