Okay, so the title sounds familiar but it’s wrong. And why does it matter? For the record, the actual quote is more like “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It comes from philosophers in the Middle Ages. Before I get to the point of all this nonsense, I have to tell you I was shocked to find an actual equation formulated by a guy named Anders Sandberg that can help us find the answer—if we ask the right question. Sandberg says we can get the right answer if we reformulate the question. This would mean you can’t use the head of the pin, but should use the point.
That makes so much sense. Why didn’t I think of that?
Anyway, Sena found an article (“Humanity Will Need to Survive About 400,000 Years if We Want any Chance of Hearing from an Alien Civilization”) that says something called the Drake Equation shows that it’ll take about 400,000 years before we have contact with an alien civilization. The Drake Equation tries to estimate how many Communicating Extraterrestrial Intelligent Civilizations (CETIs) there are. The equation has been called flawed because of the unpredictability of quantifying the probability life may appear on a suitable planet. It’s a matter of conjecture. I don’t get the math, but the concept is interesting.
Now the author of this blog post (it’s actually a WordPress blog called Universe Today) cites a study from a couple of researchers that essentially ask a different question, mathematically speaking. The researchers think of this as a thought experiment and give a rather pessimistic outlook on the whole thing.
Now look back at a 2016 New York Times article, “Yes, There Have Been Aliens,” an opinion piece written by astrophysics professor Adam Frank. He is more optimistic about the Drake Equation and cautions us to “…ask the right question.”
You’ll have to subscribe to the New York Times if you can’t read Frank’s full opinion piece in one sitting. Not that I have any dispute with him, but this reminds me of Agent K in Men in Black who praised supermarket tabloids as having the “Best investigative reporting on the planet; read the New York Times if you want, they get lucky sometimes.”
Again, the math is beyond my little pinhead, but Frank was a lot more optimistic about contacting aliens. It sounds like the outlook on this depends a lot on how you set up the equation. Get the point?
Now, haven’t these guys checked the news and watched the paranormal TV shows? Are they not aware of the large population of UFO watchers out there? One source says that Canadians are spotting up to 3 UFOs a day.
Hey, aliens even stop to admire our lawns. Giorgio Tsoukalos, AKA, the hair guy, from Ancient Aliens would say the aliens contacted us a long time ago. So, why do we need the Drake Equation?
That’s why we need to ask the right question. So how many times do aliens grab their groins while rapping unintelligible lyrics on the point of a pin?
That’s right; the answer is zero—aliens don’t have groins. You’re welcome.
Featured image picture credit: Pixydotorg.