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What Is The Fermi Paradox And How It Works | Touchstone Words

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What is the Fermi Paradox and How it Works

By Shane Staret on 2017-10-07

Why haven’t we seen any signs of alien life yet? That is a question that no one can answer. Of course, we are all free to speculate. Some think that we are alone in the universe, while others believe that aliens intentionally avoid us. No matter the reason, it certainly is a bit strange that there has been absolutely no findings of alien life.


A physicist named Enrico Fermi noticed that something was not quite right way back in 1950. Given the enormous scale of the universe, the probability of only one intelligent lifeform existing was absolutely astronomical. There seemed to be a contradiction, as we have never found any evidence for alien life, yet probability would almost guarantee that there would be more than one intelligent species in the universe.


Don’t quite understand how ridiculous it is to think that there is only one place in the universe where life managed to develop? Let’s look at the odds. According to the Drake Equation, there is about a 1 in 60,000,000,000 chance that humans are the only advanced species in the Milky Way. That doesn’t even account for the other 99.9% of the observable universe or very simple lifeforms. What does that look like as a percentage? 0.0000000000167%. Yikes.

Ever since Fermi pointed out this apparent “paradox” many people have been striving to come up with a solution...and a lot of them are really interesting. One of them is called the Rare Earth Hypothesis. Most scientists base their understandings of the universe off of the mediocrity principle‒a principle that says that Earth is not really a unique planet and that there are many Earth-like planets out there. This theory basically states that Earth, is in fact, an extremely rare type of planet and that the circumstances with which Earth was created rarely happens in the universe or will never occur again. This hypothesis argues that since there was such a low probability of a planet like Earth forming in the first place, there probably is no other instance of this ever occurring elsewhere. Therefore, we are alone.

Another theory is called the Zoo Hypothesis. Aliens see us and know that we are here. However, we are either a threat or entirely insignificant, so they intentionally remain hidden or don’t even bother letting us know they exist because it would be a waste of their time. Maybe we are feared because of our hostile nature‒if we cannot even be peaceful with one another, then how the hell are we expected to be peaceful towards an alien civilization? Or maybe we are just so unbelievably inferior to other alien races that we are an afterthought. Think about it this way. A worm is a lifeform, but it is incredibly inferior to humans. We don’t try to communicate with them or build relationships with them because they are so much more dumb and incompetent than we are. Worms don’t even have self-awareness, so how can we expect them to properly communicate with us? Now imagine us as the worms and the aliens as the humans. We might be so far behind that we wouldn’t even be able to comprehend the basic nature of the aliens, so they don’t even bother with us.


Sidenote: Absolutely do not look up “worm human” on Google Images. I was trying to find a nice little drawing of a worm dressed up as a human or something stupid like that and...I definitely did not find what I was looking for.

Personally, I find the idea of something called a Great Filter to be the scariest explanation for why we cannot find other life. A “Great Filter” is defined as an event that all forms of life must go through, and if they fail to get past this point, then they go extinct. The idea is that none or only an extremely small amount of life-forms actually get past this filter and therefore nearly all lifeforms that got to this point went extinct. The worst part about this theory is that there is no way to know whether we have already gotten past the filter, or if we are headed towards it. Could something like global warming or the development of nuclear weapons be the filter? Or was something as simple as evolving to be a eukaryotic cell the “great filter”? Both scenarios are depressing in my opinion, as the former essentially guarantees our extinction in the future, whereas the latter gives us a lot of evidence that we truly are alone, as most other life forms that had the potential to become intelligent, went extinct long before they could.

What do you think? There are many other crazy explanations, some of which can be found within this incredible video by Kurzegast. Many theories are purely based on philosophy, as we currently have no means to truly determine the reason why it appears we are alone in the universe. Are there 4 or 5 dimensional beings floating around us right now, observing our every move? Are we just the insignificant worms in the busy alien society? Or are we the most intelligent being that exists? Honestly, I think the universe can do better. You’re telling me that this is the best the universe can come up with? I don’t think so.

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