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The Fermi Paradox - What It Is and Categories

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posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 11:43 AM
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Being rather tired of all the political discussions that seem to dominate ATS these days (and for the past year or so), I thought it would be interesting to introduce some discussion on whether or not intelligent alien life exists out there or not.



This is not really a discussion on whether or not you believe in intelligent alien life. It is not a discussion on whether or not UFOs are real, or if people who claim to of been abducted by aliens is true.

For many of us, the belief that intelligent alien life is out there is strong. After all, considering the vastness of the universe, the idea that we humans are alone seems like nonsense. However, UFO sightings and alien abduction stories aside, they do not constitute as actual proof of anything. UFO stands for UNIDENTIFIED Flying Object. We simply do not know what they are (the actual true sightings that can not be explained by anything....and not some YouTuber looking for clicks to generate revenue for themselves). Alien abduction stories are just that for now: stories. They tend to lack any kind of physical evidence that can not be explained. If anyone that was ever abducted was able to smuggle out a piece of alien tech and for all the world to see, that would be the hard proof we need. But alas, we never see that.

What we can do though is ask questions and seek answers. This is how science works (or is suppose to work). The very first step in the scientific method is: Ask a question.

That is exactly what the Fermi Paradox is. A question. It is a question that might have many.....or only one answer.



This thread will introduce what the Fermi Paradox is, and give what is considered a general list of category solutions to that question. I will be doing other threads that concentrate on each solution in that list for us to talk about.

Some ground rules:

Please do not post a UFO link and insist that we have our answer. Unless you have an actual UFO on display for the public to see and scientist who have been investigating it, then no, I'm afraid a video or picture of something in the sky is not hard proof of anything.

Same goes for abduction stories: unless the abductee was able to smuggle out technology that scientist are investigating and making public releases of their findings, abduction stories are not hard proof of anything.

Conspiracy theories of government cover ups: this is actually one of the "solutions" to the Fermi Paradox that we'll be discussing in another thread down the road. For now, hold your horses and let us get through introducing the paradox first.

That said, let's begin.

 


What is the Fermi Paradox?

The Fermi Paradox is a question. It is a question that asks:

"Where is everybody?"



The reason the question is asked was based on several things we know about the universe, and some very good theories about the universe. Those things are:

1) The amount of stars in our galaxy alone is a huge number.
2) Out of the huge number, must be another huge number of stars with "Earth-Like" planets.
3) The age of many of these stars are older than our own stars, giving plenty of time for other life to arise.
4) Considering the age of the universe, even if a trip to our planet took millions of years, there has been enough time for them to get here.

The question itself was put forth by Enrico Fermi who was an Italian physicist who help produce the world's first nuclear reactor.



The question itself was not some famous paper put forth, but was actually just a casual question that came about one day in 1950 when Fermi was having lunch with other colleagues while chatting about a recent up tick of UFO reports and a cartoon about it. Fermi simply asked "Where are they?"

It's a good question, and one that has been debated before he even asked it, and since then.

It's a good question because of the amount of stars in our universe, the amount of stars that have planets, the amount of stars that most likely have "Earth-Like" planets, the age of the universe itself, and finally: it happened here on Earth, we are here as intelligent tool builders and are capable of not only transmitting radio signals out into space, but have started to travel (both man and unmanned) out into space.

So where is everyone else? Why am I stuck listening to a few FM radio signals from here on Earth, and I'm not catching the latest top 40 list from Omicron Persi 6? Where is the alien ambassador from Planet 8 of the Ross 128 system? Why are we not all chained up as slaves to the Warlords of Rigel 4? Okay, that last one might be moot as I'd rather not have that convo because I don't want to be any alien warlord's slave. But still: they are all good questions.

There are a LOT of "solutions" to the Fermi Paradox that have been put forth. A "Solution" is an answer to his question. In fact, there are so many "answers" to this question, that they are generally broken down into categories instead. Here is a list of those categories:



1) Rare Earth: Planets that can not only sustain life, but develop intelligent life are so rare that most galaxies do not have even one planet like this. This category covers a HUGE range of reasons for this, but does not exclude planets where alien life did develop, just that they did not develop "intelligent tool using" life.



2) They Exist But Do Not Communicate: This category is for solutions that says sure, there are plenty of intelligent aliens out there, but for one reason or another they either do not communicate, or we can not see/hear them.



3) The Universe Is Much Too Young: This one can be hard for some to wrap their head around, but even though the universe is around 14 billion years old, there are several reasons to consider this possibility, one being that of heavier elements like Iron have not existed at the beginning of the universe, so there has been a lot less time for life to have come about.



4) They Are Here and Do Exist: This is where most of the conspiracy theorist will thrive, that they are here, meddling with us humans, but we're too stupid to notice, or it's been hidden too well from us.



5) They Have Existed But Always Kill Themselves Off: this is the Doomsday category, in which the idea is that alien civilizations do develop and advance, but always seem to end up ending themselves one way or another.



