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Exploring Drake’s Equation: The Possibility of Extraterrestrial Intelligence

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Fouz Siddiqui
Fouz Siddiquihttps://scientiamag.org
Fouz Siddiqui is a writer, academic and scientific management person. Presently, he is a Co-founder and Chief Information Officer at Scientia Magazine. As CIO, he oversees the implementation and strategization of Scientia's technological and scientific vision. Concurrently, In academia, he holds a Lecturer and QM position at ATH - IST. As an academic, his research interests are Exoplanetary Sciences within Astronomy. Furthermore, he also works with Kainaat Studios, as its Manager of Science Outreach.

Astronomers and Stargazers who are fervent about the deep space and the universe have always been haunted and left-curious with this question, that, “Are we alone in the Universe? Can there be ‘Aliens’ living outside within in other worlds just like ours or different?” 

But, something changed in this last millennia, and more specifically in the last century, after the advent of “Edwin Hubble”, we have come to an evidentiary conclusion that our universe is nearly infinite as it’s continuously expanding in all directions, with galaxies moving farther all in time. Now, a universe that is continuously expanding, it raises a strong likelihood for the existence of civilizations just like ours. 

At first, the astronomers and physicists, are fond to use mathematical or physically theorized tools for developing their hypothesis, before starting to test or give any verifiable proofs, that becomes a law or their corroboration later, supporting their version of the story or simply called a “Theory” in their scientific terms. 

Similarly, in the fall of 1961, after three decades of Hubble’s observation of expansion of the universe, an American astronomer “Frank Drake” came forward with an equation, called the “Drake Equation”. Now, it has become one of the most famous equations, found in many astronomy textbooks. Waging numerous ventures of finding extraterrestrial beings, it is aroused as one of the spellbinding, profound, and substantial questions of science. The scientists have been scratching their heads for decades to find signals or pieces of evidence of “Aliens” in outer, deeper, and farther in the space. 

Drake's equation
Drake’s equation. Credits: Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

The “Drake’s Equation”, consists of an argument enclosing seven different variables, multiplied together and giving a probabilistic or prospective answer for “Estimated Number of Technologically Advanced Civilization in Our Milky Way Galaxy, or giving us “the possibility that humankind might hear from an intelligent civilization in future”. 

Seven Known Variables in the Equation 

● R* = The rate of star formation that is suiting for the evolution of intelligent life. 

● Fp = Fraction of stars having a planetary system (For example; our own “Solar System”) 

● Ne = Number of planets per solar system that have an environment habitable for life to evolve. 

● Fl = Fraction of suitable to planets on which life actually can be found. 

● Fi = Fraction of life-hosting planets on which intelligent civilization appears. 

● Fc = Fraction of intelligent life that creates technological probes that can release detectable signals proving their existence into space.

● L = The time duration in which civilizations release detectable signals into space. 

Earth’s location in the Milky Way. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R.Hurt (SSC/Caltech)

Although, the Drake’s equation proposed by Frank doesn’t give any specified or accurate number of the intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. But, gradually with time, “it has become a generally accepted scientific apparatus for the astronomers all over the world to examine and contemplate these all factors” says the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. 

There have been hundreds of attempts by  the scientists to calculate solutions the equations all leading toward very different conclusions. However, the highest estimations can be as huge as 100 million intelligent civilizations existing per galaxy, while sceptical and lowest calling for only three civilizations to be found in 10,000 Milky Way-like galaxies. Needless to mention that our milky way is 100,000 light-years across and approximately has 250 billion stars – give or take 100 billion with at least 100 billion planets. 

The numbers or answers of the question vastly depend on the level of optimism and pessimism of the scientists, but the fire set-off by Drake’s equation resulted in the formation of numerous projects, institutions and an overall-ambitious race among the astronomers worldworld, which is amplifying and far-reaching for the scientific quest of finding of alien’s civilizations or beings out there in the vastness and deepness of space and time. 

With time, being as accurate as we can in determining the variables of the equation, the nearer-we will be to discover the greater truth, if there is another civilization out there, the answer of both probabilities is yes or no? Both are equally terrifying and of gravitating importance.


https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1350/are-we-alone-in-the-univers e-revisiting-the-drake-equation/ 

https://www.businessinsider.com/drake-equation-formula-alien-life calculation-2018-7 

https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-drake-equation / 

● http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~townsend/static.php?ref=diploma-11

● https://www.astrobio.net/alien-life/at-last-how-many-alien-civilizati-ons-are-there/ 

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