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Study Estimates 100 Billion Planets In the Milky Way Galaxy

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the big-neighborhood dept.

Space 101

The Bad Astronomer writes "A new study finds that there may be 100 billion alien planets in the Milky Way alone, with 17 billion of them the size of Earth. Announcements like this have been made before, but this new research is more robust than previous studies, using data from the Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft over a longer period and analyzing it in a more statistically solid way (PDF). They also found that smaller planets are not as picky about their host stars, with terrestrial planets forming around stars like the Sun or as small as tiny, cool red dwarfs with equal ease."

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Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510225)

We are not alone.

Re:Clearly (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42512499)

Well that's the big question. We already know the chances of life developing in the universe, it's 1, it's happened, we exist. This study (cool as it is) actually adds no new information in the question of whether life exists elsewhere, what it does is give us an idea of how many potential habitats like ours there are. We could find evidence of extrasolar life tomorrow, or never. It's still entirely possible (some would say probably) that the Sol system is the only one harbouring life in the universe despite a plethora of suitable environments.

All this actually does is narrow down one of the variables in the Drake Equation, which is a bit of a napkin based Fermi Problem idea anyway. We need to answer the Fermi Paradox first.

Re:Clearly (4, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42512875)

The Fermi Paradox isn't exactly the sort of thing you can answer in the traditional sense, rather it highlights an apparent contradiction in what we could reasonably expect from the universe given it's size and age, and what we actually observe (or fail to). The Drake Equation is actually a sort of partial "answer" in that it attempts to at least formalize the specific unknowns that affect the number of potentially detectable civilizations that might currently exist in our galaxy

Initially we fed it entirely with wild speculation, now we're starting to be able to peg down some of the variables within reasonable limits. We're getting a pretty good idea of the rate of star and planet formation, starting to get a sense of the probability of Earthlike planets, and realizing that if we're any indication the window in which a civilization is "loud" enough to be detected from another star is potentially extremely short - it's questionable whether we were ever above the threshold, and our transmission strength is already beginning to fall due to more efficient technology.

Re:Clearly (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about 2 years ago | (#42516121)

I sincerely hope this won't turn out to be like the martian canals. I'm not an astrophysicist so please correct me if I'm wrong, but we're assuming the only thing that can cause regular and periodic brightness changes in a star is a planetary transit. I know we've a very few blurry visuals of at least a handful of planets, but could it be that not all these are transits? Is there a secondary method that can be used to verify the result?

Re:Clearly (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42519665)

Indeed there is - in fact the brightness changes are only the original method used to detect planets and are restricted to detecting the tiny fraction of planets with an orbital plane that we happen to be looking at edge-on (otherwise the planet would never pass between us and the star) More recent techniques involve detecting the slight wobble in a stars motion due to orbiting planets - the sun is not actually the exact center of the solar system, it too orbits the barycenter (center of mass) of the entire system. In our case this point is actually varies between about 2/3 and 1 solar diameter away from the center of our sun as the alignment of the outer planets changes. Smaller planets can also be detected by the much smaller but higher-frequency (because they're closer and orbit faster) wobble they introduce. Obviously the easiest planets to detect this way are large planets orbiting close to their star (large, high-frequency wobble), distant planets like our own gas giants will take an extremely long time to detect because you need to wait for them to complete a few orbits (many centuries) to confirm their existence. They're not particularly relevant in the search for Earth-like worlds though.

The original dimming detection technique does have a couple of big advantages though - for one you can watch a really wide area of the sky at once, so even though you'll only be able to detect a tiny fraction of planets it still averages out pretty well (detecting tiny wobbles requires much greater magnification/tighter focus). The second, and really exciting, advantage is that we can potentially tell what the atmospheric composition is like. The recent Hubble observation of the transit of Venus across the sun was a proof of concept and calibration test for this: a tiny percentage of the starlight that reaches the telescope has passed through the atmosphere of the planet, and by detecting the miniscule change in the light spectrum we can perform a spectral analysis on the planet's atmosphere. Heady stuff.

