From Adam Frank at New York Times:
You might assume this probability is low, and thus the chances remain small that another technological civilization arose. But what our calculation revealed is that even if this probability is assumed to be extremely low, the odds that we are not the first technological civilization are actually high. Specifically, unless the probability for evolving a civilization on a habitable-zone planet is less than one in 10 billion trillion, then we are not the first.
To give some context for that figure: In previous discussions of the Drake equation, a probability for civilizations to form of one in 10 billion per planet was considered highly pessimistic. According to our finding, even if you grant that level of pessimism, a trillion civilizations still would have appeared over the course of cosmic history.More.
And disappeared forever, leaving no trace? The calculations are nonsense, of course. Perhaps what we need to decide is, what exactly are aliens supposed to do for us? So far, the only answer has been science fiction, which is us talking to ourselves in a literary way. Which is great, but let’s not confuse it with science as such. It may be a religious yearning.
See also: Math can’t conjure aliens
NASA “shameful” in not looking harder for alien life?
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