Intelligent life ‘exceptionally rare’ to exist on other planets, scientists say

Our existence might be entirely flukey and we’re all alone in the universe, scientists have claimed.

There is a good possibility that the truth is not out there, researchers at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute have suggested.

Boffins said the unlikeliness of the series of ‘evolutionary transitions’ that led to our existence is ‘exceptionally rare’.

In fact, the team calculated that there’s anywhere between a 53% and a 99.6% chance that we’re alone.

The paper, written by Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Michael Bonsall, said: “Our results corroborate the original argument suggested by Brandon Carter that intelligent life in the Universe is exceptionally rare, assuming that intelligent life elsewhere requires analogous evolutionary transitions.

“It took approximately 4.5 billion years for a series of evolutionary transitions resulting in intelligent life to unfold on Earth. In another billion years, the increasing luminosity of the Sun will make Earth uninhabitable for complex life.

“Intelligence therefore emerged late in Earth's lifetime. Together with the dispersed timing of key evolutionary transitions and plausible priors, one can conclude that the expected transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude.

“In turn, this suggests that intelligent life is likely to be exceptionally rare.”

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The research draws on the Fermi paradox, which is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extra-terrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability.

The researchers suggested that life could have suggested previously on Mars but since been wiped out.

The team quote American evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who said that if the “tape of life” were to be rerun, “the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence”’ would occur.

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Humans, including our human-like ape ancestors, have only existed on earth for about the last six million years.

To put that into context, the earth is 4.5 billion years old – and in another billion years the sun will likely destroy Earth’s ability to support life.

But another recent study revealed that there are a more than 300 million worlds with similar conditions to Earth scattered throughout the Milky Way galaxy.

In what could be seen as a good sign for alien hunters, analysis last month found that roughly half of the galaxy’s sunlike stars host habitable zones.

Natalie Batalha, an astronomer with the University of California, Santa Cruz, told National Geographic: “This is the science result we’ve all been waiting for.”

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