Re:Clearly (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42519715)

sorry, stupid math error - the barycenter varies between about 1/6 and 1 solar diameter away from the center of the sun

Re:Clearly (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about 2 years ago | (#42529531)

Thanks for taking the time to explain this! I suppose a brightness variation along with a lateral wobble pretty much confirms a planet. And if you consider the percentage of occlusion against the calculated mass, you get the planet's density! (I think).

Alien? (5, Funny)

DarthVain (724186) | about 2 years ago | (#42510233)

So are they saying there is 100,000,000,001 total planets? Thats some accuracy!

Are planets in our Solar System "Alien" or are we claiming ownership over them?

I think they just wanted to use Alien in the summary.

Re:Alien? (3, Insightful)

gapagos (1264716) | about 2 years ago | (#42510299)

They are estimating, not claiming a precise number. I know people don't RTFA on Slashdot, sometimes not even RTFS (read the fucking summary), but it's gotten to the point that they don't even RTFT now? (read the fucking title)

Re:Alien? (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | about 2 years ago | (#42510365)

+1 Woosh!

Re:Alien? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510367)

Whoosh!

Re:Alien? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510515)

I see what you did there.

Re:Alien? (1)

burningcpu (1234256) | about 2 years ago | (#42512817)

It's a Douche Woosh! Double score!

Re:Alien? (1)

stms (1132653) | about 2 years ago | (#42513301)

So are they saying there is 100,000,000,001 total planets?

Yeah why do you think Obama is planning to build that Death Star he and a lot of other people want there to be a perfect 100,000,000,000 planets in our Galaxy. I can't say I blame them sometimes this fact keeps me up at night.

"100 billion alien planets" (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#42510235)

But only a few million will be suitable for life-as-we-know-it, Jim

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510371)

640k ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (3, Funny)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#42510955)

64K if you're any good.

With 64K (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#42513635)

it would have taken 60 days to create them that's why he went with 640K and 6 days,

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42514111)

With a 4k you've got an intro to alien life.

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#42511771)

17 billion earth sized. .1% suitable for life as we know it.

that's 17 million possible habitable worlds.

If we are alone that seems like an awful lot of wasted space.

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42512579)

If we'd had this result in the:

1950's- Colonise it with men in nuclear rockets!
1990's - Colonise it with ion engined star probes!
2013 - This all sounds a bit expensive, when's the next talent show?

(If there's life out there replace "colonise" with "invade" and "talent show" with "invasion".)

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42514507)

> 1950's- Colonise it with men in nuclear rockets!

Sounds like the colony would be hard put to get past the first generation.

"Pairs of male elephants to be released into the forests of America. There it is hoped that they will grow in number and the people can tame them and use them as beasts of burden."

"But your majesty, I don't think you mean pairs of MALE elephants."

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42516715)

In the 50's "men" was synonymous with "humans". Touche ;)

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42514881)

2013 - This all sounds a bit expensive, when's the next talent show?

It'd be true if the person is either from Europe or USA.

It would be a totally different perspective for people in Japan, India, or China

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42512691)

One of my all time favorite books...and a great movie.

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518085)

17 billion earth sized. .1% suitable for life as we know it.

that's 17 million possible habitable worlds.

If we are alone that seems like an awful lot of wasted space.

Only if you start from the assumption that there is a purpose to the universe, or some sort of Cosmic Architect.

Re:"100 billion alien planets" (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#42531135)

The universe is not required to consider that it is in fact wasting space. Nor is it required to match desires or expectations. For example going faster than the speed of light may in fact be impossible.

There really is no answer as of yet. This doesn't really change anything other than confirm what was already expected: a lot of earth like planets around. The really hard stuff is life and more importantly intelligent life. It could be really really rare. Hell even multicellular life may be the really really hard evolutionary jump. At this point its guess work. The universe could simply be very devoid of life with perhaps the chance of intelligent life in a galaxy like being something like 100:1. Hence we are alone.

Of course things could be the other way round and there be many intelligent species in a galactic back yard.

Remember when there was just the one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510275)

I remember when I was a kid and the mere suggestion of more than one planet was outlandish.

Re:Remember when there was just the one... (3, Funny)

swx2 (2632091) | about 2 years ago | (#42510387)

You mean you were a kid before they discovered the planets in the solar system? O_o

Re:Remember when there was just the one... (3, Funny)

WillgasM (1646719) | about 2 years ago | (#42510445)

Lestat, is that you?

