The Drake Equation

Demonstrate an understanding of the individual factors contained in the Drake Equation and their implications for the existence of life elsewhere in our Galaxy

The Drake Equation was proposed by Dr Frank Drake in 1960 as a model for scientists to estimate the probabilty of life elsewhere in the galaxy and life that is intelligent and can be contacted.

It is an interesting exercise and worth doing to get your own estimates. In the scientific community there is disagreement about the merits and estimates involved in the Drake Equation. An idea of what other scientists think is viewable at the side of this page.


The Drake Equation where:

N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;


R* is the average rate of star formation in our galaxy

fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets

ne is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets

f is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point

fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life

fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space

L is the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.



Drake Equation

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Arecibo Message

What others think...

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Figures from 0.01 to 5,000 have been published. At the time Drake's team estimated 10.