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Frank Drake, the father of the Seti program for listening to extraterrestrials, has died!

He’s one of the big names in theexobiology born in the XXe century that has just left us, perhaps to join somewhere Carl Sagan as well as their Russian and Ukrainian colleagues Nikolai Kardashev and Iossif Chklovskywithout forgetting Arthur Clarke. This is the American radio astronomer Frank Drake whose birthday Futura celebrated 12 years ago with the previous article below to which we refer. One of his daughters, Nadia Drake, recently announced the death of her father on Twitter.

Frank Drake is considered by many to be the “father of modern SETI”. Perhaps most famous for his formulation of the Drake Equation, he was also a key member of the team that produced the Golden Records which are carried into interstellar space by the Voyager spacecraft. In 1960 Drake performed a pioneering SETI experiment (known as Project Ozma) at the Green Bank Observatory. He continued to be active with SETI in 2017 when this video was uploaded, including as a member of the Breakthrough Listen Scientific Advisory Board. In it, Drake spoke about his thoughts on the methods and implications of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence today, such as looking for laser emissions. To obtain a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English subtitles should then appear. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Subtitles” and finally on “Translate automatically”. Choose “French”. © BerkeleySETI

Among Frank Drake’s colleagues paying tribute to him on Twitter is Franck Marchis, whom Futura readers know well for his involvement in the diffusion of the eVscopes from Unistellar.

Frank Drake is also the famous equation bearing his name but many other things. Here are his thoughts on the program seti in an interview given years ago, following the video where Carl Sagan explains what the Drake equation means. It is taken from the famous series Cosmos whose magic music had been composed by Vangelis.

To obtain a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English subtitles should then appear. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Subtitles” and finally on “Translate automatically”. Choose “French”. © carlsagandotcom

Frank Drake – What Would Intelligent Aliens Mean? Are there intelligent aliens? Who knows? But here’s what we do know: The potential existence of intelligent aliens probes the meaning and purpose of the universe. What would it mean if the universe was teeming with life? What would it mean if we humans were alone?. To obtain a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English subtitles should then appear. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Subtitles” and finally on “Translate automatically”. Choose “French”. © Closer To Truth

Frank Drake – Where are all these aliens? To obtain a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English subtitles should then appear. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Subtitles” and finally on “Translate automatically”. Choose “French”. © Closer To Truth

Listening to extraterrestrials for fifty years already!

Article of Laurent Sacco published on 01/06/2010

Exactly half a century ago, the first attempt to listen to a possible extraterrestrial message began using a radio telescope : the Ozma project. For this anniversary, Frank Drake, the originator of this project and, also, of Seti, returned to listen to the ETs at Green Bank, the very place where he had started.

In September 1959, the magazine Nature published a visionary article by Giuseppe Cocconiwho played an important role in the initiation of the Proton Synchrotron from CERN, and Philip Morrisonwho had participated in the Manhattan Project: Searching for Interstellar Communications.

Both physicists held the following reasoning: if advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist in the Galaxy they probably communicate with each other or with their colonies using waves radio. By considering the wavelengths most conducive to the distant transmission of clear signals, despite the galactic radio background noise, they had concluded that the most suitable radio band was the narrow one surrounding the 21 cm wavelength.

Moreover, this band corresponds to a so-called hyperfine transition in the atom ofhydrogen neutral, the most abundant element of theUniverse. It was therefore a good way to establish a standard of communication, naturally adopted by any developed civilization.

The young radio astronomer Frank Drake had come to the same conclusions around the same time. Luckily, he was then stationed at National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), more precisely to the famous Green Bank radio telescope, perfectly adapted to listen to possible interstellar communications in the band of the now famous “ water hole ” (in English water hole). This frequency band takes its name from the fact that it extends from about 1.4 GHz (frequency of atomic hydrogen H which corresponds to the wavelength of 21 cm) to just over 1.6 GHz (frequency of hydroxyl radical OH), H and OH being the two constituents of HOH water.

Messages from the Earthlings

With a longtime interest in exobiology, Drake started the Ozma Project, named after a princess from the land of Oz. Listening to the sky with the Green Bank radio telescope began on April 8, 1960, lasted a month, stopped for a duration equivalent before ending in July after another month. During these two periods, Drake and his colleagues listened for 6 hours a day to two stars similar to the Sun and located less than 15 light yearsTau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. The result was negative but the opposite would have been surprising and Drake did not stop there.

Indeed, he was not long in publishing the famous equation bearing his name, intended for the evaluation of the number of advanced civilizations able to communicate with us in the Milky Way. Above all, he was at the origin with Carl Sagan of the Seti project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). During the 1970s he designed, again with Carl Sagan, the famous plate fitted to the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, launched in 1972 and 1973, and was one of the principal editors of the no less famous message from Arecibo in 1974, sent in the direction of the globular cluster M31about 21,000 light-years from the Sun.

The Ozma project is therefore 50 years old this year and its initiator, Frank Drake, who was born on May 28, 1930, is still active. By the way, to celebrate the event, he just went to the Green Bank radio telescope some time ago where he again listened to Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for an hour.

It is always difficult to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way and the number able to communicate with us. On the other hand, we now know that the exoplanets are common in the Galaxy and can even be observed directly, as was the case forFomalhaut b. Frank Drake can only feel strengthened in his conviction that somewhere in space, an intelligent life form is waiting for us to make contact with it.

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