In a study published late last month, empirical evidence shows the likelihood of humans being the only intelligent life form in the history of the universe as ten-billion-trillion to one. That is a one followed by 34 zeros. The odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot are 292 million to one, according to the Boston Globe.
To give you an even better idea, the odds of being hit by pieces of satellite debris falling from space are one in twenty-one trillion. That means you’re 476,190,476,190,476,190,476.2 times more likely to be hit by satellite debris from space than be a part of the only intelligent species ever anywhere.
How this number game started is an interesting story. Researchers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan of the University of Rochester and the University of Washington, respectively, took a look at the Drake equation, which was created by a scientist named Frank Drake in 1961 as a mathematical approach to determining if we are alone in the universe, Newsweek reported.
However, Frank and Sullivan figured out that if you change the question, you can get a different answer. Instead of asking if we are the only intelligent life form in the universe, they decided to look at whether we have been the only intelligent life in the universe.
By using data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, the two researchers were able to create a new equation that uses the knowledge that “roughly one-fifth of stars have planets in ‘habitable zones,’ where temperatures could support life as we know it,”