Is there life in the universe? If there is, can it communicate — and does it want to talk to us? If such a civilization is out there, how long could it survive? These are some of the fundamental questions astronomers regularly consider when they think about aliens. A new paper in Astrobiology, written by Adam Frank suggests there could be a way to better understand variables needed for a technological civilization to communicate with us. While the result is depressing — life was plentiful, but is likely extinct — it does have applications to help us extend our own civilization.