First Contact Ism by Charlie Griffin Amongst mathematicians, cosmologists and sci-fi nerds with a willingness to dig a little deeper than a bong-fueled conversation beneath a mote of stars on a June night in the Catskills Mountains, there is the Drake Equation. This probabilistic argument is used to estimate the number of intelligent alien civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy and the likelihood of an E.T. visit or communication. This is based on three main variables: the number of habitable planets, the evolution of intelligent life on those planets, and the capacity for civilizations to survive long enough to achieve interstellar communication or travel. The Drake Equation relies on lots of conjecture and little observation and thus results in a wide range of answers. Many are playful or combative extrapolations, and occasionally innovative re-applications. One such retool of the Drake Equation was used by male physics students at Harvard University to address a mystery closer to home: how many eligible single women their age are living in Boston? They arrived at a depressingly sober estimate of around , . Frank Drake was a young radio astronomer when he formulated his equation in . His intention was to catalyze an orderly search for alien life. Radio telescopes had been in use since the s, but it wasn’t until the s that radio telescopes – like the one built at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico – became powerful enough or sensitive enough to possibly detect an alien radio signal amidst the noise of the cosmic microwave background radiation. This noise is the low-level, leftover fluctuating glow of thermal radiation from the Big Bang that streams at us from every direction in the microwave region of the radio spectrum. Eventually, large arrays o Y[[\\\H[\YYۙH\X]\Y[H[\[H8'X8'H\YۈHݙ[H\Y[\H[X[܂\^KHUHY[\^YYHYH\\[XZH\X][[Y[][^][ۈY\KB[[]Y[H\\ݙ\Yو[^]\\X[Y[Yۘ[]\]Z[\[X[H[X[ܙX]H[\H\]X][ۜ[ܛ][\ݙH܈YXH\HܙX]\\\Y]\ۛYHو[YKH[[\[\\[ۛ\]\KZ[Z[&\O[X[\[\[H\H]\HوXH[[YHۈH[]\[[K[HH]YܙX[[ܙ[H H H B[[XK[Y]K[YۛY]H[XYH]Y][ۈۈX\XH[H\XKۈH[ܙH[[YYX]KX\K\X]^H][YX]Bܛ][\]H[Y\YZ[H[\\[BX[\[]Hۜ[Y\Z][܋H[]\XˈHYX]H]\Hو[[\XY[\X\\[[\H\XX['H\[8'H܈Z\XΈH[X[[]X[]H\HH[\\XX[][ۈوY\[[]X\[[ܜ[\[HH]\[Z]\[Z[H]\\Y[H\[]HHوBYو\ZH[YXY\[Z^H[][X]H]H\و\[ۙ\[\H][[]\۸&]\K[HYHو]HZ[[[Y][X[Z[\[Y\ZHX\\Hٝ\H[[^HHۙ&\\X]\X[\X\\XX\X]\Z[]Kۘ[]K[Y\][[ܙHY[Y[[Y[ZH^\K[XH[\Z]YY\˂\\[[[YܝܙX]H]\YX[[ܚ]\[\H[HZ[ܙY\[[Y\[ۜۈ\X\ZHYH܈[ܘKۙܚ][X[\X\܈H]\X[\[\[[H[\[X\[K]ܙX]\[[Z]Hوۘ[]K[XH[Y\˂H[^H]\X[HH[ܙHZHHZH\]X][ۂ[\ZHH\[\[[[HYX]Y[[Yۜو[[Y[]\X[YH[ܛ[قHۋX\\[Y]K[Z[YYܛ\][\Y]Kx&[B[\]H[\YXH[\\Z^X[Y\KYHX\ۚ\X[X[H[BXZܚ]Hو^Y\\H[X[HY[X\[[Z[\H\ܛZ[]H[Z[]\X\X\\HMݚYYH\KBːTԓSPQVSKB