University of Rochester Researcher Talks About Extinct Alien Civilizations

A new research paper published in the journal Astrobiology by University of Rochester researcher has suggested about presence of ancient and possible extinct civilizations in the deep regions of the Universe. The current research paper presented a simplified version of the Drake equation. Astronomers have been searching for exoplanets having conditions similar to our planet.

While the issue of searching for alien life in other parts of the Universe is interesting, astronomers and scientific community has made negligible advances in this segment. Many exoplanets have been discovered by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) hasn’t yet reported any signal from alien worlds. There is a possibility that life exists on some other planet but we haven’t received any signal yet. Many astronomers argue that our knowledge about planets outside the solar system is quite limited at the moment.

The study was co-authored by Adam Frank from the University of Rochester. Professor Frank was helped with the current study by Woodruff Sullivan at the astronomy department and astrobiology program at the University of Washington.

In the research paper, Professor Frank added, “The question of whether advanced civilizations exist elsewhere in the universe has always been vexed with three large uncertainties in the Drake equation.” Professor Frank further indicated that there could be civilizations which have probably gone extinct already. Our current civilization is 10,000 years old. Considering the age of any civilization, there could have been many civilizations that might have flourished for few thousand years and then perished. Current estimates suggest that the age of Universe is over 13 billion years. Another question posed by the research team is how long a civilization could survive.

The authors dub their result the “archaelogical form” of the Drake equation. Their equation multiplies the terms “Nast” and “fbt” to get the result. “Nast” refers to the “number of habitable planets in a given volume of the universe,” and “fbt” is the “likelihood of a technological species arising on one of these planets.”

A report published by The Sun informed, “Scientists have spent years obsessing over the quest to find alien life, with astronomers raising as many questions as they answer with every new theory. Scientists believe that space may have been populated by a vast number of alien communities in the past after analysis showed that as many as one fifth of all stars are orbited by planets that could sustain life.”

Professor Frank added, “We’ve known for a long time approximately how many stars exist. We didn’t know how many of those stars had planets that could potentially harbor life, how often life might evolve and lead to intelligent beings, and how long any civilizations might last before becoming extinct.”

Earlier research suggests that nearly 20 percent of stars have planets in orbit which can be considered as habitable zone. Additionally, there could be other life forms, which can exist under living conditions different from our planet. Astronomers have been using Kepler Space Telescope to find more about exoplanets.

The research paper further informed….

“Thanks to NASA’s Kepler satellite and other searches, we now know that roughly one-fifth of stars have planets in “habitable zones,” where temperatures could support life as we know it. So one of the three big uncertainties has now been constrained.”

Frank said that the third big question–how long civilizations might survive–is still completely unknown. “The fact that humans have had rudimentary technology for roughly ten thousand years doesn’t really tell us if other societies would last that long or perhaps much longer,” he explained.

But Frank and his coauthor, Woodruff Sullivan of the astronomy department and astrobiology program at the University of Washington, found they could eliminate that term altogether by simply expanding the question.

“Rather than asking how many civilizations may exist now, we ask ‘Are we the only technological species that has ever arisen?” said Sullivan. “This shifted focus eliminates the uncertainty of the civilization lifetime question and allows us to address what we call the ‘cosmic archaeological question’—how often in the history of the universe has life evolved to an advanced state?”

That still leaves huge uncertainties in calculating the probability for advanced life to evolve on habitable planets. It’s here that Frank and Sullivan flip the question around. Rather than guessing at the odds of advanced life developing, they calculate the odds against it occurring in order for humanity to be the only advanced civilization in the entire history of the observable universe. With that, Frank and Sullivan then calculated the line between a Universe where humanity has been the sole experiment in civilization and one where others have come before us.

“Of course, we have no idea how likely it is that an intelligent technological species will evolve on a given habitable planet,” says Frank. But using our method we can tell exactly how low that probability would have to be for us to be the ONLY civilization the Universe has produced. We call that the pessimism line. If the actual probability is greater than the pessimism line, then a technological species and civilization has likely happened before.”

Using this approach, Frank and Sullivan calculate how unlikely advanced life must be if there has never been another example among the universe’s ten billion trillion stars, or even among our own Milky Way galaxy’s hundred billion.

The result? By applying the new exoplanet data to the universe’s 2 x 10 to the 22nd power stars, Frank and Sullivan find that human civilization is likely to be unique in the cosmos only if the odds of a civilization developing on a habitable planet are less than about one in 10 billion trillion, or one part in 10 to the 22th power.

“One in 10 billion trillion is incredibly small,” says Frank. “To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology producing species very likely have evolved before us. Think of it this way. Before our result you’d be considered a pessimist if you imagined the probability of evolving a civilization on a habitable planet were, say, one in a trillion. But even that guess, one chance in a trillion, implies that what has happened here on Earth with humanity has in fact happened about a 10 billion other times over cosmic history!”

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