Have aliens ever existed? Chances are set high

Image: Ellie Arroway in "Contact"

Ellie Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) listens for alien signals in the movie “Contact.” (Credit: Warner Bros.)

Are we alone? Fifty-five years ago, astronomer Frank Drake came up with an equation that weighed the odds for aliens, and now two astronomers have tweaked the formula to come up with a slightly different spin.

Their bottom line? There’s an astronomically high chance that other civilizations have arisen elsewhere in the universe at some point in its 13.8 billion-year history.

The University of Washington’s Woody Sullivan and the University of Rochester’s Adam Frank published their assessment in the May issue of Astrobiology, and Frank is following up with an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times.

“While we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history,” Frank writes.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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