Frank Drake

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Frank Drake
Frank Drake in 2017
Frank Donald Drake

(1930-05-28)May 28, 1930
DiedSeptember 2, 2022(2022-09-02) (aged 92)
Alma materCornell University
Harvard University
Known forSETI
Drake equation
Scientific career

Frank Donald Drake PhD (May 28, 1930 – September 2, 2022) was an American astronomer (a scientist who studies the universe and what is inside it) and astrophysicist (someone who studies the physics of astronomy). He is most famous for joining in the first new SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) experiment in 1960 and for making the Drake equation.

Early Life[change | change source]

Born on the 28th of May 1930 in Chicago to Richard and Winifred Drake. As a young boy in Chicago, Drake loved electronics and chemistry. He says that he thought of life on other planets but never talked about the idea with his family or teachers.[1]

He enrolled at Cornell University on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Once there, he began studying astronomy. A lecture from astrophysist Otto Struve in 1951 strengthen Drake's ideas about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. After college, he served briefly as an electronics officer on the USS Albany. He then went on to graduate school at Harvard in radio astronomy.

Drake's hobbies included lapidary and orchid cultivation.

Career[change | change source]

Drake started his career undertaking radio astronomical research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia, and for a short time in 1963 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He conducted key measurements which revealed the presence of a Jovian ionosphere and magnetosphere.[2]

In 1960, he started Project Ozma, which searches for extraterrestrial life. Drake is one of the pioneers of the modern field of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with Giuseppe Cocconi, Philip Morrison, Iosif Shklovsky, and Carl Sagan.

Drake joined the Astronomy faculty of Cornell University in 1963. Drake lead the conversion of the Arecibo Observatory to a radio astronomical facility. He lead Arecibo's improvements in 1974 and 1996. As a researcher, Drake was involved in the early work on pulsars. Drake was a professor at Cornell University and Director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center – the formal name for the Arecibo facility. In 1974 he wrote the Arecibo message.[3]

Drake co-designed the Pioneer plaque with Carl Sagan in 1972, the first physical message sent into space. The plaque was made to be read by clever alien life if they find it. He later helped the making of the Voyager Golden Record. He was elected to the AAAS in 1974.

Drake was a member of the National Academy of Sciences where he chaired the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council (1989–92). He also served as President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He was involved in "The Carl Sagan Center for the Study of life in the universe".

He was Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics[4] at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences (1984–88). He served on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute.

Death[change | change source]

Drake died on September 2, 2022 at his home in Aptos, California from natural causes at the age of 92.[5]

Honors[change | change source]

Drake Planetarium at Norwood High School in Norwood, Ohio is named for Dr. Drake and linked to NASA.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Space:SETI-Frank Drake - Biography". Archived from the original on 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  2. "Space: SETI: Frank Drake Biography". Archived from the original on November 24, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  3. David, Leonard (Summer 1980). "Putting Our Best Signal Forward". Cosmic Search. 2 (3): 2–7. Bibcode:1980CosSe...2....2D.
  4. University of California | Lick observatory retrieved 18:29 23.10.2011
  5. Frank Donald Drake

Other websites[change | change source]

Quotations related to Frank Drake at Wikiquote