drake equation

Ever wonder about alines, extra-terrestrials, Zorpians, Zeta Reticulans or Ferengis? Ever been a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars - wondering how many civilizations must be out there in the galaxy? Well, you're not the only one!

In general terms, our Earth is the only planet known to be habitable for life, i.e., in this Solar System. However, our beloved Sol is said to be just a regular type of star, one among the hundred billion other stars in this very galaxy, and, by an estimated guess, there are about one hundred billion galaxies within the boundaries of this known Universe... blah... blah... blah..., which means it's a pretty big place. So, it is perfectly natural for some inquisitive folks to lift their head and face it to the night sky, wondering how many different beings could be out there; what type of trade they fared; what technologies they ever used; and among all those twinkling dots, how many of those beings have really found answers to their questions. Or are there any other beings at all? Questions like these.

Back in 1960, a regular guy from a regular university, Dr. Frank Drake, deviced an equation in order to estimate the number of intelligent beings that humans might probably encounter in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation, called Drake Equation, states that:

N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which we might expect to be able to communicate, and,

R* is the rate at which a start is formation in our galaxy.
fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets.
ne is average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life
fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of the above that are willing and able to communicate
L is the expected lifetime of such a civilization

It might take a scientist or a geek to calculate the actual number using this equation but in my opinion, if it's just us, then it's an awful waste of space*.
*with all due respect to Carl Sagan.


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