That Dating vs. Hooking Up Study
A recent study on college students' preferences for dating vs. hookups is, unaccountably, generating national media attention. The authors found that a bunch of 19-year-old college freshmen in the South embraced traditional gender norms. The study is called "To Hook Up or Date: Which Gender Benefits?" Notice the operative assumptions: That hooking up and dating are mutually exclusive; and that college intimacy is a zero-sum game that pits one gender against the other.
The paper opens with a startling claim, namely that "hooking up has replaced dating" on college campuses. The authors go on to say that college students now report more hookups than first dates. The authors define a hookup as an encounter between strangers or passing acquaintances with no expectation of commitment. The physical component can be anything from kissing to intercourse.
The authors acknowledge that theirs was a "sample of convenience. 221 subjects completed the 20-minute pencil and paper survey. They were all undergraduates, mostly freshmen, at James Madison University, a public school in Virginia. Their average age was 18.72 years. Women subjects outnumbered men by more than 2:1 (presumably because there were more female psych students in need of research participation credit).
If hookup culture killed dating, you wouldn't know it from this sample. Nearly half the subjects said they were in a relationship: 29 had been dating for less than 6 months; 76 had been dating for at least 7 months, and 1 was engaged. Unfortunately, the study doesn't break down relationship status by gender.
Students were asked whether they preferred traditional dating or hooking up in general. They were also asked about their preference for dating vs. hooking up in a variety of specific situations. For example, if they were drinking alcohol with an attractive person, would they prefer to go on a date with them or hook up with them? If they saw a potential for a long-term relationship with someone, would they prefer to date or hook up?
When they authors say "traditional dating," they're not kidding. The survey made it clear that students were being asked about the 1950s-style courtship. Traditional dating means the guy always asks, always pays, and always chooses where to go and what to do. On this model, the guy always makes the first sexual move. The researchers traditional model of dating paints women as passive. They have the right to refuse to date or decline a guy's sexual advances.
46.67% of women and 45.07% of men said they preferred traditional dating to hooking up in general. 41.33% of women said they strongly preferred traditional dating compared to 19.72% of men. Overall 95.3% of women and 77.47% of men expressed some degree of preference for traditional dating over hookups. Men were more likely than women to prefer a casual hookup to a casual date. Interestingly, men and women were about equally likely to prefer a date to a hookup when they saw a potential for a long-term relationship with their hypothetical partner.
Amanda Marcotte finds the results unsurprising. All other things being equal, you'd expect women to prefer a traditional date to a hookup. On a traditional date, the guy pays for everything and takes all the risk of rejection. So, if you're planning on sleeping with him anyway, wouldn't it be nice if he magically intuited that and took you out for dinner first?
Let's not forget the potential social desirability bias at play. According to the traditional narrative, women are supposed to like relationships and men are supposed to like anonymous sexual conquests. Psychologists know that people tend overstate preferences they believe to be socially desirable and understate preferences they think will make them look bad--even on anonymous questionnaires. Interestingly, despite some differences in stated preferences, men and women reported engaging equal numbers of first dates and hookups.
There's a lot of faux concern among conservatives that sexual freedom hurts women by killing chivalry. Before we get misty eyed about how great traditional dating is for women, let's remember the scenarios the women were asked to imagine: The guy they're interested in will either take them out or hook up with them. That's the upside. A real-life traditional dating system also involves a lot of sitting around, waiting for the guy you like to ask you out. The point is that the woman gets to choose the guy in the thought experiment. If that doesn't happen in real-life, traditional dating doesn't give the woman much recourse.
This study will no doubt be cited as proof of the "natural" or "innate" differences between men and women. It can just as easily be argued that this study is proof of the social constraints that men and women face. A culture of "traditional" dating and gender offers incentives for conformity and punishments for deviance. Women gain status by attracting male attention through acceptable channels (dating) and risk losing status if they are perceived promiscuous. The more entrenched the traditional dating culture, the more likely the group is to shame women who seek sex outside dating. The authors repeatedly stress that fear of rape has a lot to do with women's reticence about hookups. The incentives are reversed for men: No strings attached sexual conquests are generally status-enhancing while having a girlfriend can be seen as an emasculating constraint.
College students are a convenient population for study, but I'm amazed that the hypothetical preferences of a bunch of 19-year-olds in a conservative part of the country are being discussed as proof of anything.
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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