Re:Remember when there was just the one... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510447)

So you're the other highlander... There can be only one!

Re:Remember when there was just the one... (3, Insightful)

boundary (1226600) | about 2 years ago | (#42514181)

Shame they didn't say that about the number of movies they made.

Re:Remember when there was just the one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42513651)

I remember when I was a kid and the mere suggestion of more than one planet was outlandish.

Baptist?

Most stars we can't actually see.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510313)

From our view of the universe, it's like a double cone shape extending out from our little cluster in one of the many arms of our galaxy. We can see relatively well above and below the galactic disc , but we can't see very well 360 degrees around us into the disc. There is too much material there to see passed the first few layers still within our arm of the galaxy.

Re:Most stars we can't actually see.. (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 2 years ago | (#42512093)

Gravitational Lensing [wikipedia.org] does allow us to see along the arms of our galaxy though. While this may not let us see everything, it does allow us to see more than just our local cluster.

it's a big universe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510357)

17 billion in the Milky Way. There's a metric shit ton of other Galaxies.

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

Re:it's a big universe (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 years ago | (#42511223)

When are you going to stop living in fear?

Hint: We are not alone -- we'll have proof of contact within 20 years.

Re:it's a big universe (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518149)

When are you going to stop living in fear?

Hint: We are not alone -- we'll have proof of contact within 20 years.

That'll be round about the same time we get cold fusion and true AI, yes? Not a coincidence, I'm sure.

Re:it's a big universe (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 years ago | (#42522323)

> That'll be round about the same time we get cold fusion and true AI, yes? Not a coincidence, I'm sure.

No, I never made such claims.

Artificial Ignorance won't be replaced with Actual Intelligence until years later when Scientists replace their faulty assumption of consciousness with the correct one.

It remains to be seen when we will be allowed to tap into the Zero Point Energy this century; it might be as late as the next one.

Re:it's a big universe (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#42511899)

If we're not, there's a good chance that the aliens are too far away for it to matter. That whole "1 light-year per year" speed limit and all tends to keep 'em away.

Re:it's a big universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42513845)

What about the planets that have Stargates on them?

Re:it's a big universe (1)

TwentyCharsIsNotEnou (1255582) | about 2 years ago | (#42516779)

What about lifeforms with lifespans of 1000's of years?

Their perception of time could be vastly different to ours - maybe a few hundred years travel time wouldn't be too bad for them?

Re:it's a big universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42516783)

You really think that's a serious limitation? The milky way is only 120,000 light years in diameter. 120,000 years may seem like a long time for mayflys such as ourselves, but the galaxy is about 13 billion years old. An expansive spacefaring race capable of spreading at an average rate of 0.01c (plausible even just with ion drives and solar sails) could spread to the whole galaxy in ten million years. Even if you think humans would be unable to exist for that long (due to our self destructive tendencies), you must realise that some other forms of intelligent life (maybe something more hive minded) would require cosmological events to wipe them out.

Humans, or our transhuman descendants certainly could colonise the galaxy. If we make it past the next couple of centuries, we'll most likely have the technology to stop ageing, neurological methods to switch off boredom, suspended animation, new propulsion methods, von Neumann machines and AIs capable of spreading our civilisation to other planets. Any combination of those things could get us to another planet, if we wanted.

Even if you can only imagine that we will only ever be able to send tiny packages at any fraction of light speed, that's really all it would take. You could send a tiny von Neumann machine with some relatively smart control unit. As soon as you send it, you follow it with regular launches of small relays, so you have a reliable (if very very slow) communication method. Once it is the right distance from its goal, you start transmitting instructions. The von Neumann machine builds an AI that then takes over the von Neumann machine and explores and communicates as it sees fit. If you want to get a little more exotic, you could send quantum relays and have the von Neumann machine build a quantum computer, and then teleport a complete simulation of a human brain into it.

I don't think the speed of light is a realistic barrier to exploring the galaxy. Once we develop AI and get better control over our biology, we'll start spreading out to other planets, and after that, our extinction will get less and less likely. If we manage to persist for millions of years, it's not like we'll have anything better to do.

Re:it's a big universe (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518263)

You point strengthens the Fermi paradox.

