300,000,000,000 civilizations in the Universe


If we assume as some have suggested, and extremely conservatively, that there are only about 3 intelligent civilizations per galaxy (my view is that this number will soon be shown to be absurdly low) and also assume fairly conservatively that there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe, this leads us to a rather spectacular number of some three hundred billion civilizations in the universe.    Unfortunately we’ve only found one of them.

299,999,999,999 intelligent civilizations to go.

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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15 Responses to 300,000,000,000 civilizations in the Universe

  1. Kip says:

    Hi Joe! you got my attention with this info tidbit. It seems an obvious common sense estimate NOW that i’ve been exposed to it. I sure like that ‘wow’ feeling when i become aware of something new to me. I have some interest in scale of dimensions and often think of our universe of 500 billion galaxies each with 500 billion stars. But have not thought of our universe in terms of the very high probability of other intelligent life existing somewhere in it. Now I can. Thanks.

  2. JoeDuck says:

    Hi Kip – hey, glad it struck you also. Regretfully we live on the edge of our own galaxy which makes it less likely we’ll bump into other sentient folks any time soon, but we can hope for that. Even though I’m a firm believer in abundant other life in the universe I do not think *any* of the reported UFO incidents reflect that life. Seems to me that the intersection would almost have to be in the form of computer to computer or computer to human because the speed of light will make it unrealistic to send out ships “manned” by aliens.

  3. Very unlikely! If there were so many intelligent civilizations, the colonization of at least one would have swept most of the universe by now. Also, a single Dyson sphere, even in a distant galaxy, would be observable, due to its unique thermal signature.

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  5. Sean Goss says:

    Its silly to claim that life on other planets do not exist. The sad thing is that we kept in the dark with regard to our 8 other barren planets. Could life have existed there a few thousand years ago? Was Mars subjected to a Nuclear War?
    Ezekial in the Bible, and other ancient texts speak of a “A War in the Skies”.
    Most people believe in the Bible right.When it refers to beings from heaven, would that be angels or aliens. I dont know.
    Many Aliens are not green little men with Big Eyes. They look human. And the aliens are not coming, they here.
    Furthermore, research has revealed that 90% of Alien and UFO encounters are utter trash, true, but what about the 10%.

    No matter what we think, something is going on in the Universe. How do we explain believers and non-believers, obsession with the Universe?

    I qoute a researcher. “Absence of Evidence, is NOT Evidence of Absence”.

    Sean Goss

  6. Dob says:

    Mr Anissimov, a few facts if I may:
    1 – The universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old
    2 – The universe is at LEAST 27 billion light years across
    3 – No object of mass can travel at the speed of light
    4 – As far as our current knowledge is concerned, worm holes and the like are purely theoretical and, if they do exist, the probability of an intelligent species discovering a way to manipulate or stabilize such a phenomenon would be EXTREMELY unlikely.
    Given these facts, if an intelligent species just happened to already exist at the moment of the big bang and if said species just happened to have the technology for near light speed travel at that time and if that species decided to explore this newly created universe, in all directions, then given the linear nature of exploration and the limited population of any given species ie the inability to occupy all the space of the universe at the same time, there is still absolutely NO WAY that species will of explored the entirety of the universe to this point in time. It is literally impossible, so your argument that at least one intelligent species would of colonized the entire universe is completely absurd.
    My view is that the probability of other intelligent species existing somewhere in the universe is extraordinarily high BUT they will face the same physical limitations in terms of space travel as we do, no matter how advanced they may be. In other words, the best they could ever hope to explore would be their immediate stellar neighbourhood and as such their existence will be very short lived, in cosmic terms, before they are wiped out by any number of possible catastrophes.

    To Sean Goss, you need to lay off the drugs man.

  7. JoeDuck says:

    BUT they will face the same physical limitations in terms of space travel as we do, no matter how advanced they may be

    Dob I think yours is a key point. Based on current info it is reasonable to assume that some physical contraints will always remain regardless of technology, and thus it is possible an entity could “live forever” but never be able to “explore everything”.

    Michael – there may be thousands of analogs to Dyson Spheres that do not have a recognizable thermal signature. Also, there may be limitations to civilizations such that of the billions of other civilizations that likely exist right now only a tiny number are advanced or even just arriving at technological sophistication (e.g. if planetary destruction by war or disease is a common fate, very few planets may have matured to the degree you assume some should have attained by now).

    Also, even if we assume there are 3 such signatures / signals per galaxy what are the odds we would have found those needles in the haystack ? Still low I suggest.

    We are at our simplest form a marginally clever little collection of molecules, and there are a lot more molecules where we came from.

    300 Billion – I think that is a super low end estimate.

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  9. Pingback: Of course wea ranot alone in the universe, but for the reasons suggested by most UFO enthusiasts. : We are not alone

  10. Mike says:

    @ Dob, let’s assume the likelihood of any one intelligent civilization discovering a way to manipulate a wormhole is a million in one. If we also assume that there are 300 billion civilizations at any given time, then the likelihood of a civilization discovering it rises to one in 300 thousand. Still not very good, I admit, but what is the likelihood that we could go from monkeys banging rocks together to a race that could even dream of touching the stars, let alone a race that’s traveled across space to touch the moon!

