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Fermi paradox- What's your opinion?

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posted on May, 31 2006 @ 11:17 PM

Originally posted by Bibliophile
Frankly, if I was an alien, this is the last place I would land. It is polluted, overpopulated, undereducated, and the inhabitants murder animals and each other under the slimmest of pretenses.

Planet Earth would not earn a tick even as a place to stop and use the biffy.

This got me thinking of another theory

-Quartine theory- Perhaps humanity is viewed as too much of a hostile threat by advanced species to be allowed to spread into the Galaxy. Thought of as something perhaps akin to a Virus they dont want spreading through out the Milky Way.

It would suck if when humans finally try to colonize another system there is a big alien ship ready to stop us

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 06:40 AM

Originally posted by kojac
Having recently spent more time talking to people and researching the topic of extraterrestrial life, I came across a theory which has got me thinking.

This theory has cast a shadow of doubt upon my previous unshakable belief that through the sheer weight of numbers, there has to be a multitude of life in our universe.

For those unfamiliar with the Fermi Paradox, here is an brief extract..

The age of the universe and its vast number of stars seem to suggest that extraterrestrial life should be common. Considering this with colleagues over lunch in 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi is said to have asked: "Where are they?"[1] If there are a multitude of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy then why have we not seen any evidence, such as probes, spacecraft or radio transmissions? The simple question "Where are they?" (alternatively, "Where is everybody?") is possibly apocryphal but Fermi is widely credited with simplifying and clarifying the problem of the probability of extraterrestrial life.

For me, this theory has presented some interesting questions. Humans could theoretically colonize the galaxy in a million years or so, and if they could, astronauts from older civilizations could do the same. So why havn't they come to earth?

This phrase sums up the arguement Firmi was trying to relay:

If there are a multitude of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy then why have we not seen any evidence, such as probes, spacecraft or radio transmissions?

Well, as for not seeing any evidence such as probes or spacecraft i would argue that such things were seen and recorded in ancient times all over the globe, and the observers that saw them tried their best to put into words what it was they were witnessing, unfortunatley they only had a limited basis for comparison when trying to relate the unknown to what they knew (accepted as true) at the time.

If one were to see a probe or spacecraft these days it is easy to say "Well this has to be from our planet, some techno military stuff"

But, what of the numerous accounts from cultures all over the world dating back thousands of years?

As for the radio transmissions, well they are not too reliable, now are they. I mean, why would aliens either transmit, or look to recieve radio transmissions?

Consider this: If you were in a spacecraft travelling towards Earth at near the speed of light from 10 light years away, and you were monitoring Earth's radio transmissions, you would recieve 10 years worth of transmission on every frequency we were transmitting on in the course of only a few months at most, considering time for an observer that is travelling near the speed of light is dramatically experienced far slower than us here on Earth.

So, i would say there is no Firmi Paradox, just an ignorant Firmi.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 07:28 AM
I do favor the SETI search and hope to see it enlarged.

The human species is by nature an explorer. Maybe that trait is driven by our need for food on an almost daily basis. We are not like bears, we can’t hibernate nor can we consume enough food in the summer to go without food in the winter. And there is the difficulty that we seem to have originated in the central African Serengeti Plain region. There were two or three separate journeys of exploration by our ancestors, such as Java man and so on. We have also read that the people who lived in Siberia migrated into the New World in three separate waves or groups.

Evolution from blue green algae has made us into explorers. This is a trait shared by many other life-forms on this planet. We as a species as well as other species, have curiosity. Between the desire to explore - which may be just one aspect - and curiosity, we have progressed from the early days of Lucy in the Afar Triangle to today’s modern man.

Enrico Fermi was a nuclear physicist, and not an astro-physicist. He was out of his field of expertise when making his profound observation on the absence of contact with other captures presumed to be around in the Universe. In that sense he is not the best source. Sort of like Dr. Edward Teller when he advised Pres. Reagan to launch Star Wars. He was out of his field of expertise. Yet, no one can deny the validity of Fermi’s observation.

I believe life is inevitable when the physical circumstances are right. For me, obviously that was true on Earth some 3-4 billion years ago. Because of the physical variables needed to allow life to advance or evolve, the number of places where this can happen is distinctly limited. But one of the most important limiting factor was one which Carl Sagan described as the time span when higher life forms could function or exist. A window of opportunity.

Adding the components needed for a communicating human-type to evolve, closeness to a star of the right kind, the need for a shield from radiation such as our magnetic field furnishes, the need for heat, so water neither freezes nor evaporates, the number of sites is very much reduced.

Considering the time needed to evolve without a mass extinction, which are entirely unpredictable, such as the KT Boundary event which wiped out the dinosaurs, means not every planet is going to have a higher form or life on it. It is easy for me to imagine how life could have arisen in other places but then fell into decline or became extinct. We seem to be headed in that direction on our own planet. We hare overpopulated, we are over-polluting out air and water, and we are unable to bring our destructive impulses under control. It is not hard to imagine this may be the last century of recorded history.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 07:52 AM
Fermis thinking, for a scientist, was actually quite narrow.

