Regardless of what you think of Valentine’s Day, it at least provides an excellent opportunity to talk about the science of love. Like, for example, what the odds are of finding love?
PBS’s YouTube channel “It’s Okay to Be Smart” points out that every human culture seeks out some form of love. Then why with 7 billion people in the world does it seem for some at times so difficult to find that special someone?
Using nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi and his search for alien life (somehow this analogy worked), It’s Okay to Be Smart discusses the probability of finding love.
Fermi’s paradox was that if there are billions of planets capable of supporting life, how is it that we haven’t discovered other civilizations or been contacted by them yet. Frank Drake’s equation allows scientists to estimate the number of civilizations that might exist in the galaxy, but is is possible to calculate the odds of finding love?
It’s Okay to Be Smart tries with “Ann.” Ann lives in New York City, so the population of people she is most likely to come in contact with is about 8.2 million people. Half of that population represents Ann’s gender preference — so she has about 4.1 million people to potentially find love with. From there, it is noted that 44 percent of Americans are single at a given time and the percentage of people Ann might be able to actually meet is about 37 percent. The list of percentages narrowing down the number gets even longer factoring in an age range, English speaking preference, attractiveness and education level.
This is what you end up with as an equation for the number of people Ann could find love with in New York City.
The calculation provides Ann with 871 potential special someones.
But then there are “X Factors” that narrow down these choices even more.
“The more rules you make for how you define love, the fewer special people there are out there for you to find,” It’s Okay to Be Smart says.
Watch the less than five-minute special about the probability of finding love in this world: