Science: A Candle in the dark. Stars and milky way in the beautiful night sky

Are we alone in the Universe? Probably. Like the others.

Are we alone in the Universe? The American cartoonist Matthew Inman published a brilliant comic titled “The Oracle” on his website “The Oatmeal”. Inman’s comic gives the most probable answer (IMHO) to the Fermi Paradox, which can be summarized in these three words – “Where is everybody”.

“Oracle, are we alone in the universe?”
“So there’s no other life out there?”
“There is. “
“They’re alone too.”

Inman’s comic based on this tweet from @ASmallFiction below:

“Are we alone in the universe?” she asked.
“Yes,” said the Oracle.
“So there’s no other life out there?”
“There is. They’re alone too.”

Fermi Paradox: are we alone? If not, where’s everybody?

The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity’s lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H. Hart, are:

  • The Sun is a typical star, and relatively young. There are billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy that are billions of years older.
  • Almost surely, some of these stars will have Earth-like planets. Assuming the Earth is typical, some of these planets may develop intelligent life.
  • Some of these civilizations may develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now (such as the 100-Year Starship, also known as the Generation Starship).
  • Even at the slow pace of currently envisioned interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.

According to this line of thinking, the Earth should already have been colonized or at least visited. But there’s no convincing evidence of this exists. Furthermore, no confirmed signs of intelligence elsewhere have yet been spotted in our galaxy or (to the extent it would be detectable) elsewhere in the observable universe. Hence Fermi’s question, “Where is everybody?”

The most probable answer to the Fermi Paradox

In my opinion, the most probable answer to the Fermi Paradox is:

  • There are probably other lifeforms in the Universe, mostly very primitive (microbial life or simple multicellular organisms).
  • I don’t entirely dismiss the possibility of advanced civilizations. But, the distances between stars and galaxies are way too vast even to communicate (remember, nothing goes faster than light), let alone to “visit” each other.
  • The speed of light acts as the ultimate speed limit in the universe, meaning that any message or mission to another star would take years, decades, or even centuries to reach its destination, depending on the distance.
  • So, even if some advanced civilizations are out there (civilizations that are capable of making radio communications), they are alone, too, like us.

Since interstellar communication would require vast amounts of time, the existence of a ‘galactic civilization’ is highly improbable. I think there’s probably no “galactic civilization” in the Universe. I’ve previously published an article on that subject, titled There is most probably no Kardashev Type III civilization in the Universe. Here’s why.


M. Özgür Nevres


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