We tend to stereotype extraterrestrial life as little green men, but there are much more instructive examples of alien weirdness right under our oceans. In the following article,Dr. Craig McClain of Deep Sea News and theNational Evolutionary Synthesis Centerdiscusses what the deep seas can teach us about potential astrobiological organisms.
We as humans have three fundamental questions. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe? The answers to these thrust at the core of our humanity and uniqueness. Through science we seek out replies to these inquiries.
The Drake Equation
In 1960 the National Academy of Sciences asked Frank Drake to gather a group of scientists to discuss the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the program we now call SETI. “As I planned the meeting, I realized a few day[s] ahead of time we needed an agenda,” recalled Drake at a NASA Forum held in 2003. He continued:
And so I wrote down all the things you needed to know to predict how hard it’s going to be to detect extraterrestrial life. And looking at them it became pretty evident that if you multiplied all these together, you got a number, N, which is the number of detectable civilizations in our galaxy. This, of course, was aimed at the radio search, and not to search for primordial or primitive life forms.
What emerged was the now-famous Drake Equation:
N = R* • fp • ne • fℓ • fi • fc • L
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