sábado, 17 de enero de 2009

La ecuación de Drake.


  • R = la tasa de nacimiento de estrellas en la Via Láctea, es decir, cuantas estrellas nacen por año,
  • fp = la fracción de esas estrellas que tienen planetas a su alrededor,
  • ne = el número promedio de planetas adecuados para la vida en un sistema solar típico,
  • fl = la fracción de esos planetas en los que se forma la vida,
  • fi = es la fracción de los planetas en los que se forma la vida donde la evolución biológica produce especies inteligentes,
  • fc = la fracción de esas especies inteligentes que desarrollan capacidad de comunicación entre estrellas (interestelar) via radio comunicaciones,
  • T = tiempo de vida promedio de una civilización capaz de comunicación interestelar.
¿Cuántas civilizaciones existen en nuestra galaxia con las que nos podamos comunicar? La pregunta es peliaguda y da pié a largas elucubraciones. Por suerte, el radioastrónomo Frank Drake, padre del proyecto SETI (no confundir con el pirata esclavista inglés), nos dio una pauta de cálculo para mesurar, de una forma ficticia, eso sí, la cantidad de civilizaciones inteligentes activas actualmente en la Vía Láctea.

La ecuación de Drake, aunque aparente ser un poco complicada, en realidad consiste en multiplicar diversos valores estimados. Se trata de una ecuación basada en productos, en realidad una serie de filtros que van reduciendo posibilidades, partiendo de lo general y llegando a lo particular en lo que a vida inteligente se refiere.

La ecuación no arroja un número exacto. El resultado varía dentro de un gran rango. Y es que desde la fecha de su creación hemos descubierto ciertas cosas que hacen variar el producto. Se han descubierto cientos de planetas extrasolares (ne), hemos detectado agua en el subsuelo marciano y metano en su atmósfera y en la de Titán, un posible mar subterráneo en Encélado y en Europa (fl), material orgánico en nubes interestelares, etc. La tasa anual promedio de formación estelar en nuestra galaxia parece ser de 6, según últimos estudios (R). ¿Conclusión? El número de inteligencias en nuestra galaxia es totalmente incierto, y de momento sólo conocemos una civilización ¿inteligente?: La nuestra. Y queda por ver si sobrevivirá o se autoinmolará en un par de siglos.

Pero, dejando el pesimismo aparte, por lo que parece debe de haber centenares de millones de planetas habitables (habitables según para qué y quién), en los que puedan surgir seres con radiotelescopios y ganas de dejar un comentario en Observatorio (o en este blog) a través de los años-luz. Os dejo con Carl Sagan.

26 comentarios:

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No se si habrá millones de civilizaciones, lo que sí creo es que, han sido y serán civilizaciones que fueron y que ya se extinguieron, civilizaciones que son ahora mismo y que, como nosotros, no tienen la tecnología necesaria para efectuar el contacto, y, también podría ser que estas sean muy adelantadas y no quieran interferir en nuestra evolución y nos dejan que alcancemos el grado o nivel necesario antes de contactar.

Es difícil determinar que no hay vida inteligente en el vasto universo al que pertenecemos, sería un desperdicio de espacio, y, sobre todo, sería una contradicción a las leyes de la física y de la química que únidas, dan lugar a todas las formas de la biología que en el Universo tiene que haber.

Por nuestra parte, además de la tecnología insuficiente, están las insalvables distancias. Necesitamos caminos que burlen el muro de la velocidad de la luz.

En fin amigos, este tema apasionante y del que, hasta el momento, no tenemos ninguna muestra con la que comparar la única vida consciente que conocemos "la nuestra", nos hace seguir la búsqueda y nos mantiene curiosos y muy despiertos con la esperanza de que, finalmente, se producirá el Gran Acontecimiento.

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