The Drake Equation: All in the family

Nadia Drake interviews the creator of the formula for predicting how many detectable civilizations exist in the Milky Way

By Nadia Drake, 14:49 PM November 1, 2011

On November 1, the formula for estimating the abundance of extraterrestrial life in our galaxy celebrates its 50th birthday. It’s known as the Drake equation for its creator, Frank Drake, who is also my father.

The equation grew out of my dad’s need to organize a meeting he’d convened at the Green Bank Observatory, in West Virginia. Then 31, he had been thinking for a while about the materials needed to build communicating, extraterrestrial life. He ended up crafting a formula that calculat...

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