Category Archives: Science

Animal’s Daily Fusion News

Before we begin – check out my latest over at Glibertarians.  This week we examine the life and works of P.O. Ackley, one of America’s greatest riflesmiths and cartridge developers.

Apparently there’s a problem with tokamak-style fusion reactors, which is known as “chirping” or, more specifically, Alfvén mode chirping.  Funny, but that’s not the kind of chirping I’m used to (fair warning – language!)

Now some physicists may have found a way to deal with this problem in fusion reactors.  Excerpt:

Researchers with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) of the Department of Energy have released a new paper documenting a way to help enable nuclear fusion reactors. They describe the scientific reasons for a phenomenon within tokamak reactors called Alfvén mode chirping.

Let’s race through some terms here. A tokamak is the donut-shaped great hope of nuclear fusion. (Its cousin, the stellarator, has great potential, but is less developed so far.) Inside, a stream of unfathomably hot plasma—as hot as or even far hotter than our sun—is contained by a powerful magnetic field that must be totally effective for the reactor to stay at productive fusion temperatures.

There’s a constant push-pull between the stream of plasma and the magnetic field, and the nature of burning hot matter means the plasma is swirling and circulating even within the stream. This is where and why “chirping” occurs. Researcher Vinicius Duarte explains it in a PPPL statement: 

“For any fusion device to work, you need to make sure that the highly energetic particles within it are very well confined within the plasma core. If those particles drift to the edge of the plasma, you can’t sustain the steady-state burning plasma needed to make fusion-powered electricity a reality.”

So, we’re now what, thirty years away from having practical nuclear fusion reactors?  Just like we were thirty years ago?  Just like we will be thirty years from now?

Look, True Believers, I’d dearly love to see practical fusion reactors become a reality.  It would be revolutionary; clean, cheap energy, and an almost unlimited supply of it.  But aside from the technical challenges, I’m afraid the political challenges will be insurmountable.  Look at hard it is now to pursue the one avenue of clean, cheap, abundant energy that’s already available to us now – nuclear fission.

Instead, we have a “Green” movement who thinks that a modern technological society can be powered by pixie dust and unicorn farts.

I hope these technical problems can actually be worked out.  This advance is one step in the right direction, and what remains of my personal optimism makes me think that one day we will have practical fusion for energy production.

But the political side?  I’m not optimistic enough to think we’ll overcome that.  Not in a nation that is day-by-day sliding further into insanity.  As of today, this early morning, I’m more inclined to think my grandchildren will end up burning stove wood to keep their homes warm, like my great-grandparents did in the late nineteenth century.

Animal’s Daily Tough Stuff News

I think I want a gun safe made of this stuff.  Excerpt:

In the lightweight material, ceramic spheres are encased in a cellular aluminium structure, which in tests could not be cut by angle grinders, drills or high-pressure water jets.

The idea was developed by an international team led by Durham University, UK, and Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Germany.

And it works, they write in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, because of a dynamic response that is more akin to living structures: the material’s evolving internal structure creates high-speed motion where it interacts with the cutting tools.

The interaction between the disc and ceramic sphere creates an interlocking, vibrational connection that resists the cutting tool indefinitely. The blade is gradually eroded, and eventually rendered ineffective as the force and energy of the disc or the drill is turned back on itself, and it is weakened and destroyed by its own attack.

In addition, the ceramics fragment into fine particles, which fill the cellular structure of the material and harden as the speed of the cutting tool is increased due to interatomic forces between the ceramic grains.

Water jets are ineffective because the curved surfaces of the ceramic spheres widen the jet, which substantially reduces its speed and weakens its cutting capacity.

“Essentially cutting our material is like cutting through a jelly-filled with nuggets,” says Durham’s Stefan Szyniszewski, the lead author. “If you get through the jelly you hit the nuggets and the material will vibrate in such a way that it destroys the cutting disc or drill bit.

As far as things like safes and secure rooms are concerned, if this material becomes widespread for such uses it’s only a matter of time before someone finds a way to defeat it.  These things are always arms races of a sort.

And figure on this being a while making its way into any such use, even assuming it can be mass-produced.  At first, mind you, it will be very expensive, but while creating a new material like this is the work of genius, mass-producing it once created is the work of engineering.  If something can be made, it can be produced; the only question is, can it be produced at a price point that will make people want to buy it for various application, like, say, gun safes.