Goldilocks zone (5, Insightful)

jasonvan (846103) | about 2 years ago | (#42510377)

I wonder if there is any way to statically guess the number of planets in the Goldilocks zone, the approximate distance from a star for liquid water to be possible. That would be a very interesting number but I'll just throw out a guess there will be more than one. It's remarkable to think of all the possible life that could be out there. We are probably destend to never meet, but it's interesting nonetheless. I think one of the greatest things finding life elsewhere would accomplish if it ever were to happen, is to study evolution on a completely different scale. The diversity on Earth alone is remarkable, to think what an entirely different planet might produce makes my imagination go wild.

Re:Goldilocks zone (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42510465)

Sure you could. Your assumptions would drive the answer. Better would be to vary the assumptions and report the range of answers.

That's kind of the point of this study. It was done before, but now it was done with data.

Re:Goldilocks zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42511047)

"destend"? wow. the word is "destined", the past tense of destine [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:Goldilocks zone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42511615)

"assholery". That's an abstraction of "asshole" meaning "the practice or art of being an asshole".

Re:Goldilocks zone (0)

jeffclay (1077679) | about 2 years ago | (#42511747)

dang! i just finished giving away all my mod points. next time! lol

Re:Goldilocks zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42519335)

You're more of an asshole if you don't correct someone and allow them to continue making mistakes.

Re:Goldilocks zone (2)

jeffclay (1077679) | about 2 years ago | (#42511425)

Keep in mind that the Goldilocks zone only applies to the carbon-based life that we're familiar with. The diversity between the different types of life developed within the different types of Goldilock zones is what really intrigues me. Think of the periodic table and try to imagine a life form that could have evolved from each element.

Re:Goldilocks zone (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 years ago | (#42515027)

Keep in mind that the Goldilocks zone only applies to the carbon-based life that we're familiar with. The diversity between the different types of life developed within the different types of Goldilock zones is what really intrigues me. Think of the periodic table and try to imagine a life form that could have evolved from each element.

As much as we may want to believe life may be based on other atoms than carbon, one needs to keep in mind the geometry of the molecules involved. Carbon works out quite well for the geometry of the proteins. Silicon, for instance, is quite a bit larger and it is questionable if the equivalent amino acid structures and self replicating molecules could actually form based on it or any other "base" atom. Carbon is pretty unique in that regard.

Re:Goldilocks zone (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#42515899)

The important part is the ability to form long, complex chains. Only two elements can do that: Carbon and silicon. Carbon is better at it. Silicon may be good enough.

It's the geometry (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 years ago | (#42530841)

The important part is the ability to form long, complex chains. Only two elements can do that: Carbon and silicon. Carbon is better at it. Silicon may be good enough.

It's not just the the chain of base atoms, it is the geometry of the entire molecule. Silicon, being a significantly larger atom than carbon puts the atoms attached to it in a different spacial pattern than if they were attached to carbon. Therefore, what is attached to them is also in a different location. It just doesn't work with silicon as the base because the silicon based organic molecules don't allow things to align in a way that is condusive for the processes that would lead to life. The most abundant atom on earth is silicon and yet there is no evidence of self replicating silicon based molecules. The geometry simply doesn't work out.

Re:Goldilocks zone (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | about 2 years ago | (#42512051)

I wonder if there is any way to statically guess the number of planets in the Goldilocks zone, the approximate distance from a star for liquid water to be possible.

Is Europa in the Goldilocks zone? The possibilities for life may be much wider than we guess.

Re:Goldilocks zone (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42512645)

Also, remember we're working on big temporal scales here. The Goldilocks zone alone moves around a lot during a star's evolution. Titan may be habitable for a period when the Sun goes red giant, a million planets could have seen and lost life already, and yet we could still be the only ones at the moment.

Re:Goldilocks zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42519383)

No, but Europa is in a big ass radiation zone due to its proximity to Jupiter. It's not likely that life could exist there unless it's some kind of weird race of radioactive mutants.

Re:Goldilocks zone (1)

mozkill (58658) | about 2 years ago | (#42512449)

At the end of James Mitcher's book "Space" , he does a calculation for estimating the number of planets.

