Frank Drake

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Frank Drake, 2012

Frank Donald Drake (born May 28, 1930 in Chicago ) is an American astronomer and astrophysicist .


Frank Drake studied at Cornell University . In 1952 he received his bachelor's degree in technical physics with distinction . Between 1952 and 1955 he served in the US Navy as an electronics officer . At Harvard University he achieved a Master of Science degree in 1956 and a doctorate in astronomy in 1958 .

He started the first radio astronomical experiments in 1960 and founded the so-called Project Ozma (named after the children's book Ozma von Oz ). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and organized the first SETI conference there in 1961 with J. Peter Pearman . He has been director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico since 1965 and was President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1988 to 1990 . In addition, he worked from 1964 to 1984 as professor of astronomy at Cornell University and from 1984 to 1990 as professor of research in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz .

Frank Drake has been President of the SETI Institute since 1984 . In 1974 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .


He developed the Drake equation and presented it in 1961 at the Green Bank Observatory . Since then, this formula has been the basis of all further discussions relating to the search for extraterrestrial life.

In 1974, in collaboration with Carl Sagan and other scientists , he sent a message into space with the Arecibo radio telescope . This project is known as the Arecibo Embassy .

Drake wrote over 150 articles and books, including in 1984 with Dava Sobel as co-author the book Signals from Other Worlds (Is anyone out there?).

In 1983 the Frank Drake Planetarium named after him was inaugurated in Norwood ( Ohio ), in 2015 an asteroid was named after him: (4772) Frankdrake .


Frank Drake has been involved with extraterrestrial life since his youth. He is the first person in history to systematically search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe with the help of radio telescopes . Numerous SETI projects were launched through his initiative, the best known and most successful is SETI at home .


  • Linus Hauser : Critique of the Neomythischen Vernunft Vol. 3. The fictions of science on the way into the 21st century. Paderborn 2016. pp. 374–384.

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