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The Drake equation for alien intelligence is more important than ever

The spiral galaxy M74 imaged by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-JWST Team., CC BY-NC-ND)

This article was originally published at The Conversation (opens in new tab). The publication contributed the article to’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

How many intelligent civilizations should there be in our galaxy right now? In 1961, the US astrophysicist Frank Drake, who passed away on Sept. 2 at the age of 92, came up with an equation to estimate this (opens in new tab). The Drake equation, dating from a stage in his career when he was “too naive to be nervous” (as he later put it), has become famous and bears his name.

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