The Drake Equation After Sixty Years | Part 1 of 2

  • Published on: 02 April 2021
  • Sixty years ago Frank Drake wrote down an equation that has become one of the most famous in astronomy - the Drake Equation. This formula, aiming to estimate the number of alien civilizations communicating within the galaxy, has been celebrated, abused and criticized. Today, we are taking a deep dive into this special equation in a two part special. Written and presented by Prof David Kipping. Thanks to Jason Wright and Nadia Drake for help with this video.

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    ► Kipping, D., 2021, "A Stationary Drake Equation Distribution as a Balance of Birth-death Processes", RNAAS, 5, 44:

    ::Check out Dr. Sutter's videos for more::
    ► Paul M. Sutter - The Equation is Useless (Part 1):
    ► Paul M. Sutter - The Equation is Useless (Part 2):

    Music licensed by (SS) [], or via Creative Commons (CC) Attribution License (, or with permission from the artist
    ► "Bruised Hope" by Hill [Spotify at]
    ► "Long Note Two" by Kevin MacLeod
    ► "Y" by Joachim Heinrich
    ► "Always Dreaming" by Caleb Etheridge
    ► "Fusion" by Indive
    ► "Cylinder Five" by Chris Zabriskie
    ► "Ticking" by Alternate Endings

    ::Movies clips used::
    ► Agora (2009) 20th Century Fox/Newmarket Films
    ► Contact (1997) Warner Bros.
    ► The Big Short (2015) Paramount Pictures
    ► Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993) Paramount Television

    0:00 Prologue
    2:48 Origins
    8:23 The Drakonian Free-For-All
    14:58 Criticisms of the Drake Equation

    #DrakeEquation #AreWeAlone #CoolWorlds
  • Runtime : 23:53
  • Drake Equation Number of Civilizations Alien Civilizations Astrobiology SETI Search for Alien Life Extraterrestrial intelligence How Many Aliens in the Galaxy Drake Equation Deep Dive Cool Worlds David Kipping Professor Kipping


  • Cool Worlds
    Cool Worlds   3 months ago

    Thanks for watching everyone and thanks to our sponsor, CuriosityStream. You can sign up for CuriosityStream here: and be sure to use the code: "CoolWorlds".

  • Shugar Burke
    Shugar Burke   1 weeks ago

    I know this video was put out some time ago and I'm a little late to the show BUT.. I came across this video on a sleepless night and WOW !! I started binge watching your video catalog and I instantly subscribed 😉 I'm a Cosmos geek and I love the way you explain topics and explore new ways of thinking 🤔 looking forward to seeing more content from you 🌌☄️✨☀️🪐🌎🌍🌏

  • will byington
    will byington   1 weeks ago

    My favorite teacher! Kinda newish to the channel. But ever sense I found you. My entire work day is watching and listening/learning from you! Thank you! Your awesome! Keep it up plz!!! More alien stuff. Lol

  • Michael Andrews
    Michael Andrews   3 weeks ago

    I am so lucky that cool worlds came up in my recommended videos , I crave information about this and am always thinking about our place in what is happening on this pale blue dot 🔵

  • T N
    T N   4 weeks ago

    Look theres so many variables effecting stars and life different galaxies determine success spiral galaxies only contain life also 200billionstars in the galaxy well no star near the center is doomed for life supernovae radiation location not a good neighborhood location is everything like were we are

  • TheFURY
    TheFURY   1 months ago

    "Indeed, We have dignified the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, granted them good and lawful provisions, and privileged them far above many of Our creatures .""And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread forth in both. And He has the power to gather them together whenever he pleases."-Book of Signs, Not Science

  • pkol HanYolo
    pkol HanYolo   1 months ago

    This would be a great problem for ai to solve

  • Kevin R Moore
    Kevin R Moore   1 months ago

    I'm no genius but it's clear to me and rarely ever talked about in regards to the evolution of life on Earth. Our moon keeps the earth's poles from wobbling, providing long-term stability. Not only is the earth in the goldilocks zone but our moon is the perfect size at the perfect distance, that is something I don't think The Drake equation accounts for.

