View Full Version : A New Drake Equation? Other Life Not Likely to be Intelligent

2009-May-13, 10:50 PM
Looking for signals from distant civilizations might be an effort in futility, according to scientists who met at Harvard University recently. The dominant view of astronomers at a symposium on the future of human life in the Universe seems to be that if other life is out there in the Universe, it likely is dominated [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/05/13/a-new-drake-equation-other-life-not-likely-to-be-intelligent/)

2009-May-13, 10:56 PM
Using Drake’s equation, Verschuur calculated there may be just one other technological civilization capable of communicating with humans in the whole group of galaxies that include our Milky Way — a vanishingly small number that may explain why 30 years of scanning the skies for signs of intelligent life has come up empty.

Quick, we must find them and enslave them.

We're number 1! We're number 1!

2009-May-13, 11:00 PM
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

2009-May-13, 11:59 PM
Maybe, but you can't really plug in the number when all you have is a sample of ONE solar system.

(A more definitive answer could be plugged in when we can actually map the planets out to a few hundred light-years... until then you're just shooting the breeze...)

2009-May-14, 12:25 AM
Quick, we must find them and enslave them.

We're number 1! We're number 1!

Enslave?! nah, assilimate! preferrably with the assistance of a nice tartar, or bernaise sauce (depending upon the method of their "indoctrination").

They're number 2, They're number 2,...or would be after about 8 hours or so!

ET on the BBQ

2009-May-14, 06:03 AM
I find this scientist assumption based on really poor data and bad reasons. Given the fact that there are similar suns (http://www.solstation.com/stars/dpavonis.htm) out there, even with more metals then our sun.

2009-May-14, 05:47 PM
I find this scientist assumption based on really poor data and bad reasons. Given the fact that there are similar suns (http://www.solstation.com/stars/dpavonis.htm) out there, even with more metals then our sun.

ISTR reading some consideration that more metals can be just as bad as too few metals. One seems to potentially lead to Hot mega-Jupiters and the other seems to lead to the eccentric orbits (or Drunken Jupiters), neither of which would be good for our kind of life. I've also read some consideration that actually the metal content of our system may have normally been too low to produce the types of ore deposits and environmental mixtures that not only helped us to become technologically proficient, but which are actually essential to much of our kind of life's biochemistry. On our planet, however, these heavier metals found abundance in our crustal rocks due mostly to the same mega-impact that helped form our moon and thus stabilize our axis and provide numerous other benefits that may have jumpstarted and continued to promote life on our planet. That would seem to set up a situation where complex life as we know it may well be an extremely rare phenomenon in the universe.

thoth II
2009-May-14, 07:21 PM
I think posters should think back to before Drake made his equation. They did their best to include likely factors that would bear on the final number N.

But estimates vary from N=1 to N=large

So I take with grain of salt any N that a given person gives.

Paul Horowitz of META search says "they can argue until they are blue in the face over the number. We won't know until we do the experiment"

So they really have to keep doing the experiment, like the new Allen Array, and more searches; and keep doing it for maybe a thousand years before they will know anything, unless they get a positive soon.

2009-May-14, 07:48 PM
And the debate goes on in circles, without any quantitative basis for assumptions. Saying that we´re alone is as meaningful as saying that there is 100 civilizations in a 100 ly radius.

2009-May-14, 11:25 PM
Interesting conference. Nice list of impressive speakers, many of whom have substantial reputations as scientists, and are very capable thinkers, and practitioners of the craft. I respect them. I could not disagree more wholeheartedly in their conclusion.
The profound diversity of life on Earth is testament to it's versatility, and yes the complex set of interactions that perhaps lit up the first...RNA first chains...are only now being elucidated. But, the laughter surrounding exobiology that existed in the thirties, forties, and fifties, has given way to technological innovations in instrumentation and theory that has profoundly changed our expectations of even finding a second Earth.
It reminds me of Uncle Joe, who spent a few years in the Seabees in WW2. His job was to find water for the troops. I imagined that would involve climbing to high ground, and searching for stream flows. Nope, coconuts. Coconut trees don't grow in salt water (mangroves do)...they only grow in fresh water when they get storm tossed on a beach. They sprout, root down, find fresh water, and grow. If you find a coconut palm, dig by it's roots, there's fresh water there. When it rains, the rain penetrates the soil, creates a hydrostatic head, pushes the salt water down and out towards the ocean, and creates an acquifer in the sand. So simple.
The chain of chemical reactions that set off our primordial "soup" turning to replicating molecules will be followed in legions. Even Star Trek is not that far fetched anymore. What a dismal lack of imagination...:doh: pete