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Three dozen alien civilizations may be advanced enough to communicate with us

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may have declared that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42, but a team of astronomers has now revised that figure down to 36. More precisely, they say that among the several hundred billion stars in the Milky Way, there reside, roughly, three dozen civilizations advanced enough to communicate with us, the team reports today in The Astrophysical Journal. The scientists arrived at this number using the assumption that there is nothing special about our Solar System, and that another with a similar chemical makeup would also evolve advanced life in a similar span of time, The Guardian reports. The downside is that our nearest neighbor is likely to be 17,000 light-years away, making communication virtually impossible. Until, that is, we tune into Hitchhiker’s subether waveband.

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