  • will2see
    will2see   1 months ago

    We don't know what life is. We don't even know if life necessarily needs a star as an energy source. We don't know if life necessarily needs a planet to develop. WE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW!!!

  • will2see
    will2see   1 months ago

    5:30 - "the number of those planets capable of supporting life" - the problem is that we don't know what life is!

  • will2see
    will2see   1 months ago

    The Drake equation is the most nonsensical and absurd equation of all times. There is nothing interesting about this equation. We just fill it with our ignorance and the outcome we get is exactly what we put in.

  • Professor MAWillett
    Professor MAWillett   1 months ago

    Consider this, whether or not the universe is infinite or not we will not contact or 🚀communicate with an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization within the lifetime of our species. The universe is just too big ♾. The observable horizon of the universe is ~46 billion light years from the Milky Way. An intelligent civilization could comfortably reside outside of this boundary and we will never know (think Star Wars). And any indication of life at this distance, is ~46 billion years old! They could have evolved beyond our capability to understand them or they could be gone. It gets worst. Our species has about a billion years (maybe a little more if we don’t get hit by an asteroid ) before we become extinct due to the death throes of our sun. We are not even close to light speed so space travel is pretty much limited to our solar system. If you believe we will learn to go at or beyond the speed of light, how fast do you want, 2 times the speed of light? How about 10 times the speed of light? Do the effects of general relativity get suspended? What about molecular debris, micrometeorites and hard rocks? If you are traveling at the speed of light, this debris hits the spacecraft at the speed of light or more, catastrophically. A fully functional force field is a necessary precursor to light speed. Any progress on that front? Is it possible that humans can travel via worm holes? Can they survive the trip? What about the folding of space? What a concept! But again, can humans survive the trip? Can we travel inside a black hole? Probably not but what a ride! When does this technology become possible?I love science fiction as much as the next guy but I am also a realist. All of these technologies have consequences and one must follow the path to it’s logical conclusion.Even if we manage to escape to other planets, the demise of our sun with leave our solar system very inhospitable. Our species will disappear without a trace. In the meantime, our puny radio bubble will only extend to half a billion light years, we have to leave time for a response after all. So any intelligent civilization further than half a billion light years from the Milky Way is beyond our ability to open a line of communication which if we could would take a billion years to complete.Half a billion years may seem like a lot of time to discover and develop faster than light travel so we can escape our fate. However, our universe is ~13.8 billion years old so why isn’t “warp” drive common in the universe with extraterrestrials visiting the Milky Way for a milkshake? Are we the Forest Gump of the universe? Or is it because it is hard to impossible to do. And we only have a billion years to do it before we are gone. We can only hope that our atoms will join a nebula and produce new life. This may have happened before. We may only be one in an infinite number of universes or an infinitesimal part of one infinite universe. Food for thought, interesting but futile.✨♾

  • Cody Ruthko
    Cody Ruthko   1 months ago

    Awesome video but I can't help but feel that the Drake Equation is kind of BS. Anything that we come up with to slot in the variables is just a guess. Life as far as we know it has happened once. Granted it's cool too see what the outcome of the equation produces but they are all just educated guesses from a data point of one. I feel with the skepticism surrounding science now a days (with some groups of people), it gives those people more ammo to shut that science is just a bunch of woo-woo and are just making things up. Sorry if I am being a Debbie downer, that is not my intention. I love the channel, you guys and gals put out great content!

  • sourav m
    sourav m   1 months ago

    Thank You Sir for this wonderful video and your beautiful narration. Yes, you are right here. As we do not know the values, that does not mean the 'Drake Equation' is wrong. Maybe in some day in future, we may got those values and only then we can use it effectively.

  • Janiter Inadrum
    Janiter Inadrum   1 months ago

    In outer space.. is it possible to stop?Or is there even a such thing as being able to stop in space how would you know?