In a universe as vast as that which we can observe currently, the definition of "commonplace" is a little misleading.

Think about it. According to Wikipedia here


As of 2006, the observable universe is thought to contain about 7 × 1022 stars, organized in about 100 billion (1011) galaxies

Now thats a lot of galaxies. And if only one civilisation develops per galaxy, thats 100billion civilisations, which is an awful lot of aliens

One, two or three civilisations per galaxy makes the number unimaginably high, and still means there could be millions of years of travel between cultures.

As the cosmic horizon, where the first galaxies formed in the initial big bang and thus the first civilsations might be, is 15.8 billion light years away from our position the chance is that someone is out there and we'll never, ever see them, is a definite possibility

I personally believe someone/thing dropped by about 5,000 years ago, maybe even some kind of advanced scout or exploratory vehicle, but 5,000 years is miniscule in these terms when you attempt to think about it.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 08:56 AM
But I still support the SETI project.

posted by neformore

In a universe as vast as that which we can observe currently, the definition of "commonplace" is misleading. According to Wikipedia as of 2006, the observable universe is thought to contain about 7 × 10~22 stars, organized in about 100 billion (10~11) galaxies . . if only one civilization develops per galaxy, that’s 100 billion civilizations, which is an awful lot of aliens . . the first galaxies formed 15.8 billion light years ago . . the chance is if someone is out there we'll never, ever see them . . I personally believe someone or something dropped by about 5,000 years ago, [Edited by Don W]

Yes, Neformore, I accept those huge numbers. But there is not much we can do with them. The distances are just too great. The nearest galaxy to us was found in 2003, and is named Canis Major, about 42,000 light years from Earth. Even if we do no more than beam a radio transmission towards them, it would be 84,000 years before we could expect a reply. How many mega-watts strong should our signal be to give confidence it would reach Canis Major and be understood? That needs wattage equal to the Tokamak Machines, I’d say. Which keeps extra-terrestrial contemplation in the realm of a hobby.

Has Earth been visited by extra-terrestrials? I don’t think so. Some think the Egyptians could not have built the pyramids. I find that somewhat demeaning of the Egyptians. The best representative building of the ancient world is the Parthenon. We are pretty sure the Greeks built it. The Romans have the grandest monuments - the Pantheon and Coliseum - that have not been exceeded as of today. We do not give the ancients their just due. (I’m talking the West, and ignoring the East. )

Aside: The Toba Caldera at Sumatra, the last super volcanic eruption, is dated to about 70,000 years ago. It is considered the likely cause of a genetic bottleneck found in humankind. DNA samples complied from around the world points to a great reduction in the gene pool about that time. Homo sapiens almost disappeared from the planet. Our world-wide population may have declined to as few as 15,000 people. DNA points to that.

I mention that only to reassert and reaffirm the uncertainty of life on earth. Including our own.

[edit on 8/30/2006 by donwhite]

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 11:02 AM
Firstly, I did'nt read the thread, I'm to tired to do that, so sorry if
I repeat anyones comments.

My opinion on the Fermi Paradox is that there a great amount of
variables that were not considered.

Some of those variables being,

1. Not all technologically advanced civilizations will use the same
communications methods that we do.

2. Not all alien life has to be sentient, that is there could be
hundreds of planets where life flourishes and is as diverse or
even more so than on Earth, but no sentient species has yet
to evolve there.

3. This may be the begining of life, that is there are other sentient
races that are less advanced or around the same as us.

4. Aliens may simply not care about us.

5. The Vulcan theory, they may be waiting for us to reach a certain
technology level before they reveal themselves.

So, in closing, the Fermi Paradox is flawed because it does'nt compensate
for all the variables.

[edit on 8/30/2006 by iori_komei]

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 11:31 AM
I agree with everybody here, you can only answer the question of "where" are they if you know something about "how" and "what" are they, as that would influence where they would end up being.

For example, hypothetically, if a species could perceive space and time in the whole in some way we can't begin to understand, that species likely wouldn't bother with the whole physical visiting thing, would they? Thats a whole lot of wasted energy that doesn't change their perspective on anything. They can just stay where they are and interact with everything.

I realize that's extreme, but thats the point. Fermi was assuming a norm that we cannot even begin to assume with a single data point.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 11:47 AM

I don't know that it's a paradox, per se, but the question has been answered many times.

Yes it is a paradox. Defining the problem as a paradox is at least recognized within scientific types who have an interest in the UFO phenomenon.

If all solar systems are like remote islands, then why should we see an advanced species. Even if there are millions of such species, there would be billions of solar systems, with many hundreds of thousands inhabitable by any one. Why come to this island? Why travel? Why think in terms of space and distance so as to think about moving through space? These are all assumptions we make.

