Scientists’ current estimate is that our galaxy contains around 10,000 intelligent alien civilizations — something we owe in large part to astronomer Jill Tarter’s decades-long dedication.Returning to Backus’s calculation, which yielded 26 eligible women on all of Earth, Fry notes that “being able to estimate quantities that you have no hope of verifying is an important skill for any scientist” — a technique known as a Fermi estimation, which is used in everything from job interviews to quantum mechanics — but suggests that his criteria might have been unreasonably stringent.[But] if the husband is a little bit negative — like interrupting her while she is speaking — he will have a fixed and negative impact on his partner.It’s worth noting that the magnitude of this negative influence is bigger than the equivalent positive jump if he’s just a tiny bit positive.In his sublime definition of love, playwright Tom Stoppard painted the grand achievement of our emotional lives as “knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, , the mask slipped from the face.” But only in fairy tales and Hollywood movies does the mask slip off to reveal a perfect other.So how do we learn to discern between a love that is imperfect, as all meaningful real relationships are, and one that is insufficient, the price of which is repeated disappointment and inevitable heartbreak?(Curiously, these equations have also been used to understand what happens between two countries during war — a fact on which Fry remarks that “an arguing couple spiraling into negativity and teetering on the brink of divorce is actually mathematically equivalent to the beginning of a nuclear war.”) Fry presents the elegant formulae the researchers developed for explaining these patterns of human behavior.
[…] Say you start dating when you are fifteen years old and would ideally like to settle down by the time you’re forty.
Following this strategy will definitely give you the best possible chance of finding the number one partner on your imaginary list. Reject everything in the first month and then pick the next house that comes along that is your favorite so far. Reject the first 37 percent of candidates and then give the job to the next one who you prefer above all others.