34-DrakeEqn1 - The Drake Equation: Astronomical Factors At...

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The Drake Equation: Astronomical Factors Biology 190A Lecture 38 ‐‐‐ Prof. Steve Schneider Dept. of Astronomy
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SETI In 1960 a young radio astronomer, Frank Drake, d th id f lk i f had the idea of looking for radio signals from vilizations on planets civilizations on planets around other stars. e carried out the first Search for Extra rrestrial He carried out the first Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence with the new national radio lescopes built in Green Bank, West Virginia. telescopes built in Green Bank, West Virginia. He called it “Project Ozma” after L. Frank Baum’s z stories, in which he supposedly communicated Oz stories, in which he supposedly communicated with by radio to learn about the Emerald City. 2
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The Green Bank t i Meeting Drake organized a meeting at Green Bank in 1961 of about a dozen astronomers ncluding Carl Sagan) to discuss the possibility of (including Carl Sagan) to discuss the possibility of extraterrestrials that might be communicating. rake proposed breaking down the question of Drake proposed breaking down the question of other civilizations into a series of probability ctors for the formation of telligent e. factors for the formation of intelligent life. Multiplying these probabilities by the number of ars in our Galaxy indicates how many other stars in our Galaxy indicates how many other civilizations there might now be “nearby.” 3
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The Drake Equation Frank Drake wrote his equation in a way that helped to clarify what factors were important to t ti t th b f i ili ti know to estimate the number of civilizations: = R*× × × × × × N is the predicted number N R f p n e f f i f c L of communicating civilizations, and the th ih t terms on the right are used to narrow down the action of stars where fraction of stars where civilizations are currently. 4
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The Rate of Star Formation N = R* ×f p ×n e ×f ×f i ×f c ×L • Probably the most confusing part of the Drake uation is that it is written in terms of the te Equation is that it is written in terms of the rate of star formation R* (averages about 10 per year ) •Drake pictured a situation in which civilizations that communicate appear and then disappear. •Do we expect human civilization to last forever? •The equation therefore is phrased in terms of the chance of a new civilization appearing each year.
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The Fraction of Stars With Planets N = R* × f p ×n e ×f ×f i ×f c ×L
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course BIOLOGY 190a taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at UMass (Amherst).

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34-DrakeEqn1 - The Drake Equation: Astronomical Factors At...

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