The Drake Equation

The Drake Equation

Radio telescopeAre humans alone in the universe?

The Drake Equation is an attempt to summarize the factors that determine humans’ ability to communicate with an extraterrestrial civilization. This is accomplished by providing a simple formula to calculate the number of civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy from which we potentially could receive a signal.

Shortly after humanity’s first search for an extraterrestrial radio signal (conducted in 1960 at Green Bank, West Virginia — a search known as “Project Ozma“1 ), the very first scientific conference on searching for extraterrestrial intelligence took place. Astronomer Frank Drake (who was behind Project Ozma) came up with a simple equation — now called “the Drake Equation” — to frame the agenda of that 1961 conference. …

  1. Project Ozma used the National Radio Observatory’s radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia to search for artificial radio signals (near the 21 cm wavelength, the wavelength of radiation emitted naturally by interstellar hydrogen and thus believed to be a universal frequency for communications from other intelligent civilizations) from the nearby Sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. []
Two alien planets

Odds improve for the existence of life beyond Earth

The likelihood of life existing somewhere other than Earth depends on several key factors, chief among them being the number of planets (and moons) in the universe where life could survive.1 Two recent studies indicate there may be many more worlds that are hospitable for life than we previously thought. …

  1. In the case of intelligent life, there is an actual formula — the Drake Equation — used to estimate how many intelligent civilizations may exist in our galaxy. In an upcoming article, I’ll provide a detailed look at the Drake equation. []
Apple's "1984" Ad

Apple’s “1984” Ad — Happy 30th Birthday

Thirty years ago today (January 22, 1984), the iconic Apple advertisement “1984” was first broadcast.1 The ad — which announced the launch of Apple’s Macintosh computer — was seen during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on CBS and immediately generated widespread media coverage. …

  1. The advertisement actually was first broadcast during the last commercial break before midnight on KMVT in Idaho on December 31, 1983, in order to qualify for a 1983 advertising award. But today is the anniversary of when everyone except a few people in Idaho first saw the ad. []
Arecibo Radio Telescope

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is at the heart of so much of our modern world, whether it’s the development of new treatments for serious diseases, the search for habitable planets around other stars, or your thought process of determining which driving route will get you to work fastest in the morning.

But what exactly is The Scientific Method?  …

Biosimilars

Is generic Remicade (Humira, etc.) in our future? (Update)

remicade-bottlesThere have been several significant developments since I wrote the original article “Is generic Remicade (Humira, etc.) in our future?” back in November 2009. What’s changed, what hasn’t, and are patients any closer to being able to use generic versions of biologics such as Remicade®1?  …

  1. Remicade® is the trade name for infliximab. It is a artificially created monoclonal antibody against tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) that is used to treat autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Additional product information can be found on Janssen Biotech’s product website for Remicade®. Note: Jenssen Biotech (parent company Johnson & Johnson) was previously known as Centocor Biotech. Jenssen Biotech markets Remicade® in the US; elsewhere it is marketed by Merck & Co., Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma and Xian Janssen. []