Still.  Things like this are pretty neat.  It’s often said that today’s problems are solved by tomorrow’s technology, and this is a demonstration of that; I imagine plenty of people and organizations would pay a premium for a safe that can’t be broken.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

I hate hot weather.  And it’s a hot one this week.  Yesterday wasn’t that bad, but it’s going to be well into the nineties by the weekend.  Of all the reasons Mrs. Animal and I want to move up north to the Great Land, the cool summers are a big part of it.

Granted eastern Iowa where I grew up was worse than here in Colorado, having not only heat but also humidity.  And the winters were actually worse than the typical winters in Alaska near the ocean.  I’ve often said that there were two reasons I left the Midwest:  The summers, and the winters.  But in fact, I can handle cold weather better than hot weather.  You can always put more clothes on, but there is a limit to how much you can take off without upsetting the neighbors.

Anyhow; with that out of the way…

On To the Links!

Trump to Minnesota:  You broke it, you bought it.

I love a happy ending.

What do they know that we don’t?

When bears start associating humans with food, it never ends well.

But, sure, let’s start sending social workers instead of cops on these.

Answer to a question nobody’s asking.

Bookmark this site and keep an eye on it.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Seattle City Council are all idiots.

Bill De Blasio is an idiot.  (Yes, again.)

USA Today’s fact checkers are idiots.

Congresscritter Crazy Eyes is an idiot.  (Yes, again.)

And So:

I don’t have any more deep thoughts or perspectives to share on this busy week, so instead, here is a representative of the better things about summer:

On that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Airline Seats News

Be sure to check out my latest over at Glibertarians – this week’s entry is five guns you should consider in the event Something Bad Happens.  Now then:

Wow – the airlines can cut your odds of contracting the Kung Flu on an airplane by eliminating middle seats!  Sounds great, eh?  Well, maybe not so much.  Excerpt:

Eliminating the middle seat on planes may help cut already low on-flight coronavirus risk even more, a new research paper from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested.

The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, pegs the risk of contracting COVID-19 from nearby passengers on a full flight at about 1 in 4,300. According to the research findings, that risk drops to 1 in 7,700 when the middle seat is not booked.

The research paper, titled “Covid-19 Risk Among Airline Passengers: Should the Middle Seat Stay Empty?” was penned by award-winning MIT statistician Arnold Barnett and published in MedRxiv earlier this month.

The calculations, Barnett writes, “do suggest a measurable reduction in COVID-19 risk when middle seats on aircraft are deliberately kept open.”

“Measurable.”  Well, sure; electron orbits are “measurable,” too.  That’s a word that really carries little meaning in this case.

Let’s measure this another way.  The elimination of middle seats – something I’d love, by the way, for purely selfish reasons – would reduce your risk of a Kung Flu infection from 0.233% to 0.130%.

Well, that sure is measurable.  As in, it can be measured.

By way of comparison, your odds of being hit by lightning, over an 80-year lifespan, are about 0.0065%.  So you’re more likely to catch the Kung Flu on a plane trip than you  have of being struck by lightning. You have similar odds of being killed by “exposure to excessive natural heat.”  Your odds are far higher of dying in a “pedestrian incident” (0.599%) or in a fall (0.787%.)

So, yeah, don’t look for the airlines to keep the middle seats un-booked for very long.  My own airline of choice, United, has already started refilling these seats.  So has America.  Much as I’d love to see them remain empty just to feel less crowded on a flight, it doesn’t appear to make good sense.  Not in a time when all of the major airlines are already bleeding cash.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Well, now, this is certainly good news; it turns out that light drinking can help protect brain function as we age.  Excerpt:

“We know there are some older people who believe that drinking a little wine everyday could maintain a good cognitive condition,” said lead author Ruiyuan Zhang, a doctoral student at UGA’s College of Public Health.

“We wanted to know if drinking a small amount of alcohol actually correlates with a good cognitive function, or is it just a kind of survivor bias.”

Regular, moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to promote heart health and some research points to a similar protective benefit for brain health. However, many of these studies were not designed to isolate the effects of alcohol on cognition or did not measure effects over time.

Zhang and his team developed a way to track cognition performance over 10 years using participant data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study.

