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We’re Looking for Aliens in All the Wrong Places

Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered if we’re alone in the universe? Are there other intelligent life forms out there on an Earth-like planet? Well, if there are, their planet is probably pretty different than ours. Henry Reich over at MinutePhysics has a short explanation for you on why we’re probably looking for aliens in all the wrong places. According to some simple physics, the planets we might find intelligent life on would be pretty different than our own.

“A basic result in statistics is that there is a big difference between the properties of an individual and the properties of an individual in a typical group,” says Reich. For instance, the majority of humans live in countries with a large population of people, whereas the majority of countries have small populations. Similarly, most religious humans are part of a religion with a lot of followers, but most religions have few followers, relatively speaking. Keeping up so far? He says “it is a mathematical fact that the group the median individual belongs to will be at least as big as the median group.” Simply put, most people will be part of a larger group, not an ordinary one. Like, if you don’t know your blood type, the most likely case is that you belong to the larger ones like O. That means that, in terms of intelligent life, we as humans don’t know which group we fall into. Therefore it’s most likely that we should expect to be in a large group of intelligent beings.

From there, we can look at the fact that our population of intelligent life is probably larger than others because of the amount of space we need to survive. Larger animals need more space, which is why there are far more ants than elephants. Accordingly, we’re probably more populous and smaller than other intelligent beings. Then there is the whole, our-sun-is-brighter thing.

Scientists have predicted that most intelligent species would have a population of under 20 million, and the size of the aliens would be at least that of a polar bear. Oh, good. Polar bear-sized aliens. That sounds great. We apparently should be looking for these aliens on planets that are “smaller, darker and hazier” than Earth.

If you want to know more, you can head over to the site thebigalientheory.com which explains what this is all based on. If you’d like to support MinutePhysics on Patreon, click here. What do you think? Does this make sense? Does it seem like a stretch? Are you going to have nightmares about alien polar bears? Tweet me/us @JennaBusch/@Nerdist and let us know!

HT: MinutePhysics
Image credit: MinutePhysics

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