A weblog with random thoughts and reflections on society and ecology.

<< current

transdual view
society & ecology

Society & Ecology
Monday, September 08, 2003  
Fermi's Paradox

I was just reading a review on a book on Fermi's Paradox: If the Universe is teeming with life, where is everybody?

Form what we know about life (which is admittedly limited to this one planet), it would not be surprising if the Universe is indeed teeming with life. Life (as we know it) does seem to arise quickly under the right conditions (liquid water, organic matter). It may also not be surprising that we have had no - verified and "universally" accepted - contact yet.

Contact does require many components to be in place: (a) Another civilization that has developed technology for radio communication (since we listen for radio signals) or long-distance travel. (b) That they desire contact (they may have it as a low priority, want to protect the other civilization or themselves from the consequences of contact, or have other reasons). (c) That they are active in our vicinity (within this galaxy). (d) That they are active at a time that allows us to detect them (so their signals arrive now - when we are finally listening, or have visited during the last few thousand years, wanted their presence known, and the visits were recorded so later generations could decipher it correctly).

Civilizations may be sophisticated and advanced, and yet use neither radio communication nor space travel - their technology may be very different from ours. They may decide that technology is far less important than many other areas of life (culture, spirituality). Or they may have the technology but not desire contact or letting themselves be known. Maybe most likely, civilizations with the rights characteristics for us to detect them (compatible technology, desire) may be (a) far away from us, and (b) active at a time that does not allow us to detect them (in the past or future).

Still, I think that SETI (Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence) is one of the most worthwile efforts humans can undertake. It sets our own situation in perspective - we may be just one of a myriad of civilizations out there. And if there is contact, if we do detect another civilization, it will be among the most important discoveries of all time. It will change our own civilization forever.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger.