Astronomy

An Explanation of the Fermi Paradox



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In the 16th Century, Copernicus posed the idea that the Earth was not the center of the solar system, shattering the belief of the rather self-centered human race that the universe does not revolve around us. Over the many following years, our knowledge about the universe has expanded to such an extent that it has surpassed our technology; space travel through an endless universe, obviously, is limited.

We know that the universe is infinite and the possibilities associated with that knowledge are, well, infinite. Thus it has become an accepted belief among scientists and the general population alike that intelligent life might very well exist on other planets.

With literally billions of stars in our galaxy alone, it seems probable that at least some of them might support life on their surrounding planets. Enrico Fermi, a brilliant 20th Century physicist was well aware of this possibility, but wondered why, if we are supposedly surrounded by planets inhabited by intelligent life forms, have we not had any contact with them? During a casual conversation amongst colleagues, he posed a simple query along the lines of, "Well, where are they?" and thus was born the Fermi Paradox.

Following are some of this author's decidedly and admittedly non-scientific - yet somewhat plausible - solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

Communication Barriers
Human beings experience the world through use of the five senses. Perhaps,when it comes to interplanetary communication, this is a limitation. Extraterrestrials might, in fact, be so different from us that their methods of communication might be incomprehensible to us.

Many people who claimto have had alien contact speak of telepathic communication. While we can never be certain that such individuals' experiences were authentic, there might be something to their assertions that E. T.s do not communicate in a manner to which we are accustomed or even able to understand. The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) organization attempts to discover intelligent alien life by measuring radio waves and laser beams, but perhaps we are wrong in making the assumption that alien beings would share our technologies. Their methods of communicating might very well be immeasurable and thus undetectable.

They Are Compassionate
Perhaps extraterrestrial races are aware of human nature and act accordingly. It is possible that should they reveal their existence in too bold or too obvious a manner, they would be met with hostility spawned from the natural human response of fearing the unknown.

Possibly, they are biding their time, waiting for us to become more open and accepting of their existence. Maybe they choose to communicate subtly to avoid creating mass hysteria, chaos, and harm. Maybe they are so subtle, that their messages are received, but not attributed to anything out of the ordinary.

Who knows why inspiration so often strikes in the middle of the night, upon waking from a strange and vivid dream? Of course it sounds far fetched, but perhaps extraterrestrial communication is an explanation for that and other similar phenomena.

They Are Not Interested
Maybe they are more advanced than we, so much more that any attempt to communicate with us could be likened to a human being trying to explain the law of relativity to an earthworm. Why then would they bother contacting us at all?

A more pessimistic reason is that they think we are beyond help. One would hope that an intelligent, possibly superior alien race would be benevolent and wish to bestow its knowledge upon us, but perhaps such a race would be reluctant to communicate with human beings who often exhibit a violent and cruel nature.

They Were (or Are) Already Here
Cave paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art dating tens of thousands of years back depict creatures and "flying machines" that bear an uncanny resemblance to the modern visual interpretations of aliens and spaceships.

Many E.T. enthusiasts theorize that aliens were responsible for the construction of the Great Pyramids of Egypt among other ancient structural anomalies. Some even believe that U.F.O.s and aliens are repeatedly referenced in the Bible!

One needn't adhere to such incredible claims to entertain the possibility that alien beings have already been here and are perhaps still hanging around. Our perception of reality only stretches so far and perhaps we have seen them or at least evidence of their presence without recognizing them or acknowledging the unnerving fact that we are not alone.

The most discouraging solution to the Fermi Paradox is that aliens do not exist and many people accept this as truth. However, regardless of one's belief or disbelief in the existence of intelligent life beyond our planet, it is certainly more fun to engage the sense of wonder and question the possibilities associated with an infinite universe.


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More about this author: Meghan Rizzo

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