The number N of detectable (i.e. communicating) extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy is usually calculated by using the Drake equation. This equation was established in 1961 by Frank Drake and was the first step to quantifying the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) field. Practically, this equation is rather a simple algebraic expression and its simplistic nature leaves it open to frequent re-expression. An additional problem of the Drake equation is the time-independence of its terms, which for example excludes the effects of the physico-chemical history of the galaxy. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the main shortcoming of the Drake equation is its lack of temporal structure, i.e., it fails to take into account various evolutionary processes. In particular, the Drake equation does not provides any error estimation about the measured quantity. Here, we propose a first treatment of these evolutionary aspects by constructing a simple stochastic process that will be able to provide both a temporal structure to the Drake equation (i.e. introduce time in the Drake formula in order to obtain something like N(t)) and a first standard error measure.
International Journal of Astrobiology
- Pub Date:
- April 2012
- drake formula;
- Poisson processes;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 22 pages, 0 figures, 1 table, accepted for publication in the International Journal of Astrobiology