Simplified Drake

Drake equation

Great Filter calculation proceeds, around the back:

… according to a new paper published in the journal Astrobiology, recent discoveries of exoplanets combined with a broader approach to answering this question has allowed researchers to conclude that, unless the odds of advanced life evolving on a habitable planet are immensely low, then humankind is not the universe’s first technological, or advanced, civilization. […] “The question of whether advanced civilizations exist elsewhere in the universe has always been vexed with three large uncertainties in the Drake equation,” said Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester and co-author of the paper, in a press release. […] … “Thanks to NASA’s Kepler satellite and other searches, we now know that roughly one-fifth of stars have planets in ‘habitable zones,’ where temperatures could support life as we know it. So one of the three big uncertainties has now been constrained,” explained Frank.

Thing is:

However, the universe is more than 13 billion years old. “That means that even if there have been a thousand civilizations in our own galaxy, if they live only as long as we have been around — roughly ten thousand years — then all of them are likely already extinct,” explained Sullivan. “And others won’t evolve until we are long gone.”

(Apologies for the image quality — stumped in my search for a better one.)

Tallied Solar System

All (known) Bodies in our Solar System Larger than 320 Kilometers in Diameter graphically cataloged (on a huge, scrollable image). 88 objects in total. The roll-call:

solarsystembodies_metric

One star
Four gas giant planets
Four terrestrial planets
Three dwarf planets
21 moons
Four asteroids, and
51 Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs)

Musk on Mars

UPI (among others) reports:

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he plans to send humans to Mars by 2025. … […] “Mars is the next natural step. In fact, it’s the only planet we have a shot at establishing a self-sustaining city on,” he said. “Once we do establish such a city, there will be strong forcing function for the improvement of space flight technology that will then enable us to establish colonies elsewhere in the solar system and ultimately extend beyond our solar system.”

‘Forcing functions’ play a critical role in Musk’s thinking. Beginning to do something is catalytic. It activates the positive cybernetics required to carry the process forward. That’s why Musk likes to get started with things he wants to see done, at the earliest opportunity, and certainly before there’s any basis for a confident forecast — in the absence of forcing functions — that they’re ultimately doable at all.

Every significant business leader of recent times has had a cybernetic heuristic of some kind. They function as entrepreneurial propellant. Musk’s might well be the most dynamic we’ve seen yet.

ADDED: On-topic Reddit meanderings.