The Drake Equation

The Drake equation is an equation developed in 1961 by Frank Drake which estimates the number of advanced civilizations in the universe. It is a very cool equation. It estimates the number of stars in the universe, the number of planets, the chance of life forming, and the chance that life forms into intelligent life, and based on that, gives an estimated number of planets in the universe with advanced civilizations. And while many factors can be estimated scientifically, some have less accuracy like the probability that life, if it exists, will evolve into an advanced civilization. The problem is we only know of one, Earth. We know the chance is not zero, and we can’t do any better than that. So the Drake equation is an attempt to work around that.

But that is frustrating to me and I thought of a way to get a better estimation, or at least the beginnings of one. Using Earth as the model, assume it takes 3.5 billion years for an advanced civilization to develop. If we could estimate the number of planets that existed then let’s say 1 trillion, then we could reasonably say that there is a 1 in a trillion chance, at a minimum. But now if there are 20 trillion planets, then we could be reasonable certain there are 20 advanced civilizations.

On second thought, the Drake equation is probably still better.

Michael Waski