Here's a little something about the Drake Equation, based on the song "I've Got a Little List" from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" (here's a rather good modern take on it by Opera Australia.)

To answer those who ask why there's no aliens around
I've got a little list
I've got a little list
Of factors that when multiplied say whether they're not found
Because they don't exist
Because they don't exist
There's the rate at which our galaxy produces newborn stars
Which shine from gaseous nurseries like lightning bugs in jars
Times the fraction of those stars that have a planet somewhere near
Times the number in each system with an Earth-like atmosphere
And all the other niceties on which life forms insist
Provided they exist--
Provided they exist.

[chorus]
The factors on this list
Will certainly assist
To calculate the gist
Of whether they exist

From this count of clement planets in the habitable zone
Where our hypothesis
Is that life could exist
Extract the fraction on which life has come into its own
That's the next thing on the list--
Where does life in fact exist?
Times the fraction of those planets on which life complexifies
Gains multicellularity and nifty things like eyes
Invents itself a language and a culture and some tools
(The hallmarks of intelligence as taught in all the schools)
In short, all the prerequisites to be technologists--
If all these traits persist
We could find out they exist.

[chorus]
The factors on this list
Will certainly assist
To calculate the gist
Of whether they exist

We can only count the beings with the wherewithal to send
A message through the mist
To tell us they exist
The fraction of societies with resources to spend
On astrobiologists
Is the next thing on the list
But communicating life forms like the ones for which we seek
Will be difficult to locate if they all die out next week
So the final factor in this little formula of mine
Is the length of time before the species falls into decline
And solves the Fermi paradox by ceasing to exist
And--its presence being missed--
Causes Drake to write this list.

Now I think you get the gist
Of Drake's eponymous list
And know whether to insist
That aliens exist

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