Last Week’s Meeting on SETI (10/1/9)

Seriously, our science meetings can be quite good, especially when someone knowledgeable like Norm is there to help us. A crowd of about 15, including several friends of Norm (Normans? Normals?), heard him give a fascinating slide show-based talk. I left at 9:30 and the Q&A/discussion was still going strong. Norm promised to post the slides ASAP.

Norman ignored the whole “have we been visited?” thing in favor of a survey of the latest scientific thinking on the probability that other planets might have evolved sentient life. I think he basically used a simplified version of the famous Drake equation, which (from the website) is:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L. Where,
N = The number of civilizations in The Milky Way Galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
R* =The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.
fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.
fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.
fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

Norm touched on each variable, giving the latest thinking on their values. Great job!

Anyway, we have several more science-oriented sessions upcoming, such as “Understanding the Cambrian Explosion” on 10/29, and “Entropy and the Environmental Movement” on 1/7.

Did anything interesting happen after I had to leave at 9:30?


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