The world’s astronomical experts gathered at the Royal Society in London yesterday to discuss aliens, with notable scientists agreeing that on a balance of probabilities “they exist.” “Frank Drake, the veteran American astronomer who was one of the first to conceive of the idea of a coordinated search for extraterrestrial life (SETI), will today present an upbeat assessment of the chances of finding a signal from space that indicates the existence of intelligent aliens. Professor Drake famously devised an equation nearly 50 years ago for calculating the potential number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy suitable for life, but he now believes we may have seriously underestimated the potential places in space where life may exist. ‘The number of habitable planets in the Milky Way is very probably much larger than we have believed in the past. A realistic picture should include the contributions to habitability of deep atmospheres, thick ice layers, even the solid surface itself, all of which can lead to life-supporting near-surface temperatures,’ said Professor Drake. ‘Even the very numerous red dwarf star planets may be rendered habitable by a substantial atmosphere or by an eccentric orbit- almost all of the Milky Way becomes a suitable search target,’ he said.”
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