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Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13 

Mathematics  


The Drake Equation - The Search for Intelligent Life
By Cynthia Kirkeby, Sarah Lane
Aug 24, 2006, 19:28 PST



The Drake Equation

Looking for Intelligent Life

Movies in the Classroom

 

                          
The Starburst Galaxy-Courtesy of JPL/NASA

Grade Level - 8-12, college

Subject Mathematics, Science

Keywords Draks Equation, SETI, Frank Drake, mathematics, science, Contact,

Author - Cynthia F. Kirkeby    thebrains@classbrain.com       

Affiliation - ClassBrain, Inc.

Date - 23 May, 2002

Duration 1-2 class periods

Background 

 

The Drake Equation, created by Frank Drake in 1961, is used to estimate the likelihood that another civilization within the Milky Way Galaxy might be able to contact Earth.  Although it seems as though this would be an impossible topic to even start to tackle, Drake systematically broke down the problem into a series of variables, and a seemingly impossible task took shape as the Drake Equation.

 

Carl Sagan was a Professor Of Astronomy and the Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University.  He was involved with many of the NASA space expeditions including: Mariner, Viking, and Voyager. His interest in the possibility of intelligent life in the universe inspired him to write Contact, a story about one scientiss quest for life beyond Earth.



Objectives and Projects

 

Watch Contact, and/or read the book and discuss SETs probability of success related to their ability to contact other intelligent life in our galaxy.

 

Project One:

Use the ClassBrain Drake Equation Calculator to experiment with the number of possible intelligent species in our galaxy that may have the ability to contact us.

 

Project Two:

Use the Alien Race Worksheet to outline the specifics of a possible alien race from somewhere else in our galaxy.

Available Worksheets & Resources

 

The ClassBrain Drake Equation Calculator

Alien Race Worksheet

Film 1:  Contact (1997)

 

  • Synopsis:  
    � Warner Bros 1997

Carl Sagan takes you on a journey across the earth and to the center of the Milky Way as we contemplate the question of whether wre alone in the galaxy.

 

  • Genre(s)- Drama, Sci Fi, Adventure
  • Rating - Rated PG for some intense action, mild language and a scene of sensuality
  • Family Rating:    not available
  • Running Time- 2 hrs 33 min

 

  • Primary Actors - Jodie Foster , Jena Malone, Matthew McConaughey,  David Morse, Geoffrey Blake       
  • Director- Robert Zemeckis                      
  • MusicScreenplay - Carl Sagan (book), Ann Druyan (story), James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg (screenplay)  
  • Producers - Steven J. Boyd, Joan Bradshaw, Ann Druyan, Lynda Obst,  Rick Porras,  Carl Sagan, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
  • Studio- Warner Bros.

Reading Connections

 




Recommended Movies

 



Related Internet Sources

 

Contact and the Drake Equation

This is an explanation of the Drake Equation and includes a breakdown of the symbols used.  Read an interview with Frank Drake and find out how he uses estimation for calculating how many civilizations may be out there.

Source:      Warner Brothers

 

Life in the Universe

Find out exactly how the Drake equation came about, as well as detailed information on the breakdown scientists use to make it work.  Decide for yourself if the Drake Equation isa way of encapsulating a lot of ignorance in a small space

Source:      Life in the Universe, & SETI League, Inc.

 

SETI

Meant to help the average individual explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature, prevalence, and distribution of life in the universe.  Special features include weekly columns, and educational section, and the speculative answers to questions such as, Whs Really Out There?

Source:      SETI Institute

 

Planetary Society

The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman. Its purpose is to encourage the exploration of our solar system and the search for extraterrestrial life.  It also encourages all space-faring nations to explore other worlds and supports the research and development of projects that can seed future projects of planetary exploration.

Source:      The Planetary Society

 

NASA Terrestrial Planet Finder

The TPF mission is to study all aspects of planets outside our solar system from their formation and development.  By using space technologies TPF will measure the size, temperature, and placement of planets.  Be sure to check out the multimedia gallery for 3D Starlight, or a virtual tour of Keck, the worls largest observatory.

Source:      NASA

 

 




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