6) The Universe Kills Them All Off: This again is another category where they do exist, but the universe is a dangerous place and at some point, every alien civilization's number is up at some point and their luck runs out.


Each of the above categories actually contain large amounts of subject to dive down into. I will attempt to make threads on each solution within the category as time permits. Many are thought provoking, some actually quite interesting, some are rather "out there" too.


I look forward to putting out the other threads and the discussions they will hopefully generate.
edit on 7/21/2017 by eriktheawful because: spelling corrections




posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:01 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

Thanks for something other than politics. I have nothing to add to this right now but very much look forward to the breakdown threads and will be contributing to all or most of them.

It is nearly impossible for me to believe we are all alone in the vastness of space.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:09 PM
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a reply to: Illumimasontruth

The next threads that actually talk about the "solutions" to the Fermi Paradox will be the more fun ones since they'll actually dive down into the meat of each "answer"

Keeping in mind that each "answer" may or may not be the correct one! We simply don't know.

But it can be a lot of fun talking about it.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:13 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

This is a really good thread. I tend to lean towards the rare earth scenario modified by the thought that intelligent life is not necessarily an evolutionary goal, instead one of many possible side developments, and will not form on a planet that is identical to earth unless all the nuanced sequences of events required for it take place.


+8 more 
posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:24 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

I'm part of the Tin-Foilers Club, I believe they are here and have been for quite some time. I actually believe our "God's" are just advanced aliens. Because if there was an intelligent species, advanced enough to reach earth in our primitive years, they might as well be God's right? All the tales tell us stories of them coming down from the skies.

Beyond that, we could go in many different directions, but we'd have tighten up our Tin-Foil hats.

Great thread.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:26 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

Firstly thanks for the OP, my own take is/was simplified for my own mind with numbers specifically infinity

Infinite space,infinite time, infinite possibilities BUT only 1 now, so what is OUR now as we read and write this?

Checklist time

1. Intelligent life can exist (humans - some of us - not many - maybe just me
)
2. Carbon based life can be varied and survive exteme conditions (on planet Earth)
3. We have not found CREDIBLE evidence of life in our local system
4. Atmosphere REALLY helps
5. We have only just started, like yesterday (even in a 1000 years it is not even the blink of an eye to the UNIVERSE)



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:28 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

Yah, Rare Earth has two major sub categories:

1) Planets that can have life.

2) Planets that can have life, and it evolves into tool using intelligence.

I'll cover both in different threads.

I remember the look on a friend's face when we were talking about this one day. He stated:

"But every star has a goldilocks zone, it's just in a different place depending on the star."

My response was: "Yah....but not every star always has a planet that formed there in that zone."

The look on his face was priceless, as though it never occurred to him that a star might only have planets too close or too far.

There are SO many different things that can be talked about. Over the years I've been surprised at the lack of discussion on this in any depth here on ATS.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:32 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

Exactly. Just because a planet can support life doesn't necessarily mean that intelligent life will form or is even remotely likely to form. When you look at our own genesis here what rather specific twists and turns had to take place for it to occur? I suppose someone who is a mathematician and wants to try and incorporate that into Fermi's theorem can tell us.

I look forward to the discussion in this thread and the others. Tell one of the other mods to throw you an applause for this one since we cant.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:39 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful


Ummm...I ascribe to the...they exist but have either learned or are smart enough...not...to communicate...

As Greg Bear in "the Forge of God" illustrated and as Stephen Hawking has spoken to...Advanced races may either attempt to remain hidden for purposes of self preservation...or they instead out of fear of competition or for self preservation tend to exterminate fledgling races who do broadcast their whereabouts...








YouSir



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:39 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

Thanks for this wonderful post.

Of course humanity is not alone and it never was. So much intelligent life 'out there'. But the last years I started to question the whole 'out there' thingy. For me the logical conclusion is that humanity isn't allowed to play with the big Girls yet. Having interviewed abductees myself in the pas I firmly believe that at least some abductees have experience genuine encounters. Maybe 'out there' means as much as outside the simulation and is the real universe very different from the one we see at night.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:50 PM
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a reply to: YouSir

That one falls under the: They don't communicate or we can't see/hear them category.

There is actually quite a lot to be said on the subject, crazy Earthlings aside, as to why alien species don't communicate or try to find others.

We've seen there here on our planet, SciFi authors who've written books warning about contact, and even scientist like Hawkings saying it would be quite a bad thing.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:51 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

An excellent thread and wonderfully presented.

The thing that always hits hard for me is the tiny shell of signal reception/production that we operate in. I think it is something less than 150 ly or so.

Given the vastness of space I think it is overwhelmingly likely that we simply haven't looked in the right place, at the right frequency to find anything so far.




posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:52 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

I agree that it's probably super rare, but not impossible, and in an infinite space, theoretically there should be infinite possibilities. So in my opinion, it's not unfathomable to believe there are species much older and way more advanced than us. We are practically still in the "fetus" years, so could you imagine a species that isn't only older than us, smarter than us, maybe their rate of evolution is much faster and learning capabilities are much higher.

