Friday, March 10, 2006

Where is Everyone?

The Drake equation states that:


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

R* is the rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of those stars which have planets
ne is average number of planets which can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl is the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop life
fi is the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of the above which are willing and able to communicate
L is the expected lifetime of such a civilization
(from Wikopedia; while you are there also look up the 'Fermi Paradox')

Intelligent life is possible in our universe. We are, arguably, proof of that. Since there are millions, maybe billions of planets just in our galaxy, one can argue that there is nothing special about Earth. So the probability of life on other planets is high. On the other hand there are arguments that Earth is a special place. What are the odds of a planet being placed in a galaxy and 'solar' system at exactly the right place for life to form. Then of course there are always the religious arguments, but we need not go there at this time.

The Drake equation is a means of estimating the frequency of occurrence of interstellar civilizations. Carl Sagan estimated that intelligent life should be fairly common.

So where is everybody? Those Hubble photo's are beautiful but they sure made me feel alone.

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