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Monday, May 08, 2006
The entire report is supposed to be posted on the Ministry of Defence’s web site later this week.
So how likely is it that there does exist some intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Scientist Frank Drake developed an equation in 1961 to try to answer this question.
The Drake Equation involves calculating the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; finding the fraction of them with planets; the fraction of those planets where life actually evolves; the fraction that evolves intelligent life; the fraction that communicates; the fraction of the planet’s life during which the communicating civilizations survive; and the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy.
He also is the Director for the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and was key in setting up the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute in 1984, where he now serves as its Board’s Chairman Emeritus. There is even now a SETI@home project where the public can join in this search.
So what have they found so far? No little green or gray men yet, or much else. But there are over one hundred billion stars in the Milky Way and these folks have been at it for only a little over two decades, with technology still advancing at breakneck speed.
It does seem likely that there is someone else out there, somewhere. We just won’t learn about them from rumors, fables, legends, fairy tales, and the deceit of the drunk and/or demented. Science, fact, and reason will do, as threatening as those tools are to some people and institutions.