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Author Topic: What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?  (Read 1959 times)

Offline cheryl j

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What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?
« on: 27/03/2014 20:27:24 »
I wasn't sure whether to put this under cosmology or evolution. I suppose it's related to both. Wikipedia describes the Fermi paradox as:
    "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[2] 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?' "[3]


Some answers I've heard relate civilization collapse to aggression, hedonism, or suggest that human level intelligence might be rarer than we think, because lots of life forms survive perfectly well without it.

But a friend of mine suggested that perhaps few civilizations survive becoming dependent on fossil fuels. That may sound ridiculously anthropomorphic for a number of reasons, but fossil fuel does seem like low hanging fruit for any intelligent life form that started setting things on fire and developed mechanization. Does every civilization like us either run out of it, fail to discover a cheap alternative to sustain their large numbers and complex society, or over heat their planet long before they ever colonize space?


 

Offline Dumb_Blonde

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Re: What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?
« Reply #1 on: 28/03/2014 23:24:47 »
check out this article: newbielink:http://io9.com/11-of-the-weirdest-solutions-to-the-fermi-paradox-456850746 [nonactive]
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?
« Reply #2 on: 29/03/2014 06:17:37 »
check out this article: http://io9.com/11-of-the-weirdest-solutions-to-the-fermi-paradox-456850746

Thanks. Those are interesting theories. And #4 is hilarious.

4. We’re Made Out of Meat

From the Nebula Award-nominated short story, “They’re Made Out of Meat” by Terry Bisson:

    "They're made out of meat."

    "Meat?"

    "Meat. They're made out of meat."

    "Meat?"

    "There's no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."

    "That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?"

    "They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."

    "So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."

    "They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."

    "That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."

    "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they're made out of meat."

A little while later:

    "They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"

    "Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."

    "I thought you just told me they used radio."

    "They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."

    "Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"

    "Officially or unofficially?"

    "Both."

    "Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."

    "I was hoping you would say that."

    "It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"

    "I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say? 'Hello, meat. How's it going?'
« Last Edit: 29/03/2014 09:11:35 by cheryl j »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?
« Reply #3 on: 30/03/2014 04:48:04 »
The question begs several other questions, such as "what external signs indicate civilisation"? and "given that civilisation as we know it has only existed for perhaps 20,000 years in several billion, and could cease to exist tomorrow, what is the probability that we could observe these signs emanating from a civilisation that (a) was in the middle of a similar 20,000 year lifespan exactly (b)  n years ago where n is the distance in lightyears from us, given that we have to search the entire celestial sphere in order to find just one point which is emitting whatever signal we are looking for, against a background of exploding galaxies, Hawking radiation and godknows what else.   

Consider the Kingdom of Bhutan. A civilisation by any standards, and quite an old and stable one at that, but it has absolutely no record of attempted colonisation and no desire to broadcast itself to the rest of the world, never mind the universe.

 

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Re: What is the answer to the Fermi paradox?
« Reply #3 on: 30/03/2014 04:48:04 »

 

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