Girlfriends harder to find than aliens says math nerd

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The good news is that finding the perfect girlfriend is easier than contacting an alien civilisation. The bad news is that the odds are still pretty long.

A Seattle-born math tutor at the University of Warwick is so downcast at his failure to find a girlfriend that he's applied the Drake Equation - which predicts the chances of finding alien life - to his search for love.

"The results are not encouraging," Peter Backus says. "The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy."

The equation is specified as:

G = R⋅ fP ⋅ ne ⋅ fl ⋅ fi ⋅ fe ⋅ L

with parameters such as the rate of formation of Sun-like stars capable of supporting life, the fraction of lifeā€supporting planets where intelligent life develops, and the length of time that communicating civilizations survive.

mathematician proves girlfriends harder to find than aliensBut Backus plugged in his own criteria, such as age, likelihood of a university education and birth rate. And while Professor Drake concluded that there were probably around 10,000 communicative civilisations in our galaxy, Backus reckons there are only 26 potential partners in the UK for him.

"While extraterrestrial civilizations may be rare, there is something that is seemingly rarer still: A girlfriend. For me," he says.

Of course, there's more than a touch of disingenuousness about all this. This writer, sadly, lies outside Backus's age parameters - but still lives in hope that TGD has at least one or two female readers out there. By publishing his paper, Backus may not have increased the number of potential girlfriends - but there'll be a few more seeing his rather cute picture.

You can read Why I don't have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK here.