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Frank Drake, came up with the following equation to estimate the number of extra-terrestrial civilisations with which we might be able to communicate:

N = R* × fp × ne × fl × fi × fc ×L

Which can be read as the rate of formation of suitable stars * the fraction with planets * fraction which can support life * fraction where life develops * fraction where intelligence develops * lifetime of civilisations

Why is this one of the Things Which Everyone Should Know? Because it shows how you can increase your knowledge of a low information situation.

Topic revision: r1 - 22 Dec 2001, andyp
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