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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 30

Re: Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation

From: Jim Deardorff <deardorj@proaxis.com>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:52:45 -0800 (PST)
Fwd Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 17:17:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation


>Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 09:16:00 -0800
>From: Ed Stewart <ufoindex@jps.net>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>Subject: Re: Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation

>>Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 14:05:37 -0800 (PST)
>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>>From: Jim Deardorff <deardorj@proaxis.com>
>>Subject: Re: Deficiency In SETI's Drake's Equation

>>I was speaking in reference to Drake's equation and SETI's use
>>of it on their website. There they listed N as the number of
>>civilizations in our galaxy whose radio emissions are
>>detectable. So that's their slant on it; I don't recall that
>>Drake himself made that limitation, though radio emissions are
>>his thing.

>The factor in the Drake equation you mention refers to the
>number of extraterrestrial civilizations that have achieved the
>level of technology to be able to communicate with other
>extraterrestrial civilizations. That question is all that it
>refers to.

However, the SETI web site has put their own spin on it, and
lets N be the number of civilizations in our galaxy whose RADIO
emissions are detectable. Go check it out. Since even SETI
scientists can acknowledge the probability that a large fraction
of ET civilizations would be thousands or millions of years past
the stage where they had first developed radio communications,
with emissions powerful enough to reach nearby stars, the
deficiency in the SETI website version of Drake's equation
should be obvious -- ETI would have developed much more
efficient methods of communication.

>You miss the main point about the Drake equation.  It is only a
>WAG - a wild ass guess. It is not a scientific formula. It is
>only used as a tool to make people think about the
>possibilities. ....

That is a given, Ed. Each of several components within it are
arguably uncertain by huge factors. The real point is, SETI
scientists nevertheless like to couch their SETI research within
the framework of some equation, and the Drake equation is the
best they have. Go check out their website to see where it's
mentioned that those working on particular grant projects  are
doing research that fits into this component or that within
Drake's equation; e.g., a biologist may be working on some
detail within molecular biology that could lead to an improved
estimate of the factor fc, which is the fraction of
life-supporting planets where life actually develops (assuming
no alien seeding). Therefore one way to approach such scientists
is through Drake's equation.

There may be some small fraction of them who could understand
how plausible it is that ET civilizations, advanced millions of
years over us, would have long since discovered us, rather than
us becoming the first to discover them. And that the science and
technology of ETI would have gone way past the stage where their
space flight would be restricted by rocketry and relativity,
etc.

  Jim Deardorff


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