The Fermi Paradox
Janill Gilbert stashed this in Space the Final Frontier?
Stashed in: Best PandaWhale Posts, Calvin and Hobbes!, The Universe, Awesome, The Future, Meaning of Life, The Internet is my religion., Stars!, Space!, WHY, SETI, Astrophysics, Close Encounters, SETI, Wait But Why
In a nutshell from Wikipedia:
The Fermi paradox (or Fermi's paradox) is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H. Hart, are:
- The Sun is a young star. There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older;
- some of these stars probably have Earth-like planets which, if the Earth is typical, may develop intelligent life;
- presumably, some of these civilizations will develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now, such as that used in the proposed 100 Year Starship;
- at any practical pace of interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.
According to this line of thinking, the Earth should already have been colonized, or at least visited. But no convincing evidence of this exists. Furthermore, no confirmed signs of intelligence (see Empirical resolution attempts) elsewhere have been spotted, either in our galaxy or in the more than 80 billion other galaxies of the observable universe. Hence Fermi's question, "Where is everybody?"
I guess we continue to wait, or put more effort into looking for others.
I think the Calvin and Hobbes explanation -- the surest sign there's intelligent life out there is that it HASN'T made contact with us yet -- is a good one.
I think the Prometheus explanation -- the intelligent life out there actually set our species into motion -- is plausible, too.
One more explanation is that interstellar travel is actually much, much harder than we realize.
What do you think?
All good possibilities.
The universe is so vast, different possibilities of life are so far apart, and the technology, much like you said, is so advanced that no intelligent species has developed it yet.
I hope we are not the dumbest ones, I hope the smarter ones are kind, and that we are not food; which I really doubt, I really feel we developed on our own here.
"I hope that we are not food" reminds me of the 90s song "Pets":
Personally I think space and time are so vast -- and human lifetimes so small -- that the probability that any two intelligent civilizations could actually meet is very very small.
I've been watching Cosmos and one of the lessons is that humans as we know them didn't really exist 10,000 years ago. The real question for me is whether humans can last another 10,000 years.
Part of me worries that any sufficiently advanced civilization will unlock something (Nanobots? Viruses? Bacteria?) that accidentally destroys that civilization. I worry that we'll accidentally erase ourselves.
When you watch infants grow from birth... at what point do you presume they grasp the entirety of their observable environment?
At what point do you think adults grasp the entirety of their unobserved environment? Just here on earth!
In the realm of the merely observable Cosmos (one in which we might agree holds infinite potential of unknown unknowns) any outlining the possible, let alone the probable with any presumed certainty, is mostly accepting Fermi and our most brilliant minds discourse like stoned teenagers at best, or like rapt children at worst...
There's nothing wrong with rationalizing by inference and extrapolation from what we can now most clearly observe and directly sense, but it's not like there isn't a universe full of stuff we just can't observe or sense yet. And I just don't think that any distribution of other intelligent life would feel compelled to use interstellar geography in the same limited sensory vectors that we presume are all there is to observe.
Even among the population of earth there is huge variance.
And that's a really good point that most of the universe we cannot observe or sense.
Intelligent life may already be here and we might not even know it!
And that's not the most consoling thought, Adam.
When I let my own thoughts jog around the block after a few obvious observations, even without the misanthropy of Porno for Pyros' "Pets" song, it's not pretty where my thoughts naturally turn regarding some basic principles of how life appears to work, at least here on earth:
1. All animal life surely must eat other life to survive...
2. More intelligent life forms tend to hold dominion over less intelligent life forms...
3. And as they do each in turn tends to eat, turn into pets, use for commerce, wear for warmth any lesser intelligent life form...
So if there is other intelligent life hanging out here, or in any other parts of our universe, and that life holds to the observable principles we already see across nearly every niche here, I sincerely pray to the Great Beyond that they are a whole lot stupider... and wear like Italian sports coats upon arrival.
A transhuman species looking like a Zegna summer collection would work for me.
Perhaps life forms higher order than humans have more respect for other species.