Author of the Month

The Odds of Contacting ET Are Nil, Despite That They Are Already Watching (cont.)
By Jim Elvidge

In my book, "The Universe-Solved!" I give updated and modified estimates for all of the factors of the Drake equation.  Recently acquired knowledge about extrasolar planets and best guesses about biological signatures leads to the following estimates:

  • R*= 10/year
  • fp = .5
  • ne = 2
  • fl = .5
  • fi = .001
  • fc = .01

fi is the most speculative parameter. While most scientists acknowledge that microbial life may be very common throughout the universe, advocates of the “Rare Earth” theory, such as paleontologist Peter Ward, have posited that the conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life are exceedingly rare.


Yet, this theory, now ten years old, is starting to lose favor due to many factors: 1. The abundance of exosolar planets discovered, including now some in habitable zones. 2. Knowledge obtained about the existence of superbugs – microbes that thrive in all sorts of unlikely conditions, such as radiation, extreme heat, and complete lack of oxygen. 3. The apparent fact that advanced life was wiped out a number of times on earth, and came back again each time. In fact, many scientists now subscribe to the view of Nobel prizewinner Christian de Duve, who believes that life is a “cosmic imperative” and that the universe is teeming with it.1  For L, there was an assumption in the original Drake equation that during the entire lifetime of an intelligent civilization, they would be using radio waves as a means to communicate.  However, as shown above, this is clearly a flawed assumption, which is why we need to use the 50 year estimate from above.  And multiplying it all out, we get .0025 overlapping radio wave civilizations per galaxy.

But, of course, we can't necessarily communicate across the galaxy, given the fact that radio waves quickly get swamped out by cosmic background radiation.  A 50 kilowatt non-directional signal gets lost in the noise after traveling only .015 light years.

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