  • Daniel Siconnelli
    Daniel Siconnelli   1 months ago

    This equation always apealed to me but almost as a curiosity since I wonder how we could ever have the values needed to solve the equation. I still think that the most precise we can get on a number of civs is betweeen One (us) and multiple (more than One). I'm not shure how One would be possible considering even a minimal part of the Universe we are yet able to observe but in the end... it's still a guess. But I like to think we are multiple :-P

  • Bearded Roofer
    Bearded Roofer   1 months ago

    You could've saved me a few minutes Professor, by stating from the outset that all the variables in the Drake equation, Ne and beyond, are purely subjective and that no known parameters exist at this time. Thanks though, very thorough breakdown of a complex problem.

  • FreshhGraffz
    FreshhGraffz   2 months ago

    can someone tell me what the audio effect in the prologue is called?

  • Scott Cantley
    Scott Cantley   2 months ago

    shame he shares a name with the shittiest music artist to ever live!

  • Bari Izlam
    Bari Izlam   2 months ago

    this episode was so engaging! loved it

  • Omer Karacay
    Omer Karacay   2 months ago

    Wow.. You deserve millions of subscriptions and views. This channel deserve so much more than this. Keep up the excellent work! Thank you so much for the great content!

  • Dwight Looi
    Dwight Looi   2 months ago

    The DRAKE EQUATION is utter nonsense that is completely useless. Why? Because it is an "equation" based on a large number of variables and constants which are unquantifiable and undefined. It's like saying A = XY + Z; we don't know X, we don't know Y and we sure as hell don't know Z. It's no better than saying we have no idea what A is!

  • Bruce Barnard
    Bruce Barnard   2 months ago

    If abiogenesis is impossible, that is life that can reproduce from inanimate matter coming together to form DNA or RNA, plus plus, then how life arrived or occurred on the earth must have come about by intelligent purpose and hence Drake's equation would be meaningless? That's a question.

  • The COVID-19 Coronavirus

    I’d just like to welcome all of the people stumbling across this channel after the latest UFO news breaks on 60 minutes into the mainstream. Welcome! Now let’s get to work

  • Matthew Williams
    Matthew Williams   2 months ago

    Just wanted to let you know, I've decided to feature your videos in a recent article about a study that explores the same subject. It's here if you want to have a look: up the good work and hope to talk to you more about this wonderful topic!

  • Art Donovan
    Art Donovan   2 months ago

    "Astro Tourism". I'm in! I'm selling the house and getting an RV- First Stop? Goddard in Greenbelt! What a place! Then down to the Cape. (Suggestions needed. TY)

  • Intellectual Redneck
    Intellectual Redneck   2 months ago

    Welcome to our NEW world, Cool Worlds. A World where truth is opinative and criticism is attacked as being "White Supremacist Ideology" or "The Patriarchy". It's like the movie Idiocracy is not a movie at all, but a monumental foreshadowing of the degeneration of human intelligence and social societies. We HAVE to push back against this with every fiber of our beings! We cannot let our species be ruled by hateful fearmongering and sociopathic ideologies! Truth MUST be TRUTH. Fact MUST be FACTS!Thank you for being a voice of sanity in a world going more insane by the minute sir.

  • peter dollins
    peter dollins   2 months ago

    Crucial factor is how many planets are capable of bearing life. ?

  • Fernando Neto
    Fernando Neto   3 months ago

    Man, you're such a talent professor. Brillant. Amazing!

  • wavey61
    wavey61   3 months ago

    Can we at least agree the unknowns are likely not in the either extreme? Likely neither zero, nor infinity. So the answer is at least somewhere between those two points.

  • Johnny Spacer
    Johnny Spacer   3 months ago

    Who has the experience to know if Earth is a hum-drum planet or not?

  • Keith McDonald
    Keith McDonald   3 months ago

    OK so what is the difference between Drake and Fermi