In view of the amazing number of new planets that have been discovered recently, including a ‘Super-Earth’, I have been pondering the validity of the famous Drake equation that suggests the possibility of many technical civilizations in our galaxy. I have determined that the equation is seriously flawed.
Sorry to disappoint you UFO fans, but facts are fact; as far as we know there is only one: Ours. And, it is highly improbable that ours arose at all. These are the pieces of evidence that has led me to this conclusion:
1. Life in the form of RNA prototypes, viruses, and single cell organisms are likely widespread in space due to Panspermia, and here on Earth, evidence shows that these life forms arrived and took hold almost as soon as the lava lake crust of creation solidified and cooled down a tad. Yet, it took over two billion more years for the first multi-cellular life forms to arise.
2. Even though we live in this ‘quiet’ galactic region, our outer solar system, consisting of the remnants of its formation (the Oort Cloud and Kupier Belt) is filled with millions of objects capable of cracking open our planet like an egg; all they need is a little orbital nudge from a passing black hole, rogue star, orphan planet, or glob of “Dark’ matter. It will happen, given enough time.
3. It is well-known that life on Earth, from protoplasm to humans shares two characteristics: (a) eat and be eaten, and (b) multiply like crazy to fill all available Eco-niches. In our case, it took 4.5 billion years of a stable terrestrial environment to arrive at ‘intelligent’ Humans. Because a technical civilization can only survive by squelching the forgoing tendencies, it is doubtful that such a civilization will endure for long. Look at present conditions (religious wars, nukes, bioweapons, etc.) and a rapid poisoning of the environment.
4. As we know, it is enormously expensive to engage in space travel, and to go exploring the stars will require the resources of a multi-planet solar system. While individual planets may exist in the so-called habitable zone around a given star, it had better have additional planets that are accessible to support the venture.
5. In our case, we may never sustain our level of technology for long enough to go space-faring due to impact events. There is growing evidence that our planet gets slammed by comets or meteors capable of devastating a continent, and causing massive extinctions on the rest of the surface about every 10,000 years.
6. The urge to explore outer space and try to communicate with others out there may be a unique attribute of Humans. It also may require a clear enough atmosphere to see the stars, comets, and planets, and arouse interest in the first place.
7. The fact that we have mastered the electromagnetic spectrum and still are unable to detect remotely any other technical civilization in our galaxy supports the notion that only one per galaxy exists at any given time.
8. If the instance of one per galaxy holds throughout the universe, there may be millions, but a proven method of extra-galactic communication and travel, perhaps through ‘hyperspace’, would be required to stimulate investment of time and resources in the enterprise of contact and cultural exchange in the first place.
So, the Drake equation must be refined. Once the true probabilities are confirmed, a lot of people are going to feel very foolish, and Hollywood will go broke. I feel confident that the SETI scientists will be frustrated as long as their searching is based on recieving electromagnetic radiation or coherent light. If such technical civilizations exisit, they would likely communicate by faster-than-light methods, perhaps using one of the six available dimensions proposed by Superstring M theory. Recently, the required 'Supersymmetry' required by this theory may have been detected at CERN, but the jury is still out of this one.