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Vesuvius Now: on 11/30/18 at 21:45pm UTC, wrote "Where are they?" Here is an answer. The time between the first detection...

Bala Bafoofkit: on 5/27/15 at 6:36am UTC, wrote Funny thing is the reportage of the knowledge of the Dogon people is not...

RJ Tang: on 4/14/15 at 14:22pm UTC, wrote Another aspect of the simplicity is that it indicates the death process of...

Steve Agnew: on 4/12/15 at 19:47pm UTC, wrote Now that science has firm evidence for earthlike planets from the passage...

RJ Tang: on 4/12/15 at 17:23pm UTC, wrote Life is a very interesting phenomena. I tend to think that life is a pure...


larens imanyuel: on 12/5/14 at 20:28pm UTC, wrote Correction - In calculating my dates for the era of "Copernicanism" I did...

larens imanyuel: on 12/2/14 at 17:36pm UTC, wrote Erratum - The probability of the correlations between the motions of the...

December 3, 2021

CATEGORY: Complexity [back]
TOPIC: The Fermi Paradox [refresh]
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William Orem wrote on May. 3, 2007 @ 20:24 GMT
I'd be interested in hearing any proposed solutions to the Fermi Paradox. My experience has been that this is one of the Foundational Questions on which everyone you meet at a party has a ready answer, but the paradox turns out to be surprisingly resilient.

The general question runs like this: Our contemporary understanding of stellar evolution, planetary formation, biological evolution, and the like -- coupled with a time-tested respect for the Principle of Homogeneity -- suggests that, as intelligent, conscious, technological civilization has evolved on Earth, it should also have done so on other planets (at least) by now. In fact, it should have done so a huge number of times, even billions of years ago. So where are they?

The thing I like about the paradox is it tends to toss us between its horns. The quick, "realist" answer -- often delivered with a smirk -- is that there aren't any aliens. (Every serious person knows that.) But, take that route, and you wind up impaled on one horn: why not? Which part of our contemporary understanding of nature is so far off the mark?

It can't just be a matter of dismissing tales of alien abduction and the like; credible science, as it stands in 2007, has a hard time imagining how one planet could be absolutely unique in this respect. And astronomical data on other planetary systems keeps making it more of a stretch.

To the other horn, then. The equally popular response is that thinking we are alone in the galaxy is just plain hubris; aliens are a given. (Every open-minded person admits that.) But that lands us back at the initial question: so where are they? Is it really plausible that the Milky Way is teeming with advanced technological civilizations, as some reasonably sensible predictions say it should be -- and yet no observations to date have produced credible "footprints" of any of them?

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Reason McLucus wrote on May. 13, 2007 @ 05:37 GMT
What do you mean by "credible 'footprints'"?

E.T. is unlikely to land his space ship just south of the White House... unless there is actually a danger of experiments involving collisions of heavy nuclei causing a black hole.

Even space travelers not limited by a Star Trek like non-interference directive would probably not want to contact a planet whose inhabitants have so much trouble getting along with each other and like "War of the Worlds" type movies.

Lawyers sometimes use the question "Is the evidence consistent with an hypothesis that..."

We don't have definite evidence of contact with space travelers, but we do have the type of evidence which would be "consistent" with a visit by them. Accounts of alien abductions may be dreams, etc., but they are consistent with the method E.T. scientists might use to directly study human "specimens" without making formal contact with a planet. Scientists would seek persons who could be taken to the lab without attracting attention and would use some type of drugs, hypnosis, etc. to limit the "specimen's" memory of the analysis. Such scientists would also attempt to avoid specimens who whose claims of abduction would be accepted.

the U.S. military has aircraft that are invisible to radar and is experimenting with technolgy to limit visual detection of troops or equipment. Interstellar travelers might possess some type of "cloaking" technology.

I'm not a disciple of Erich van Daniken, but he does have a valid point that histories of many peoples contain stories that could refer to contact with interstellar travelers. On the other hand the accounts may come from the imagination of an ancient Jules Verne or George Lucas. The accuracy of accounts of contact with E.T. would be limited by the experience and language of those providing the account. Keep in mind that residents of Mexico originally thought the Spanish might be gods and a horse and rider was the same animal.

The account most likely to indicate actual contact with space travelers comes from the Dogon people of West AFrica. They had knowledge of both Sirius A and Sirius B 5,000 years before earth had the technology to detect Sirius B.

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John C Hodge replied on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 17:45 GMT
I reject the Dogon as having contact also. A good eye, staring for some time at a point can produce up to 0.5 Mag. more detection.

