“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
I’ve used that quote from astronomer Carl Sagan in two of my books now. I love it. It’s idealistic and hopeful. It speaks to the wonder of children as they look up at the stars—a wonder that seems, for whatever reason, to dissipate with age. Kids dream of space ships, aliens, and life on far-away planets. Adults, strangely, lose those dreams, and aliens get lumped together with urban legends, myths, and nonsense.
The X-Files mantra was “I Want To Believe,” but I don’t just want to believe. I do believe. There is life in this universe aside from just life on Earth. I’m not talking about the guy with the crazy hair on the History channel, talking about aliens building the pyramids, or creating crop circles, or raising Stonehenge. I’m talking about real, scientific possibility of other-worldly existence. (Which is not to say there aren’t compelling stories about alien contact—but I’ll get into that in coming weeks.)
There’s a scientific tool created to help us believe in alien life. It’s called the Drake Equation. (Named after Dr. Frank Drake.) The equation isn’t solved—there’s no solid answer to the equation; instead, it’s was created to inspire other scientists to work on the search for extraterrestrial life. It is this:
N = R x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L
That looks complex, but it’s not. It’s all about probability. It means, simply, this: N (the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication may be possible) equals R (the average rate of star formation) times fp (the fraction of those stars that have planets) times ne (the average number of planets that could support life) times fl (the fraction of planets that could support life that actually do support life) times fi (the fraction of planets that support life that is deemed “intelligent”) times fc (the fraction of civilizations of intelligent life that can actually develop technology that extends into space) times L (the length of time those civilizations release detectable signals into space.)
Easy, right? Now we just have to argue about what those numbers and fractions are. When this equation was initially discussed, the scientists came to the conclusion that, using the most conservative estimates possible, N = 20. Using the most liberal estimates, it was 50,000,000. That’s right: fifty million possible civilizations! And the crazier thing: that was the estimate in 1960. Now, some scientists estimate the number might be closer to 280,000,000!
Why? As Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” How big is it? There may be as many as one trillion stars, and even more trillions of planets. Big.
So over the next several weeks, we’re going to take a look at aliens. Some of it will be sciencey, and some of it will be fictiony, but all of it should be fun.
Title: DARK ENERGY
Author: Robison Wells
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
We are not alone. They are here. And there’s no going back. Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the I Am Number Four series, Dark Energy is a thrilling stand-alone science fiction adventure from Robison Wells, critically acclaimed author of Variant and Blackout. Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest. Since then, nothing—or no one—has come out. If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching the fallout on the news. But her dad is director of special projects at NASA, so she’s been forced to enroll in a boarding school not far from the crash site. Alice is right in the middle of the action, but even she isn’t sure what to expect when the aliens finally emerge. Only one thing is clear: everything has changed.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of DARK ENERGY, US Only.
Robison Wells is the author of Blackout, Deadzone, Variant, Feedback, Dark Energy, and Airships of Camelot. Variant was a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a Bestseller. Robison lives in the Rocky Mountains in a house not too far from elk pastures. His wife, Erin, is a better person than he will ever be, and their three kids cause mischief and/or joy.
Robison has an MBA in Marketing, and a BS in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations of the Middle East.
Robison suffers from five mental illnesses (panic disorder, OCD, agoraphobia, depression and dermatillomania) and is an outspoken advocate for those with mental illnesses.
His books have been published in nine different languages, and he is the winner of many awards both in and out of the United States.
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