Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Is E.T. Capable of Knowing?


Does knowledge exist outside of earth?

One of the biggest questions humans have asked since the dawn of time is, whether there is life outside of earth. One can only assume that there is another planet in existence other than earth that can provide the necessities to bear life, but what are the chances that the life that exists is intelligent. In other words, can these extra terrestrial organisms perceive knowledge? It is a very daunting question, but one that I really want to investigate.

Thanks to astrophysicist Frank Drake, we have come slightly closer to calculating the probability of other life forms.  His research led him to create the Drake Equation: an equation that calculates the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible.  Although the specifications of this equation do not provide us with the number of planets that can harbor knowledge, we can conclude that if the species in the civilization can communicate through radio, they are conscious beings that can perceive an idea similar to knowledge.

Drake Equation:


  • N = The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
  • R* =The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
  • fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
  • ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.
  • fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.
  • fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.
  • fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
  • L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

– Frank Drake

After plugging in the numbers Frank Drake came up with the conclusion that in the Milky Way there are four to ten planets with civilizations capable of communicating with us through radio. Although this is quite interesting, the factors in the equation vary quite a lot, and depend too much on the unknown. Furthermore, an organism with the intelligence of a dog can exemplify the use of knowledge. As a result, this leaves me quite sure that there are more than 4 to 10 planets where knowledge exists. Not to mention, that is only in the Milky Way.

So, to answer my initial question, “does knowledge exist outside of Earth?”, I think yes it does. Although it is only a theory, the possibility of it being true is quite high. But this causes me to enter a loop of so many questions. But the one I’ll leave with you now is, will our lack of communication with extra terrestrials cause detrimental consequences between the sharing of our knowledge and theirs?


2 Responses to Is E.T. Capable of Knowing?

  1. kelseyf says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I think it is a very interesting and unique question to pose during this unit. In your post, you said you believed that there is life outside of Earth. What do you think would be the consequences if we were able to contact other beings? And although life has been determind on other planets, do you think it would be intelligent life, or just small bacteria/organisms?

  2. jeff says:

    Hey David,
    I really enjoyed reading your post as well. It’s really cool how you have the formula there too. My question would be, since you believe that the knowledge of radios is not necessary for beings to have knowledge, and there are more than 4-10 planets that have radio capability, then do you think the planets who don’t have radio capability will evolve beings that will eventually achieve this level of technical knowledge?


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