Three years ago, Peter Backus of the University of Warwick released a paper explaining why, mathematically, it was almost impossible for him to find a girlfriend. His calculations were premised upon the Drake equation:
The equation in question, written in 1961 by radio astronomer Frank Drake, was initially used to estimate how many alien civilizations exist in our galaxy. Backus used it to determine how many women he could meet in London who fit his age, educational and physical preferences. And the odds were slim: He calculated there were only 26 women in the entire United Kingdom who could be his potential girlfriend.
"So, on a given night out in London, there is a 0.00034 percent chance of meeting one of these special people, about 100 times better than finding an alien civilization we can communicate with," Backus wrote in his paper. "That's a 1 in 285,000 chance. Not great."
But fortune was with Mr. Backus. He found love:
Two years after publishing "Why I Don't Have A Girlfriend," Backus cracked his own code: he met Rose, a London woman who satisfied all his criteria, and fell in love.
"I met her at a dinner with some friends in London," Backus said. "It was just a chance meeting, just a friend of a friend." This weekend, Backus and Rose will tie the knot, and he says that despite the initial odds, there are plenty of ways to best the Drake equation.
His advice to the lovelorn: "Keep looking, and spend a lot of time hanging out in places where other people who satisfy your criteria hang out. Go to bars, go to music shows, go to places where people hang out and increase the probability. That's what the equation shows."
(Photo: Peter Backus)