Re:Goldilocks zone (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42513149)

Sure - it's just a numbers game. Right now we have managed to detect hundreds of planets, and just as importantly our equipment has gotten sensitive enough that we can be fairly certain in saying that other stars we've examined *don't* have planets (or at least not close ones). That's a large enough sample to make a reasonable estimate of the odds that any given star will have planets. And since we can also estimate how many stars are in our galaxy we can estimate the total number of planets in the galaxy.

Once we find a considerable number of "goldilocks zone" planets we will then have enough information to make an estimate of the number of them that exist in the galaxy as well. Of course that's assuming our understanding of the actual limits of the 'zone are valid - detecting some evidence of planets with liquid water around various star types would help verify that.

If we *don't* find planets in the zone, well then that will be telling as well - the odds can be roughly estimate to be not drastically greater than the three in our system divided by the total number of stars confirmed not to have such planets. But I want to say we have in fact found a few candidate 'zone exoplanets already, so the estimate will likely be better than that.

it is still a guess (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510407)

The Keppler field of view is only a couple of thousands lightyear deep. That means the results are based on our neck of the woods only. Now, it may be ok to assume that other outskirts of the Milky Way are similar, but there is no reason to assume the same applies for the center of the galaxy, where most of the stars are, very closely packed.

Re:it is still a guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510735)

Oh, I doubt there will be much in the center of the galaxy that is stable enough. There is an insane amount of radiation from supernovae, the core itself, probably insane numbers of collisions between solar systems as well.

It could be possible for something to be there, but extremely unlikely.
About the same chance of life evolving using heavier elements rather than the current lowest energy and stable elements.
We know life is able to use an element in the same group that is further down when we found that arsenic-using bacteria (even if it prefers not to use it), and most likely future research could find it is possible with other elements. (we also replaced DNA backbone with another molecule, twice in fact if I remember correct)

Life itself though. Of all those planets in the likely habitable zones, I'd say at least 30% have life and probably 10% with any form of low-ish intelligence and more importantly 2% with "extratelligence" (should be a word), the ability to go out and use the environment to its advantage and go a step beyond standard life, manipulate the elements and generally perceive the world around them more deeply than "that thing is food, I hunger".
But the chance of a species reaching the point of a space faring race is extremely low.
We as a human race have almost reached global wars that would have wiped us out, or a good majority, setting us back 500+ years given the damage it would do overall.
We could very well still reach that point if we don't get out in to space and gather resources to continue our expansion unhindered.
Space Mining is literally the saviour of our species.
Without it, I'll be glad I won't live to see the end of humans.
Because it will end.
Horribly.

Re:it is still a guess (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#42512705)

Bravo that Anonymous Coward. We have to get off this little wet rock at some point, either that or sit here until we eat ourselves into stagnation or (more likely) destruction. The longer we leave it the less likely it will be to happen. We started in the 50s but we've been stalled ever since Challenger. (I say "we" as "humanity".)

Re:it is still a guess (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42515399)

"The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one," he said

Figures (4, Funny)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#42510475)

100 billion planets and I have to be stuck on this one.

Re:Figures (5, Funny)

Eddy_D (557002) | about 2 years ago | (#42510661)

Your only hope is to start hanging around in English bars and keeping an eye out for a weird looking dude carrying a towel.

Re:Figures (4, Insightful)

pr0t0 (216378) | about 2 years ago | (#42510673)

If there is a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from.

Re:Figures (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42511031)

Thanks, Obama!

Re:Figures (3, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 2 years ago | (#42511299)

A parallel study says that, of planets that can support life there is at least a 1 in 100billion chance that it will form there.

Re:Figures (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42513297)

Not necessarily. It may be only only one in a billion, billion galaxies that ever support life at all. Personally I doubt that, but trying to do any statistical extrapolation at all from a sample of one is fundamentally flawed. As long as we're the only life we've detected, the most we can say is that the odds of life developing around a star are not probably not drastically better than 1/(number of stars we've conclusively confirmed to not harbor life)

Oh, and your conclusion should leave out "can support life" anyway - the 100 billion estimate is just planets, no extra qualifiers.

Re:Figures (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 2 years ago | (#42514005)

Another parallel study showed that 96.45% of all statistics posted in blogs and other social media were, in fact, made up.

