"Where is everybody" An exploration of the Fermi Paradox

2504 Words11 Pages
Historical background

Over a 1950 summer lunch at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the great physicist Enrico Fermi asked his colleagues an unexpected question – “Don’t you ever wonder where everybody is?” Laughter went around the table as everyone immediately knew that he was talking about extraterrestrial intelligence [1]. If life arises fairly commonly, as Fermi believed, it follows that there should be advanced civilizations with the desire to visit and colonize Earth close enough to do so. However, there is no incontrovertible evidence of aliens on Earth, either now or in the past. This is called the Fermi Paradox. The lack of observational evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence is known as the ‘Great Silence.’[13]
…show more content…
It provides a framework, a blueprint for the quantities one must know in order to determine how many communicative civilizations exist or have existed in a close enough range to receive communications.

In 1964, Nikolai Kardashev devised a ranking system for the advancement of extraterrestrial civilizations based upon the magnitude of their energy consumption. If the laws of physics do not vary throughout the universe, any technologically advanced civilization must use energy. It follows that more advanced civilizations would consume exponentially more energy. He ranked them into three categories, Types I-III. Type I civilizations consume much less than the energy output of their own star. The human race is a young Type I civilization. Type II civilizations have harnessed most or all the energy output of their own star, and begin to do the same to nearby stars. Type III civilizations have harnessed the total energy output of their galaxy. [4] The types can be thought of as planetary, stellar, and galactic civilizations.

In an online paper published in 1998, Robin Hanson proposed the idea of a ‘Great Filter.’ The fact of the Great Silence, despite the vast and ancient nature of the universe, may be explained by some probability barrier existing on the

    More about "Where is everybody" An exploration of the Fermi Paradox

      Open Document