From the restaurant proposal to the kiss-cam proposal to the climb to the highest summit in the state proposal, asking for a lady’s hand in marriage often requires some serious event and speech planning. But the work that went into this scientist’s marriage proposal just might take the cake when it comes to the work put into popping the question (or it’s at least the nerdiest).

Instead of writing “Will you marry me?” on a dessert plate or among the clouds in the sky, the proposer — identified as gdiguy2 on Reddit — wrote those four little words using DNA fragments.

Before we explain how, here’s the picture:

Scientist Uses DNA Fragments to Ask Woman to Marry Him

“Will you marry me?” spelled out of DNA fragments. (Photo: Imgur)

Here’s a refresher of how he did this for those of you whose biology classes seem like ancient history. gdiguy2 used a technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to replicate certain sequences of DNA and cut them in specific places, creating different size fragments.

From there, he put the samples of amplified DNA fragments into the wells, or lanes, of a “gel” on a electrophoresis plate and turned on the charge. The gel for gel electrophoresis is typically made of agarose, a product produced from algae. The plate on a microscopic level can be best described as like a mesh where starting near the top near where the DNA fragments were inserted into the wells, the pores of the mesh is wide, catching large DNA fragments but letting smaller fragments to pass through. Further away from where the DNA was loaded, the mesh becomes more fine catching the smaller fragments.

Scientist Uses DNA Fragments to Ask Woman to Marry Him

This gel electrophoresis apparatus is what helps separate the DNA fragments of different sizes. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Scientist Uses DNA Fragments to Ask Woman to Marry Him

This is another example of what a gel looks like with DNA fragments of different sizes in each lane. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Now imagine all this in light of writing words. It takes some thought to know just how far the DNA fragments will go to be able to form shapes and words. Although, for some scientists who do this everyday, it might not seem too difficult.

Here’s some of gdiguy2′s scientific language explaining the project on Reddit:

They’re 5 sized PCR fragments (roughly 150, 300, 500, 700, 1kb), I went back through my notes to find 5 primer pairs that I knew worked pretty well (so don’t feel bad, they’re selected out of primers that had been pre-validated =p). The other lanes are just mixes of the 5 sizes (either 2:3:4 or 4:6 volume mixes going in decreasing size, since larger fragments tend to be brighter). The gel actually didn’t take that long (though it was terrifying loading it), but I made a mockup in Illustrator beforehand (along with a ladder to test what sizes to use), and then sketched it out beforehand so I knew what to add to each lane.

700 was the hardest to find for some reason, so I didn’t really care about whether it was perfect or had primer dimers (and yeah I’ve had a friend complain to me about that also)

Here is a picture of the final result:

Scientist Uses DNA Fragments to Ask Woman to Marry Him

As for the proposal itself, gdiguy2 wrote that making the “Will you marry me?” DNA fragment gel wasn’t the most difficult part.

“The most difficult part of the entire thing was actually coming up with a good enough excuse to get her to image a gel in my lab,” he wrote on Reddit. “And meeting a girl nice enough to actually agree to do that while believing it was my real work!”

He also stated that although the gel was a fun idea, he really got down on one knee — with flowers — outside the lab. Why?

“I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to actually propose in any place with as many cockroaches as our lab buildings,” he wrote.

gdiguy2 is finishing his “worm PhD” while his new fiancee is working in mouse genetics.

(H/T: io9)