Even here on earth we have millions of different species, and we all learn and grow at different rates. The gap between us humans and the next most intelligent species on earth, is incomprehensible to them, so it might also be like that with us in comparison to any higher or more intelligent beings.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:53 PM
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I've always felt it's a combination of these three:

1) Rare Earth
5) They Have Existed But Always Kill Themselves Off
and/or
6) The Universe Kills Them All Off


Given the 13 billion year history of our universe, and the multi-billion year "stars with rocky planets" epoch which exists today, I think that there have been countless intelligent civilizations that existed in the universe...

...HOWEVER, I also think that any civilization will have an age limit/lifespan, and thus will eventually die given time. I have no idea if the average age limit is 500,000 years or 2 million years -- but even if it is 2 million years (which is a LONG time considering humans have only been around for about 1/8 of that time) countless civilizations could have com and gone just in the 4.5 Billion years that Earth and our Sun have existed (and in the billions of years before that).

That is to say that even though countless civilizations might have exited, during any given single moment in the universe - such as right now -- intelligent civilizations may be few and far between.

And "few and far between" takes me to another reason, which is the sheer scale of the universe. There could be a lot of civilizations out there that exist "right now", but the closest one might be half-way across the galaxy. They may be so far away that even if they have the technological ability to analyze our solar system from afar, they may find nothing of interest -- maybe some signs in the atmosphere that life exists, but that may not be enough for them to really care about us.


but yeah -- I think the biggest reason is that civilizations don't last forever, and only a tiny percentage of civilization that have existed (or will exist) throughout the past and future history of the universe exist "right now".

And "right now" (or in the past couple million years) is really all that matters to us and this conversation.




edit on 21/7/2017 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:54 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
a reply to: YouSir

We've seen there here on our planet, SciFi authors who've written books warning about contact, and even scientist like Hawkings saying it would be quite a bad thing.



Yeah if they can get here but we cant get to their there, were screwed, gonna need Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, oh and A magical USB stick, or maybe Bill Gates sold them windows already.......imagine if they are just getting the old paperclip advice right now



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:57 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

The distance is too great for any species to maintain communication-I call this the 'pen pal' effect.

For you younglings a pen pal is someone who wrote a letter to,-national or international- and it can days or even weeks to get a response. The same applies to communicating with other species in the cosmos. For instance if somehow SETI detected a signal from a star 400 light years away, it could take years to decipher it then if we sent a response they wouldn't get it for 400 years, and if we got a response it would come 800+ years after we sent the original reply.

Space is too sparse for interstellar communication which is why SETI should pull the pin. If any signal within 50 light years is detected then yippee, but beyond that cross your fingers because a civilization at a thousand light years could've sent an SOS and got annihilated by natural disaster, disease or destroyed themselves long before we got the 911 call.

Unless we find a loophole or a breakthrough in physics, we are on our own.




edit on 21-7-2017 by Thecakeisalie because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 12:59 PM
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Also maybe they are looking at Earth as A hostile planet with the abundance of water, they hate water it is like fire to them

Thus they overlook the possibilities of life existing on this planet, because we sure do stick out like a sore thumb in this rather dry part of space
edit on 21-7-2017 by UpIsNowDown because: typo



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 01:27 PM
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Communications: One of the categories to be talked about in another thread.

However, great points brought up just in this intro thread.

Ask the question: Can the aliens out there hear us?

Well, first we have to ask: How far out have our RF signals reached?

The answer to that is: Less than 100 light years, as humans have been making radio signals (and other transmissions) for less than 100 years. Prior to that, there would be nothing to hear from us.

However: Even though we've been transmitting for that time, not all signals make it out. Our ionosphere bounces signals back down, and most transmissions are very week compared to what you'd need to cross light years of space. Space isn't empty. There are gases and dust out there that will attenuate a signal quite a bit.

Now, knowing that: it could be that there is a HUGE alien civilization that first developed radio over 1,000 years ago, and have since spread out into space since then....but: what if they are on the other side of the galaxy? That's over 100,000 light years away. Any signals from them are no where close to reaching us.

This will be in the Communications thread.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 01:36 PM
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originally posted by: knowledgehunter0986
I agree that it's probably super rare, but not impossible, and in an infinite space, theoretically there should be infinite possibilities. So in my opinion, it's not unfathomable to believe there are species much older and way more advanced than us. We are practically still in the "fetus" years, so could you imagine a species that isn't only older than us, smarter than us, maybe their rate of evolution is much faster and learning capabilities are much higher.


I agree to the possibility, the likelihood in my opinion is very low. Intelligence is a random by product of evolution which makes it a rarity to begin with.



posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 01:40 PM
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originally posted by: UpIsNowDown
Thus they overlook the possibilities of life existing on this planet, because we sure do stick out like a sore thumb in this rather dry part of space


There is more water vapor in cosmic gas clouds than on thousands of earths combined.



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