Is there other civilization or life beyond earth. Do you believe it or not. If we look at the sky we will see, in the best of cases, a couple of thousand stars. It is the most we can see from here. But in our galaxy alone, there are several hundred billion. And there are even more galaxies, even, than stars in the Milky Way. And all this space, is it empty?
It is very difficult to think that we are alone among so many stars. However, if not, why haven’t we detected even the slightest sign of our cosmic neighbors? The explanations could be several.
Where is everybody?
Enrico Fermi, in his flawless suit under an equally elegant robe, smiles thoughtfully. “So where are they?” He asks thoughtfully. His companions, equally dressed but sitting at the table, look at him under their own robes. Nobody throws an answer at him. We have probably all asked ourselves the question at one time or another: if the universe is so big, where is everyone?
In such a vast expanse, with billions of stars similar to our own, there would have to be other extraterrestrial civilizations at least as intelligent as ours. But, to date, we have not detected a trace. Moreover, in the last systematic scan carried out in 2015, we found that the number of existing civilizations out there, in the analyzed systems, is zero. This is the beginning of the Fermi paradox.
This can be summarized as follows: “The common belief that the universe has numerous technologically advanced civilizations, combined with our observations that suggest the opposite, is paradoxical in suggesting that our knowledge or our observations are flawed or incomplete.”
They say that for Fermi, the unfinished answer to the paradox was an unflattering answer. It must be remembered that Fermi was one of the protagonists in the development of nuclear weapons and believed that humanity was flirting with its self-destruction. Did the physicist, in the paradox, see a reflection of our future? In any case, the doubt remains.
We shouldn’t be alone, should we?
The famous Drake formula is an equation that tries to calculate the number of possible intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. The calculations take into account figures such as the rate of formation of stars suitable for life, the number of planets in the habitable zone and factors such as “the appearance of life” or “the appearance of intelligent life”.
This formula was developed in 1960 by Frank Drake, president of the SETI institute, and although in reality it is nothing more than a speculative game , because we cannot solve some of the variables, it is the first theoretical approximation we have to calculate how many neighbors are out there. .
When the first calculations were made to test the estimate in 1961, the data returned a total of ten detectable civilizations per year. Definitely an overly optimistic figure. With some adjustments and better variables, obtained over the years, this figure has become from 10 to 0.00000007, 0.00000002 and 0.000000008 detectable civilizations per year, figures that are much more in line with our reality.
In any case, it is still very strange that we have not seen anything or anyone . If it really were a technified civilization and more advanced than ours, we should be able, at least, to detect some signal (especially in the infrared, for example, due to the heat that would escape from their devices, or through some kind of voluntary message ). But it is not so, and we do not know why. Although we can imagine why.
The cusp of a civilization and the Kardashov scale
If there were a type II or III civilization in our galaxy , we would almost certainly know about it. At least the type III ones. The type II, although more difficult, especially if it is on the other side of the galaxy, for example, could not go unnoticed forever.
Our probes should have detected its incredible technology long ago. In fact, according to Drake’s calculations, several type II civilizations should exist in our galaxy . Therefore, the first explanation is that there are not so advanced. Hopefully some kind of intelligent civilization does exist, but if it is located very far away in the Milky Way itself, it is easy to understand that we cannot contact them. But what if one of them had appeared at “home”? Why haven’t we contacted anyone?
Reason number 1: the Great Filter
Progress should be halted in one of the steps necessary to become a Type II or III civilization . Currently we are in a step before space colonization. Let’s hope and suppose there are galactic neighbors out there. Are they in the same situation? From behind maybe? It is fair to think that they are not far ahead, or we would have seen them. Where does the Great Filter work?
We haven’t been through it yet
One highly likely hypothesis is that the Great Filter is in front of us, at some point ahead of space exploration. This would explain why there is no type of colonization detected in our galaxy, but it suggests that there are other possible neighbors, waiting.
Even so, it is bad news because it would imply a high possibility that we will never reach more. The filter, in this case, could be an irreparable depletion of resources, a war that would end civilization as we know it, a disease … In any case, it would be an evolutionary impediment present in an advanced civilization, but not so as to colonize the stars.
Life beyond Earth: We are special
Another possibility is that we are “the chosen ones”, the only living beings around us capable of overcoming that Great Filter. That would mean that we are on our way to becoming the first intergalactic inhabitants of the Milky Way. In such a case, the Great Filter would lag behind our present moment. Perhaps that is the appearance of life, or the evolution of intelligent and technified life. We do not know.
The fact is that if we found, for example, the remains of extraterrestrial life in the form of microorganisms, we would probably be faced with the indication that this Great Filter is in a moment between our moment and the appearance of organisms. This would be a sign that it is quite easy for us to be alone.
Reason number 2: Type I and II civilizations are very, very far away
Let’s imagine that there are titanic civilizations, much larger than Asimov himself could imagine in “Foundation.” Why haven’t we seen anything about them? Because they are somewhere else. Another site in time and space, needless to say . The universe is gigantic. The Milky Way is brutally big and old.
Let’s imagine that yes, there was an intelligent civilization that visited our Earth billions of years ago. It would be impossible to know. This hypothesis is the preferred one of the defenders of anachronisms and UFOs. But realistically, it’s like they’ve never visited us.
On the other hand, if the civilization were type II, taking advantage of entire systems, but were at the other end of the galaxy … it would be very difficult for us to see it, considering that our ability to receive signals is limited to just 100 years light from here. We could think the same of a type III civilization found in a galaxy other than ours. How were we to find out?
Reason number 3: we are the first
A hopeful possibility explains that we are among the first to advance so far as to reach the conquest of space. In such a case, it is only a matter of time before someone finds our signals or we find theirs.
Maybe we are living a time of cosmological settlement that allows the emergence of new civilizations. The billions of years before may have only served to shape the universe. Now is the time to evolve. Maybe.
Reason number 4: We are surrounded by signals, but we are space hicks
It could be, and it is not unreasonable, that our environment is full of signals that indicate intelligent extraterrestrial life but that we cannot see them. Maybe our technology is not advanced enough or we may not be looking at the right signals.
This would also be related to the fact that nobody had noticed our presence, in the same way that we do not look at the mites that live on our plants or the ants that swarm in our kitchen. And it’s not that it’s an intended comparison.
Reason number 5: The truth is out there and it’s not good at all
What if all the UFO conspirators were right? It is not that we have been visited by an extraterrestrial race that wants to remain anonymous. This is highly unlikely, if not impossible, considering how social we are and how difficult it is to maintain such an interaction.
But what if there was a civilization out there taking care that no other exceeded a certain technological level? Or was she a super predator on the hunt for other civilizations? It may also be that there is a superculture watching us, as if we were animals in a zoo, from its own solar system. In any case, these are the least likely hypotheses of all.
Reason number 6: Bonus, everything is a lie
There is one last hypothesis to be thrown into the air: that everything we believe as reality is not true. What if the universe was a hologram ? What if we’re actually in a super advanced virtual simulation? What if we’re really just scientific proof (if that word makes sense) of a gigantic “ultra-civilization” whose dimensions resemble what we often call God?
This idea has been wonderfully explored by Asimov in several of his short stories. And the result is disturbing. In such cases we can do little. Although our reality is a total lie, it is the only reality we have, and according to some Oxford experts we are an exception, a very rare exception, so for now we will have to settle for it.
In Technoeager | Galaxy and Black Hole colliding so fast