Wednesday, August 29, 2012

XKCD Solves Your "Forever Alone" Woes With Math!

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 2:30 PM

If you dig science, you're likely already familiar with XKCD, the witty, physics-and-language filled webcomic. Now the comic's creator, Randall Munroe, has taken to answering hypothetical questions with physics and philosophy once a week, with topics ranging so far from "What if a glass of water was, all of a sudden, literally half-empty?" to "How much Force power can Yoda generate?"

This week's question: "What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?"

A sample of the response:

"We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth. You know nothing about who or where they are, but—as in the romantic cliché—you’ll recognize each other the moment your eyes meet.

The odds of running into your soul mate are incredibly small. The number of strangers we make eye contact with each day is hard to estimate. It can vary from almost none (shut-ins or people in small towns) to many thousands (a police officer in Times Square). Let’s suppose you lock eyes with an average of a few dozen new strangers each day. (I’m pretty introverted, so for me that’s definitely a generous estimate.) If 10 percent of them are close to your age, that’s around 50,000 people in a lifetime. Given that you have 500,000,000 potential soul mates, it means you’ll only find true love in one lifetime out of ten thousand."

From there it goes into a number of ways that society could potentially solve the issue of love-at-first-sight soul mates, proposing a ChatRoulette type solution, while hypothesizing that high-eye-traffic jobs such as a cashier would take greater prominence within society.

It's fascinating — give it a read, if only for the tie-in to the great Tim Minchin song "If I Didn't Have You" seen above.

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