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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 28

Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation

From: Jim Deardorff <deardorj@proaxis.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 17:01:51 -0800 (PST)
Fwd Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 04:55:29 -0500
Subject: Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation 

Have any of you sometimes wondered if there is any way we could
cause a few SETI scientists to open their minds a bit, so as to
include searching for any ETI who would be aware of our
existence and perhaps interacting with us? I recently tried this
using SETI's favorite Drake equation as the vehicle. Sometimes
you can gain a scientist's attention if you point out an
inconsistency in a favorite equation they use. And it helps if
you can feed in even one simple equation of your own. So that
was my approach. However, it's been nearly a week now and I
haven't heard back from any SETI person. But maybe that was due
to my finding no e-mail address to use other than
<info@set-inst.edu> mentioned in SETI's website. If you should
know of a more relevant SETI e-mail address I could send it to,
please let me know.

For those who haven't run into Drake's equation, it goes like:

N = Rx . fp . ne . fc . fi . fc . L  (N is a product of all
these factors)

where N is the No. of civilizations in our galaxy whose radio
emissions are detectable from Earth; Rx is the rate of formation
of suitable stars,... L is the "lifetime" of communicating

Notice that they leave out all civilizations that no longer
utilize radio wave communications, plus other possibilities,
though they allow L to be as large as millions of years.

  Jim Deardorff

PS, FYI the letter I sent out is given below:
-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

Dear SETI Spokesperson:

Do you know of anyone in the SETI organization who is interested
in investigating the incompleteness and inconsistency of the
Drake equation? If so, I'd like to get into contact with them if
you should think they might find it mutually beneficial.

What I have in mind is this. If Nd is the"N" of the Drake
Equation (d stands for Drake), then it is evident that Nd refers
only to those civilizations in our galaxy whose means of
communication have not evolved much beyond the use of radio
waves. Omitted then are the number of more advanced
civilizations, Nadv, whose communication capabilites have
rendered radio-wave communications essentially obsolete. Since
most of these Nadv presumably possess large L (lifetime), it
seems inconsistent that the L within the Drake Equation includes
their presumed large L values while Nd itself excludes them by
searching only through radio-wave telescopy.

In addition, we may add in Ns = No. of civilizations in our
galaxy without more advanced means of communications but whose
radio-wave emissions we do not detect because they are too
distant. Thus

Ntot = Nd + Nadv + Ns

Since it is not implausible that Nadv >> Nd, we should be
interested in Nadv, at least if there is any way that we could
detect them. Now

Nadv = Ni + Nn + Nun,


Ni  = No. of advanced civilizations in the galaxy that are aware
of our own civilization and interacting with us in some way,

Nn  = No. of advanced civilizations in the galaxy that are aware
of our own civilization but are not interacting with us in any
way, and

Nun = No. of advanced civilizations in the galaxy that are
unaware of the existence of our own civilization.

Thus Ntot = Nd + Ni + Nn + Nun + Ns.

(Ntot could be extended further, of course, by considering any
ETI who possess inter-galactic travel capabilities.)

Of Ntot, it is obvious that Ni should be of greatest interest to
us. They are of the kind discussed by J.A. Ball (1973) in his
"zoo hypothesis," or mentioned by Kuiper & Morris (1977)
regarding knowledge-seeking advanced ETs who may be covertly
observing us, or by E. R. Harrison (1981) in his "embargo"
hypothesis, or by J. Barrett (1983) in his "Laboratory"
hypothesis, or by Sagan & Newman (1983) in discussing ETI who
would treat an emerging civilization delicately, or in my own
"leaky embargo" hypothesis (QJRAS 27 (1986)), etc.

The search for Ni has of course been ongoing for several decades
within the area of ufology. The scientific review panel convened
by astrophysicist Peter Sturrock last fall, which examined the
evidence presented by seven UFO investigators, provided a fresh
start towards investigating Ni.

Thus my search for persons within your organization interested
in Ni seeks those who are not afraid of the "UFO" word, and who
also can allow that the ETI involved could be far advanced over
us in their intelligence and in the strategy they may have of
dealing with much less advanced civilizations, not to mention
their great headstart in science & technology.


James W. Deardorff
Research Professor Emeritus
Oregon State University

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