Intelligent Alien Civilizations May Exist in Milky Way Galaxy

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. civilization / ˌsɪv ə ləˈzeɪ ʃən / (n) – a society of a particular area

    The researchers would like to study about other less known ancient civilizations in Asia.

  2. formation / fɔrˈmeɪ ʃən / (n) – the act or process of developing into a particular shape or thing

    Modern scientific tools have helped us learn a lot about the formation of the planets.

  3. deduce / dɪˈdus / (v) – to arrive at a conclusion after knowing the facts

    The officer has deduced that the crime must have happened a few minutes before midnight yesterday.

  4. upside / ˈʌpˌsaɪd / (n) – a positive aspect of something

    One upside of living in the countryside is being surrounded by nature.

  5. premise / ˈprɛm ɪs / (n) – an idea that is used as the basis for a statement, theory, etc.

    The study is based on the premise that the human body is composed of 60% water.


Read the text below.

University of Nottingham scientists estimated that there may be at least 36 intelligent alien civilizations living in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The scientists derived the number from the Astrobiological Copernican Limit, which says that intelligent life on an Earth-like planet that orbits around a star similar to the Sun must emerge between 4.5 to 5.5 billion years after the planet’s formation.

To deduce how many stars in the galaxy can sustain intelligent life, the scientists looked at the formation history and lifetimes of stars in the Milky Way. They also obtained data on the properties of planets from NASA’s Kepler mission.

According to the scientists, if the 36 civilizations do exist, detecting them and communicating with them will be challenging because they will be at least 17,000 light years away from Earth.

The team added that one upside of finding other active civilizations in the galaxy is that the discovery may give scientists clues as to how long the human civilization on Earth may last.

Despite its findings, the study garnered mixed reactions from other scientists who were not involved in it.

According to one expert, a number of factors, such as how many Earth-like planets can sustain life, need to be carefully investigated before making any estimations.

Another scientist commented that the study’s premise was reasonable, but any plans to find other intelligent life forms are not possible using current technology. The scientist added that today’s research on alien life will mostly just include visiting objects in space that are within our own solar system.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that there are likely 36 intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way, or do you think that there are more/less? Explain.
• What other space explorations/studies do you think scientists should focus on (e.g. what planet is the most habitable for humans)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Is it worth the effort and money to proactively look for alien life that may be nonexistent? Why or why not?
• Would you like the discovery of life beyond Earth to happen in your lifetime? Why or why not?