The ingredients for complex life
The Drake equationLet’s go back to the Drake equation. Earlier we calculated how many planets in our galaxy could support life. We can adopt the same equation with a couple of additions to consider whether other planets can and have supported intelligent life.First, let’s redefine N as follows:
N = the number of civilisations (intelligent life) in our galaxy
|R||the average rate of star formation in our galaxy.|
|fp||the fraction of those stars that have planets.|
|ne||the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets.|
N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x L = 7/year x 1 x 3/8 x 1/3 x 1 x 105 year = 87500
Our answers are not meant to be precise, rather they help us reflect on the conditions that are necessary for life.Based on these potential answers we could conclude that we expect roughly between 1 and 87500 (could be rounded to 100000 if we are generous) habitable planets in our galaxy that have life on them.Although the most optimistic estimate might seem like a lot, our galaxy is so large it would be like finding a needle in a haystack.N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x L = 7/year x 1 x 3/8 x 1/3 x 1/87500 x 105 year = 1
Over to you
- What are your reflections on these answers?
- Does it make you think differently about our planet and galaxy?
- If so in what ways?
Extreme Geological Events
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