Frank Drake, who led the search for life on other planets, dies aged 92

It was at Green Bank that Dr. Drake, who planned the meeting, acquired his famous formula as a way of setting the agenda. It consists of seven factors, which include all knowledge and ambitions of human astrology. Some are quite experimental, such as the stellar birth rate in the Milky Way and the fraction of stars with habitable planets. Others are highly mystical, such as the average age of a technological civilization – from 1,000 to 100 million years is just a guess. Multiply the factors, and you get the assumed Hungarian number.

In a world where astronomers have obtained new data, old conjectures for dolphins have held up well, said Seth Shostak, an astronomer and spokesman for the SETI Institute. NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting satellite and ground-based telescopes have verified optimistic estimates of the abundance of potentially habitable Earth-sized planets, and scientists know from the Kepler mission that there may be 300 million of them in the Milky Way alone.

“These people are either very lucky or in extraordinary health,” said Dr. Shostak about dolphins.

At the same time, scientists have discovered that life on Earth is more difficult and more diverse than scientists thought, thriving in strange places like boiling pits under the sea. “There is ample evidence for the many paths to the origin of life,” said Dr. Drake.

After a brief stint at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he joined Cornell University as a professor, and later became director of the National Center for Astronomy and Ionosphere, or NAIC, whose giant 300-meter antenna in Arecibo, PR, will be the first SETI instrument in the world. this planet. In this capacity, Dr. Drake discovered a radiation belt around Jupiter and found that Venus’ fiery atmosphere is as thick as Earth’s oceans.

But SETI will remain his eternal love.

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In 1971, NASA conducted research on how to find extraterrestrial life which became known as Giant Project. His report, which draws on the passage quoted above from Dr. Drake’s “Intelligent Life in Space” as his master plan calls for a group of 1,000 radio telescopes, each 100 meters in diameter, to look into space for another 1,000 light-years. However, its estimated $10 billion price tag made it one of Senator William Broxmayer’s “Golden Feather” gifts for squandering the government’s budget. Although the project was never built, the report has become a bible for astronomers interested in extraterrestrial affairs.

Jill Tarter, who read the report when she was a graduate student and devoted her life to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence that produced Interview with New York Times in 2012.

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