STI Project
The Quake Equation  

The Quake Equation:  N  =  C* x fp x ng x fl x fi x fwww x B

How can we estimate the number of intelligent individuals that might exist on Earth? While working as a burger flipper at a McDonalds in Southampton, Hampshire UK, Dr. Marvin Fenderson (now President of the STI Institute) conceived an approach to bound the terms involved in estimating the number of intelligent individuals that may exist on our planet.

It is hard to accurately calculate the exact number, but as an avid Quake player, Dr. Marvin surmised that playing Quake was the only certain indication of intelligence.

Although there is no unique solution to this equation, it is a generally accepted tool used by the scientific community to examine these factors. The equation is shown above.


N = The number of communicative intelligent individuals
The number of individuals on Earth with Quake websites that we'll be able to view.

C* = The rate of purchase of suitable computers
The rate of purchase of computers with a large enough memory and fast enough processor to play quake.

fp = The fraction of those computers to which Quake has been ported
The fraction of computers running operating systems on which Quake could be run is unknown evidence indicates that it may be common for computers like ours.

ng = The number of game players per computer
The number of people who use a suitable computer for playing games. Although it seems obvious that only one person, if any, can play a game on a computer, some scientists have suggested that players could "take turns" to play games on a single machine.

fl = The fraction of games players who like and play Quake
Although someone plays games other factors are necessary for playing Quake. Thus, only a fraction of suitable players will actually play Quake.

fi = The fraction of Quake players with Internet access
We began playing Quake over 3.5 years ago. We had Internet access already but there are indications that other Quake players might take longer to achieve Internet access, or might not ever get access.

fwww = The fraction of Quake players who write websites about it
The fraction of online Quake players who can be bothered to write websites about it, i.e. websites that release detectable signs of their intelligence into cyberspace.

B = The "Bandwidth" of a website
The speed at which a website downloads. If it takes too long we probably can't be bothered to wait for it to download.

Within the limits of our existing technology, any practical web search for nearby intelligent life must necessarily be a search for some manifestation of a nearby web site. A search for terrestrial web sites has long been considered the most promising approach by the majority of the scientific community. Besides illuminating the factors involved in such a search, the Quake Equation is a simple, effective tool for stimulating intellectual curiosity about the planet around us, for helping us to understand that life as we know it is the end product of a natural, cosmic evolution, and for making us realize how much we are a part of that planet. A key goal of the STI Institute is to further high quality research that will yield additional skins or information related to any of the factors of this fascinating equation.