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Is there anybody out there?
Date:4/16/2008

Prof Watson suggests the number of evolutionary steps needed to create intelligent life, in the case of humans, is four. These probably include the emergence of single-celled bacteria, complex cells, specialized cells allowing complex life forms, and intelligent life with an established language.

Complex life is separated from the simplest life forms by several very unlikely steps and therefore will be much less common. Intelligence is one step further, so it is much less common still, said Prof Watson.

His model, published in the journal Astrobiology, suggests an upper limit for the probability of each step occurring is 10 per cent or less, so the chances of intelligent life emerging is low less than 0.01 per cent over four billion years.

Each step is independent of the other and can only take place after the previous steps in the sequence have occurred. They tend to be evenly spaced through Earths history and this is consistent with some of the major transitions identified in the evolution of life on Earth.


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Contact: Cat Bartman
c.bartman@uea.ac.uk
44-016-035-93007
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert

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