The Drake Equation Study

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The Drake equation summarizes the elements that would determine the number of civilizations somewhere beyond Earth. It takes into account the civilizations that are capable of interstellar conversation (Bennet et al., 2008). The Drake equation is given by:
where,
NHP is the number of habitable planets in the galaxy. This consists of the planets that have potential to have life.
flife is the fraction of habitable planets that absolutely has life.
fciv is the fraction of life-bearing planets that may develop a civilization that is succesful of interstellar communication.
fnow is the fraction of potentially planets that can develop civilization that has developed as of now.
Number of liveable and life-bearing planets
The number of planets that has a potential to be habitable can be estimated by the number of terrestrial planets in our galaxy. This is working under the assumption that life cannot persist in the high-pressure conditions of a gas giant. There may be billions of terrestrial planets in our galaxy because they are relatively easy to form. There is an estimate of ten billion terrestrial planets orbiting five billion stars in our galaxy (Impey, 2011). Therefore, we can use NH = 10×109

We can estimate the number of life-bearing planets from the current trend in our own solar system. The minimum requirement for having life is the presence of carbon-rich material, water in liquid form, and an energy source. Terrestrial planets form up to 3 AU, where 1 AU is the distance from Earth to Sun. In our solar system, there are 4 terrestrial planets in the 3 AU range. However, the presence of liquid water is only in the 0.9 to 1.2 AU zone, which is only 10% of the 3 AU range (Impey, 2011). Moreover, we can come up with the value of flife

Intelligence and Civilization

Unlike the preceding terms which can be estimated using knowledge of Earth, solar system, and how life begins, the third term, fciv, is more of a social science problem rather than a physical science or natural science problem. It further investigates the percentage of life-bearing planets that were able to develop civilizations that are more or less, as advanced as ours. Therefore, the planets need to be inhabited by species that possesses intelligence (Burchell, 2006). For now, let us assume that 1% of life-bearing planets have species that managed to evolve a thriving civilization, that is fciv = .

Additionally, the last term, fnow, predicts the likelihood of a successful civilization to contact us now. Putting this into context, our galaxy is now 12 billion years old, Earth is 4.5 billion years old, life appeared 3.5 billion years ago, humans only 200, 000 years old, civilization is 6, 000 years old, while interstellar communication via radio was started only within the last century. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was inaugurated in 1960 (Vakoch, 2014). That is 57 years from now. Let’s round it up to 100 years and take the fraction of time we have spent trying to reach out to extraterrestrial civilizations out of the total age of our galaxy. We can use that to approximate fnow:

Using the Drake Equation:

Plugging in the estimates for each factor:

Works Cited

Bennet, Jeffrey, et al. The essential cosmic perspective. Addison-Wesley, 2008.

Burchell, Mark J. “W (h) ither the Drake equation?.” International Journal of Astrobiology 5.3 (2006): 243.

Impey, Chris. The living cosmos: our search for life in the universe. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Vakoch, Douglas A., ed. Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Communications, Public Outreach Division, History Program Office, 2014.

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