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Space Stats Science

Astronomers Estimate Milky Way May Have 100 Billion Alien Worlds 294

astroengine writes "Last year, using the exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space telescope as a guide, astronomers took a statistical stab at estimating the number of exoplanets that exist in our galaxy. They came up with at least 50 billion alien worlds. Today, astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., and the PLANET (Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork) collaboration have taken their own stab at the 'galactic exo-planetary estimate' and think there are at least 100 billion worlds knocking around the Milky Way."
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Astronomers Estimate Milky Way May Have 100 Billion Alien Worlds

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  • redundant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @09:19PM (#38669662)

    aren't all worlds, not our own, alien?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @09:35PM (#38669780)

    It will narrow our search by telling us the properties of some of these planets. For instance, it would be nice to know where all the earth-like planets around sun-like stars are. That would certainly narrow the search, wouldn't it?

  • Re:redundant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:00PM (#38669916) Homepage Journal

    I think he's trying to say that its not necessary to say alien worlds, just say worlds. He does kinda have a point, saying alien worlds makes it sound like we're not one of the 100 billion, which we are.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @10:29PM (#38670108)

    Alien life in the universe that we could encounter, depending on the climactic conditions, gravity and atmosphere would be very different from humans to say the least.

    Not proven until we meet one.

    They would not be all humanoid races that speak english....

    Star Trek did not portray this.

    Dolphins show amazing intelligence so it is easy to imagine..

    No, it is not easy to imagine. Dolphins lack the dexterity to build a space ship. We may find out that any given species rarely (if ever) reach space unless they meet certain other criteria like opposable thumbs and originate from a planet where it's easy to start a fire. We don't know what all is involved in inspiring a species to leave the planet, just that it likely requires a complex series of events.

    It's easy to jump to the conclusion that every planet that sports life will create a random space faring civilization species. However, to put things into a more realistic perspective, consider that this planet has created over a hundred million species of life and only one has intentionally gone into orbit.

    Star Trek had humanoid aliens as standard...

    No, they did not. The 'humanoid' races were explained by one species that seeded our area of the galaxy with similar genetic material. Elsewhere in the series, the Federation was accused of really only allowing humanoids to join.

    We just don't know.

  • Re:TPIR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {kcir.maharg}> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:08AM (#38670662)

    But with alien slave girls, amazons, and the like, wouldn't it be more aptly named "planet 'boobs'" instead?

    Amazons? Then that would be planet "Boob".

  • by PyroMosh ( 287149 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:46AM (#38670868) Homepage

    I like your point, but I think you're missing out on something.

    Radio isn't just used to tell stories. It's used to communicate. Nobody is telling stories in the cockpit of an aircraft, for instance. It's just communicating messages. Information back and forth.

    There are lots of examples where this is true. And to extend your analogy with other species, there are plenty of other species that communicate on our own planet (even microbes! [ted.com]). It just so happens that the complexity of that communication seems to scale to a degree with the complexity of the organism. And it also so happens that we're the only species thus far that's developed the reasoning level and had the ability to develop tools to extend communication like radio.

    Further, any other species that wishes to communicate over great distances on another world, regardless of whether or not they are culturally story tellers or not, will likely face similar problems to us, in terms of the physical limitations of passing messages across space within the universe (whether that space is a light year or a mile).

    It stands to reason that similar solutions (radiation) will be sought. You could argue that they'd use different bands. Perhaps. We use the bands we use because they work best in our environment. For instance, most of our environment is opaque on the visual and IR bands, so that doesn't work. That's why we don't use those bands for much. Radio, on the other hand is easy to generate, can give you good range, is not very bad for you (like x-ray or gamma), and much of the world is transparent to it, so you don't need to worry about line of sight so much.

    Now that said, we have no idea what they would transmit. Sound? Visuals? Digital representations of something? What are the odds that another intelligent civilization uses sound to communicate in the first place? I have no idea. If not sound, what? If a civilization is transmitting say, smell, or some abstraction of a sense we do not posses, how would we interpret this if we detected it? If we realized that it was intelligent, how would we decode it?

  • by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:54AM (#38670894)
    I would guess that Voyager is one of two of our satellites that are close to getting out of our solar system. Has Voyager been detecting tv and radio signals from Earth? Has there been a recent steep decline in the signal? I would not think so since we are still communicating with it so it can detect orders sent to it and we can still detect signals from it. I do not know how much power it has to transmit or receive but I would bet that it is less than some of our radio and television stations. I was just wondering where your source of declining signal strength came from.

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