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Blue Dot: State of the Drake Equation in 2024: The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Part One)

The late Frank Drake and his famous equation
SETI Institute
The late Frank Drake and his famous equation

Host Dave Schlom is joined by special co-host Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute, for an in-depth look at the state of the famous Drake Equation.

It was written by radio astronomer Frank Drake in 1961 as a way to organize the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

Dave and Bill start off with the history of the equation and its seven terms, which, when multiplied together, equal N, the number of communicating civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. While many of the terms are still speculative, some have been much better defined in recent years by astronomers.

Bill and Dave are joined by SETI Institute astronomers and research scientists Uma Gorti, Doug Caldwell, and Nathalie Cabrol as they break down the first terms in the equation, including the rate of star formation in the galaxy, the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of those planets suitable for life and those on which life as actually arisen.

It's a fascinating journey through space, time, and the mystery of the question: are we alone in the Universe?

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.