An Interview with Frank Drake

Conducted by Andrew Fraknoi on June 24, 2012

In June 2012, the SETI Institute sponsored another three-day public event called SETICon – a series of talks, panels, and events featuring scientists, authors, futurists, and film-makers.   It was a time and place for science and the imagination to meet.  One highlight of the program was an interview with the “father of SETI science,” astronomer Frank Drake (the first President of the SETI Institute Board. )  It was conducted by SETI Institute Board Member and veteran astronomy educator Andrew Fraknoi.  The discussion ranged widely over Dr. Drake’s career and current thinking, and included reminiscences of Project OZMA, the very first experiment searching for signals from civilizations among the stars, and his current view of the Drake Equation (estimating the chances of intelligent life out there).  He also reflects on a number of modern developments, including the discovery of numerous planets orbiting other stars and new ways of searching for extra-terrestrial civilizations.

Special Note: The audience at this special event received a reprint of Frank Drake’s personal history of the Drake Equation, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in a series edited by Andrew Fraknoi.  Because of its historical importance, this article is now available freely on the web at:
http://www.astrosociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ab2010-46.pdf