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A crest-ian’s guide to the galaxy


In 1961, Frank Drake, a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, devised an equation to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilisations. His answer: anything between 1, 000 and 100 million. Current estimates: anything upto 182 million. Drake himself called it "organising our ignorance".


Officially, the 'Habitable zone'. It is the region around a star where a planet will have the right pressure for liquid water to exist, which could then host life forms. Earth is located in such a zone.


On August 15, 1977, a strong 72-second radio signal was detected by Jerry R Ehman while working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University. It looked like somebody had deliberately sent a signature. On the computer printout, Ehman circled the signal and wrote "Wow !"in the margin. It has never been detected again.


They are organisms that thrive in extreme conditions where most normal life would perish, like high temperatures, acidic or poisonous surroundings, etc. Many such beings have been found on Earth near deep-sea vents of hot water or gases, under desert surfaces or in freezing conditions. Mostly they are single-celled but many multi-cellular species have been found. Alien life might be extremophilic.


From Greek 'pan' : all and 'sperma' : seed. A theory that says that life has been spread around the universe through meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. Debris from collisions of these bodies carries extremophile organisms to others and finding suitable conditions they start developing.

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