How the Drake Equation contributed to the search for life beyond Earth
To celebrate the publication of a special issue of International Journal of Astrobiology, two articles are being made freely available to the public. This special issue of the journal offers a selection of nine papers presented at a workshop dedicated to the Drake Equation. The free papers provide fascinating insight into this deceptively simple formula which has captured imaginations for the past 50 years.
One of the two free papers is “Reflections on the equation” a retrospective written by Frank Drake, who created the equation* which bears his name. His equation, first introduced in 1961, provides a method for estimating the number of technological civilizations that might exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. Drake developed his equation whilst working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. The second article being made freely available is Nicholas Prantzos’ “A Joint analysis of the Drake equation and the Fermi paradox”.
The nine papers selected for this special edition were all presented at the Drake Equation workshop held at the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) in Paris, in 2011. Eighty-five participants gathered to discuss how theories in the search for life on other planets have developed since the introduction of the Drake Equation in 1961. Among the topics featured in the special issue are Jean-Pierre Rospars “Trends in the Evolution of Life, Brains and Intelligence” and “Problems with the Definition of Extraterrestrial Life and Intelligence” by Jean Schneider.
International Journal of Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary journal, presenting research from fields such as astrophysics, planetary science, chemistry, microbiology and anthropology, as evidenced in the cross-section of researchers who have contributed to this special edition. Editor-in-chief Rocco Mancinelli from the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute emphasises “this special edition is an exciting opportunity for us to showcase the range of disciplines that contribute to astrobiology and by making two of the articles free we aim to reach an even wider audience.”
Read the special issue here until 1st July 2014