The Fermi Paradox — Where Are All The Aliens?

The universe is unbelievably big – trillions of stars and even more planets. Soo… there just has to be life out there, right? But where is it? Why don’t we see any aliens? Where are they? And more importantly, what does this tell us about our own fate in this gigantic and scary universe?

  • FactsWillOut

    Humans listening for radio signals from aliens is the equivalent of ants looking for pheromone signals from us.

    Ants don’t have the cognitive firepower to detect us, even when we wipe out their colonies, in much the same way, we don’t have the cognitive firepower to detect aliens.

    • But we have Tinfoil in spades!

    • Norman_In_New_York

      The fallacious assumption is that life forms on other planets are intelligent beings. Homo sapiens did not emerge on earth until very recently in our planet’s natural history.

      • FactsWillOut

        Of the 4 billion years that life has existed on Earth, for 3.5 billion of those years it was unicellular. It wasn’t until the Cambrian explosion that multi-cellular life came into existence.
        Besides, intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Look at Africa.
        Still, there is no reason why intelligent life could not evolve elsewhere, and no reason why another intelligent life form could not start building a form of technology.

  • Speaksvolumes

    This is great. Thanks for posting! Entire series looks interesting.

  • BillyHW

    Maybe all the other alien “civilizations” progressed to the level of Baltimore and then they stopped. Can you imagine a universe full of Baltimores?

    • Yikes.

    • Frau Katze

      The scientific revolution and everything that came from it was a fluke.

      For that matter, our evolution was a fluke too. The odds on them were very very small. I expect there aren’t many others like us.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        Nature not not favor big brains or really even reward them.
        We are very lucky in that sense to even be here.
        Yes, we are as rare as a winning Lotto ticket, whose proceeds went to buy the next ten winning Lotto tickets.
        It makes the likelihood of an intelligent design somewhere in the process seem almost a certainty.

        • FactsWillOut

          “Nature does not favor big brains or really even reward them.”

          I think that planetary apex predator status and even the lowest technology is quite a reward.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            It worked out well for us, and only barely (meaning it could have gone the other way), but seemingly never for all other species.
            Think about it.
            Forget Fermi.
            Where are the intelligent anything else?

            If big brains and intelligence were always better, why hasn’t any other species ever developed them?
            Why did we have a big brain for over 2 million years, but only stumble onto how to use it over the last 30,000 – 50,000 years?
            Why the cognitive explosion, and why only in us?

          • FactsWillOut

            Neanderthal man was intelligent, but less social. Cro-magnan man out competed them about 50 – 60 thousand years ago. Neanderthals lasted about 100 000 – 200 000 years, which ain’t too bad.
            We have not had a big brain for over 2 million years, more like 50 000.
            4′ Australopithecus’ and Homo Erectus are not humans, and have nothing like our brain sizes.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            We have only been cognitively “modern” for only between the last 30 to 50 thousand years.
            We had to grow that brain first.
            Neanderthal had a bigger brain than Cro-Magnon did, so why did they go away?
            Why didn’t they go “modern” a hundred thousand years ago?

          • FactsWillOut

            Neanderthal didn’t have our language ability, and were less social, so they didn’t trade well, as a result, they died during a glaciation while cro-magnon did not.

            Physically, the oldest modern man with brains like ours date to 50 000 years ago.

            We’ve been cognitively modern since we got that brain.

            It’s not necessarily brain size, or brain weight to body weight ratio, as we humans are not the leaders in either of those categories, it’s more about structure, cortex, myelinated neurons, etc.

            Even then, with our brains, it took 40 000+ years to develop a social structure that allowed for technology, which was probably due to the end of the last glaciation, and our larger brained but less social and loquacious cousins never had that chance, being stuck in a 120 000 year glaciation.

            Also, if you look at the fossil record over the last 3.5 billion years, there is a trend towards faster data processing, first with DNA, then brains, then brains + machines…

            I’d say this trend is a natural thing.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            Neanderthal was very social, and even buried their dead and cared for their old and wounded. He had SOME abstract thinking skills and probably some rudimentary speech ability. He had a bigger brain than we did and approximately the same mass to cranium ratio as your average 6′-2″ male has today.
            He also THRIVED in conditions that modern man could not or did not.
            Why disappear just when the weather is getting nice unless it’s the cold weather keeping your CroMag friends from out-competing you?

            That vital spark that lit the fire was missing in our Neanderthal cousins. How and why, I have no idea, but he should have outlasted us, or at least kept up much longer.
            Sure, we are likely smarter than he was, but he was no dummy either.

            Where are the smart Dolphins, sharks, or lizards?
            Being “smart” is evolutionary expensive, and that’s why most species never got any smarter.

          • FactsWillOut

            Evidence collected throughout Europe demonstrates that while Neanderthal may have maintained relationships with kin up to 30 miles distant, Cro-Magnon were travelling several times that – up to 200 miles.

