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Estimating the Chances of Life Out There
04.27.05
 
In 1960, Dr. Frank Drake performed the first experiment search for radio signals from possible civilizations around other stars. In 1961, he proposed an intriguing method of estimating the number of intelligent life-forms out there that we might communicate with.

In the intervening years, both of Dr. Drake's ideas have become cornerstones of a full-fledged branch of astronomy, commonly called SETI -- the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. And Dr. Drake helped found the SETI Institute, the main organization involved in the search.

In the talk on April 20, Dr. Drake will provide a modern update on estimates for the existence of "E.T." He will draw on new ideas and new observations (including the discovery of surprising planets around other stars), which have helped astronomers refine both the targets where they search for life and the methods they use.

Dr. Drake is the Director of the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute. He served as Professor of Astronomy and Dean of Natural Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and as Director of the Arecibo Observatory (which has the largest radio dish in the world.) Among his many awards, he was the winner of the prestigious Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society for his many contributions to the public understanding of astronomy. He is the co-author, with Dave Sobel, of "Is Anyone Out There", published by Delacorte Press.

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