Here Are 50 Possible Solutions to the Fermi Paradox

The fact that humanity still has yet to encounter aliens has been a topic of discussion for a long time — specifically since Enrico Fermi famously asked “Where is everybody?” in 1950, establishing his namesake paradox. In essence, the Fermi paradox says this: There is an overwhelming likelihood that life exists beyond our planet, yet we still have zero evidence for it. We’ve been listening for extraterrestrial messages since at least 1959 and haven’t heard a peep. Since Fermi published his famous paradox, literally hundreds of explanations for it have sprung up. Some are dense and technical, others wacky and bizarre. But until we find aliens, who’s to say which solution is valid?

https://curiosity.com/topics/here-are-50-possible-solutions-to-the-fermi-paradox-curiosity?utm_campaign=daily-digest&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email

Fascinating stuff, thanks Lois.

I have no bloody idea. I have some thoughts, have no idea how practical:

Space is measured in light years, sometimes millions. If we receive signals, they could be from a civilisation which has been extinct for millennia.

I think a lot of theories thrown around are ineffably arrogant about our importance. What makes US so special? Not only have we not perfected space travel, we remain a very aggressive species. We have not even learned to stop killing each other. Why would such a presumably highly advanced civilisation WANT anything to with us?

Resources? What could we have which is not available far closer to the home of other species? Even if they only want food, surely there are sources far closer to home ?Unless of course they’ve eaten them already. (Sorry, for me, this is a topic which invariably descends into whimsy and sarcasm) .

I look forward to the day an alien spaceship lands in the parking lot of my local shopping centre.

As fascinating as this topic may be, I have not yet succumbed to the desperate idiocy of the UFO crackpots.

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Below the second half of my favourite Twilight Zone Episode “To Serve Man” . (the alien is Richard Kiel, who played that huge villain with the teeth, in a James Bond movie; he was over 7 feet tall)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5NWCD7D5n8

The sheer scale of time and space in our universe, compared to our size and limits in ability to traverse the vast amounts of space (and time), even communicative-wise, seems sufficient explanation to me.

“The sheer scale of time and space in our universe, compared to our size and limits in ability to traverse the vast amounts of space (and time), even communicative-wise, seems sufficient explanation to me.”

 

Me too. However, actual truths can be counter intuitive. I accept a probability of 1 of other sentient beings in our own galaxy, let alone in the rest of the universe (or multiverse) A probability of one means certainty for all practical purposes as far as I understand.

It is also my observation and understanding that the germ, biochemical interaction or whatever we call "life’ is profligate. It seems certain to me that life must exist, in unimaginable combinations and degrees throughout the galaxy and beyond. I suspect the universe is teeming with life. That we have not yet discovered all that life is due to our limitations and the utter vastness of reality away from our tiny rock.

Yeah, another of those [so far] unfalsifiable claims. I think it is up to us to find life, not up to life to find us

I still have a niggle that first contact is just as likely to be like the Borg as much as the Vulcans.

Patrick D. “It is also my observation and understanding that the germ, biochemical interaction or whatever we call “life’ is profligate. It seems certain to me that life must exist, in unimaginable combinations and degrees throughout the galaxy and beyond. I suspect the universe is teeming with life.”

“Life” could mean a very primitive form of cellular life. The question is how likely is it that are there fully grown “creatures” who have the ability communicate and who have formed societies advanced enough to understand the universe and communicate with humans on earth? That is a much more complicated question and it it doesn’t lend itself to your suggestion that “life must exist, in unimaginable combinations and degrees throughout the galaxy and beyond. I suspect the universe is teeming with life.“ maybe life “must exist” but you don’t say what kind of “life”.

I have seen no evidence or even intelligent scientific speculation that the “life” anyone refers to means sentient evolved creatures who can be communicated with. It’s possible (and in my view, probable) that anything resembling human life has not evolved “throughout the galaxy and beyond” or, in fact, anywhere but on earth. In my opinion it is very unlikely and efforts to communicate with possible sentient creatures in space is a waste of time and money. Nevertheless, I realize I am in the minority and humans will continue to to waste billions of dollars, time, energy and intellect looking for sentient creatures that can communicate with us, but which are most likely non-existent. Just my 2 cents. I realize I represent a wet blanket thrown on everyone’s fun and excitement about sentient space creatures.

Lois

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lois

 

 

" life “must exist” but you don’t say what kind of “life”."

Yair, because I have no possible way of knowing, nor the scientific acumen to make an educated guess.

I have given what I see as a reasonable speculation for a non scientist. But that’s all it is; an ignorant guess really .

One of my favourite public intellectuals is physicist professor Brain Cox. He thinks there is no other intelligent life in our Galaxy. I like my take better; it’s more satisfying, than a more prosaic position. But I admit I may be wrong .

