The Drake Equation & The Odds Of Loving Football


I've been developing a few resentments lately towards the NFL because of this whole lockout and CBA issue that has been inflicted upon the fans, and so I decided to combine my love for astronomy and science, in a search for reasons to remain grateful, for this game that I love so dearly.

First, I decided to examine the odds of even being born in a place within the known universe where I could grow to love a game like football.

Enter.........................The Drake Equation:    Nc = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL

The Drake Equation was developed in 1961 by Dr. Frank Drake. It can determine how many possible intelligent, communicating civilizations there are in our galaxy.

The equation represents the following:

N* represents the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Question:   How many stars are in the Milky Way Galaxy?

Answer:   Current estimates are 200 to 400 billion.

fp is the fraction of stars that have planets around them.

Question:   What percentage of stars have planetary systems?

Answer:  Current estimates range from 20% to 50%.

ne represents the number of planets per star that are capable of sustaining life.

Question:  For each star that has a planetary system, how many planets are capable of sustaining life?

Answer:  Estimates range from 1 to 2.

fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves.

Question:  On what percentage of the planets that are capable of sustaining life does life actually evolve?

Answer: Current estimates are 100% (where life can evolve it will) .

fi is the fraction of fl where intelligent life evolves.

Question: On the planets where life does evolve, what percentage evolves intelligent life?

Answer:  Estimates are 50% .

fc is the fraction of fi that communicate.

Question:  What percentage of intelligent life forms have the means and the desire to communicate?

Answer: 10% to 20%.

fL is fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations may survive.

Question: For each civilization that does communicate, for what fraction of the planet's life does the civilization survive?

Answer:  This is the most vague question. Using the Earth as our model, the expected lifetime of our Solar System is approximately 10 billion years. Already communication by radio has been for less than 100 years. How long can our civilization survive without destroying ourselves as some predict or will we overcome our problems and survive indefinately? If doomsday came today this figure would be 1/100,000,000th. If we survive for 10,000 more years this figure would be 1/1,000,000th. When all of these variables are multiplied, we get:

Nc, the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy.

So now, by applying my own set variables to The Drake Equation, which anyone can do, I can determine the odds of football being played anywhere else in our little Milky Way galaxy.

N* = the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy: 400 Billion

fp = fraction of stars with planets around them: 50%

ne = number of planets per star ecologically able to sustain life: .5%

fl = fraction of those planets where life actually evolves: 1%

fi = the fraction of fl that evolves intelligent life: 1 in 1,000,000

fc = the fraction of fi that communicates: 1%

fL = the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations survives: 10% or a billion years.

Nc = the possible number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy = 1.000000000000002

or................................................1 possible planet.

Of course, your own answers to each element of the equation will generate a different calculation, but these are mine and it's worth noting that using the variables of Dr. Drake himself, the figure skyrockets, to 10,000 planets in the Milky Way galaxy which are inhabited by communicable life forms.

Nonetheless, my conclusions, however flawed they might be to Dr. Drake,  is that if there is another life supporting planet in the galaxy out there with communicating life forms other than earth, the odds of my being able to attend a football game there of the kind I have grown to love and enjoy over the last 45 years since childhood, is pretty much zero, and I would have to stick by that analysis, even if there were 10,000.

So, at this juncture I really need to count myself pretty damn fortunate, to have been born in a place in the universe that supports life, and where I can sit on my butt in front of a widescreen HDTV, remote in hand and beer in the other, watching the game that I love.

I figure the odds of this alone, have to be like picking all the winning numbers in the lottery including the powerball every week on a 1.00 dollar bet, for 2 million consecutive weeks without a single loss.

That's pretty fortunate, ain't it?

I'm becoming more grateful for the players and owners, as I speak.

But let's take it a step further.

Of all the species on the planet earth, most of which are completely oblivious to the existence of NFL stadiums, including the flies, ants, spiders, insects, bacteria, and every sea based life form.....the odds of just being born a human on this planet, are an unknown number of trillions to one.

But lets continue on the journey and further analyze my incredible luck.

I, Cosmo Kramer was fortunate enough, of all the oblivious to football life forms I could have been, was born, and I would have to assume since you're reading this you were also, a human being, capable of viewing and enjoying the game of football.

Further, I was born, in the bread basket, of that wealthiest country on the planet, and into the top 1 percent of wealth in that country.

That's pretty damn lucky there too, don't ya think?

My gratefulness meter is rising.

But it doesn't end there.....the last time I checked, no one got to pick and choose, what race, region or family they are born into.  I could have been born to a drug addicted mom with no father, in a refugee camp, eating donated corn meal from a small wooden bowl every day to survive......but for some unknown reason.....

I was born, a white, anglo-saxin protestant male, or if you will, the one race within the most opportunistic region on this planet, with the path of least resistance in terms of discrimination and job opportunity.   A prime candidate for NFL fandom.

Even more luck, heaped on top of my already incalculable amount of luck.

Luck, luck, and more luck.  I mean really, how much luck can one person endure?  

I have now been enjoying the greatest game ever invented for about 45 years, and now that there's a possibility that I won't get to watch it in 2011, it's time for me to reflect on the odds of this life form, ever having the opportunity to have loved the game of football at all..............even for a fleeting moment.

And so, after further analysis, I have decided to embrace my gratefulness toward the NFL with renewed vigor, and resolve to check my resentments at the door, and if in fact I don't get to cheer for my Chiefs at all in 2011, I will obviously be immensely disappointed, but.........because I now know the odds..............of ever having loved at all....

I will remain incredibly thankful, and through it all, hopeful, that soon enough, the stars in our galaxy will line up in such a way, as to guide the fickled finger of football fate, towards another season of enjoying the finest game, that humanity has ever known.

And so, now I know the Chiefs will take the field in 2011, they just have to......


.....................................................because I'm one lucky bastard.

Go Chiefs! 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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