Poll: Fermi Paradox: Where are they? (About Aliens)

maninahat

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The Fermi paradox has a fairly simple flaw to it. If a universe is big enough to produce intelligent life capable of flying down to meet us, it's also big enough to generate a giant asteroid that will just so happen to slam into us right this very second. As this doesn't seem to have happened whilst you are reading this, one can assume something else is at play. My theory is that whilst the odds of being hit by a life-ending asteroid increases with the size of the universe, so too does the odds of not being hit by an asteroid. I think the same thing is happening with the aliens. In other words, the more you play on a slot machine, the more chance you have of eventually winning, but also the much greater chance you still keep losing until you win.

Could someone care to tell me if I am talking gibberish?
 

Ugicywapih

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I'd generally go with "dead" - on one hand, competition seems to be an ongoing theme among more advanced animals - even the notoriously nonviolent bonobo chimps act as competing tribes. This natural predisposition (keenly illustrated by how the Biosphere 2 team came apart) coupled with the fact that technological progress is not just vertical, with new tech being constantly developed, but also horizontal, with existing tech propagating, meaning advanced weaponry, including WMDs is going to, over time, *inevitably* make it into the hands of someone mad enough to trigger a (thermonuclear?) apocalypse, possibly long before the species develops the means to establish outworld colonies.

An alternative explanation that I kinda like lies with the self-preservation instinct: nobody wants to die, so if/when the technology to migrate sapient consciousness to hardware more durable than the sort we were born with becomes available, it's sure to become overwhelmingly popular. I'd expect that kind of transhumans (or transaliens as the case may be) to require considerably less space and to breed little, if at all, so they could all just fit inside of one Dyson sphere. Now, an entity like that, from an engineering perspective, would be most energy efficient if it were capable of absorbing and processing external light, so if this (or some kind of hyperefficient light-aborbent shielding against random debris from the outside?) is keeping the alien worlds perfectly black, we might just be mistaking them for dark matter/extra black holes.
 

Thaluikhain

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Eh, not enough information as yet.

I don't buy the scale of the universe as the reason, while it's huge, that gives more places for life to start. If something was a mere million years faster than us, it likely could have spread across the galaxy, directly or not.
 

Dalisclock

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My primary ideas are along the following.

1. Space is huge and even in the milky way, we're out in the backwater of the galaxy. That's a very long way to go for no particular reason. Finding us by random chance would be very low indeed. If intelligent life is in another galaxy entirely, we are never going to meet them.

2. We're assuming that an alien civilization would expand to fill and colonize all available space, basically that they think like us that the world/universe is a resource merely to be exploited. We have no way of knowing how another civilization would think.

3.Perhaps they don't have the means or desire to develop space travel. Space travel requires certain elements and conditions, so perhaps building rockets is not possible or feasible or maybe they've decided "We have one planet, let's not kill it because profit/god will save us at the last minute!"
 

irishda

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This is based on our perception that advancement in science is advancement in biological success. By the measure of survival, we, as a species, are not the most successful on this planet. We don't live as long; we don't breed as much; we don't breed as fast; and without technology, we aren't even close to being the most hardy. When technology fails, and it most likely will fail, what happens to humanity then, long after we've forgotten the tools to survive without it?

The Fermi Paradox posits that a mysterious event stops species from technologically advancing past a particular point, but if you look around, it's pretty obvious what that event is. Hell, in the span of my grandfather's life, we've almost obliterated ourselves something about 6 or 7 times already, and I'm sure that's not counting the biological weapons.
 

Somebloke

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Cixin Liu presents a funny little explanation in his trilogy that begins with: "The Three Body Problem":
Any planet that makes its presence know, is immediately destroyed by others, who have figured out that it's good for self preservation to keep quiet, in a universe where it takes longer to ascertain somebody out there is harmless (with an exception of them having deliberately isolated their own system, in a manner they can never escape), than it takes for them, or anybody else overhearing an exchange, to destroy you first. Preemptory action. (EDIT: "Black Dark Forest" theory, as it's called in the books. Maybe you could sort it under your "hiding" option :7)
:p
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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I don't think the original writer had any idea on how particularly vast our universe is, or how little we have been able to accurately study for life. Even less back then, so I guess it lets him off the hook a bit.

It's quite difficult identifying individual planets, let alone studying them for signs of potential life. Some numbers may help, but I don't I think people are yet capable of comprehending quite how large is 'large' when used for our universe, with a limited vocabulary and life experience that leaves one's imagination at their mercy. Maybe a small numbers game?

~ We have identified properly around 500 solar systems in this galaxy alone due to measuring their gravitational effects on their host stars.

