Is the Drake Equation an accurate way of finding the probability of life on planets?

  • I was interested in finding out if there was life on any planets or moons. I saw ReNiSh A R's question, and I saw the answer about there being life on Europa, but it didn't accurately answer what I wanted to find out.

    The Drake Equation is on:

    I have also heard that there could possibly be life in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, which could have floating beasts, and also on Titan, which does have surface liquids, but I am pretty sure most of it is in solid form.

    If the Drake Equation is equal to a low number, then why is it pretty common if there is a possibility of life on 2 moons and 1 planet? Does that make the Drake Equation a non-reliable source?

    I'm also looking for an accurate answer, so can you please give it to me in detail!

    Let's see we can address you instead of giving just an answer: what is the Drake equation used for?

  • The Drake equation is little more than a randomly assembled guess of relevant factors for intelligent life, and any use of it requires a number of hard to justify guesses for the various probabilities.

    It is otherwise an attempt to give a foundation for making Fermi estimations on the number of civilizations, and the associated Fermi paradox. A Fermi estimation is an order of magnitude estimate. It doesn't try to get a particularly accurate estimate, it only tries to tell you how many digits you can expect the answer to have. And the Fermi paradox is simply stated as "There is an absurd number of stars. So absurd that finding extraterrestrial life should be easy. But in fact it is hard. Why?"

    The resolution to the paradox is the second sentence: it assumes we have reasonable basis to suppose life is easy enough for the sheer number of stars to give us lots of observable life. We do not. The Drake equation is in one sense a way of singling out as many factors as possible so we have a concrete goal to figure those factors out, and so the entire problem.

    But mostly it is used by pop science and sensationalists to rile us up with lines like "there should be thousands of civilizations more advanced than ours in our own galaxy!" and "there could be life in Jupiter's atmosphere." These things have no solid science behind them, and are just attention grabbers dressed in pseudoscience.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM