Lina Jones 11.5.

2013 Astronomy Tamara Young Extraterrestrial Life My best friend, her boyfriend, my boyfriend and I all had a lengthy conversation starting off with extraterrestrial life (ETL). By starting our conversation off with ETL we also branched off a few times and talked briefly about different subjects as well. We also talked about parallel universes, sciences selfcorrecting nature, galaxies, sciences self-correcting nature, and even technological advances. I thought it was cool how we chose just one topic to talk about and ended up talking about five other topics. It just goes to show how much of science is connected. Now to get to the original topic: extraterrestrial life. Although there is no actual proof of ETL yet, we believe ETL exists simply because of the cosmological principle. The cosmological principle states that the universe is the same everywhere and it follows all the same rules, so basically there is nothing special about Earth or even the human race. My friends and I are not the only ones to believe that ETL exists either, there are many scientists working to find ETL as well. So my friends and I decided to research what scientists have found out about ETL so far. The search for ETL started with a scientist in the 1960s. His name was Frank Drake and he came up with the Drake equation. The drake equation estimates how many planets that can support life can be detected within one galaxy. One of the factors of the equation is length a civilization remains detectable. There is a lot of speculation about this number. Some people think it should be bigger some think it should be smaller. Drake went with a bigger number for this factor, which lead to the calculation that there are about 10,000 detectable civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. Now that scientists had an estimation of how many detectable civilizations there were they began searching for those civilizations. There are three ways for detecting other civilizations. First is face to face communication, which of course would be them visiting us or even us visiting them. Unless we had better technology for space

travel the face to face method is very unlikely. The second method is active communication. Active communication is when scientists send transmissions out into space. The transmissions sent have information about earth like atomic number for elements and the structure of DNA. Active communication is not used very much. The third method is passive communication. Passive communication tries to pick up transmissions from other civilizations. They look for transmissions by pointing a satellite at a star they believe can support life and listen for transmissions between 1,000 and 3,000 hertz. Passive communication is the most common way for searching for ETL. So if there are so many detectable civilizations then why haven’t we found any? This is what the Fermi Paradox questions. The Fermi Paradox is proof that science is self-correcting. The Fermi Paradox led to the revision of the drake equation, particularly the factor of length of time a civilization is detectable. The revised number is significantly smaller. It is now believed that there are about two to three civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy that can be detected. The significantly smaller number shows why we haven’t detected any civilizations yet. After finding all this out through research we still believe ETL exists but the chance of ETL being detected, we think, is highly unlikely. If there are only two to three detectable civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy there must be many more in our universe due to the vast number of galaxies. Since they are so far away we may never be able to communicate with them, at least not with our current technology. Further advanced telescopes would definitely help with finding ETL. Look for transmissions with more hertz possibilities might also help. Looking with only a variation of 1,000 to 3,000 hertz is very small. Granted oxygen can be heard at 1,400 hertz and a civilization needs oxygen to live, but what if the other civilizations are more advanced and are sending transmission at a higher hertz?

Sources Harris, William. “What Are The Odds There Is Life in Outer Space?” HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Matson, John. “Anybody home? Next-Gen Telescopes Could Pick Up Hints of Extraterrestrial Life.” Scientific American. N.p. 12 Mar. 2013. Web 11 Nov. 2013.