The Drake Equation
We have calculated that, while there are likely to be a thousand civilizations in the galaxy around us, they are sufficiently far apart that any contact is unlikely. To estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy, we use a powerful tool called the Drake Equation. This equation breaks down the problem into several quantifiable terms. The equation is composed of two sections: the number of planets in the galaxy which have the capacity for life, and the fraction of those planets which develop intelligent civilizations. The product of these terms is a value for N, the number of civilizations capable of radio communication in our galaxy. In this project, we identify and quantify the core requirements for intelligent life to arise. This allows us to understand the likelihood of life arising on planets other than Earth. Performing an analysis of these requirements, we arrive at a result of 1440 intelligent civilizations existing within our galaxy. Considering the margins of error on our individual values, this number could range from 6144 to 38. Using the volume of the galaxy, we estimate that the average distance between civilizations is 8000 light years. These values imply that, while there are thousands of other civilizations in the galaxy, they are so distant from each other that they cannot communicate. This result resolves Fermi’s Paradox – the question of why we see no other intelligent life. Humankind has long wondered whether or not it is alone in the universe. Finding an alien civilization would be among humanity’s greatest discoveries. The question of how many other civilizations there are in the galaxy is of the utmost importance because information of extraterrestrial intelligence would allow us to understand more about the conditions under which life arises, and will give us a universal context for our own existence.