When will humans come into contact with extraterrestrial life?

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  • Expanding on the Drake equation, a new study indicates that a communicating extraterrestrial intelligent civilization is 2,000 to 400,000 years away, if at all.
  • The study says new stars could evolve into habitable entities.
  • The search for the unknown comes with unlimited variables.

    We haven’t contacted extraterrestrials, but not for lack of trying. This essay may not be over anytime soon (think: 400,000 years soon) if a recent study of the formation of habitable planets and stars is accurate.

    A new paper from a pair of Chinese astronomers on the search for Communicating Extraterrestrial Intelligent Civilizations (CETI) says that with the success rate we’ve seen so far – read: zilch – we may need to create new habitats before we can start chatting with our extraterrestrial friends. And that could take between 2,000 and 400,000 years, if at all.

    Posted in The Astrophysical Journal, the paper by researchers from Beijing Normal University says that “one of the most puzzling questions for humans is whether our existence is unique.”

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    With only one known data point – humans on Earth – the authors admit that knowing how many CETIs exist in the Milky Way is a “hard problem” that pushes the “integrity of logic to its limits”. That said, they won’t stop trying. Using star formation and knowledge of the planetary system, the pair studies how new stars could support life and when, in the formation of the star, life could be supported.

    Both authors rely on the Drake equation, a concept from the 1960s that evaluates everything from star formation to habitable zones. Starting with the Drake equation, considered more of a thought experiment, the Chinese authors add the probability of planets and stars moving through the habitable zone and life evolving there.

    “Most studies of this problem are based on the Drake equation,” the authors write. “The obvious difficulty with this method is that it is uncertain and unpredictable to quantify the likelihood that life could arise on a suitable planet and eventually develop into an advanced communicating civilization.”

    The most optimistic scenario predicted that CETI would only begin at 25% of a star’s lifetime. With each planet having a generous 0.1% chance of forming life, it might only take 2,000 years to communicate with our friendly extraterrestrials (they’re still friendly, aren’t they?) on Earth. one of the 42,000 potential CETIs that form in the Milky Way. Time range.

    Of course, life can take a lot longer to form, and we may need our sun to cool a bit more, which means a star has to go through 75% of its life before a CETI can to develop. This scenario reduces the probability of a CETI occurring to 0.001. This means that the number of CETIs in the Milky Way falls from 42,000 to just 111.

    It also gives us 400,000 years until something works for us talking to our extraterrestrial neighbors, if of course, somehow our own civilization lasts that long.

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