If the Universe is Teeming with Aliens - Where is Everybody?
Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
During a Los Alamos lunchtime conversation that took place more than 50 years ago, four world-class scientists agreed, given the size and age of the Universe, that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations simply had to exist. The sheer numbers demanded it. But one of the four, the renowned physicist and back-of-the-envelope calculator Enrico Fermi, asked the telling question: If the extraterrestrial life proposition is true, he wondered, "Where IS everybody?"
In this lively and thought-provoking book, Stephen Webb presents a detailed discussion of the 50 most cogent and intriguing answers to Fermi's famous question, divided into three distinct groups:
- Aliens are already here among us. Here are answers ranging from Leo Szilard's suggestion that they are already here, and we know them as Hungarians, to the theorists who claim that aliens built Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues.
- Aliens exist, but have not yet communicated. The theories in this camp range widely, from those who believe we simply don't have the technologies to receive their signals, to those who believe the enormities of space and time work against communication, to those who believe they're hiding from us.
- Aliens do not exist. Here are the doubters' arguments, from the Rare Earth theory to the author's own closely argued and cogently stated skepticism.
The proposed solutions run the gamut from the crackpot to the highly serious, but all deserve our consideration. The varieties of arguments -- from first-rate scientists, philosophers and historians, and science fiction authors -- turn out to be astonishing, entertaining, and vigorous intellectual exercises for any reader interested in science and the sheer pleasure of speculative thinking.Table of Contents
- Where Is Everybody?
- Of Fermi and Paradox
They Are Here
The Fermi Paradox
SOLUTION 1 They Are Here and They Call Themselves Hungarians
They Exist But Have Not Yet Communicated
SOLUTION 2 They Are Here and Are Meddling in Human Affairs
SOLUTION 3 They Were Here and Left Evidence of Their Presence
SOLUTION 4 They Exist and They Are Us - We Are All Aliens!
SOLUTION 5 The Zoo Scenario
SOLUTION 6 The Interdict Scenario
SOLUTION 7 The Planetarium Hypothesis
SOLUTION 8 God Exists
SOLUTION 9 The Stars Are Far Away
They Do Not Exist
SOLUTION 10 They Have Not Had Time to Reach Us
SOLUTION 11 A Percolation Theory Approach
SOLUTION 12 Bracewell/von Neumann Probes
SOLUTION 13 We Are Solar Chauvinists
SOLUTION 14 They Stay at Home . . .
SOLUTION 15 . . . and Surf the Net
SOLUTION 16 They Are Signaling But We Do Not Know How to Listen
SOLUTION 17 They Are Signaling But We Do Not Know at Which Frequency to Listen
SOLUTION 18 Our Search Strategy Is Wrong
SOLUTION 19 The Signal Is Already There in the Data
SOLUTION 20 We Have Not Listened Long Enough
SOLUTION 21 Everyone Is Listening, No-one Is Transmitting
SOLUTION 22 Berserkers
SOLUTION 23 They Have No Desire to Communicate
SOLUTION 24 They Develop a Different Mathematics
SOLUTION 25 They Are Calling But We Do Not Recognize the Signal
SOLUTION 26 They Are Somewhere But the Universe Is Stranger Than We Imagine
SOLUTION 27 A Choice of Catastrophes
SOLUTION 28 They Hit the Singularity
SOLUTION 29 Cloudy Skies Are Common
SOLUTION 30 Infinitely Many ETCs Exist But Only One Within Our Particle Horizon: Us
SOLUTION 31 The Universe Is Here for Us
SOLUTION 32 Life Can Have Emerged Only Recently
SOLUTION 33 Planetary Systems Are Rare
SOLUTION 34 We Are the First
SOLUTION 35 Rocky Planets Are Rare
SOLUTION 36 Continuously Habitable Zones Are Narrow
SOLUTION 37 Jupiters Are Rare
SOLUTION 38 Earth Has an Optimal 'Pump of Evolution'
SOLUTION 39 The Galaxy Is a Dangerous Place
SOLUTION 40 A Planetary System Is a Dangerous Place
SOLUTION 41 Earth’s System of Plate Tectonics Is Unique
SOLUTION 42 The Moon Is Unique
SOLUTION 43 Life’s Genesis Is Rare
SOLUTION 44 The Prokaryote/Eukaryote Transition Is Rare
SOLUTION 45 Toolmaking Species Are Rare
SOLUTION 46 Technological Progress Is Not Inevitable
SOLUTION 47 Intelligence at the Human Level Is Rare
SOLUTION 48 Language Is Unique to Humans
SOLUTION 49 Science Is Not Inevitable
SOLUTION 50 The Fermi Paradox Resolved . . .
Notes and Further Reading
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