How Prevalent Could Intelligent Life be on other Planets? An Astronomer Brings an Answer

Common sense tells us that alien life should be something usual in the Universe, judging by the incredible number of galaxies and stars known. But is that really the case? What’s for sure is that until now, humanity has been encountering aliens only in sci-fi movies, TV series, and cartoons.

David Kipping, who is an assistant professor in Columbia’s Department of Astronomy, shows how complex extraterrestrial life might evolve on other planets. He has been analyzing by using a statistical technique called Bayesian inference.

Life on Earth emerged fast, and it’s a good hint

Kipping declared as follows:

The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive,

But in this study it’s possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us.

The method of Bayesian statistical inference is used for updating the probability for a hypothesis as evidence or information becomes available. The method states prior beliefs about the system getting modeled, which are further combined with data to cast probabilities.

Kipping says that if planets with similar conditions and evolutionary timelines such as Earth are representing something common, then life should spontaneously and easily emerging on other planets. And the odds for these extraterrestrial life forms to be complex, differentiated, and intelligent are not too big, but they can’t be overlooked completely. However, the astronomer admits one crucial aspect:

The analysis can’t provide certainties or guarantees, only statistical probabilities based on what happened here on Earth,

The new study was published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. Even if extraterrestrial life is common throughout the Universe, we shouldn’t expect it to be by the way most people imagine themselves. Little green men with big black eyes are for gags and comic books, as aliens in real life could be more peculiar than any of us had ever imagined. They could stay right in front of us without our knowledge, as who knows what weird elements could exist in distant regions of the Universe.

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Cristian Antonescu

About the Author: Cristian Antonescu

With a strong passion for astronomy since he was little and hundreds of articles written about this field, Cristian is a reliable writer who keeps the website up-to-date with news about the wonders of the Universe.

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