~ The furthest alien planet we have been able to identify is 13 000 light years away (as far as am aware) - We are around 27 000 Ly from our own galaxy centre.

~ This galaxy is averaged to 120 000 to 180 000 Ly across. With a diameter of 12 000 Ly around the sensual centre bulge. We can only see 6 000 Ly into the 'disc.'

~ This galaxy is middleweight in context of others...but with an estimated 100 - 400 billion stars. Unknown number of planets, but they calculate 1.6 planets for every star (may be updated) which would give us an estimate of 160 - 640 billion planets to work with.

~ This galaxy is part of a 'local cluster' of 50 galaxies. With another 2000 galaxies mooching in our neighbor 'Virgo cluster' 65 million Ly away.

*Maintain perspective*

~ This distance is considered relatively close enough to show us that these are a flattened cluster of clusters known as a 'supercluster' or in this case 'Virgo Supercluster' around 100 million Ly in diameter.

~ But wait, it doesn't end there...this supercluster is only a part of a much larger supercluster, Laniakea, with estimated 100 000 galaxies, 520 million Ly across. Its' centre is known as 'the great attractor.'




Additional material; http://spaceengine.org/

~ The universe, until recently, was estimated to house over 100 billion galaxies. This has been updated to 2 trillion as of yet.
**largest galaxies are know to have over 100 trillion stars...large, around 1 trillion, with smaller ones thought to be 10 billion stars**


~ Even if we could study each and every planet in each and every solar system...they would still be millions to billions of light years in the past! We have absolutely no knowledge of what is currently going on out there in the present moment, or even their potential events throughout human civilization, life on Earth. We are blind to everything but the most distant, vaguest past in the stars.


~With current redshift calculations of the expansion of our universe through time, it means that the furthest visible galaxy - 13.24 billion Ly away - is closer to 30.35 billion Ly from us in our present day.