            That makes cro-magnon more social.

          • That’s interesting, Facts. Do you have a link or anything?

          • FactsWillOut
          • Drunk_by_Noon

            It might only mean they were more mobil, traveled better, or were just darned curious too.
            That’s quite a leap.
            How come Neanderthal never smartened up? He had scads of time.

          • FactsWillOut

            Because a smarter being showed up, with a better brain, better language, and more versatility, you know, all those things we call intelligence.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            Ok, let me try another tac…
            Who else, what else, got bigger brains?

          • FactsWillOut

            As I said before it’s more structure than size.
            Intelligence is the determining factor, and the opportunity to use that intelligence.
            Some dolphins may be close to us in intelligence, but no hands and no fire = no opportunity to do anything except talk and play.
            As far as other beings, well, as I said, Neanderthals had some brains, and we helped kill them, we are more aggressive, as well.
            As far as land-going intelligences are concerned, it seems that a planet only has one niche for them, it took only 40 000 years for us to populate the entire planet. What do you think we’d do to smart, bipedal dogs or smart spiders? We’d kill them as quick as we could, or would have if they were competing with us.
            We humans have a healthy habit of decimating local apex predator populations.
            So, on Earth, we were the first to get the chance, and therefore the only one to get the chance, unless we go extinct, in which case the niche opens up again, and maybe another will show up in a few tens of million years, maybe a few hundred million.
            It took 360 million years from the first vertebrate animal brains on land to us.
            60 million from the first monkey to us.
            19 million from the first ape to us.

            Given that we humans leave a lot of mutagens lying around, I’d say it’s likely another intelligence would arise here if we go extinct in the next million years.

    • Speaksvolumes

      Do I have to?

  • FactsWillOut

    The very concept discussed is too anthropocentric to have meaning. “Civilization” refers to the art of living in cities. There is no reason why alien intelligence should live in cities, or even be recognizable as intelligence to us.
    Consider, when human talk we exchange data at about 100KB/sec. The optic nerve has about 20 MB/sec of bandwidth.
    Consider a being that communicates at 100 yotta-Bytes per second, a short “conversation” among beings like that would contain more than one human lifespans’ worth of experience/information.
    Then consider the fossil record, the trend is for faster and faster data processing and resource allocation in an attempt to optimize our relations with the exocosm. Give this trend another million years, and what you get isn’t even remotely human.
    There is no Fermi Paradox, the idea is based upon a false premise, ie that evolution somehow stops at human-equivalent intelligence.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Well, I like being a troglodyte.

      • FactsWillOut

        Me too.

  • Hard Little Machine

    here’s where

  • Xavier

    I have no bandwidth, so no video.

    But since a lack of information has never stopped me from offering my opinion before…

    If the laws of physics as we understand them are correct – or even close – there’s almost no chance of ever having contact with an alien civilization. The vast distances of space and the speed limit of light mean that there could never be a long distance “conversation” that didn’t take eons. It’s almost a certainty that there’s life somewhere else in the universe, but for all intents and purposes, we’re alone.

    Now, for those who are about to propose that one day we might be able to bypass the speed of light restriction via sub-space wormhole plasma vortox pulsed ion encryption, well that would be great, wouldn’t it? That type of discovery is what makes science so exciting! But until then, we’re just going to have to plod along with the stodgy old laws of the universe as we understand them today. To rely on technology that doesn’t exist yet is called Progressivism – it’s what they’re doing as they destroy the energy sector.

  • Brett_McS

    There are Sci-Fi films based around some of the possible explanations for the Fermi Paradox given in the video:

    Civilizations get to a certain level then kill themselves: Forbidden Planet

    There is a more advanced civilization secretly monitoring us ready to jump in once we reach a certain level: The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Any others?

    Fred Hoyle has some rather clever ideas on this subject. “A for Andromeda” introduced the idea of an alien civilization transmitting information for the design of a machine which we then proceed to build. This idea was used in Carl Sagan’s “Contact”.

    • FactsWillOut

      Forbidden Planet was a great flick.
      Now think, if the Krell had not self-destructed, and continued to perfect themselves for another quarter million years….

      In 2001, the builders of the TMA1 and 2 were not civilizations, they were closer to gods.

  • Minicapt

    Perhaps this explains how James Hanson graduated from astro-physics to climate science.


  • Norman_In_New_York

    Fermi was asked by a reporter if he thought the earth has been invaded by extraterrestrials. He replied, “Yes, and they were all born in Hungary.”

  • Speaksvolumes

    We’ve found them. They’re called Leftists.

  • simus1

    Government grants to research accidental encounters with time travelers would probably have better detection odds and more productive results.

  • Jabberwokk

    “The Universe is to Beautiful not to be experienced by someone”