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Within the limits of our existing technology, any practical search for distant intelligent life must necessarily be a search for some manifestation of a distant technology. In each of its last four decadal reviews, the National Research Council has emphasized the relevance and importance of searching for evidence of the electromagnetic signature of distant civilizations. Besides illuminating the factors involved in such a search, the Drake Equation is a simple, effective tool for stimulating intellectual curiosity about the universe around us, for helping us to understand that life as we know it is the end product of a natural, cosmic evolution, and for making us realize how much we are a part of that universe.
A key goal of the SETI Institute is to further high quality research that will yield additional information related to any of the factors of this fascinating equation.
Drake Equation. What do we need to know about to discover life in space? How can we estimate the number of technological civilizations that might exist among the stars?
Frank Drake conceived an approach to bound the terms involved in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy. The Drake Equation, as it has become known, was first presented by Drake in and identifies specific factors thought to play a role in the development of such civilizations.
Although there is no unique solution to this equation, it is a generally accepted tool used by the scientific community to examine these factors. Happy birthday to Frank Drake!
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The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation was written in by Frank Drake , not for purposes of quantifying the number of civilizations, but as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at the first scientific meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence SETI. Criticism related to the Drake equation focuses not on the equation itself, but on the fact that the estimated values for several of its factors are highly conjectural, the combined effect being that the uncertainty associated with any derived value is so large that the equation cannot be used to draw firm conclusions. In September , physicists Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in the journal Nature with the provocative title "Searching for Interstellar Communications". This is the wavelength of radio emission by neutral hydrogen , the most common element in the universe, and they reasoned that other intelligences might see this as a logical landmark in the radio spectrum. Two months later, Harvard University astronomy professor Harlow Shapley speculated on the number of inhabited planets in the universe, saying "The universe has 10 million, million, million suns 10 followed by 18 zeros similar to our own.