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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
06.05.2021 Carl Sagan and Frank Drake
Astronomy
Frank Drake

Is mankind alone in the universe? Or are there somewhere other intelligent beings looking up into their night sky from very different worlds and asking the same kind of question? Are there civilizations more advanced than ours, civilizations that have achieved interstellar communication and have established a network of linked societies throughout our galaxy? Such questions, bearing on the deepest problems of the nature and destiny of mankind, were long the exclusive province of theology and speculative fiction. Today for the first time in human history they have entered into the realm of experimental science.

From the movements of a number of nearby stars we have now detected unseen companion bodies in orbit around them that are about as massive as large planets. From our knowledge of the processes by which life arose here on the earth we know that similar processes must be fairly common throughout the universe. Since intelligence and technology have a high survival value it seems likely that primitive life forms on the planets of other stars, evolving over many billions of years, would occasionally develop intelligence, civilization and a high technology. Moreover, we on the earth now possess all the technology necessary for communicating with other civilizations in the depths of space. Indeed, we may now be standing on a threshold about to take the momentous step a planetary society takes but once: first contact with another civilization...

scientificamerican.com
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