So the Drake Equation, proposed by Frank Drake, is often cited as a means to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations that exist in the observable universe.

Initial calculations by Drake came up with a number of about 10,000 civilizations. But refinements in the equation on how to interpret, and updated data, have recently led to this evaluation published in Astrobiology Magazine: "There is a 75% chance we could find ET between 1,361 and 3,979 light-years away"

But what I'm more interested in has to do with our technology and efforts in detecting the first civilization in terms of estimating a mean time between observations.

Surely given the result of the Drake equation, our current efforts, and possibly other factors to consider such as sampling theory there must be a way to calculate this. Has anyone pursued this? If so what are the results? hours?, days? years? centuries?

Such a calculation I believe would justify more concerted efforts and investment or otherwise abandonment of any hope. Or perhaps a different strategy to mitigate the assumptions on the calculation to reduce the mean time.

  • $\begingroup$ I think that the main problem with humans being able to find "ET" is that by the time any ET sends a message back, we (humans) will probably no longer be listening. Or more likely killed off by the perfect AI, that turns on us, seeing us as little more than ants at a picnic... $\endgroup$
    – LaserYeti
    Aug 29 '16 at 2:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The problem with this, as with most of the Drake equation, is that we will have insufficient data to justify most of the estimates made in them until we've seen several thousand civilizations, and most of the others are poorly understood at best--we remain pretty mystified about how life and all of the chemical reactions necessary for it managed to happen on our own planet, and even less clue about how those conditions led to us. We then have a single data point regarding intelligent species and civilizations thereof: ourselves. Which is, statistically, meaningless. $\endgroup$ Aug 29 '16 at 7:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.