By: Stephanie Kelly

In 1961, a man by the name of Dr. Frank Drake developed an equation in the attempt to get the Scientific Community talking about the possibility of civilizations other than on earth. To put it simple; the equation was originally meant to summarize the main concepts that scientists must think about when considering unexplained and questionable radio communication.

This equation, N = R* x fp x ne x fe x fi x fc x L, contains many variables including:

N – the total number of civilizations in the Milky Way

R – the average rate of star formation

Fp – the fraction of formed stars that have planets

Ne – the average number of planets per star that has planets

Fl – the fraction of those planets that have actually developed life

Fi – the fraction of planets with intelligent, civilized life

Fc – the fraction of these civilizations that have detectable communications

L – the length of over which these civilizations release detectable communications

For a little bit of honesty behind this equation; Frank Drake originally made this equation just to get people talking! He wanted to figure out a way of combining the work of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) with mathematics and science. Drake come up with this theory after reading an article by Cocconi and Morrison which fueled his desire to communicate with other beings.

Drake used a 25 meter dish at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to document his search for signals not created on earth. He named this research ‘Project Ozma.’ Dr. Drake planned on hosting a SETI meetings at the observatory and his preparation for this meeting he, somewhat unintentionally, developed this equation.

Now, let’s jump ahead to 2016! Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan, with the University of Rochester, announce their findings after ‘tweaking’ the Drake Equation. Most scientists, prior to Frank and Sullivan, used the Drake Equation in more a research and technology setting and, even then, could only give a scientific guess. Frank and Sullivan where more interested in figuring out how many advanced civilizations, more or less, have developed in the plan of the universe. The first thing this team did was removed the L (length over which these civilization release detectable communications). After that, they got a little fancy; the developed a form of the Drake Equation for Archaeology use. This equation is A = Nast * fbt. This equation takes a new form but is based off of Drakes work. A is the number of technological elements that have ever developed. Nast is the product of R, Fp and Ne of the Drake Equation. Fbt is the product of Fe, Fi and Fc of the Drake Equation.

What did Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan discover? Their analysis and research showed that there is less than 1 in 10 Billion Trillion chance that human civilization evolved on only Earth! Does this mean that there are other life forms out there? Does this mean we really are not alone? What is the next step in Science and the Unexplained?

Sources:

Tech Times; Tweaked Drake Equation – http://www.techtimes.com/

…/tweaked-drake-equation-hints-ear…University of Rochester, Are we alone –https://www.rochester.edu/news/are-we-alone-in-the-universe/

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