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How many alien civilizations are there ?

Posted on Thursday, 6 December, 2012 | Comment icon 184 comments

Image credit: Hajor, Wikimedia

How likely is it that we will find an advanced alien civilization within our own Milky Way galaxy ?

In 1961 astronomer Frank Drake proposed a famous equation designed to calculate the number of detectable alien civilizations within our own galaxy. The calculation required numerous factors, many of which were controversial or unobtainable such as the percentage of alien civilizations that have developed electromagnetic radiation emitting technologies. The results of the equation therefore could be considered speculative at best.

In 2010 however Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone developed a new version of the equation known as the SDE ( Statistical Drake Equation ). This revision is a little more robust than the original, filling in the blanks using the Central Limit Theorem. According to his findings there is a 75% chance of finding an alien civilization between 1,361 and 3,979 light-years from Earth.

"Looking to the Drake equation factors, it is obvious that none can be precisely determined by modern science."

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #175 Posted by psyche101 on 14 January, 2013, 8:37
Drugs are bad Mkay. What makes you feel telepathy is an option? As far as I know, it is entirely a science fiction concept with no basis in reality whatsoever. Plenty of hippies to argue otherwise I realise that, but when it comes down to hard evidence, no amount of duress torture, happiness or promise has managed to make such a sense surface, nor does it exist in nature that we are aware of. Telepathy has about as much fact behind it as does the Voyages of the USS Enterprise - great story, but it's exactly that, a story. And I take it your are assuming that telepathy does not use s... [More]
Comment icon #176 Posted by psyche101 on 14 January, 2013, 9:25
Gidday Mate It warms the heart to hear you speak of her. Inspiring to hear such pure goodness still exists out there. Really well thanks She is just glowing, had just been down to the local shopping centre and had her picky taken with her little boy, and a python wrapped over her shoulders! I sure was not expecting that, but the best visits are the unannounced ones, thanks for the inspiration mate. Ahh, you kingdom for a fibre! Ever read the BOFH? Interesting It tales Simon would have a suggestion on how to "acquire" fibre I am sure. Cat 5 is limited to 75 bps... [More]
Comment icon #177 Posted by psyche101 on 14 January, 2013, 9:36
Gidday Mate I know where you are coming from, my contributions have been rather sporadic of late as well, but always good to see you, and hope the new year see's you in well. I have rather hit the ground running myself. I am also a glutton for punishment it seems . Indeed, it feels good to be able to offer the man praise, in so many passionate debates we became quite heated, yet he always held his tongue and maintained the mark of a gentleman. Todays nonsense is nothing short of childish by comparison to the level Sky pushed a debate to. He made a debate interesting, todays debat... [More]
Comment icon #178 Posted by quillius on 14 January, 2013, 9:37
Hey Psyche, Happy New Year mate!! hope you all had a lovely time. (yes me and the Quilliuses all did, many thanks ) with regards to Sky not returning, although I see your point I still think it would be great to have McG and Sky on the same thread arguing the cases......dont you think?
Comment icon #179 Posted by psyche101 on 14 January, 2013, 10:11
Cheers mate Up and down, lost a mate over the break, that was sad, but he was a fighter, and did well, and inspiration to us all right to the end. Always good to see the kids in daylight hours too Indeed, I would welcome the old bird back, it just seems sometimes legends can become larger than life, heck, I am singing his praises! I'd hate to see a slip up, or something happen, and the legend lose some status. People are usually remembered for the last bad thing they did, not good, Sky has managed just the opposite, he was not Superman, but a great and passionate debater all the sa... [More]
Comment icon #180 Posted by quillius on 14 January, 2013, 10:31
I am really sorry to hear about your loss Psyche, it certainly keeps perspective in tune and ensures we remember to value the time we have. and yes couldnt agree more about daylight time with the little ones As for the rest of your post I am really flattered and humbled Psyche with all those kind words. Do remember though, the dance required two not one participant.....and I can only wish to have the knowledge you have across so many subjects. I fully agree that our best discussions were indeed head on and shows how well both sides can work with mutual respect in hand. I have spent qu... [More]
Comment icon #181 Posted by Kludge808 on 15 January, 2013, 4:29
Good afternoon. Minor monsoon this AM which took the power out here for some 7 hours. Made going to my psychonanny appointment a bit entertaining since traffic lights weren't functioning at very busy intersections. I don't know that I do anything special. I feel that I'm doing what any parent should, taking care of my little girl. We are close though and always have been. Always a pleasure. I'm going with the idea that said python was well fed and not too excited about making either of them into a meal. :-) Simon is my hero, doncha know. :-) Heck, Cat3 can do 1... [More]
Comment icon #182 Posted by Kludge808 on 15 January, 2013, 4:33
Dammit, I just bought a new one, custom made even! We can't do away with them yet!
Comment icon #183 Posted by Slave2Fate on 15 January, 2013, 4:51
Well I guess there's more than one way to turn heads than just being handsome I suppose... BTW: it's good to see you around the forums again Kludge, I always get a smile or some smarts from your posts...sometimes both.
Comment icon #184 Posted by Kludge808 on 15 January, 2013, 5:01
Well, with my dashing good looks, I don't need to make a fashion statement but I didn't want a plain off-the-rack tin foil helmet either. :-D Thanks. I'll be in and out since I have some projects going on that require my attention but it's all good and I'll be on board as much as possible. Of course, one can never tell where I'll pop up next. Bwaaahahaha ...

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