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Top ten geek lovers

Who are the greatest geeky lovers of all time? We take a look at the couples who share tips on semi-conductor manufacturing techniques over breakfast and make love to the sound of a ZX Spectrum reading a tape

4 min read

Behind every great physicist is a mathematician they fell in love with. Albert Einstein married Mileva Maric in 1903 and described her as, "a creature who is my equal and who is as strong and independent as I am." Coming from the world's most influential scientist, this was high praise. Mileva was an accomplished mathematician and, although some dispute her role, her influence on Einstein's work is thought to have been significant. Evan Harris Walker, a fellow physicist and friend of the Einsteins, claims that the idea of relativity came from discussions with Mileva.

The couple's love was not to last forever, though: Albert divorced Mileva in 1921. Their divorce settlement demanded that Albert give Mileva his Nobel Prize money, and this was spent on medical care for their son, Eduard.

Ada Lovelace famously wrote the first computer program in history. She worked with Charles Babbage's analytical engine, but that wasn't the only hardware the "princess of parallelograms" had her hands on. Lovelace married William King-Noel, who was a scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society.  

You can imagine the conversations the pair might have had back in the 19th Century. On paper they're a perfect match: Lovelace with her uncannily accurate speculations on what computers might be used to do ("the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent") and King-Noel with his grand experiments and eccentric friends.

Marie Curie used to walk around with her pockets stuffed full of test tubes containing radioactive isotopes, but her heart was stuffed full of love for one man: Pierre Curie, a fellow scientist. She worked with Pierre in her shed where the pair messed about with some of the most dangerous substances known to humanity -- relatively oblivious to the risk.

The couple enjoyed a happy marriage until Pierre died in a freak accident in 1906 when he had his head crushed by a carriage wheel in Paris. Marie died in 1934 due to massive radiation exposure -- a fate that Pierre probably would have shared, were it not for his earlier mishap.

Alan Turing cracked many German ciphers during the war, and his party trick was cracking the Enigma machine -- thought at the time to be an impossible task. There was one thing that Turing couldn't crack though: his childhood friend, Christopher Morcom, who was the object of Turing's unrequited affection.

Morcom died of tuberculosis when the pair was still at school, and Turing was hounded for much of his life by authorities who were intolerant of his homosexuality. But despite this distraction, he invented the Turing machine, a forerunner to the modern microcomputer. Turing died in 1954 after eating an apple laced with cyanide.

Linus Torvalds' personal mascot is a penguin called Tux, but the creature he most likes to wrap his flippers around is Tove Torvalds, a karate champion who he met back in 1993. The story goes that Linus was running an introductory computer course and asked his students to send him a test email. Tove's email asked Linus for a date, which he graciously accepted.

Torvalds' operating system, Linux, is used by computers all over the world and some believe it poses a serious threat to Microsoft's Windows -- not bad for a lone Computer Science student.

John von Neumann was a fiercely intelligent man who pioneered the computer, helped invent the hydrogen bomb, was a member of the Princeton 'demi-gods' and drank ferociously. He married Mariette Kövesi, who he seduced with the words, "You and I might be able to have some fun together, seeing as how we both like to drink." Neumann was famous for debauched parties and also enjoyed reading books while driving -- a habit that got him arrested. At the age of six, Neumann could speak Greek, and by 25 he had published ten important scientific papers.

Who can forget the moment in 2001: A Space Odyssey when David Bowman slowly pulls out HAL 9000's memory cards and the computer sings a slow lament to him as it dies? It's an odd relationship, certainly: HAL has killed Dave's crewmates and wants to kill Dave, too. But the two have been close for years -- HAL has nurtured Dave in suspended animation, and although their relationship is caustic, you can't help but feel a twinge of sadness as Dave kills HAL.

Valentina Tereshkova began her life working in a textile factory and ended it as the first woman in space. She fell in love with Andrian Nikolayev, also a cosmonaut, and rumours circulated that the pair would experiment with sex in space. They married in 1963 at a ceremony attended by top scientists.

Tereshkova didn't begin her life as a geek, nor was she particularly geeky when she flew into space. After returning to earth, however, she graduated as a cosmonaut engineer, became a doctor of engineering and flew in the Russian Air Force.

Astronaut Lisa Nowak drove non-stop for around 1,000 miles, wearing a nappy, to attack Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. Nowak thought Shipman was stealing the man she loved, astronaut William Oefelein. These three high fliers make up the most bizarre love triangle in the history of spaceflight. Nowak's car allegedly contained a knife, rubber tubing, plastic bags, an air gun and a steel mallet. We'd love to know exactly what she was planning to do with the mallet.

What do you get when the most famous and influential female games designer marries the leading figure in graphic adventure games? Two children, and the company that came to be known as Sierra Entertainment. Roberta and Ken Williams are heralded as heroes of the computer revolution and together pioneered games like King’s Quest. Now retired from games design, they live happily together in a house they built in Mexico.

Who are your favourite geek lovers? Let us know if we've left anyone out. -CS