The Fermi paradox questions why we have not yet discovered evidence of extraterrestrial life. Don’t aliens exist? Or are we just looking in the wrong places? The Fermi paradox refers to the contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial intelligence and the lack of evidence for such beings. As the British science-fiction novelist, Sir Arthur C. Clarke said, “There are two possibilities: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally frightening.”
Since then many experts have been grappling with the same issue, given the vast number of planets and stars in the Milky Way, why haven’t we seen any extraterrestrial life yet? This is known as the Fermi paradox, and there are many conceivable answers, some of which are more sinister than others. Know in detail about the Fermi paradox in this article.
What is the Fermi paradox?
The Fermi paradox or Fermi paradox in English is named after the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi. According to whom, it refers to the lack of evidence and the apparent contradiction to various high probability estimates of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations or extraterrestrial intelligence elsewhere in our Milky Way galaxy.
This paradox was fully developed by the original points of argument in a 1975 letter by Michael H. Hart. And this includes:
- The galaxy has billions of stars that are similar to the Sun, and many of these stars are billions of years older than the Solar System.
- Very likely, some of these stars may have already developed intelligent life on an Earth-like planet.
- It is possible that some of these civilizations have also developed interstellar travel, and are planning to come to Earth.
- Even with the slow pace of present-day interstellar travel, the Milky Way galaxy can fully traverse in a few million years.
According to this line of reasoning, the Earth must have already been traveled by aliens or by their spaceships.
Enrico Fermi’s name in Fermi paradox
Fermi’s name is associated with this paradox due to casual conversations with Enrico Fermi’s fellow physicists Edward Teller, Herbert York, and Emil Konopinski in the summer of 1950.
While walking to lunch, Fermi and his partner were discussing the recent UFO report and the possibility of traveling at the speed of light. The conversation then started on other topics as well and the conversation lasted until, during lunch, Fermi suddenly said, “Where are they?” Two of his three colleagues immediately became aware that Fermi was referring to extraterrestrial civilizations or extraterrestrial intelligence. In addition, Herbert York remembered that Fermi followed a series of calculations of “the possibility of planets similar to Earth, the probability of life given to Earth, the probability of life given to humans, the duration of high growth and high technology, etc.” Have done. ” He concluded on the basis of such calculations that we should have visited long ago and several times.
There have been several attempts to explain the Fermi paradox, mainly suggesting either that intelligent supernatural beings are extremely rare. Or propose for other reasons that such civilizations have not approached, or visited the earth.
The Fermi paradox is a conflict between the argument that many possibilities favor the normalization of intelligent life in the universe, and the total lack of evidence for intelligent life arising anywhere other than Earth.
The first aspect of the Fermi paradox
The first aspect of the Fermi paradox is a function of scale or the inclusion of large numbers: the Milky Way has an estimated 200–400 billion stars and 70 sextillions in the observable universe. Even though intelligent life occurs on only one percent of the planets around these stars, a large number of extinct civilizations could occur, and if the percentage was sufficient, it would produce significant numbers of extinct civilizations in the Milky Way. It follows the mediation principle, by which the Earth is a specific planet.
The second aspect of the Fermi paradox
The second aspect of the Fermi paradox is the logic of probability: given the ability of intelligent life to overcome scattering and its tendency to colonize new habitats, it seems possible that at least some civilizations would be technologically advanced, space. Will seek out new resources, and colonize its own star system and, later, the surrounding star system. Since there is no evidence of other intelligent life on Earth, or in the known universe, until 13.8 billion years after the history of the universe, a resolution is needed. Some examples of possible resolutions are that intelligent life is rarer than we think, that our assumptions about the general evolution or behavior of intelligent species are flawed, or more fundamentally, that ours about the nature of the universe Current scientific understanding is quite incomplete.
Fermi paradox can be asked in two ways
First is –
“Why have no aliens or their artifacts been found on Earth or in the Solar System?” If interstellar travel is possible, even of a “slow” kind, almost within reach of Earth technology, it would only take 5 million to 50 million years to colonize the galaxy. It is relatively brief on the geological scale, let alone any cosmological one. Since there are many stars older than the Sun, and since intelligent life may have evolved elsewhere earlier, the question then becomes why the galaxy was not already colonized. Even though colonization is impractical or undesirable for all Alien civilizations, large-scale exploration of the galaxy may be possible after investigation. These may leave detectable artifacts in the solar system, such as evidence of old investigations or mining activity, but none of them have been observed.
The second form of the question is –
“Why don’t we see any signs of intelligence elsewhere in the universe?” This version does not consider interstellar travel but includes other galaxies. For distant galaxies, travel times may well explain the lack of alien voyages to Earth, but a sufficiently advanced civilization may possibly be observable at a significant fraction of the size of the observable universe. Even if such civilizations are rare, the logic of the scale indicates that they must exist somewhere at some point during the history of the universe and since they can be traced from a long time away, to their origin. Many more possible sites are within the limits of our observation. It is unknown whether the paradox is strong overall for our galaxy or the universe.
History of Fermi paradox
It was officially mentioned in the Fermi paradox, a previously contained unpublished manuscript mentioned by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1933. He said that “people deny the presence of intelligent beings on the planets of the universe” because,
(1) If such beings exist, they must have come to Earth, and
(2) If such civilizations exist, they would have given us an indication of their existence.
This was perhaps not a contradiction for others, but it was a paradox for Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, as he believed in the possibility of supernatural life and space travel. Therefore, they put this hypothesis in front of the world which we know today as the zoo hypothesis.
According to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, mankind is not yet ready to contact aliens, ie extraterrestrial life. He also said that he might not be the first person who discovered this contradiction. It was a time when most people denied the existence of supernatural civilizations.
After Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in 1975, Michael H. Hart published a detailed account of this paradox, which has since become a theoretical reference point for many researchers to date, sometimes called Known as the Fermi-Heart paradox.
Geoffrey A. Landis of NASA says that he prefers the name on the basis that (while Fermi is credited with asking the question first) Hart first did a rigorous analysis, and was the first to publish his results. Are also, individuals.
Robert H. Gray argues that the term Fermi paradox is a misnomer because in his view it is neither a contradiction nor a reason for Fermi. Instead, he prefers the Hart – Tipper argument, accepting Michael Hart as its promoter, but Frank J. Tipper also has an important contribution in expanding Hart’s arguments.
Other names associated with Fermi’s question (“Where are they?”) Include Great Silence, and Silentium Universi (“the Latin word for the silence of the universe”), although these refer only to a part of the Fermi paradox. We have not yet seen any evidence of other civilizations.
- Webb, Stephen (2002). If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens… Where Is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life. Copernicus Books.
- Tsiolkovsky, K. (1933). The Planets are Occupied by Living Beings, Archives of the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, Kaluga, Russia. See the original text in Russian Wikisource.
- Gray, Robert H. (2015). “The Fermi paradox is neither Fermi’s nor a paradox”.
- Milan M. Ćirković (2009). “Fermi’s Paradox – The Last Challenge for Copernicanism?”. Serbian Astronomical Journal.
This Article was Published On: 14 August, 2019 And Last Modified On: 10 May, 2022
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