Scientists Believe Intelligent Beings Exist in the Milky Way

Compelling new factors have changed minds

Charles Stephen
Feb 9 · 3 min read
Scientists Believe Intelligent Beings Exist in the Milky Way
Scientists Believe Intelligent Beings Exist in the Milky Way
Milky Way Galaxy — Image by Pixabay

For generations, one of the elements of the human mind has been to wonder. One of those shared wonder streams has been whether or not other life exists in our universe.

Thousands of brilliant minds have chimed in on this topic over the years. And we have heard many credible reasons why and why not other life forms could live in our vast universe.

When putting emotions aside, we can approach this topic with sound logic. We fully understand that the universe is both harsh and complicated.

Most of us also understand that life requires a complex set of conditions to sustain itself. While achieving these conditions may seem practically impossible, the universe offers millions of attempts to get it right.

Quantum physics introduced thought patterns that assign probabilities to different outcomes. Yet every outcome for a specific condition will eventually occur — given enough opportunities.

Scientists from the University of Nottingham have estimated at least 36 other intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way. Their findings were based on a recent study that was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Two other claims they made about their conclusion was also compelling. They emphasized that these alien civilizations were intelligent enough to communicate and that their estimate was probably conservative.

Their assessment was based on what is known as the Astrobiological Copernican Limit¹. This means that we assume life will form on other planets like how it was developed here on Earth.

These scientists approached the notion of other intelligent life forms in our universe by assuming Earth is not a special case. Thus, if a planet like Earth were to form in the universe and orbit around a star like our Sun, and then sustain a civilization that develops technologically as we have, there should be around 36 such civilizations currently living in our galaxy.

In such as case, these other technologically advanced civilizations would send out communication signals. They would use devices like radio transmissions from satellites and radars, and they would do it on a timeline similar to ours — in an attempt to locate other lifeforms.

“There should be at least a few dozen active civilizations in our galaxy under the assumption that it takes 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, as on Earth,” claimed lead researcher Christopher Conselice in a recent news release. “The idea is looking at evolution, but on a cosmic scale.”

In the past, calculations for determining the existence of alien life have employed the Drake equation. This approach assumes that seven factors are required for finding the number of intelligent civilizations in the universe. This equation was developed by an astrophysicist named Frank Drake in 1961. However, these estimates have been incredibly broad, as they’ve ranged from none to over a few billion civilizations.

The Nottingham research team refined the Drake equation by using new assumptions and data². They discovered that there are anywhere from 4 to 211 civilizations capable of communicating with other worlds — and that 36 was the most likely number of them.

Now finding and locating these alien civilizations is another story altogether. Researchers indicate that those would likely be thousands of light-years away from Earth. Existing technology would be unable to connect (or detect) any alien life at those distances.

However, searching for other intelligent life in the universe would be worthwhile, scientists claim. This could provide valuable insight into how long we could expect our civilization to survive. The more of these intelligent civilizations we can find closer to Earth, the better our chances for long-term survival.

“If we find that intelligent life is common, then this would reveal that our civilization could exist for much longer than a few hundred years. Alternatively, if we find that there are no active civilizations in our galaxy, it is a bad sign for our own long-term existence,” Conselice emphasized. “By searching for extraterrestrial intelligent life — even if we find nothing — we are discovering our own future and fate.”

Sources

[1]: Tom Westby, Christopher J. Conselice. (June 15, 2020). The Astrobiological Copernican Weak and Strong Limits for Intelligent Life. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab8225.

[2]: SETI Institute. Drake Equation. https://www.seti.org/drake-equation-index.

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