The Drake equation, proposed by American astronomer Frank Drake and considered to be one of the famous equations in the world, offers a way to estimate the number N of advanced civilizations present in our Milky Way galaxy. Large numbers for N, however, are in apparent conflict with observation, a contradiction known as the Fermi paradox, named after Italian-American physicist and 1938 Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi.
Our speaker, Dr. Pascal Lee, is a planetary scientist at the Mars Institute and at the SETI Institute. He also directs the Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center. He argues that advanced civilizations may well be extremely rare. In fact, Dr. Lee estimates that N ~ 1. Even though planets are plentiful in the Milky Way, and even though life as a natural product of chemical and biological evolution is likely common, the number of advanced civilizations in the Galaxy might be of order 1. Says Dr. Lee: “We might be it in the vastness of our galaxy, or there might be just one other…”
Recording of the Q&A sessionof Dr. Lee.