Re:Figures (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 2 years ago | (#42517317)

Hmm, 100 billion planets that might be able to support life, one that does. At least one in 100 billion. Not made up at all. Possibly wrong. Uses a single data point. Etc..etc..etc. but still not made up.

Re:Figures (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518397)

Hmm, 100 billion planets that might be able to support life, one that does. At least one in 100 billion. Not made up at all. Possibly wrong. Uses a single data point. Etc..etc..etc. but still not made up.

No, it's not "at least one in 100 billion" odds of there being another planet supporting life at all. The odds may be far worse than that, we simply don't know until we actually find life somewhere else.

Even if we could accurately estimate the entire number of planets in the universe at 100 billion billion billion billion (or whatever) it says nothing about the odds if we still don't actually find life elsewhere. If we found another life form somewhere in the universe, the odds would rocket from 1 in 100 billion billion billion billion to 2 in 100 billion billion billion billion.

And while we've got an actual example of 1 (us) all we can say is that we know life is possible in at least one place.

Re:Figures (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 2 years ago | (#42521339)

I wasn't arguing that the statistic was right. Just that it wasn't made up on the spot. It was based on the available data. That is all you can base any statistic on.

Kal-El (2)

Baby Duck (176251) | about 2 years ago | (#42510597)

How long before we get visitors from the red-dwarf terrestials, flying around and zapping people with their heat vision? Dicks.

Goverment aid (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510607)

So 0bama could send $100 government aid to every planet in our galaxy and only add another $10 trillion to the deficit. Please don't give him any ideas.

Re:Goverment aid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42511851)

you do realize Obama hasn't spent 1 dollar more than necessary. The trick is Bush put two wars, and 8 years of tax cuts on credit cards and Obama got stuck with the bill.

Sooner or later quitting your job and living off a second mortgage on your house is going to catch up to you. Then again I don't expect anyone else to realize that is exactly what both parties have been doing for the last decade.

Re:Goverment aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42512069)

You do realize it was a joke, right?

"you do realize Obama hasn't spent 1 dollar more than necessary."

You do realize that is demonstrably untrue. I could cite about a thousand examples. One will suffice to blow your "1 dollar" assertion out of the water.

"In an effort to make good on President Barack Obama’s commitment to “green energy,” the United States Air Force spent $639,000 on 11,000 gallons of alcohol-to-jet fuel from Gevo Inc., a Colorado biofuels company, at $59 a gallon."

Easily googled. I'm not going to bother citing something you'll just blame on Bush in some way.

Congress writes the budget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42516795)

The president just gets to edit it a little.

Assuming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510615)

Assuming that our solar systems layout is pretty average in the galaxy that puts about 11 Billion planets in the (current) habitable zone, assuming 1% of those have life that leaves 110 Million planets, assuming that 1% of those have complex life, that is about 1 Million planets, and assuming that 1% of worlds where complex life develops intelligent life follows that suggests about 10,000 planets. Sounds about right.

Re:Assuming (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42510707)

Ass U Me

Re:Assuming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42519451)

Ass To Mouth

Re:Assuming (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#42511009)

Seems reasonable, until you try to figure out where the 1%'s came from.

Re:Assuming (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518457)

Assuming that our solar systems layout is pretty average in the galaxy that puts about 11 Billion planets in the (current) habitable zone, assuming 1% of those have life that leaves 110 Million planets, assuming that 1% of those have complex life, that is about 1 Million planets, and assuming that 1% of worlds where complex life develops intelligent life follows that suggests about 10,000 planets. Sounds about right.

Yes, because "1%" is a magic formula for discovering the truth.

Love the "sounds about right" conclusion too. Do you base that on some extrapolation from Star Trek or something?

Richard Dawson Not Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510755)

Richard Dawson Not Surprised

Re:Richard Dawson Not Surprised (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | about 2 years ago | (#42510859)

that's cuz he's dead

Why not cut to the chase... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42510969)

It's all relative isn't it - 100 billion, 100 septillion - a Googol - infinity? What difference does it make? As above is below - macro is micro - fractals - welcome to the holographic universe - and all that. Seriously, how does this answer anything besides saying that there's 'more' than our limited minds can comprehend - or perhaps that the universe itself is a mind? Perhaps it's all an illusion - maya. ;-)

Re:Why not cut to the chase... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42513745)

We have developed a system called mathematics that allows us to work with numbers, even ones so large that we have a difficult time conceiving of them in any practical terms. Using that system and given the proper input data, we can make reasonable predictions, which can lead to practical knowledge. This is a refinement of the input data.