The clip below is on “are we the only intelligent life in the universe?”. Professor Cox immediately qualifies the question, limiting it to our galaxy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9GNCc_4f8A

 

 

 

Limiting it to our galaxy makes it even less likely, since we know so much about our galaxy and, so far, no signs of any kind of life, even unicellular life, anywhere but on earth. I think it’s safe to say that there is little chance of life, other than life on earth, in our galaxy, and certainly no evolved creatures we could communicate with.

Lois

For all we know, there is advanced alien life in our own solar system. The frozen moons of our gas giants could have aquatic life beneath their frozen surface. We would not know. They would probably not have the ability or inclination to try to explore the other side of their ceiling.

 

“For all we know, there is advanced alien life in our own solar system. The frozen moons of our gas giants could have aquatic life beneath their frozen surface. We would not know. They would probably not have the ability or inclination to try to explore the other side of their ceiling.”

Just as it’s possible that there is a teapot orbiting the Sun between earth and the sun. Too small to be seen by the most powerful telescopes.

That is cannot be seen does not prove it is not there.

Unfalsifiable claims can be fun, but I think of limited use.

When the conditions for the development of life are considered, these conditions may be met in a moon of a gas giant planet- be it a moon that is primarily made of water and has an outer layer of ice. The core could generate perpetual heat by virtue of the tidal pulls of the planet being orbited. So with water, heat, chemicals, time, might not life develop? It is not just fun to consider what might be, it can give direction to exploration. And it is potentially falsifiable that a particular frozen moon has life, by sending robotic exploration craft to drill into the ice surface and attempt to detect the presence of life, below.

e.g., https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/jupiter-moons/europa/in-depth/

I think that what we don’t have is a good hypothesis of what the conditions are necessary for the development of “advanced life”, i.e., intelligent life that can produce a technological civilization. As far as we can tell, it has been a pretty rare occurrence on our planet.

“I think that what we don’t have is a good hypothesis of what the conditions are necessary for the development of “advanced life”, i.e., intelligent life that can produce a technological civilization. As far as we can tell, it has been a pretty rare occurrence on our planet.”

It’s an interesting assumption. IE judging a culture/ society/species, as ‘advanced’ once they have reached a certain technological level.

My view is that technology need have little or anything to do with a species being successful or ‘advanced’ . I would argue that the need we have for technology to survive in our environment is not a measure of success. In fact, it’s the opposite. To survive in our environment we are destroying it.

The successful species adapts to its environment, without the need for artifacts. For all I know the most successful species on earth may be dolphins and whales .

I can’t assume that any advanced species would necessarily have a need for technology, or the human need for exploration and expansion. They might have adapted so well to their environment that they are never in danger of overpopulation or of running out of resources. That would certainly explain why we haven’t seen them; they really couldn’t care less.

As far as intelligent and socially developed species on our planet, sure, dolphins and whales, but don’t leave out the elephants. They could be capable of far more complex social interaction than we are able to determine. They have long periods of time in which the young are dependent on the caregivers, as do humans. They have ranges of hearing that are rather covert to us, but some of which enables them to communicate over large distances. They communicate with body language/signing as well as sounds.

They are not surviving well, currently, but that is because of humans killing them and taking over their habitats.

But perhaps a limiting factor for alien civilizations to contact one another, is that the technology necessary for doing so tends to be only possible for species that are like us, in our destruction of our environment.

But perhaps a limiting factor for alien civilizations to contact one another, is that the technology necessary for doing so tends to be only possible for species that are like us, in our destruction of our environment.

Possible I’m sure. Just as we cannot reasonably assumed advanced races will be at all like us, nor can we assume that will not be case. They may well be a lot likes us, with some of our greater problems eliminated or perhaps ignored.

I think I may have been unduly influenced by the Star Trek franchise. In that world, space travel did not really begin until there was a single world government, and war and poverty had been eliminated.Has always made sense to me because of the crippling costs of building space ships (plural). I think the cost would be beyond a single nation state,.

Even with the other intelligent species on our home planet, we cannot communicate on a functional level of any complexity. Is that because these other species, e.g., dolphins, whales, elephants, etc., don’t have complex communications or is it because we just don’t recognize it and haven’t developed a means to understand it and communicate with them in a complex way? If the latter explanation is correct, then it seems safe to assume that intelligent species with which we share even less of a common heritage, would be even more difficult to communicate with.

My bet is that intelligent alien life would be so different from us that our usual anthropomorphic fictional ideas of aliens are off by many degrees of naivety.

“My bet is that intelligent alien life would be so different from us that our usual anthropomorphic fictional ideas of aliens are off by many degrees of naivety.”

Yup, I’ve often thought so. I’ve asked about gaseous beings or crystal life forms, only to have some science type patiently explain, why those things are impossible.

Even if we accept all life is carbon based, that still leaves a wide range of possibilities; from Jabba The Hutt to Yoda, that weird little green dude who spoke English using what seemed to me to be Germanic grammar.–Plus, an incredible variety in between, and after.

Because I’m not a scientist, I have an issue with scientific claims of universal truths/high probabilities. For all I know, there could be other realities where our laws of physics do not apply. By that I simply mean in galaxies, far, fa, far, far, far, away.