The Fermi Paradox
For a great example of science communication (and some fascinating thought puzzles) take a look at Wait But Why’s The Fermi Paradox, which addresses the question: where is all the other intelligent life out there?
(NSFW language in the article)
Posted on June 28, 2014 by erindubitably 1 Comment
A very interesting article. I like the concept of the “great filter”. I agree with what it says at the beginning , we can make reasonable estimates of:
the number of G spectral class stars ( i.e. stars like the Sun) in our own galaxy and
the fraction of these which contain Earth size planets in the habitable zone where the temperature is such that the basic biochemical reactions needed to sustain life can take place.
However, the probabilities are much more speculative once we go beyond this and I’m inclined to go along with the “We’re rare” hypothesis. It may be that the probability of life evolving from single cell life to differentiated multicellular organisms is very small. It may that even if multicellular organisms evolve that the probability that intelligent life evolving is incredibly small. Having intelligence does not necessarily offer an evolutionary advantage. A planet could have a species of large, but relatively small brained, carnivores akin to the T-Rex as the dominant life form.
It may even be the case that even if intelligent life evolves the probability of civilization developing is small. For example, anatomically modern humans first appeared 200 000 years ago and for the vast majority of that time there was no civilization.
By choosing different probability one could easily arrive at an outcome where there might only be one civilization in the entire galaxy, ourselves !
The Science Geek
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