domenica 6 luglio 2014
How My Dad's Equation Sparked the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Soon the astronomer, Frank Drake, would be convening a meeting at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, to discuss what was still a fringe, eyebrow-raising topic: the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Drake had invited everyone he could think of with an interest in the scientific search for E.T.—all 12 of them—to the meeting.
It promised to be a great gathering, hot on the heels of Project Ozma, the media sensation of 1960 that had looked for radio signals around two nearby stars.
Problem was, the meeting's scientific agenda was in disarray. Drake, who was 31, had been busy acting as a one-man organizing and hospitality committee, and had been distracted by meeting logistics. One attendee, UC Berkeley biochemist Melvin Calvin, was rumored to be on the short list for the Nobel Prize in chemistry, which would be announced during the conference. So Drake had spent a chunk of the previous few days solving the pressing problem of where to buy champagne (which would clearly be needed if Calvin won) in an otherwise dry county.
A day before the attendees were to arrive, Drake sketched out a way to focus the scientific discussion on the likelihood of detecting alien civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. He used the term N to describe the number of those worlds.