Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The fluidity uncertainty principle

This was cross-posted on The Asexual Agenda.

This is a silly observation only I would ever make.

Every physicist should know that frequency and time are complementary variables. They’re related by an uncertainty principle, similar to the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics governing position and momentum. The more precisely you know the position of a particle, the less precisely you can know its momentum. The more precisely you know its momentum, the less precisely you can know its position.

Likewise, if you want to precisely know the frequency of something, you have to average over a long period of time. If you want to know how the frequency changes over short timescales, you must accept an inherent uncertainty in the frequency.

One of the ways in which people are different from each other is in how frequently they’re sexually attracted to other people. However, our sexualities are not always constant throughout our lives. Therefore, you can describe (one aspect of) sexuality with a frequency, and you can say that this frequency changes over time.

But there’s a fundamental limitation to how precisely you can know frequency and time together. If you want to talk about how someone’s frequency of attraction varies from year to year, then it is impossible to pin down this frequency with precision greater than once a year.

Mostly, this doesn’t matter. If you’re attracted to about ten people a year, then what does it matter if you’re not sure if it’s actually nine or eleven people a year? Who can even count up that high anyway?

However, if you’re very infrequently attracted to people, and experience high fluidity, then we enter what I’m going to call the quantum sexuality regime. Here, the fluidity uncertainty principle reigns.