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Alien Civilizations May Number In The Trillions, New Study Says

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Ralph Knotts
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Study co-authors Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan looked at recent discoveries of potentially habitable exoplanets and considered the odds of whether sophisticated civilizations existed on them in the past or present.

In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake — founder of the SETI Institute SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence — devised what is now known as the Drake equation to estimate the number of planets that may be home to civilizations with the ability to communicate beyond their world.

While the Drake equation calculates the number of advanced alien civilizations that could exist in the Milky Way galaxy, Frank and Sullivan s equation expands the question to calculate the number of advanced civilizations that have existed in our galaxy throughout the whole history of the universe.

After that, it s just a matter of counting up the tally of stars in the visible universe, and saying that — with all the suitable real estate that s out there, if we re the only place with intelligent life, then we ve really won the mother of all lotteries.

Shostak cautions against being overly optimistic or pessimistic about the SETI Institute s searches for intelligent signals from possible neighbors in outer space.

It s a bit like an ant coming out of its hive, seeing the enormous amount of real estate stretching in all directions and deciding that, if its home is the only ant hill, then its existence is a near-miracle.

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Ralph Knotts
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