Love, while much celebrated, remains depressingly elusive. According to research by two scholars, finding it is only slightly easier than finding aliens.

According to the famous Drake equation from 1961, there’s a 0.000003 per cent chance that extraterrestrials exist. Peter Backus, a PhD student at the University of Warwick in the U.K., used the same formula to calculate the chances of finding a girlfriend who is in his age range (24-34), has a university degree, lives in the U.K., is single and finds Backus attractive. Backus’ depressing finding: There are 26 women in the entire United Kingdom who could conceivably become his girlfriends. That’s a 0.0000034 per cent chance.

Raymond Francis, a space researcher at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., comes to a similar conclusion using Drake’s formula, which takes the size of the population and divides the likelihood of extraterrestrial life by several factors. “But willingness to move increases your odds of finding love,” he advises. “You might not be willing to move to the other side of Canada, but you might consider to moving to another continent.”


Fortunately, reality beats the equations’ depressing odds.

“Since humans started looking for extraterrestrials 50 years ago, we haven’t found any,” notes Francis.

“But almost everyone here in Kingston has found a partner, because with enough time, the odds of an unlikely event improve. And despite occasional disappointment and resignation, people are remarkably persistent in their search for love.”

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