The Drake equation is used to estimate the number of highly evolved civilizations that might exist in our galaxy. The equation was developped in 1961 by Dr.Frank Drake at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The equation is generally specified as:
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
Ep = the fraction of those stars that have planets
Ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
F1 = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
Fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
Fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space
Where extraterrestrial civilizations may be rare, there is something that is seemingly rarer still: A girlfriend. What might the approach employed in the estimation of the number of alien civilizations tell us about the number of potential girlfriends for me? A somewhat less scientific question, I admit, but one of substantial importance.
The parameters are redefined as follows:
N= The number of potential girlfriends
R* = The rate of formation of people in the UK(i.e.population growth)
Ep = The fraction of people in the UK who are women
Ne = The fraction of women in the UK who live in London
Fe = The fraction of women in London who are age-appropriate
Fi = The fraction of age=appropriate women in London with a university education
Fc = The fraction of age-appropriate, university-educated women in London who I find physically attractive
L = The length of time in years that I have been alive thus making an encounter with a potential girlfriend possible
If we plug in the above values we get: N=10,510
What this means is that on a given night there is greater than a 1 in 1000 chance that I will meet an attractive woman between the age of 24 and 34 with a university degree. Of course I have to take into account the fraction of women who will find me attractive, the fraction of women who will be single and the fraction of women who I will get along with. Including such factors would greatly reduce the above figure of 10,510. So the chance is 1 in 258,000, about 100 times better than finding an alien civilization. Still not bad.
Make of this what you will. It might cheer you up, it might depress you. I guess it depends on what you thought your chances were before reading this.