Another Drake Equation discussion

<p style=“padding-left: 40px;”>I have studied the equation for some time now. I still find it difficult that the values used at the time, regardless of the numbers it can generate will be somewhat accurate. I still think it’s wrong because it’s missing a value. Now the last value is basically “if that civilization is still there”. Now I could be answering my own question but I don’t think I am. The value it’s missing is Time. Not time as in an astrological time, I’m talking about time in the sense of our time in relation to time elsewhere in The cosmos. Some say time is relevant, or constant but our time, as in our duration of life or existence, may or may not overlap the “time” of another civilization out there. So let’s say the equation comes up with 50,000 intelligent and communicating civilizations out there, it still does not account for where we are in the timeline of others. Let’s just say that’s in our own galaxy. We could be the only ones awake. As in come up with a value to account for our duration of exisitence and the possible duration of another and the resulting answer could quite possibly be 1. I hope I explained my thoughts on this well enough.</p>

I think you did explain. It’s not in the equation, but it is one of the answers to Fermi’s paradox. That is, we don’t see any of the civilizations that Drake predicts, because they got to about where we are now and then wigged out. They destroyed themselves with AI or pollution or weapons, pick your sci-fi scenario.

The final value in Drake’s equation is L for length, that is the duration that a civilization is transmitting. After that, either they have destroyed themselves or they have given up attempting to communicate. Isn’t that what you mean by “duration of existence”, or do you mean something else?

N=St * Pl * PoLi * Li * Ci * Te * T

  • N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone); and
  • St = average rate of star formation
  • Pl = fraction of stars with planets
  • PoLi = Fraction of planets that can possibly have life
  • Li = fraction of those planets that eventually get civilizations
  • Ci = fraction of those planets that have civilizations
  • Te = fraction of civilizations that develop technology to communicate
  • T = time those civilizations exist before voting in a Trump
I think time is built into the equation. Each step is the estimate of how many beings make it to that step, so you are incorporating time in your estimate. If you look at the descriptions of the variables, all for them from 'fl' to'L' have a time factor involved.

For example, when considering values for ‘fl’ and ‘fi’, you’d consider that it took earth billions of years after its formation to produce humans, then hundreds of thousands of years for us to develop technologies that make the Drake equation worth asking.

You naturally take time into consideration when estimating your personal values for those variables, so you could say ‘time’ is simply an inevitable part of the Drake Equation.

And this is the Drake Equation… it’s for entertainment purposes only. Just have fun with it!

Interesting responses and I do have fun with it. But to address what my definition of “time” is. Nothing lasts forever. We all know this. What I am referring to (which I think is an incalculable factor) is where we are with regards to another civilization. Distance means time. Light years to be exact. By the time a transmission reaches us, that civilization may be long gone. It’s hard to calculate or impossible to factor in our own duration in time, and then factor in the likelyhood of another civilization that may or may not be there. I may sound redundant but I think too deep into it. I just have a feeling that the equation needs a little more. But we just don’t know enough to do it. And I do understand that the equation is all about time, from beginning to end.

Oh I didn’t see the T. Voting in a Trump does not end a civilization. Hating and resisting does. Just ask the Romans.

I think what you’re talking about makes sense, but it can’t be taken into account in a formula like this. It’s just possible that there is an advanced civilization around Tau Ceti, only 12 light years away. They started broadcasting peace messages three hundred of our years ago – until their funding ran out and they stopped, just 12 years before we invented the radio telescope. So we missed them by that much.

You know what, Lee? I think I get what you’re talking about now that I think about it some more.

All of civilizations capable of transmitting to us are not necessarily either capable yet or doing it any more. So you want to add a variable that incorporates both the likelihood they started long enough in the past for their signal to be reaching us now. The last variable, ‘T’ already incorporates the length of time the civilization broadcasts for,

Is the following example what you’re talking about…?
If you arrive 100,000 possible civilizations using the Drake Equation, there is no taking into account the fact that, say, 68.7% haven’t yet evolved and developed the technology to broadcast, leaving only 18% of your 100,000 (18,000) civilizations as actual candidates.

