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Name: Unknown
Status: Other
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Prior to 1993

I have been pondering the question of whether life exists beyond this solar system. Since there are so many millions of stars and planets, I was thinking that the chances of life are very great. My former calculus teacher, on the other hand, has an equation which he says assures me of no other life. I do not believe that too much though. What do you think?

There is an equation that is supposed to give the probability of life elsewhere in our galaxy or elsewhere in universe. It is called the Drake equation after Frank Drake the astronomer who first proposed it. Most people use the Drake equation to show that life MUST exist, it all depends on your choice of numbers that you plug into the equation.

There was a very interesting commentary article in Discover dealing precisely with this question. The author's conclusion was that it was mathematically unlikely that intelligent life can exist elsewhere in the galaxy which were technologically advanced enough to attempt or respond to communication. In essence, he was predicting that the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) will fail. He did not rule out that life could not exist, or that even intelligent life could not exist elsewhere, but for that life to evolve technologically to what humans have achieved would require so many variables to fit that it would be statistically impossible. But then again, before the sound barrier was broken, respected the physicists "proved" that was impossible!

John Hawley

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