Life in the Universe

If you went looking for life in the Universe, what are the chances you’d find it?

I’d say chances are pretty good.  In fact, I’d say they’re 100%.  Who do you think is writing this blog post?  It’s not you.

Oh, you thought I meant life on other planets; extraterrestrials.

Well, the probability of life in the Universe is 100%, because we are here.  And either there’s life somewhere else, or there’s not.

If there is life somewhere else, don’t you wonder what life on another planet would be like?

Well, if you were from another planet (you are from a planet, aren’t you?), what would you find?

You’d find planet Earth.  You’d find us.  Scary.

Then there’s the question of whether or not life on other planets is even sophisticated enough to find us, or us them. You can estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy (just the Milky Way galaxy, not the entire universe) using the Drake Equation.

    \[N=R\cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_l \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L \]

wherein

R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can support life
f = the fraction that develop life
fi = the fraction that develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction that are willing and able to communicate
L = time for communication

.

Current estimates on this figure:

    \[N = 2.31\]

Well, of the 2.31 civilizations in the Milky Way, ours is one of them.  So there’s probably at least one other civilization in our galaxy.

Great.  Now what?

Sometimes I’m not so sure I see the entire value of even asking the question

“Is there other life in the Universe, and what are they like?”

when all I have to do is walk outside and observe other life in the Universe.

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