What does mathematical astrophysics have to do with the dating pool? Evidentially, more than one might guess!
In 2010, Dr. Peter Backus, an economics lecturer from the University of Manchester, published a notable paper, titled, “Why I Don’t Have A Girlfriend”. In this paper, Backus applied a formula called the Drake equation to try and deduce how many eligible partners currently lived in London.
The Drake equation was designed for a much different purpose; in an infinitely expanding universe, it was meant to decipher how many intelligent civilizations could possibly communicate with humans. It may still be a few light years before the intended application of the equation starts garnering results, but here on Earth, researchers are applying it to make a different kind of star-crossed connection.
The Drake equation is a process of “narrowing down”. One starts by assuming there are infinite matches available—in Backus’ case, these matches would be local, age-appropriate women, and educated women, who he found attractive—and then adding additional criteria to find out how many “the one” (s) actually exist.
Additional criteria considered ranges from “is this person currently single” to “would this person find me attractive” to “would my personality complement this person’s”, until only perfect matches remain.
According to Backus’ math, there were roughly 10,510 women in London who met his first set of criteria; being age appropriate, educated, local, and physically attractive. Upon the narrowing process, Backus was left with 26 potential partners—a 1 in 285,000 chance at love.
In a city of 8 million people, that’s not exactly a hefty number. While now might seem like a good time to panic, hold off until the end of the article.
Not long after Backus published “Why I Can’t Find A Girlfriend”, he met a woman named Rose Longhurst. Longhurst was a Londoner, a professional grantmaker, and most importantly, single. While logic might have told him there were 26 potential partners waiting, his heart told him there was only one for him. Longhurst and Backus were married in 2013.
To those who are still waiting with open hearts, Backus parts with a piece of advice, “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.”