The Fermi Paradox

December 20, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Science, Space, Strange | Leave a comment

The question of intelligent life in the universe has fascinated us for a long time. In an article on the subject, WaitbutWhy starts with exploring something of the scale of the universe. Then they go into the odds of life “out there”. “there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world” so there should be about “10 million billion intelligent civilizations in the observable universe.” They also describe a proposed scale of civilizations (level of development). Carl Sagan suggested we were at about 0.7 of the first stage. A more advanced level would have potentially spread far from it’s home planet.

The question then becomes “where is everybody?” – the Fermi Paradox. The article goes into exploring a number of scenarios proposed or discussed by various people to address the issue.

Personally, the use of technology like radio waves is pretty useless for any distance – even to the moon there is major lags. We’re pretty likely to adopt something better fairly quickly, leaving it as a technological blip that we’ve been radiating. Looking for others radio waves may be a useful exercise but rather like finding a needle in a haystack.

Secondly, the article assumes a materialist paradigm and that human development will be primarily technological. However, there is quite a bit more subtle development possible that is non-physical.

I’d suggest several of the possibilities in Group 2 are valid. What would be the point of physically colonizing a bunch of other places unless they’re very similar to what we’re evolved for? Other civilizations are likely to be unrecognizable to us, just as some forms of life have been on our own planet. And we’ve already gone through several major changes in our understanding of reality – a large work that’s still in progress. The ant hill example in possibility 9 is a decent analogy.

I’d also suggest there is still a great deal for us to yet learn about the world and our place in it. Still, the article is an interesting read.

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