Are there trillions of alien civilizations ?
By T.K. Randall
May 22, 2016 · 75 comments
How many alien civilizations could there be ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Hajor
A new study has suggested that the universe is likely to be teeming with extraterrestrial life forms.
The recent discovery of over 1,200 new extrasolar worlds by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has brought in to focus just how common planets actually are in the cosmos as well as how many potentially habitable worlds might be out there, just waiting to be found.
According to a new study co-authored by Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank, the odds of there being no other intelligent life forms in the entire universe are ridiculously slim.
"Even if you are pretty pessimistic and think that you’d have to search through 100 billion (habitable zone) planets before you found one where a civilization developed, then there have still been a trillion civilizations over cosmic history !" wrote Frank.
"When I think about that, my mind reels - even if there is just a one in a 100 billion chance of evolution creating exo-civilizations, the universe still has made so many of them that we are swamped by histories other than our own."
As part of their study, Frank and Sullivan also revisited astronomer Frank Drake's famous 1961 equation used to estimate the number of planets that might be home to alien civilizations.
By updating some of the variables and by simplifying the equation, the pair have managed to create what they believe to be a more accurate representation of the probabilities of alien life.
"With so many stars and planets filling the cosmos, it boggles the mind to think that we’re the only clever life to have made an appearance," said SETI's Seth Shostak.
"Frank and Sullivan use new research indicating that roughly one in five stars is orbited by a planet that could nurture biology."
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