  11. ben says:

    Your numbers are utter nonsense. You are using big numbers to rationalize questions away. Your argument is essentially that if there are lots of stars and lots of planets, then surely there must also be lots of civilizations because those are big numbers and a few more orders of magnitude will brush every problem or question away.

    What if life is so unlikely to arise that it takes 10^15 rather than 10^9 planets to occur once on average? Then your numbers aren’t working.

    We do not understand how life developed. We can mix some stuff together and have it react in a way that builds basic amino acids. But what then? Life requires these basic building blocks to form systems that can REPRODUCE in a STABLE manner. The replica still need to be capable of reproducing and at some point they have to learn to reproduce even when whatever resources they were using are used up – they will have to cannibalize other organisms or find resources elsewhere. But how can a super primitive system that just developed know how to get to other resources or use resources in a different from?

    You need just the right stuff at the right place and time and stimulate it enough to support basic biological reactions, but not too much to damage the results.

    It is a mind-boggingly difficult problem to solve so we can’t even do it in controlled lab conditions.

    The ONLY reason to believe that life develops rather easily I can see is that it happened pretty early in Earth’s history, but then we don’t even know whether it originated here or was seeded from elsewhere.

    • JoeDuck says:

      Ben are you saying that fairly well accepted estimates of the number of galaxies and star systems are “nonsense” or just the assumption that intelligent life will pop up, on average, at least 3 times per galaxy? Of course big numbers drive this – they drive much of the reality of our physical world! Are you saying you doubt your own existence because it relies on the interaction of trillions of atoms? I’d encourage you to read up on paleobiology because the early processes that brought life to the earth are fairly well understood, and do not involve anything extraordinary. Are you suggesting that we need to understand *everything* to understand *anything*? Science continues to model the fabric of reality in increasingly convincing and detailed ways if you accept that reason should drive the search for what … reality … is.

  12. Pedro says:

    We are not alone , its is an absurd to think that we are special and the only ones in this enormous universe without ending .
    Maybe this is a dream “who knows” were we are all linked up and have an unique dream .
    Maybe the others civilizations discovered other ways to travel in space where speed of light is the slowest one .
    One thing is true , in 1000 years “if our specie survives” and this blog is still active witch i thinks it is not , who reads our messages will laugh to see how dumb we were .
    There are many factors that scientists don’t doubt and don’t dare to change :
    the first one is that Einstein could be wrong in some part of his formulas .
    We all together have the capability to evolute much faster in many areas , the problem is that if someone with no money have an excellent idea for something new then he/she is stuck and that idea becomes forgotten .
    The first step of evolution world wide is to stop the wars for oil , its stupid to fight for that in our own planet with our specie .
    the 2nd is get more cleaner energy that we don’t need to worry that will be gone faster .
    Our Sun have more 6 billions years of life , i think we can get a lot of energy without worry about .

    Its just a way of thinking
    Best of all
    Pedro

    • Max Bauer says:

      I would simply consider the existence of god and angels Satan and demons as another advanced universal civilizations everything in the bible speaks this, from Elijah story mentioning horses made out of fire to the book of revelation speaking about legions and war in the heavens, i would consider god a very advanced creature and we have his DNA so we carry his traits We are evolving by time 3000 years from now humans will become gods as god have mentioned this in the bible
      i will make your sons and daughters predicting gods god cannot be considered an alien because we are sharing his same DNA all creatures in the universe will exist from matter and will be formed out of different DNA types god is just living in a far galactic planet a civilized planet with advanced technology as Christ have mentioned this before my father has a lot of homes-

      another thing is the Satan and the demonic influence which is an another civilization originated from the godly civilized planet and they explored their current galaxy and discovered other planets with proper life conditions they manipulated matter and used their science and technology to try to defy their origin or what is so called GOD they perhaps believe that even GOD this highly advanced creature was born arbitrary a startup process that happened somewhere in the universe billions of years ago and resulted in life known as god, we cannot know how god lived or survived but we can
      Simply use our human logic and figure out that god this civilized advanced creature was highly advanced in science at least his civilization has discovered the cure of death since they live forever,
      And when we die we keep in the same matterialistic form but using higher vibration levels or what so called ghosts, god is the ultimate level of perfection but he is not the indisputable perfection he did not create the universe before the big bang happened he was a result from the big banghe replicated us in different physical and mathematical levels but kept us sharing his DNA,

      The ancient bible speaks in a very simplified yet symbolic language which is all pouring into one thought,Advanced civilizations outside our galaxy at war against each other, we are of god all creatures in the universe are of god having bits of DNA, i don’t know it sound weird here but i would appreciate it if somebody considers this as logic thank you

  13. Taher says:

    hi , Does anyone thought before that maybe earth holds the last civilizations in the universe ?? I am new in this and want to know ?
    my mail is , taher579@hotmail.com

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