Revised Drake equation estimates new number of alien civilizations

The question “are we alone” continues to be one of the deepest philosophical questions facing humanity. The notion that we might be the sole bearers of civilization in thee universe seems implausible, yet concrete evidence of space brothers remains elusive.

The Fermi Paradox underscores this tension, pointing out the discrepancy between the high probability of alien civilizations and our lack of contact with such entities.

This paradox suggests two possibilities: either extraterrestrial life is nonexistent, or it is so uncommon that encountering it would be extraordinarily unlikely.

On the other hand, the Drake Equation offers a method to estimate the number of advanced civilizations within our galaxy. Historically, this equation has suggested a wide range of possible civilizations, with estimates by SETI pioneer Frank Drake himself ranging from 1,000 to 100,000,000 within the Milky Way.

However, as scientific knowledge advances, researchers have revisited these calculations with fresh data.

A key focus of their recalibration is the role of plate tectonics in fostering life. Researchers argue that tectonic activity, which brings new rocks to the surface, is vital for the delivery of phosphorus and other inorganic nutrients essential for life.

“Tectonic processes exposing fresh rocks on the surface are crucial for enhancing delivery of [phosphorus] and other inorganic nutrients,” they wrote.

“The addition of [phosphorus], [iron] and other nutrients from erosion and weathering of Ediacaran collisional mountains broke the Mesoproterozoic nutrient drought, stimulating life and evolution.”

They point out that the influx of nutrients from the erosion of ancient mountain ranges likely ended a significant period of nutrient scarcity, catalyzing biological activity and evolution.

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Initial estimates from this new model ranged from 0.006 to 100,000 intelligent civilizations.

Yet, this figure is not definitive, as it must also factor in the self-destructive tendencies of civilizations through nuclear warfare, artificial intelligence, pandemics, and other existential threats.

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