And there could be any number of reasons that we don’t pick up their signals. In my Star Trek fan fiction, I make the assumption that really advanced civilizations communicate with one another by subspace radio, which is not detectable by radio telescopes.

Edward Snowden pointed this out in an interview. To hide communication, you want to make it look like background noise, which is what we detect in space, it confirms the Big Bang theory. So, if you get to a point of technology and realize there are other civilizations out there that are just slightly more evolved you and could destroy you in an instant, you want to hide that you exists. If you are one that wants to destroy others, you also want to hide. Both could be watching us right now, seeing which club we will be in.

I always imagine our bubble of radio signals expanding out from earth at the speed of sound. Our bubble will take tens of thousands of years to even make contact with half our own galaxy. Then we’re talking over 2.5 million years to reach our close neighbor Andromeda (then 2.5 million years for the reply). All this is not taking into account the feebleness of our signal, which is diminishing as it expands.

As cool as the idea of contacting another civilization is, I, personally, think the odds are steeply against us doing so.

Hi forum, the search for ET is largely (entirely?) focused on looking for electromagnetic signals, correct? What if advanced races discovered a better (think faster…than light) way to transmit signals. Obviously we are not looking for whatever that is but I think the Drake Equation should factor it in. If the vacuum of space is teaming with advanced ET signals but we are only looking for 1 type of signal (electromagnetic waves) we may never connect.



ET would have to live in the same physical reality we live in. Or?

Hi 3point14rat, why do you say the bubble is moving at the speed of sound, electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light. FYI: The very first experiments where electromagnetic waves were produced was done by David Edward Hughes in 1880, 139 years ago so the bubble would be 139 light years out. There are approximately 5900 stars 150 light years from our sun. But signal strength would be so weak by then and background noise from our sun would be so great that it would take a very huge antenna to detect the earth bubble. The calculations used to determine if you are able to receive a signal are called a “link budget”. If you plug in the numbers, you’ll find that to receive commercial transmissions from the earth at the distance of the nearest stars, you would need huge antennas, maybe something the size of the solar system. Not to mention that the earth, at that distance, would be seen as very close to the sun, so any transmission from the earth would be swamped by the much stronger radio emissions from the sun.

Hey, Catman! The Drake equation focuses on the existence of civilizations. It assumes that we are doing the best we can to search for them, but our best is dependent upon the current state of our technology. At one time SETI only had one radio telescope dedicated to searching for extraterrestrial signals, and that only part time. Now I think there’s a whole network of dishes searching. And it’s quite possible that the aliens are using subspace communications that we can’t even detect. If that’s the case we’ll never run into them except by accident. I don’t see how the equation can take that into account.

So we need better communication technology. Perhaps something like an innovation of using entangled particles over remote distances to communicate. Tho currently that is thought to be impossible.

Catman: Hi 3point14rat, why do you say the bubble is moving at the speed of sound, electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light.
OOPS! That's a pretty big mistake. Yes, I typed the wrong word.

Actually, after reading my old posts here I see a lot of typos and missed words and terrible writing. You’re free to pretty much ignore them since they’re more likely to confuse you than help you understand any point I had.

CC: ET would have to live in the same physical reality we live in. Or?
That's way above my level of brain-power to discuss.

My gut says ‘yes’, but it’s also telling me that large shrimp/pineapple pizza and bucket of ice cream would make a good lunch, so you can’t depend on my gut for good answers.

Advocatus: I don’t see how the equation can take that [aliens using subspace communications that we can’t even detect] into account.
You could modify the second last variable, 'Te' by adding, "with us", to the end.

The entire equation is made of unknowable variables, so it’s useless for anything other than having fun and sparking discussion.