Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ideal Gas Laws and The Bachelor

Perhaps it's the base desire for survival and procreation, but humans are obsessed with contrived romance. Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and other movies in which love is requisite for survival are forced on us from a young age. If you ask any seven-year-old girl about her future plans, it's always "when I get married...", not "if". As if marriage is assumed. It puts a little bit of pressure on people.

Take, for instance, The Bachelor. Now, I'm not an expert on the show, nor do I have much of a desire to watch reality television, but it's a pretty simple concept: throw a bunch of darts to the wall, and hope one sticks. Except, with the added pressure, it's more than just hoping one sticks. It's jamming each dart into an already adhesive wall with incredible force, and then yanking all but one of them out in the most dramatic fashion possible. But with roses. Under those circumstances, of course an attraction is going to form between the two parties. They are so heavily pressured to do so that they convince themselves of love and all that sappy jazz. But then, when exposed to the real world, our metaphorical wall loses its adhesion, and thus, we end up with glorious People articles at which we snicker whilst in line at Walgreens.

For those of us who best understand things when explained in scientific terminology (just me?), this phenomenon can best be expressed by Kinetic-Molecular Theory and the Ideal Gas Laws (that would be a good name for a band...). Gas molecules, in ideal circumstances, lack enough mutual attraction to overcome their kinetic energy. Theoretically, gas molecules will ignore each other. They are in constant, random motion, and have an ever-constant amount of energy that results in perpetually elastic collisions. These ideal gas molecules are like your average run-of-the-muck people who naturally feel little attraction for each other. But the thing about gas molecules is that they don't always behave in the cookie cutter ideal fashion. At low temperatures and high pressures, the kinetic energy decreases, and the attractive forces are less easy to overcome. As is the case with people. Under pressure, attraction is easily feigned, and people actually see some connection that otherwise would not exist. Yet when the pressure is relieved, and our pair is exposed to reality, well... Jake realized that Vienna isn't all she was cracked up to be.

Televised or otherwise, all relationships are built on pressure. I call it the "naming the puppy" bias. The acknowledgment phenomenon. Essentially, in recognizing an attraction exists or defining a relationship, a pressure for further attraction is created. That's not to say pressure is a bad thing--it adds expectations, and expectations can certainly be a good thing--consider the historical success of arranged marriage. However, it begs a question exclusive to self-cognizant beings, and non-applicant to gas molecules: if pressure alters the natural flow of attraction, and attraction tends to inevitably result in a defined relationship, does the natural flow attraction innately alter itself and render pressure natural?

Please note that the assertions made in this post were made observationally rather than experimentally. I am by no means an expert of experience on the subject of relationships. Just obsessed with paradoxes.

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