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The famous American astronomer Frank Drake has died

Died at the age of 92, at his home in California, the eminent astronomer Frank Drake, famous throughout the world for his pioneering research into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the even more famous eponymous “Drake Equation” which calculates the possible number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy based on a number of parameters.

It was a taboo subject that frightened astronomers and continues to keep many at a distance from related research to this day. Thanks to his boldness, Drake inspired a few but determined scientists to take the issue more seriously. Today, thanks to the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, its important historical contribution is better understood. In a universe that is about 13.8 billion years old, it is not at all unlikely that there have been civilizations on other worlds.

Drake was a professor astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California-Santa Cruz, as well as the 19-year president of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI). In 1961, while he was working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in West Virginia and while he had since 1960 begun the first organized investigation of radio signals from “intelligent” extraterrestrial imgs (Project Ozma), he presented his now famous equation that has since become a framework report on the studies report on the possibility of finding extraterrestrials.

Apart from the equation, which was a theoretical construct (which ran counter to the prejudices of his colleagues, many of whom to this day discredit the search for extraterrestrials), throughout his career he worked to perfect the technical methods of detecting radio signals from alien intelligence. He also participated in the discovery of Jupiter’s radiation belts and played an important role in the observations that led to the understanding of neutron stars (pulsars).

Drake created in 1974 the first interstellar message intentionally transmitted to space from Earth, known as the “Arecibo message” after the radio telescope of the same name. He also took part, along with astronomer Carl Sagan and others, in designing the messages on the plaques placed on the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, as well as the corresponding gold disc on Voyager 1 and 2, with messages intended for aliens to see (the how much they will understand is another matter…).

Drake he had been born in Chicago in 1930, had studied physics at Cornell University in New York and received his doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University. After his tenure at the NRAO radio telescope and after directing the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico (1966-68), he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), before becoming a professor of astronomy at Cornell (1976) and then at the Univ. of California-Santa Cruz (1984-1996).

After his retirement he tirelessly continued his study on the detection of extraterrestrial life through the design of a new type of radio telescope. He was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Source: News Beast

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