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Intelligent alien life unlikely, study claims


Posted on Monday, 25 June, 2018 | Comment icon 103 comments

Could we really be alone in the universe ? Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
Researchers at Oxford University maintain that we are probably the only intelligent life forms in the universe.
The question of whether we are alone in the universe remains one of the biggest philosophical conundrums of our time. While it seems almost inconceivable that our civilization is alone in the cosmos, the fact still remains that we have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.

Now according to a new paper by physicists at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, the existence of intelligent alien life is not only uncertain, but highly improbable.

Existing calculations for the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence, they argue, are based on uncertainties and assumptions that are fundamentally inaccurate.
The famous Drake Equation, for instance, which seeks to determine the likely number of alien civilizations that exist in the universe, relies on values that are little more than best guesses.

"When we take account of realistic uncertainty, replacing point estimates by probability distributions that reflect current scientific understanding, we find no reason to be highly confident that the galaxy (or observable universe) contains other civilizations," the researchers wrote.

"When we update this prior in light of the Fermi observation, we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe."

Source: Cosmos Magazine | Comments (103)


Tags: Extraterrestrial


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #94 Posted by StarMountainKid on 4 July, 2018, 2:53
Actually that number includes an estimate, based on models, of the unobserved universe. Thanks. I re-read the link, the article does say the number infers the number of galaxies beyond the reach of telescopes, too faint to be seen and too far away.  The article isn't very clear on this point, though. Are all these galaxies within the Hubble volume? I don't think we can estimate the number of galaxies in 'the universe', as we don't know the extent of the universe. 
Comment icon #95 Posted by Merc14 on 4 July, 2018, 3:02
I believe it is based on what Hubble has imaged and then extrapolating that number to the light that won't reach us for the next ten billion years or so.  My numbers are a SWAG but your get the point, I hope.   These aren't positive facts, it is a hypothesis based on available data.  Calling it a theory would be wrong, IMHO.
Comment icon #96 Posted by Golden Duck on 4 July, 2018, 3:49
You can get acces to the original paper here.  I haven't read the supplements.  I'm not sure if they mention anything about Hubble. http://aleph.se/andart2/space/seti/dissolving-the-fermi-paradox/ The last paragraph of the preprint...  
Comment icon #97 Posted by South Alabam on 4 July, 2018, 4:16
My personal belief, based on nothing is that yes, there is intelligent life out there. If there is life of any sort,  it would stand to reason that it could evolve like life on planet earth did barring global disaster.
Comment icon #98 Posted by Harte on 4 July, 2018, 19:01
It's possible that the evolution of intelligence on the Human level is unique. After all, there's all sorts of life here, and we're the only ones that made it. Harte
Comment icon #99 Posted by Dejarma on 4 July, 2018, 19:43
therefore it's also possible that the evolution of intelligence like ours is common throughout the universe... we could be unique because this is one of a few planets that has only one intelligent/ sentient life form- who knows? i don't that's for sure
Comment icon #100 Posted by Essan on 4 July, 2018, 20:04
Indeed.  There are currently estimated to be 8.7 million species on the Earth today. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823180459.htm So on Earth, there is at best a one in 8,700,000 chance of advanced life like humans existing.   And the odds are vastly increased if you add all species that have ever existed ....
Comment icon #101 Posted by spud the mackem on 5 July, 2018, 15:47
So humanity is intelligent, well I guess that we are infants starting out on a mission of intelligence ,bearing in mind that 250 years ago we didn't know what an engine was, no cars, no aeroplanes ,sailing the oceans in wooden boats,and people thought that there were Oceans on the Moon and lots more .Wake up people we are only discovering intelligence,where would we be if we had not found Electricity. On other worlds capable of sustaining life they may be in our position just discovering intelligence.give or take a 1000 or two years or more or less.
Comment icon #102 Posted by Dejarma on 5 July, 2018, 16:27
what is it you feel we haven't woke up to?
Comment icon #103 Posted by Golden Duck on 5 July, 2018, 20:24
Yeah... And that's almost what the Paper says. There's a 50 per cent chance of the nearest civilisation being with a kiloparsec.


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