No Winners in an Online Dating Tournament
Charging a $100,000 membership fee for an online dating site could be a great way to profit off men who want to signal their wealth to potential mates. But the profits from the Secret Diamond Club will come from women who don’t realize that the “secret” part of the club is there is almost no chance of meeting a man.
Here is how the club works. Female users upload three pictures of themselves: one head shot, one full-body and one optional. The shots are then (supposedly) judged by a panel of twenty men and women on the level of attractiveness. That level of attractiveness then determines how much the woman pays for the site. The most attractive users pay the least ($10) and the least attractive users pay the most ($50).
To “seriously increase anonymity” women can buy a VIP membership that hides their profile from all men except full-paying members.
Male users pay $100 to join the club that allows them to see the profiles of all non-VIP women. In order to communicate with all women, and see VIP women’s profiles, men have to pay $10,000 per region, $50,000 per continent (North American or Europe) or $100,000 for the whole world.
The press release for this new club promises that the women are among the most beautiful in the world (although I have to say that the women currently on the site look just like the rest of us – all beautiful in our own way) and the men are all “prestigious entrepreneurs, celebrities and members of the social elite” (I have no idea if that is true because they are all hidden, even to women who are members).
The site looks like it is using a signaling mechanism and in fact they say as much when they offer women a guarantee that the men they meet “have the money and success they say they have” even thought they do not screen their members to make sure they haven’t just spent every cent they had for the service.
The economic theory that really applies here, however, is not signaling but rather tournament theory in which effort is a function of an uncertain prize.
Imagine there are two players in a tournament that offers a large prize to the winner and a small prize to the loser. In theory as the spread in the prizes increases the players should work harder to win the tournament. It is therefore in the best interest of the tournament organizers to increase the spread in order to encourage players to exert the most effort in the game.
Increasing the spread is costly for the tournament organizers, however, because they have to pay the prizes. This creates a balancing act between offering a big enough prize spread to encourage maximum effort without bankrupting the program.
In the Secret Diamond Club the players are the women and the prizes are the men. The spread for winners and losers is the difference between meeting, and not meeting, a wealthy man.
By setting their male membership fee extremely high, the site owners have effectively increased the expected spread in prizes in order encourage women to increase their effort – which here just means more women paying membership fees.
But here’s the kicker – in this tournament the organizers don’t have to pay the prize. In fact, the probability of there being any prize at all is extremely small since the men they claim to attract can easily find other ways to meet and signal their wealth to women.
The fact that there may be no prize doesn’t matter in this game because the site organizers have taken advantage of the desire for anonymity to “hide” male profiles. They can deceive women into thinking there is a non-zero probability of winning.
The real proof that I am right about this is reflected in how small the membership fee is for women. The amount women should be willing to pay to enter the site should be increasing in the probability of meeting a wealthy man in the same way that the price of a lottery ticket is increasing the probability of winning a monetary prize.
The observation that in this lottery the ticket price is very low, even though the prize is big, says that the probability of winning a prize is very close to zero.
The irony here, of course, is that the organizers themselves have lost out on the opportunity to profit from a signaling mechanism. If they had set the female price a little higher they might have signaled to women that there was a higher probability of meeting a wealth man and made themselves a higher profit in the process.
Oddly, however, they chose to offer a less profitable signal to women – the graded price scheme which they are clearly using to convince women that they are so attractive they will be able to find a man on the site.
(Let’s face it, would you join if they came back and told you the panel thought you were a dog?)
I am going to take this opportunity to offer myself up as a scientific advisor for a dating service. It really seems that a little economic foresight could go a long way in making these businesses profitable.
Thanks very much to Brooks Kaiser for pointing me in the direction of the Secret Diamond Club.
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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