Are We Alone In The Universe? A New Study Suggests That At Least 36 Intelligent Civilizations Could Exist In Our Cosmic Neighborhood.
The first radio signal emitted by humanity has been traveling to all parts of the Universe for more than a century. The Voyager space probes maintain a journey that began 43 years ago to the ends of the Solar System. Different missions have orbited all the worlds of the Solar System and yet we do not have a single unequivocal sign that life exists beyond Earth .
The search for extraterrestrial life seems to collide again and again with the Fermi paradox: if the number of stars in the observable Universe is almost 700 quadrillion and even the most conservative calculations consider that there are 1.6 planets for each Sun with the potential to be one source of life, then where are they all? Why haven’t we had any contact with other intelligent civilizations yet?
A new study prepared by the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, estimates that in our Milky Way alone, there are at least 36 intelligent civilizations capable of contacting us .
The calculation started from the Drake equation , a mathematical formula that dates back to 1961 and tries to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way. According to Francis Drake, astrophysicist author of the calculation, it is possible to get an idea of how many extraterrestrial civilizations with the ability to communicate there are from seven variables, including:
The formation of stars in the Milky Way and their duration to support life, the number of those stars with planets orbiting them, the number of planets in a habitable zone, the percentage of those worlds with potential to develop life, the fraction of that life which can be intelligent, intelligent civilizations that develop technology to communicate and lastly, the average duration of those civilizations through time.
The study estimates that it takes about 5,000 years from the appearance of living organisms to the formation of intelligent life capable of communication.
In addition, the calculation considers that the average distance between the Earth and the planets that host any of these 36 civilizations is approximately 17 thousand light years , a figure that today seems insurmountable for any current or developing human technology.
Hence, the most likely case of one-way contact comes from a more technologically advanced civilization than ours. In any case, even if we were able to identify the source of the signal and encode it correctly, the human response would take 6,120 years to reach its destination .
Of course, all the previous premises are based on registers, temporalities and scenarios that start from the only source of life that we know at the moment: human evolution , but why not imagine other forms of life completely different from terrestrial ones?