During the study, a total of 19,887 participants completed surveys every two years about their health and lifestyle, including questions on drinking habits. Light to moderate drinking is defined as fewer than eight drinks per week for women and 15 drinks or fewer per week among men.

The result?

A little dab will do you.

Compared to nondrinkers, they found that those who had a drink or two a day tended to perform better on cognitive tests over time.

Even when other important factors known to impact cognition such as age, smoking or education level were controlled for, they saw a pattern of light drinking associated with high cognitive trajectories.

The wisest man I’ve ever known, my Dad, was fond of saying “all things in moderation.”  He was fond of a little whiskey or rum in a Coke; when I was a young fellow I would routinely give Dad a pint bottle of Crown Royal for Christmas, which would usually last him the year.  I don’t think I ever once saw him show any effect from the alcohol.

Now, in my youth, my friends and I would sometimes indulge in three-day events that devolved into a mobile earthquake of drunken excess, but we all grew out of that.  Nowadays I’m more like Dad; I like a little snort once in a while, but, as he always said, in moderation.

Dad lived to 94 and his mind stayed sharp to the end.  His Dad, who was teetotal all his life, lived to 91 and was likewise pretty sharp.  Mixed results?  I suspect that genetics are more to credit than alcohol or the lack of it.  But here, in this story, I can smile at the idea that the occasional snort is, in fact, good for me.

Bartender!  I’ll have another.

Animal’s Daily Deuterium-Depleted News

Probably not deuterium-depleted.

Apparently the latest “health” scam is deuterium-depleted water.  Excerpt:

The atoms of the most common isotope (99.99 percent) of hydrogen contain only one proton, one electron, and no neutrons. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen with one neutron and one proton in its nucleus. 

There is also an extremely rare isotope, tritium, with one proton and two neutrons. It is radioactive and has been used as a radio-luminescent light source in watches and other devices. I have a keychain that a friend gave me with a tiny cylinder containing tritium; it glows in the dark so you can find your keys. I never lose my keys, so I don’t need it to find them. I appreciate it as a novelty item; I know any potential health risk from carrying it is negligible, and I’m not worried. 

Deuterium accounts for 0.02 percent of the hydrogen in ocean water. Other water sources contain slightly different amounts. It is also known as heavy hydrogen, and water containing artificially increased concentrations of deuterium is known as heavy water. Heavy water can be produced by distillation and other methods. What’s left over is deuterium depleted water, or DDW. 

That’s what deuterium-depleted water is.  As to the scam, here’s the why:

A Chinese study claimed that studies had demonstrated that drinking DDW caused growth arrest of malignant cells in cancer patients and significantly prolonged patient survival with also improved quality of life. I looked for those studies but didn’t find much. I found this uncontrolled study of 129 patients with brain metastases from lung cancer who drank DDW and got conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The results are suspect because females survived three times as long as males. The only other human clinical study I found was a double-blind phase 2 trial in Hungary that found a greater decrease in prostate volume in prostate cancer patients randomized to drink DDW. They concluded that DDW “can act as a highly effective tool in cancer therapy,” a conclusion that goes way beyond the data.

One study, in China, using questionable techniques, and it’s only a matter of time before some scammers start… wait…  They already have started selling this stuff!  Penn & Teller, where are you when we need you?

A few years back when I was working in Silicon Valley, the latest Big New Thing among the hippies and New Age nuts out there was “raw water,” as in water taken directly from streams, no extra charge for the included typhus, cholera and giardia pathogens.  So now we have deuterium-depleted water, of no discernible benefit to anyone, except for the scammers who will make bucks selling this stuff to the rubes – who will, of course, have no way of even confirming if the stuff in the bottle is really deuterium-depleted or not.

As one of our regular readers commented on the “raw water” story, there really is a sucker born every minute – and a lot of them live in California.  (Gwyneth, are you listening?)

 

Rule Five Climate Fraud Friday

A prominent environmentalist has an apology he’d like you to read.  Excerpt:

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. 

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30. 

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s 
  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

But here’s the real kicker; after the author, Michael Shellenberger, described how he didn’t speak out because he was afraid – yes, afraid – of his colleague’s reactions, he adds this:

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.” 

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.” 

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened. 

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence. 

 And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

I’ve bought my copy.  Will you?

Read the entire article, of course, as I always encourage.   Environmentalists like to claim their activism is based on science, but what Mr. Shellenberger describes is the precise opposite of science; it is a near-religious set of dogma, from which dissent is no allowed.