I like and dislike this statement. I like that it points out we make alot of assumptions about things we know relatively little about. I would point out that there is cause for intelligent life to travel. By spreading a species out over spacetime you make the species more viable.

WE are the aliens.

You never know

It would suck if when humans finally try to colonize another system there is a big alien ship ready to stop us

huh? lol

Considering the time needed to evolve without a mass extinction...

Hmm this is a definite variable in the evolutionary process. However, DonWhite shows us that even a super volcano didn't totally wipe human beings out. To my knowledge, every ~65 million years there is a catastrophe which threatens the entire planet. Given this amount of time, there is plenty big window for life to evolve... especially if you believe in evolution and that we evolved from "Lucy" ~3.5 million years ago.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 12:12 PM
I have three theories.

1. They are from our future and are observers - all the more reason for this dangerously secretive cover-up.

2. The military shoot them out of the skies all the time and scared them off as not to get any closer to us.

3. We were seeded here by them and they do not want to interfere.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 12:48 PM

Originally posted by Scramjet76
Yes it is a paradox. Defining the problem as a paradox is at least recognized within scientific types who have an interest in the UFO phenomenon.

I'm supposedly a 'scientific type' and I actually think it is not a paradox. Its only a paradox if you assume that creatures like us are a sufficient fraction amongst the billions and billions of stars. LIke I said, maybe "visiting" and "moving"are just crazy novelties of our planet.

What would that fraction be? Well you could plug that factor into the model and calculate some probabilities...

But thats the point. Its just a hypothetical value in a hypothetical model. To be a paradox, we can go so far as to assume that the model is accurate. But I don't think we can claim to have a clue as to what the value should be. Current estimates are based on one data point. Earth.

To declare it a paradox, we would have to state that life elsewhere would naturally want to travel, and then back up that claim, so as to be able to plug that value into the model and arrive at a paradox in the first place.

It doesn't even mattere if you believe Lear, or are a channeler, or like Jritzmans's interpretations. The fact that the 'paradox' hinges on a hypothetical value in a model suggests that it is not a paradox, but more likely simply the wrong value for the model.

Otherwise, the only perplexity I have is why we continue to assume everything is similar to us when we understand how large the universe is and how little of it we have explored.

I wish we knew enough to claim Fermi's paradox. But I don't think we do. Fermi was a brilliant man, but a man of his times, with a traditionally human-centric view of how the universe would 'behave' if it had intelligent life throughout it.

Can't really blame him for that. I, for example, have only one data point (earth life) on which to test his hypotheis. Some people around here claim more...

[edit on 30-8-2006 by Ectoterrestrial]

[edit on 30-8-2006 by Ectoterrestrial]

[edit on 30-8-2006 by Ectoterrestrial]

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 03:14 PM

But I don't think we can claim to have a clue as to what the value should be

Well I see what your saying. It's a paradox IF you make some assumptions. I can't disagree with that.

I do believe that the assumptions used in many models are fairly conservative... meaning it is assumed that intelligent life is pretty rare. However, the small probablity is counterbalanced by the vastness of the cosmos.

Also several attempts have been made at how fast an alien civilization might spread through the galaxy and the timescales are in the 5-50 million year range.

I would be inclined to think that they are already here, which solves the paradox. That is simply my opinion. I believe Sagan once said something like the possibility of us being alone or having company are both equally terrifying.

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 03:24 PM
Ok, scramjet, I think we basically agree about the situation then.

I think I don't trust the conservative nature of the model as much as you do. Mostly because I think it is largely whimsy at this point. We know so little about the universe. We know practically nothing about it unless we are talking about huge objects that are lit on fire. We are just learning to use wobbles to detect largel planets. This has upped the estimate on the assumed number of planets, significantly. When we start to observe foreign planetary atmospheric spectra with telescopes, I think we will have something very tangible to put in the model. but the deeper, anthropological questions of motivcation and action, well, I feel like we are ill equipped to take guesses at those.

I don't know if they are here are not, unfortunately. I've had people who think they are in the know tell me I don't have any clue what is going on . I certainly believe that! But I don't know what they are refering to. I've been scouring the fringe for something tangible. But mostly, it is going to come down to some first hand experience, which I will likely never have.

We could have company AND be alone. That is terrifying.

[edit on 30-8-2006 by Ectoterrestrial]

posted on Aug, 30 2006 @ 04:29 PM

I understand your lack of trust in the model. You are correct in saying that we are just beginning to find larger planets (like Jupiter) in nearby star systems. Spotting a smaller planet (such as ours) is still beyond our capability.

I've also heard that the model assumes life would most likely evolve in star systems like our own. Does this mean they just throw double and triple star systems right out the window?

It has been easier for me (than most) to buy into the UFO phenomenon because there was an actual UFO sighting (at close range) in my family.

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