Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Drake Equation and A Possible Hiatus

Let me begin my noting that there may be a hiatus in postings to this blog, starting tomorrow and finishing early next week. Later this week, I will be speaking at a conference. Tomorrow I leave for my trip. Experience has taught me that Internet connections can be a bit hit and miss when traveling. Thus, there is no certainty that I will be able to add new postings. Hopefully, it will all be fine. However, if things stop, this will be the explanation.

My topic for today is the Drake Equation. Now, not everybody likes mathematical topics, but in this case, I urge you to make an exception. The interesting thing about this equation is that it can be used to compute an estimate of the number of civilisations in the galaxy, who may be able to communicate beyond their own planets.

The equation was developed in 1961, by Frank Drake. The equation is quite clever. The details of it are explained in various places around the net, namely here and here. This equation has important consequences for the feasibility of the Search for Extra Terrestial Intelligence (SETI) Project. This is an on-going research project, is not run by nuts cases and potentially may yield interesting results, some day.

My absolute favorite page on the Drake equation though is located here. The great thing about this page is that if you scroll down, there is an application that lets you compute a value for the equation, based upon your own estimates [NB. this application requires JavaScript enabled].

When I used the calculator, I got a value of 20, so I guess I'm a bit of a pessimist. The default values give a score of 1000. I'd be interested to know what scores other people get. Perhaps other bloggers might find it fun to try. This is so much better than all those silly personality quizzes.

The CP


Blogger LP said...

0.075 I seem to be an even bigger pessimist.

12:39 PM  

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