Science doesn’t work that way.  Science is much more akin to Mr. Shellenberger‘s thesis; that he had a hypothesis, but on learning the facts did not fit the hypothesis, instead of tweaking or ignoring the data he changed his hypothesis.

I understand that Mr. Shellenberger is a liberal Democrat, but that matters not a damn in this moment.  He has an important message, that facts matter, that the truth matters, and he’s working to get that out.  Activists lying to us for a variety of reasons, that’s nothing new.  Former activists admitting they were wrong and seeking to make things right – now that’s unusual.  Mr. Shellenberger will no doubt come under vicious attacks from his former fellows.  Let’s do what we can to support him – including buying his book.

Full disclosure:  Because of Colorado’s laws regarding internet sales, I am not an Amazon affiliate and receive no profit or other consideration from promoting this book.  I do it solely because the truth should be spread.  Widely.

Animal’s Daily Lotus Dumb-assery News

It’s one thing when someone kills themselves because of their own nitwittery.  It may rate them a Darwin Award, but what the hell.  But when they kill their own newborn infant, that’s another thing entirely.  Excerpt:

Lotus Birth occurs when both the baby and the placenta are delivered without severance of the umbilical cord, which is typically delayed 30 to 60 seconds but must be done right away when a newborn needs urgent evaluation and possible resuscitation. In most Lotus Births, the placenta is left attached to the baby for at several days and is kept in a special salt and herb-filled sack or bucket until the dried umbilical cord separates naturally from the baby.

In her still prominent (top ten when searching “Lotus Birth” on Google) and recently updated post on Lotus Birth, Genevieve “Mama Natural” Howland attempts to present a balanced discussion of the practice, likely pulling in people on the fence, but fails miserably:

Lotus birth is about keeping the umbilical cord and placenta with the baby while he or she gently transitions to life outside the womb. It is a quiet and respectful transfer of attachment, without the trauma of being cut from the mother.

This implies that cutting the umbilical cord after 30-60 seconds, which has solid evidence of benefit compared to immediate severance when a newborn is stable, is somehow…disrespectful and traumatic. This is absurd. I put the full weight of my 2 decades of medical experience behind the fact that babies don’t care when the cord is cut. And it is a painless procedure, as there are no nerves in the cord.

Howland further reveals her bias by implying that Lotus Birth is based in some kind of ancient wisdom:

The name comes from the lotus flower, a flower important to Eastern cultures for its symbolism of unity, detachment, and rebirth. Lotus births speckle the history of childbirth in cultures around the globe, in places like Bali and Southern Africa. Historical traces of lotus births appear in Europe as early as the Middle Ages. And records of not cutting the umbilical cord appear on the American continent as early as the pioneer days. In Western nations, lotus birth seems to be a new birth trend steeped in early tradition.

She links to a 2012 article that discusses the timing of cord severance from a historical perspective but which doesn’t at all touch on Lotus Birth. Since 2012, we have learned a lot about the potential benefits of delaying clamping of the umbilical cord and it has become a science-based practice. But again, Lotus Birth is not remotely the same thing as delayed cord clamping.

Here’s the onion:

In 2017, Harlow (Eden) was born via an emergency C-Section in a Melbourne hospital. She was a “miracle baby” born after 13 years and more than a dozen IVF attempts. This, and exposure to all manner of pseudoscientific medical misinformation, likely led Harlow’s parents to choose a Lotus Birth. Their stated goal was to ease Harlow’s transitioning and to boost her immune system.

As is often the case, because parents unfortunately tend to cluster these types of poor medical decisions, Harlow’s parents also chose to refuse science-based recommendations for intramuscular vitamin K and the Hepatitis B vaccine. They also practiced vaginal seeding, another risk factor for serious infection. And, sadly, they also refused initial attempts by hospital staff to move Harlow to a special care nursery for closer observation.

By 16 hours of age, Harlow had developed hypoglycemia, which can occur in any baby but is more likely to occur when they are sick. At that point, the umbilical cord was cut and she was transferred to the special care nursery. She soon developed signs of sepsis, with respiratory distress and poor perfusion, so antibiotics were initiated. Despite this, she died the following day after having been transferred to a tertiary care center. The coroner determined that Harlow died from sepsis in the setting of a Lotus Birth.

