Life sometimes has a way of presenting stuff in well matched pairs, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, say, or lightly salted Doritos and mild salsa dip. In the week that I finished ‘Fermi and Frost’, a great short story by Frederick Pohl, BBC4 put out a documentary called The Search for Life: The Drake Equation.
Pohl’s story looks at the Fermi Paradox which asks the question, “If the universe is full of intelligent life, where are they all?”, and wonders if the answer is, “well, perhaps they all hit the self-destruct button before they got around to paying social calls”.
The documentary also looks at Fermi’s Paradox and at the work of SETI and Frank Drake, who came up with the equation to estimate how many planets in the galaxy are host to an intelligent extra-terrestrial civilization. There is a wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide moment when the great man himself writes out his equation and announces that, in 1961, the answer was 50,000.
Story and documentary complement each other nicely.
Read Pohl’s story in the recent anthology ‘The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF’, ed. Mike Ashley, and check out the documentary at: