Having Access to the Internet is Good for Your Love Life (But Only if you are Under 30)
Over the past few posts here at Dollars and Sex, we have been talking about two behaviors that online dating sites encourage that make finding a mate more difficult – excessive filtering and pursuit of the “perfect” mate.
New, yet unpublished, research finds some evidence that US states in which Internet access has spread among households quickly have higher rates of marriage among 21 to 30 year old women compared to states in which Internet technology has spread more slowly.
For example, the author finds that a state that saw its broadband lines increase from none in 1990 to 45 per hundred households in 2006 experienced a 10-12% increase in marriage rates of women in this age group as a result (controlling for other measurable influences on marriage rates). She also finds that those whose marriage rates have increased the most are among the usual suspects of who benefit from a more coordinated market – educated men and women, those living in less urban areas, those not in the workforce and African Americans.
Before anyone gets too excited about the ability of online dating sites, specifically, to increase marriage rates, I should point out that according to an international study produced by the Oxford Internet Institute only 38.5% of relationships that start online start on online dating sites -- far more met on social networking sites and chat rooms.
That piece of information tells me (and the author of this research) that the effect measured in this paper tells us nothing about the effect of online dating sites on the marriage rates of the population.
The second observation is that increased access to the Internet only appears to have increased the marriage rate of men and women between the ages of 21 and 30. The author of this study explains this result by stating that those who are younger (16-20) are more likely their future spouse offline and that those who are older (31-35) are past the “critical age-range for marriage and childbearing” and are less interested in marrying as a result.
This last assumption is going to big news to many of the women that I know who didn’t even think about looking for a marriage partner until they were past 30.
That observation aside, both assumptions are inconsistent with the evidence from the same Oxford study that I cited above. That study finds that men and women who marry in their 20s were less likely than any other age group to have meet their partner online. Only 19% of couples in that age range met online compared to 24% of 15 to 19 year olds and 23% of 30-39 year olds. The proportions who met online are even larger for older couples – 35% for those who met in their 40s and 38% for those who met in their 50s.
So, the populations that are most likely to have met their future spouse online are the same populations that, according this paper, saw no increase in marriage rates when access to the Internet increased.
That is pretty remarkable when you think about it -- a large percentage of people in these age groups are meeting online and yet the share marrying is unchanged from its level before online communities were made available.
One of the reasons for this effect is that the dependent variable used it not share of people married at one point in time but rather the share who have been married at any point in their lives, regardless of whether or not that marriage lasted.
So I might have married when I was very young (I did in fact) and been divorced when I was still young (ditto) but if I find a new marriage partner online now I don’t show up in this data as having benefited from access to the Internet.
In my mind, that is a lost opportunity, because one of the strengths of the online dating is related to the two weaknesses that we have been talking about over the past week. Filtering and pursuing perfection might make it difficult for some people to find a marriage partner, however those who do are likely to form better quality matches – matches that stand the test of time.
Let’s hope this is something this young economist will pick up on in future research.
Big thanks to Frances Wooley for sending me her excellent discussion of this paper on her blog at the Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.
Bellou, Andriana (2011). “The Impact of Internet Diffusion on Marriage Rates: Evidence from the Broadband Market” unpublished manuscript available here.
Hogan, B., Li, N. and Dutton, W.H. (2011) A Global Shift in the Social Relationships of Networked Individuals: Meeting and Dating Online Comes of Age. Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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