Encyclopedia Galactica

I watched the twelfth episode today as well, but decided to write it up as a separate entry to avoid confusion (also I wasn't sure I'd have time to finish it). The theme of this episode was extraterrestrial civilizations, ufos, and such. It started off with a dramatization of the Betty & Barney Hill story and gave a fair bit of information about their supposed close encounter. Dr. Sagan went into detail with regard to the star map the Hills supposedly saw and showed that a lot, if not all of the credibility as to whether it is true seems to be based on this "map". He demonstrated that the lines were made to look like those in the Hill map, but when the lines from both are removed that there is very little resemblance between the star patterns.

He then went on to talk in detail about how Fourier essentially discovered the young Francois Champollion who ended up deciphering Egyptian Hieroglyphics using the Rosetta Stone and other artefacts. This led into a discussion of what we could use today in the event we happened to receive an extraterrestrial signal, and the answer was science as it would be something that was universal. Arecibo Radio Observatory was featured in this segment and information was given about the transmission sent to M13.

One of the more interesting segments was next when Dr. Sagan went through the Drake Equation in detail and worked out two possible answers to it.

He assumed that the variables were as follows:

N* (Total stars in the Milky Way)
fp (Fraction of star that have planets)
Ne (Fraction suitable for life)
fl (Fraction where life has arisen)
fi (Fraction where intelligence has arisen)
fc (Fraction with communication capabilities)
fL (Fraction of time with a technological civilization)
N  (Number of advanced civilizations capable of radio astronomy)

400 Billion x 0.25 x 2 x 0,50 x 0.10 x 0.10 x 0.000001 = 10

400 Billion x 0.25 x 2 x 0,50 x 0.10 x 0.10 x 0.01 = 10 Billion

The episode concluded with Dr. Sagan speculating on what an Encyclopedia Galactica might be like. An interesting prospect to say the least. I wonder what the entry for Earth really would be?



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