It’s important to note that almost all placental mammals cut the umbilical cord very quickly after birth, usually by biting/chewing, and usually within a couple of minutes, and for many millions of years now placental mammals have been having healthy offspring.  So this is hardly a brand-new practice.

I’m honestly in favor of freedom of choice in all things, even medical treatment, as long as it’s a consenting adult agreeing to New Age kookery.  If someone wants to listen to quackery (Gwyneth, are you listening?) and stick a jade egg up their cooze only to die of toxic shock, that’s on them.

But in this case there was an innocent infant involved.  If this isn’t a case of child neglect resulting in death, I don’t know what is.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, Bacon Time and Whores and Ale for the Rule Five links!

Now:  Have another look at the fruits of socialism.  Fair warning:  This will disgust you, especially if you, like me, are a parent.  Excerpt:

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.

In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking babies. The women don’t coo or sing to them.* You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.

The cement fortress emitted no sounds of children playing, though as many as 500 lived inside at one time. It stood mournfully aloof from the cobblestone streets and sparkling river of the town where Elie Wiesel had been born, in 1928, and enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazi deportations.

Go, then, and read the whole thing, detailing this child’s life in a system where the state proclaimed this (emphasis added by me):

To house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children, Ceauşescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country. Signs displayed the slogan: the state can take better care of your child than you can.

We haven’t come to that in the United States yet, but we do have the various local teacher’s unions proclaiming that they can educate our kids better than we can, and Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I loudly claiming “it takes a village” to raise a child.  Well, it doesn’t; it takes a family to raise a child.  You can see the results of the other approach, taken to the extreme, in the linked article:  Neglected children, irreparably damaged adults.

These, True Believers, are the fruits of socialism:  An uncaring, all-powerful state that can’t even manage to show the most elementary human decencies to infants and children.  Not just in Romania, either; Stalin made Hitler look like a piker when it came to mass murder.  Mao and Pol Pot were in the running as well.

I don’t think there is any way to have an all-powerful state without reducing the populace to servitude.  Only liberty can keep people prosperous, happy and healthy.  Only when people are free to make their own decisions, live their own lives, care for their own families, and to use their own talents, resources and abilities to the fullest extent, can a nation be truly happy and prosperous.  And to achieve this, a nation has to be founded on the principles of inalienable human rights, with limited government strictly barred from interfering with those rights.

You know.  Like the United States once was.

Animal’s Daily Extra-Terrestrial News

The Milky Way Contains 36 Contactable Alien Civilizations, Scientists Estimate.  Here’s the problem:  It’s pure guesswork.  Excerpt:

Westby and Conselice present a revision of the Drake equation that loops in new findings from “a mixture of areas of contemporary astronomy,” according to the study. For instance, thousands of exoplanets have been detected in alien star systems over the past two decades, so Westby and Conselice included data about the odds that worlds orbit their stars within the habitable zone where liquid water can exist. The team also focused on the timescale of intelligent life’s emergence on Earth, a process that took about 4.5 billion years.

The pair’s results produced a range of possible CETI populations that currently exist in the Milky Way, with four at the low end, 211 as an upper limit, and 36 as the most likely figure based on the team’s assumptions.

These high numbers may sound like great news for alien enthusiasts, but Westby and Conselice caution that even if their estimate is correct, CETI worlds may be too far away from Earth to establish communication. If 36 contactable civilizations were scattered throughout the galaxy, they would be about 17,000 light years away from our planet on average, a distance that would require at least 34,000 years for a two-way conversation.

I’d be the most amazed person on the planet if somehow someone could establish that there are no intelligent species out there, somewhere, in the billions of planets that certainly exist in our galaxy.  But the Drake equation and this update of it are based only on assumptions; the only solid basis this thesis has at all is the estimated number of exoplanets in our galaxy, which again, is an extrapolation built on a very small sample.

Would you?

And when we talk about communicating, well, there’s no guarantee that any alien species would even use a form of communication we could detect, let alone understand, or that they’d even be similar to us enough culturally as to allow any social interaction at all.

I’ve cranked out a fair amount of science fiction myself.  Alien intelligence is almost a necessity of sci-fi; the only major series I can think of that did without it was Asimov’s Foundation series and its two sister series, the Empire and Robot books.  But that’s fiction.  And this is guesswork.  It’s kind of sad, but there you are.