He was 92 years old. He developed the equation of the same name to calculate the number of intelligent extraterrestrial species that can be detected in our galaxy.
Frank Drake, the American astronomer and astrophysicist who pioneered the search for extraterrestrial life, has died at the age of 92 at his home in Apus, California. Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics and former Dean of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, born in Chicago on May 28, 1930, and during his life he was the founder of the scientific field engaged in research for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), developing the Drake equation, which became fundamental Scientists search for extraterrestrial life. His contributions are numerous: he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts and was one of the first astronomers to measure the surface temperature of Venus and the greenhouse effect of its dense atmosphere. Drake has served as director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, as well as a mentor and inspiration to generations of astronomers and astrophysicists. ” When the history of science is written in a few hundred years, after we discover intelligent life beyond Earth, which I absolutely believe we will at some point, I think Frank will occupy a place among the greatest scientists who have ever lived. – said astrophysicist Andrew Simeon, director of the Berkeley City Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. It was great to have the opportunity to meet him“.
Drake honed his passion for space throughout his training. He graduated in engineering physics from Cornell University in 1951 and became a member of the Navy ROTC program, serving from 1952 to 1955 as an electronics officer in the United States Navy. He then taught astronomy at Harvard University from 1955 to 1958, where he earned his Ph.D. and served as an advisor to astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin who first proposed that stars consist primarily of hydrogen and helium.
During his years at Harvard University, while observing the Pleiades star cluster with a radio telescope, he discovered a strange signal that seemed to move along the block, which was turned into transmission from a nearby amateur radio operator. However, this led to Drake calculating whether an artificial radio signal could have come from the distant star system. Once he received his doctorate, he worked at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia, where he installed new telescopes and made his groundbreaking observations of Jupiter and Venus. In 1960, using the observatory’s Tatel telescope, he embarked on what he called the Ozma Project, where he developed the Drake equation and Arecibo Message, a numerical notation for the astronomical description and biology of Earth and its life forms for transmission in the universe.
Drake equation to calculate the number of intelligent alien species
Drake created the equation in 1961, to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations that can be detected in the Milky Way based on the values of some variables. These variables included the number of planets orbiting other stars and the probability of life appearing on a given planet, as defined below:
N = R * x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L
N (the number of civilizations that can be detected in the Milky Way), R* (the birth rate of stars), fp (the fraction of stars that host planets), ne (the number of habitable planets per planetary system), fl (the fraction of the planets that On it there is life that develops) fi (the part of life that develops intelligence), fc (the part of intelligent life that develops communication technologies), l (the average time during which civilizations can be discovered).
” Obviously at the time he had no idea what this equation would become, and what it would represent — Drake’s daughter, Nadia, contributing writer to . explained National Geographic -. The fact that people tattooed it on their bodies and that it is regularly cited as one of the most famous equations in science, I have always enjoyed.“.
After his tenure at the NRAO, Drake also worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the chair of the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Division, and in 1964 joined the astronomy faculty at Cornell University. He was also director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico from 1966 to 1968 and the National Center for Astronomy and Ionosphere at Cornell, which operated the Arecibo Radio Telescope, from 1971 to 1981.
Arecibo . message
During his tenure, Drake oversaw upgrades to Arecibo, which was originally built for upper-atmosphere observation for missile defense research and to make the observatory more suitable for astronomical research, and oversaw the installation of a new surface on the huge telescope dish making the instrument much more sensitive as well as the addition of a powerful new radar Capable of detecting the movements of asteroids and other planetary bodies. In 1974, he designed the Arecibo Message, the first interstellar message intentionally transmitted from Earth, which was sent to the globular cluster M13 about 22,000 light-years from Earth, as evidence of human technological achievements, rather than a real attempt to communicate with extraterrestrials.
He also co-designed the Pioneer Board, an illustrated message installed on the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft that included an illustration of a man, a woman, our solar system and a map indicating the position of the Sun in the galaxy and later worked. As technical director, along with Carl Sagan and Anne Druyan, in the creation of the Voyager Gold Record that was flown on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, Drake served as associate director of the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, serving as director of the Arecibo Observatory. From 1966 to 1968 and as director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), which includes the Arecibo facility, from its founding in 1971 until 1981.
In 1984, Drake left Cornell in 1984 and moved with his family to California, where he began working as Dean of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. When he resigned from that position in 1988, he remained a professor and was recruited to the new SETI Institute, where he served as Chairman and Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Drake retired from teaching in 1996.
Numerous academic awards, as evidenced by the University of California, Santa Cruz obituary: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, President of the Pacific Astronomical Society, President of the National Board of Trustees of the Physics and Astronomy Research Council and Vice President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“Music guru. Incurable web practitioner. Thinker. Lifelong zombie junkie. Tv buff. Typical organizer. Evil beer scholar.”