Waste of money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42511129)

How many of our tax dollars went to this "study"? Enough government intervention and give the money back to where it will be useful, the tax payers. The Obama TaxMonger will be the doom of our country...

Yakko's Universe (1)

tekrat (242117) | about 2 years ago | (#42511711)

Everybody lives on a street in a city
Or a village or a town for what it's worth.
And they're all inside a country which is part of a continent
That sits upon a planet known as Earth.
And the Earth is a ball full of oceans and some mountains
Which is out there spinning silently in space.
And living on that Earth are the plants and the animals
And also the entire human race.

It's a great big universe
And we're all really puny
We're just tiny little specks
About the size of Mickey Rooney.
It's big and black and inky
And we are small and dinky
It's a big universe and we're not.

And we're part of a vast interplanetary system
Stretching seven hundred billion miles long.
With nine planets and a sun; we think the Earth's the only one
That has life on it, although we could be wrong.
Across the interstellar voids are a billion asteroids
Including meteors and Halley's Comet too.
And there's over fifty moons floating out there like balloons
In a panoramic trillion-mile view.

And still it's all a speck amid a hundred billion stars
In a galaxy we call the Milky Way.
It's sixty thousand trillion miles from one end to the other
And still that's just a fraction of the way.
'Cause there's a hundred billion galaxies that stretch across the sky
Filled with constellations, planets, moons and stars.
And still the universe extends to a place that never ends
Which is maybe just inside a little jar!

  It's a great big universe
And we're all really puny
We're just tiny little specks
About the size of Mickey Rooney.
Though we don't know how it got here
We're an important part here
It's a big universe and it's ours!

Vast... (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#42512155)

The numbers associated with the universe are just amazing. The universe is so big that anything possible becomes probable... you might even say "anything possible is guaranteed to happen somewhere... and probably a lot of somewheres".

You think the odds against intelligent life around any random star are one in 10^12? Then there should be at least 10^10 stars with intelligent life.

The universe really is that vast.

Re:Vast... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42514545)

"I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

Re:Vast... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42514911)

you might even say "anything possible is guaranteed to happen somewhere... and probably a lot of somewheres".

You've been staying up too late watching quantum physics documentaries again, haven't you?

Re:Vast... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42518983)

The universe is so big that anything possible becomes probable... you might even say "anything possible is guaranteed to happen somewhere... and probably a lot of somewheres".

My understanding is that you need an infinite universe to be able to say that "anything possible is guaranteed to happen somewhere"? As with monkeys typing Shakespeare.

Even a mind-bogglingly incomprehsible large number is still not infinity.

Re:Vast... (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#42523309)

The universe could be infinitely large. We usually talk about the "observable universe" because of that.

But anyway, I was admittedly engaged in a little bit of hyperbole, but not much. The odds of intelligent life arising need to be astronomically small in order to feel confident there wouldn't be other intelligent life in the universe.

keep looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42513859)

so, there's 100 billion planets.

of those, 1 billion are in habitable zones
of those, 1 million are capable of sustaining life
of those, 1 contains intelligent life NOW

all we need to do is find it.

This may be the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42514155)

"may be"?
Whatever happened to the scientific method?

I hope they are enjoying I love Lucy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42514367)

What I am more concerned with is the extent to which the
modern search for aliens is, at rock-bottom, part of an ancient
religious quest.
—Paul Davies, Are We Alone? 1995

. . . when I address the floor tomorrow . . . we will not be
talking about SETI . . . we will be talking about HRMS,
which is the new name by which this program continues to
have life. And it will be my intention, once again, to offer
an amendment which specifically deletes the funding for this
program.
—Senator Richard Bryan, Congressional Record,
September 20, 1993

Re:I hope they are enjoying I love Lucy (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42515439)

If you don't look, you won't find.

Show Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42517573)

Show me one, because I estimate 0

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