The Fermi Paradox

Info-graphic postulating the answer to "Where are they?"
Info-graphic postulating the answer to "Where are they?"

For a little change of pace from all of these wonderful technical blogs, I think it’s time for a little break to let loose our imagination and curiosity. This’ll (hopefully) be a nice little series where you and I both will go on an adventure learning and exploring some exciting space theories that have been conjured up!

First up, lets explore the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is an argument explored by him as well physicist Michael H. Hart, about the obvious contradiction between the high probability estimates for the existence of extra-terrestrial civilisations.

Brief Overview

Some of the main points put forward are:

  • There are billions of stars in the universe, many much older and larger in size when compared to our sun.
  • There is a very high possibility that there are many Earth like planets orbiting many of those suns.
  • Some of those Earth like planets, even if this is very rare, may have developed some form of intelligent life. Given that there are billions and billions of Earth like planets even if a very small percentage of planets had the perfect conditions for the emergence of life, this would still be an enormous figure.
  • Some of these countless civilisations may have developed interstellar travel capabilities. Even using the slow means of interstellar we have now, the Milky Way could be completely transversed within a few million years. Considering the fact that the universe has been around for around 14 Billion Years, a few million years is not a long time considering the age of the universe!

Just look at us humans in our attempts at travelling into space, having started just over 100 years ago. Considering the age of the universe, 100 years is merely an instant, like a very insignificant blink. We’ve only just barely started developing space travel technologies. From the development of liquid-fuel rocket engines developed during WWII for military use to the very first manned mission to the moon in 1969. It’s common knowledge now days that current day smartphones are far more capable interms of its computing power when compared to the computing capabilities used to get the very first man to the moon.

Just take a minute to think about how far we’ve actually come! We’ve successfully established the ISS Space Station, with a mission to always have human kind permanently living in space. Not just space travel technologies, but think about all of the advances that we have made in medicine, infrastructure, transportation systems, the internet and IoT capabilities and the list just keeps on going and going! And that is just amazing in my opinion. And this is just in the last 100 years. Now imagine what a civilisation can do in 1000 years! What about 1 000,000 years!

So Where are They?

Because there is all of this solid reasoning and evidence supporting the existence of extra-terrestrial civilisations, the question becomes “Where are they?”. Why are we not constantly seeing Alien life flying around the universe in space ships?

Well maybe the conditions for the formation of intelligent life is much more rare than what was initially thought! Maybe we on Earth are just really really lucky! OR It could even mean that we might be the very first civilisation to exist -> that would be so cool!

Maybe intelligent life does exist elsewhere and it might just be that they are yet to develop any kind of advanced enough technologies that can be used to explore the universe. Considering that throughout the life of the Earth only one species has been able develop enough intelligence to achieve some form of space travel might indicate that intelligent life might be incredibly rare, almost non-existent.

Maybe its in the nature of an intelligent civilisation to destroy itself, or destroy others? Have a read of some of the possible explanations put forth in this info graphic.

Info-graphic postulating the answer to “Where are they?” (Source)

Hopefully this has caught your interest a little, it has certainly intrigued me quite a lot! We at BLUEsat enjoy talking about some of these concepts, and lets look forward to the next space theory!


Author: Raghav Hariharan

Raghav Hariharan is currently in his second year studying Mechatronics combined with Computer Science. He was previously the Arc Delegate until he was elected for the role of president in May of 2018. He is extremely curious about the wonders and mysteries of space and is determined to share his passion and provide an opportunity for students to learn and develop their professional and academic skills whilst studying.