One of the biggest mysteries for our civilization is whether or not there are other lifeforms in the Universe other than us. Common sense, as well as probability, say that that is the most likely answer, but seeing as so far we haven’t managed to get any proof whatsoever, many believe we’re alone.
But that shouldn’t really be the case, and it most likely isn’t. According to all laws of probability, as well as to many space experts, other intelligent life surely existed at some point in the Universe. In fact, there are far smaller chances for us to be alone than there are for alien life to have existed at one time or another.
Actually, the chances of humans being the sole form of intelligent life in the Universe are somewhere around one in ten billion trillion. This is based on several factors, including the number of stars, galaxies, and planets in the Universe, as well as many other similarly determinant factors.
In order to get a better way of calculating the odds of intelligent life existing in the Universe, a team of researchers revisited and improved upon the fifty-year-old Drake equation. The Drake equation is an equation developed in 1961 by renowned astronomer Frank Drake, meant to estimate how many technological civilizations could exist in our Universe.
The equation is N = R* · fp · n · fl · fi · fc · L. Legend-wise, N is the number of civilizations is our galaxy with detectable electromagnetic emissions. R* is the rate of formation for stars that can support intelligent life. The other variables refer to similar factors, primarily focused on the potential hospitability of various planets in our galaxy.
A team of researchers mainly composed of University of Washington faculty members recently updated the equation with what we’ve managed to find out in recent years. They accounted for more data that we’ve uncovered and ignored some that was moot. According to co-author Woodruff Sullivan,
This shifted focus eliminates the uncertainty of the civilization lifetime question and allows us to address what we call the ‘cosmic archaeological question’—how often in the history of the universe has life evolved to an advanced state?
After updating the equation, the researchers concluded that the chances of us being the sole intelligent life form in our galaxy are as low as one in sixty billion. So again, why haven’t we found any proof of life in the wide expanse of outer space? There are several reasons for that – some facts and other merely speculation.
The main factual reason for not finding any proof of intelligent life in the Universe is the distance between stars and galaxies. Any nearby civilization that could have contacted us or that we could have contacted is either long gone or yet to be born. This would also fit right in with a number of the theories on the matter, but that’s a story for another time.
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