Man pens mathematical theory of singleness, gets girlfriend

You can get a PhD writing about just about anything these days. But applying an obscure mathematical theory about the probability of the existence of alien life to the question of your own singleness would appear to be about the limit. Surely.

But that’s what Peter Backus did. He took the Drake Equation – a mathematical analysis of the chance that alien life exists – to decide that there were only about 26 girls who would make appropriate partners for him in all of the United Kingdom.

The Drake Equation (penned in 1961 by Dr. Frank Drake) says N = R* x Fp x Ne x Fi x Fc x L. I’m not sure what that means, but it found that there could be 10,000 civilizations in our galaxy.

The Backus iteration of the Drake equation had the following findings:

His equation looked at the total number of women in the country, then narrowed it down using relevant factors including the number of women in London; the number of “age-appropriate” women (those aged between 24-34); women with a college degree; and those who Backus would find physically attractive.

In the paper Backus summarized that on a given night out in London there is a 0.0000034 percent chance of meeting a woman that meets his criteria and who is also interested in him. That makes his odds of finding a girlfriend only about 100 times better than finding an alien.

You can read his thesis here (pdf).

In a random turn of events he now has a girlfriend who meets all his criteria.


simone r says:

Fascinating. He reckons he only finds 20% of women in his age group physicallya attractive – and he thought this was being generous! Is he a bit picky?

Stuart says:

It's England, Simone.

Amy says:

The reason you find all these random PhD topics is because every single PhD study done has to be different – if it has been done before in any form then you can't do it…

And hey – talk about some instant publicity…