Harvard scientists put out a new study suggesting humans were likely the first intelligent species to develop in the galaxy.
Scientists suspect humans entered the cosmic scene remarkably early, and estimated intelligent life is probably 1000 times more probable in the distant future than today. The universe is 13.8 billion years old and Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, but life will only end in an estimated 10 trillion years in the future when the last stars die. The vast majority of the universe’s history is in the future, therefore, the most life should develop in the future.
“If you ask, ‘When is life most likely to emerge?’ you might naively say, ‘Now,'” Avi Loeb, a lead authors and a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a press statement. “But we find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future.”
Loeb and her colleagues determined the kind of stars that will continue burning for the next 10 trillion years currently pose unique threats to the development of life. These stars are in a part of their life cycle where they emit extremely strong solar flares and ultraviolet radiation, which would make life much more unlikely to develop on any Earth-like world near them.
The Harvard study would explain why the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has not contacted extraterrestrial life.
Other scientific studies based on recent discoveries of planets outside the solar system take the opposite view. These studies estimate that other technologically advanced civilizations almost certainly exist. One particular study study estimates that the odds of humanity being the only civilization in the universe are less than one chance in about “10 billion trillion.”
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