~ This creates a lot of complicated issues with galaxies expanding beyond a point where the photons will never reach us, light-blocking neutral gas, dark energy regions, the 'zone of avoidance' where we cannot see past out own fat-ass milky way... observation, communication, let alone travel are all going to require utilising energies/forces far beyond our present day understanding, and even if another species harnessed FTL travel, the chances that they could get to us within this brief snippet of time (assuming they had any way of observing us without relying on light) in this tiny, insignificant speck of the universe is, to be frank...expecting a lot. Like 'winning the lottery every day for 2 years' a lot.

~~~

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is...it's really large and we haven't seen more than a single drop in an ocean to be able to take the paradox idea seriously.
Sorry for annoying formatting, I'm not sure how to best lay out information for easier digestion for those who may not know yet.
 

Mechamorph

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I am going to go with a bit of column A and column B. Space is so vast that even with being able to break Special Relativity like a twig over your knee and surpass light speed, it would probably take immense lengths of time to cross the expanse between any intelligent life forms. Probably long enough that it makes no real sense to send anything across whether it is a signal or a ship.

On the other hand, the likelihood that life exists in a form we can recognize and communicate with is also pretty remote. There is no reason life would evolve in similar paths as it did ours. As others have noted, there were a lot of statistical anomalies occurring to make life turn out the way it did. What did early life look like? We don't know. We do know that ancient archaea not unlike cyanobacteria evolved photosynthesis and helped kill a sizable number of organisms extant on the planet. Oxygen is a poison, only lifeforms that could survive (relatively) high oxygen concentrations continued from that point onward. We could be sharing our planet right now with other intelligent creatures and we might never even know it because we are so far apart that we are classified in different Superkingdoms. Or maybe Empires if the phylogenists had to invent a whole new higher classification.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Multiple answers.

I like the idea of 'life is hard' coupled with 'universe is fucking ancient'.

1 million years ago, you didn't even have homo sapiens sapiens. We've already got some very nasty ways to murder ourselves. Programmable viruses, A.I. on the way, nuclear war, grey goo nanite event, maybe even superbugs causing mass infertility and incapacitation. Plenty of things could destroy on the horizon in that miniscule time period. Not even including natursl phenomena like a gamma ray burst.

So life is hard, desttuctive tendencies of intelligence, and the universe is fucking ancient.

It's more than plausible thst in the time period that homo sapiens sapiens finall came to be, till now, an alien civilization has fallen utterly and erased from history. Give or take a few million years, almost all sign of them will have disappeared depending on the conditions of the planet. So by the time we could even potentially meet them we might not even realize they were ever there. Could even be resource scarcity. At current consumption we'll exhaust numerous necessary resources that guarantee modern civilization in a century.
 

jklinders

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The Fermi Paradox has been pretty interesting to me for a while.

but with space being so big, it's both hard to imagine we are alone and equally hard to imagine it would be easy for a space faring race to find us. The 2 Kurzgezat videos above really break down the Fermi Paradox really well and I am in mostly agreement with them.

I'm less optimistic about their prediction of the likelihood of the aliens being benign than they are though. Mostly because fertile worlds are still going to be pretty valuable real estate.
 

sanquin

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Considering the time it took for habitable planets to to even start existing, us humans were probably some of the early ones to develop our level of intelligence. So I think that intelligent life does exist out there, just not intelligent enough yet to start making trips to other intelligent life. Faster than light travel might be impossible after all. And something like bending space around a spaceship to technically move faster than light would take an incredible amount of energy. Something us humans aren't even close to being able to produce yet in a portable generator of some kind. Not sure, but I don't think we can even produce that amount of energy yet if we took all human made power generation across the entire planet.
 

Thaluikhain

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sanquin said:
Considering the time it took for habitable planets to to even start existing, us humans were probably some of the early ones to develop our level of intelligence.
Why? Life has existed on our planet for billions of yes, if things were a fraction of a percent faster elsewhere, life could predate us by millions of years.
 

brucethemoose

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Thaluikhain said:
Eh, not enough information as yet.

I don't buy the scale of the universe as the reason, while it's huge, that gives more places for life to start. If something was a mere million years faster than us, it likely could have spread across the galaxy, directly or not.

This is the assumption I'm not OK with. Not sure if it's from sci-fi or what, but people have this assumption that FTL travel (or at least communications) will just happen and be easy.

Actual physics, as we understand it now, says it can't. Even with advanced knowledge and engineering capabilities, life might just have to plod along the universe at low sublight speeds.

That means things such as Von Neumann probes might not expand quickly enough to discover other advanced life. And building a telescope to, say, search for life in a nearby galaxy or an astronomical flare to advertise a civilization's presence might take more resources than you can get in a solar system.



Space is an ocean, and I think we're all marooned on small islands.
 

twistedmic

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Given the massive diversity of life on earth alone, I'd say one of the most likely answers is that extraterrestrial life would be so alien (no pun intended) to humans that there would be no, current, conceivable way to recognize it as 'intelligent'.
 

brucethemoose

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Ezekiel said:
I doubt we'll even leave our solar system before we destroy the environment or are eradicated by a natural disaster. Humans are shortsighted. They only care about what affects them right now. But yeah, the galaxy is so big and it takes so many convenient steps to create life that we will probably never find intelligent aliens.
Life seems to be quite resilient and stubborn though, and evolution is relentless. If not humans, I'd bet that something will setup an outpost on another body in our solar system or spit out a Von Neumann probe before fading out.
 

sanquin

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Thaluikhain said:
Why? Life has existed on our planet for billions of yes, if things were a fraction of a percent faster elsewhere, life could predate us by millions of years.
Eh, I remember hearing about it in some space documentary a while ago. I'm not that good on the details any more. All I really remember is that they calculated when the first stars started to exist, how long it would take to have habitable planets around them, the likelihood of a species getting destroyed before reaching that level of technology, etc. And...I think that there was a margin of a few million years in which, based on our knowledge, intelligent life like humans could have come to be? Take that however you want. I remember it making a lot of sense when I watched it. And I wish I could find the documentary again.

But even if I could convince you of that, you're right that that still leaves a margin of a few million years. Thing is, that's a tiny amount on the scale of the universe. And so far it seems that other intelligent life is almost inevitable, but also very rare. So I personally doubt there's intelligent life close to us. (within, say, 10~20 light years) And I have a feeling that FTL isn't something we can 'solve' as easily as we solved sending probes to other planets. So it'll likely still take a very long time before we develop technology that allows us to find and travel to other intelligent life out there.

Most of that is my personal opinion of course. But all that combined with the fact that we haven't been contacted yet makes me think the scenario of 'other intelligent life is out there, but also not developed enough to come find us' is the most likely.
 

Thaluikhain

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brucethemoose said:
This is the assumption I'm not OK with. Not sure if it's from sci-fi or what, but people have this assumption that FTL travel (or at least communications) will just happen and be easy.

Actual physics, as we understand it now, says it can't. Even with advanced knowledge and engineering capabilities, life might just have to plod along the universe at low sublight speeds.
Absolutely. You'd probably have to get there the slow way. But, give us a few millions years (provided we've not killed each other for the lulz first), and humanity can do it. Someone could easily have that sort of headstart on us.