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Space Science

Milky Way Stuffed With an Estimated 50 Billion Alien Worlds 331

astroengine writes "Using data extrapolated from the early Kepler observations of 1,235 candidate exoplanets, mission scientists have placed an estimate on the number of alien worlds there are in our galaxy. There are thought to be 50 billion exoplanets, 500 million of which are probably orbiting within their stars' habitable zones."
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Milky Way Stuffed With an Estimated 50 Billion Alien Worlds

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  • Re:Only 50 billion? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2011 @03:57AM (#35258334)

    Having planet formation at all is the statistically meaningful event. Getting one or nine as the terminal result is just a matter of the initial distribution of the cloud.

    And 500 million in the habitable zone is only 5*10^8, which is a really small number to be plugging into a modified Drake equation unless the likelihood of life occurring and continuing to exist is overwhelmingly high and unless the probability of life developing intelligence is similarly high. If each term is 1% (by many estimates, an extremely large value) you are already down to 50,000 planets before you get into terms relating to how detectable civilizations are from what distance and whether they exist over a period such that we're able to detect them at this time and from this distance. Millions and billions of planets may sound like a lot, but it's pretty small from a SETI standpoint.

  • Re:2001 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @04:04AM (#35258364) Homepage Journal

    I watched 2001 again recently and noticed something new (for me). In the first scene which shows the space pod in the room at the end you see an internal display which alternates between "LIF" and something like "NONEXIST". We think we see this from Bowman's POV, but it seems the pod doesn't think Bowman is alive at all.

  • Re:Oblig. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Third Position ( 1725934 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @07:21AM (#35258912)

    Beyond that, if we go there and find intelligent life, then it'll be much easier to establish a relationship with a species that breathes our air, has an overlapping thermal range of comfort, and lives under gravity and pressure conditions comparable to our own.

    I don't know about that. We don't seem to be able to establish much of a relationship even with dolphins or whales, reasonably intelligent species on our own planet. Indeed, they apparently have no interest at all in establishing a relationship with us. In fact, besides humans, I can think of very few species which fraternize outside with other species, unless they've been bred for it by humans. We may be the exceptional case rather than the typical one.

    Establishing relationships might turn out to be a tricky affair, even with life which has evolved under similar conditions.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @01:58PM (#35260588)
    haha, people always talking about our incredibly weak radio signature. I'd like to submit for consideration the possibility that our nuclear tests of the mid 20th century have been detected, and a reply is already coming back in fusion powered craft at 3-7 percent lightspeed. In other words, in about 20 to 500 years this Earth will be sterilized of human life.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.