We’ve been asking the question, “Are we alone?” for decades. Has math finally solved the question burning in all of our minds?
This week on TestTube Plus, host Trace Dominguez is joined by DNews Space Editor Dr. Ian O’Neill for a five-part conversation about aliens. Are they out there? Why haven’t we found them? What would they look like? What if they showed up? And are they the answer to the question of how we all got here?
NASA’s Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, is confident we’ll find extraterrestrial life in the next 10-20 years. She thinks we’re going to discover extremophile microbes that can live in the vacuum of space like Tardigrades. In 1961, Frank Drake created The Drake Equation, which tries to calculate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in just our galaxy (the Milky Way). According to Drake’s (somewhat conservative) estimation, there should be at least 20 other advanced alien civilizations living in the Milky Way.
Using the guidelines set for by The Drake Equation, Astrobiology Magazine came up with a much higher estimation. Their estimate was something closer to 15,785. So what is going on here? If there are intelligent civilizations out there, why haven’t we heard them? Trace and Dr. Ian discuss this in tomorrow’s episode …
NASA: We’ll Find Alien Life in 10 to 20 Years (LA Times)
“Are we alone in the universe? Top NASA scientists say the answer is almost certainly “no. I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA, said at a public panel Tuesday in Washington.”
The Drake Equation (Seti Institute)
“How can we estimate the number of technological civilizations that might exist among the stars? While working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, Dr. Frank Drake conceived an approach to bound the terms involved in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy.”
The Fermi Paradox (Wait But Why)
“A really starry sky seems vast-but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars (roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy), and almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way).”