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The Drake equation is one of the most famous equations in astronomy.  It has been endlessly debated since it was first posited in 1961 by Frank Drake, but so far has served as an effective baseline for discussion about how much life might be spread throughout the galaxy.  However, all equations can be improved, and a team of astrobiologists and astronomers think they have found a way to do so.  

The equation itself was centered around the search for radio signals.  However, its formulation would imply that it is more likely to see what are now commonly called “biosignatures” rather than technological ones.  For example, astronomers could find methane in a planet’s atmosphere, which is a clear sign of life, even if that planet hasn’t developed any advanced intelligence yet.

That search for biosignatures wasn’t possible when Drake originally wrote the equation – but it is so now.  As such, it might be time to modify some of the factors in the original equation to reflect scientists’ new search capabilities better.  One way to do that is to split the equation into two separate ones, reflecting the search for biosignatures and technosignatures respectively.

To read more, click here.

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