The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake not for purposes of quantifying the number of civilizations, but intended as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at the world's first SETI meeting, in Green Bank, West Virginia. The equation summarizes the main concepts which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of other radio-communicative life. The Drake equation has proved controversial since several of its factors are currently unknown, and estimates of their values span a very wide range. This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless. History In September 1959, physicists Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in the journal Nature with the provocative title "Searching for Interstellar Communications The equation The Drake equation is: where: .
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