Seeing as it is Valentine’s Day, rather than mourning my current state of affairs, I decided to calculate the probability that I would actually meet someone destined to be my companion. In a previous post, I made the bold claim that one approach to finding your soulmate is to find another person who has the exact same combination of M&Ms as your bag, as the probability of finding someone else with your bag is so so so so small. Well, I ran a simulation to see if that in fact really could be the case. There are ~7 billion people in the world. Let’s say every person in the world is given a bag of M&Ms. Given the color distribution that Mars company has shared with us, what are the chances that we might find another person with our exact same bag of M&Ms?
I randomly made 100 million bags of M&Ms. [For the sake of trying to have a life and not crashing my computer, I did not feel like generating 7 billion bags. I am a person who keeps ~35 tabs open at once. It just wasn’t going to happen.] After, I checked to see how many of those bags matched my bag. NOTE: This simulation is designed under the assumption that every bag produced by Mars has the same number of M&Ms per bag. My particular bag had 57 pieces of candy. However, I talked to various others in my class and some had 59, some had 54. But for the sake of fun and games, let’s just assume that we all have the same number of candies.
Now, if we replicated that 70 more times, we might roughly find my exact same bag of M&M’s, there would be approximately 72,240 people in the world that would have the exact same bag of M&Ms as me. So, yeah…you actually shouldn’t feel that special.
Let’s evaluate my suggestion of using a bag of M&Ms to find your soulmate. I had said that if you had ever run into another person with your same bag of M&Ms, you should probably just drop everything going on in your life and run away to Casablanca with them to live happily ever after because the probability of you getting that bag of M&Ms is very, very small. But now, it doesn’t seem so amazing does it? If there are over 72,000 people that could also have your same bag, that person doesn’t seem like one in a million does it? (Or rather, 2.5 in a million?) Let’s consider who I really want in my soulmate. What are my soulmate criteria? How can I weed some of these people out? Well, I am going to have to say my cut off is 40 (I’m 24). So that right there eliminates ~40% of the population (if we use the US population as a representation). I guess legally they also need to be over the age of 18. Thats ~25% of the population. Wow! We are already down to 25,284 individuals. Moving right along here! I also am going to have to prefer that my soulmate be of the male gender. According the Wikipedia, there are about 1.01 males for every 1 female. So now we are down to 12,768 males left in the pool of soulmates. If ~4% of men are gay, then there are about 12,257 straight men (about 0.000175% of the population) in which our stars are in alignment.
But am I ever going to actually meet one of these people? (or have I already met them?) Since I am planning on living to 110, that is 40,177 days (110 years*365 days + 27 leap year days) to meet one of my potential soulmates. If I meet a new person every other day (which I think is fair because although a week or two will go by without meeting a new person, some days I’ll maybe meet 25 new people). So in my lifetime, I will meet about 20,088 people, or about 0.000287% of the world’s population. For every new possible person that I meet at random, what are the chances that that person will be my soulmate? Another simulation time.
Well, that was depressing. Especially if I met that person before the age of 5. I surely have forgotten them by now. It seems that about every 20 combinations of people in the world, I meet one person with the same bag of M&Ms as me. And if you think of the colors of M&Ms as qualities you look for in a person–the perfect combination only comes around every 20 lifetimes.
QED? I guess I am actually proving my original point. Although it may not be too special that you have that bag of M&Ms, it would be quite special if you actually met the person with the same bag of M&Ms as you AND they would be of the opposite sex AND be in my age pool AND be attracted to females.
What I have learned from this: When you are one in a million, there are 7,000 other people just like you. So…yeah, you are not that great. However, the chances of you ever meeting a particular person is something not to be taken for granted. Finding someone compatible with you and they also finding you compatible is quite exceptional. Très romantique!