In 1961, Frank Drake had conceived an equation that could theoretically predict the likelihood of finding intelligent life on some of our more distant planets. While this equation can’t effectively solved for “x,” it helped shed light on exactly how many different factors are actually involved in the search for intelligent life.

That was then. This is now.

Professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sara Seager has developed a new equation. While not ruling out Drake’s initial findings, the equation offers more of an insight into the theory that, due to its large numbers and abstract ideas, can be very difficult to event attempt to define.

Sara Seager explains a bit about her equation below:

Since Drake came up with the equation, we have discovered thousands of exoplanets. We as a community have had our views revolutionized as to what could possibly be out there. And now we have a real question on our hands, one that’s not related to intelligent life: Can we detect any signs of life in any way in the very near future?

In other words — here’s a new math thing, good luck finding technology to actually use it. If you’d like to learn more about Seager’s developments be sure to check out a more in-depth explanation here.