Researchers revamp famous alien-hunting equation to predict spread of COVID-19

A famous equation used in the search for alien life has inspired a new model that estimates the odds of COVID-19 transmission.

The new model — which is essentially a single equation with several terms multiplied together — estimates the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the air. The researchers were motivated in their work by another simple, yet historically significant mathematical formula known as the Drake equation, which estimates the chances of finding intelligent extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. Developed in 1961 by astronomer Frank Drake, the equation is based on just seven variables and provides an “easy-to-understand framework” for looking at something as seemingly unknowable as the number of alien civilizations, the authors said.

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