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Bala Bafoofkit replied on May. 27, 2015 @ 06:36 GMT
Funny thing is the reportage of the knowledge of the Dogon people is not suported by their knowledge today. Most if not all Dogon do not know about Sirius B. this was fabricated by some western visitors

When Walter van Beek studied the Dogon, he found no evidence they knew Sirius was a double star or that Sirius B is extremely dense and has a fifty-year orbit.

Knowledge of the stars is not important either in daily life or in ritual [to the Dogon]. The position of the sun and the phases of the moon are more pertinent for Dogon reckoning. No Dogon outside of the circle of Griaule's informants had ever heard of sigu tolo or po tolo... Most important, no one, even within the circle of Griaule informants, had ever heard or understood that Sirius was a double star (Ortiz de Montellano).*

In addition the claim was that the DOGON got this knowledge from "aliens" The aliens came here for some unknown reason from a planet orbiting Sirius

That is problematical. Sirius B was originally a large star that burnt out, that means it became a reg giant and dumped mass unto Sirius A making it far larger and more luminous than originally. No planet near any of these stars could have survived such a long drawn out cataclysm .

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Count Iblis wrote on May. 16, 2007 @ 02:07 GMT
My favorite solution is as follows. At a certain point, civilizations consisting of biological being replace themselves by machines. I conjecture that this replacement stage happens around the time that civilizations start to xplore space. The reason for that is that it is much easier to explore space with machines.

If we wanted to build a base on the Moon or on Mars, it may well be worthwile to invest tens of billions of dollars to develop more intelligent machines. If they can do some simple tasks so that the first few phases of construction could be done entirely without sending people, we could save an enormous amount of money.

The same machines would be useless on Earth as no one would buy a machine that costs $10 billion just to do some simple construction work. But when we start to invest heavily in artificial intelligence technology we'll soon get to a point when machines become more intelligent that humans. Humans will then go extinct, because they become redundant obslete technology. If we are lucky the robots may keep some of out great great grand children in Zoos or as pets.

So, we should expect that advanced civilizations that are capable of interstellar space travel consist entirely of machines. Thgis means that there are a few more possibilities to resolve the Fermi Pardox:

1) Most machine civilizations are not interested in space travel

2) Machine civilizations are inherently unstable and self destruct.

3) Machine civilizations tend to degenerate from a high intelligence active state to a low intelligence passive state.

Some arguments for the above points:

1) It could be that the universe itself is a mathematical model (physical existence = mathamatical existence, as e.g. recently proposed by Tegmark). Then computer simulations in which you create some artificial reality to study something is to be preferred to just looking in the vast universe to find that thing.

2) Suppose that you are computer program. Then you want to have as much run time as possible, but so will everyone else. This then may lead to conflicts. Robots will fight each other and the whole civilization could go up in smoke.

3) Suppose that instead of the war predicted in 2) you get a form of peaceful coexistence or perhaps you end up with one intelligence claiming all of the CPU resources. The difference between machines and biological beings is that the former have a much larger degree of control over themselves. They can upload themselves to different machines etc. This freedom could be destructive in the same wy as drug addiction, obesity caused by overeating, plague our societies. If you are a robot you could taste delicicous food all they long, you can have sex all day long simply by uploading your program into the appropriate simulation machines.

So, you may get a civilization that uses a lot of energy just to mantain simulations of activities that we like to do. This then leads to the civilization becoming degenerated...

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keykiddo replied on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 16:08 GMT
Everything degenerated by design even for the Ancient Masters...

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William Orem wrote on May. 17, 2007 @ 18:08 GMT
It's a cool possibility--that biological civilization tends toward technological civilization (as it probably does) and that technological civilization might prefer to spend its time in virtual worlds, perhaps using them to study RW without touching it. (Check out "Out of Plato's Cave?" for a burgeoning instance of this in our own world--the Second Life Island.) I'd like to think this would be motivated by an ultimate form of environmentalism; a kind of Prime Directive applied to all of nature.

Something similar, actually, is posited in mathematician and hard SF writer Greg Egan’s book “Diaspora”; biological civilization tends toward a state he called “the Introdus,” in which minds are uploaded into a transmissible cyber format, the physical remains of civilization (and of organisms) becoming increasingly irrelevant as consciousness hops about from one technological carrier to another. I highly recommend his work, by the way, to anyone interested in conceptually-driven speculative science: it’s a lot like reading Daniel Dennett’s philosophical thought experiments, only in a sci-fi format.

Still, while such a scenario is conceivable, there’s no particular reason to think it’s happening. But even if it is—here’s the other horn of the paradox—it can’t realistically be happening to every technological civilization. Some of them must be in a state midway between biology and technology, or be massively technological but not yet fully incorporated into their VR, or have evolved in entirely different ways, for which trading exploration for VR would be unthinkable; and so on.

Sagan thought a conservative application of the Drake Equation yielded as many as one million (!) high-tech civilizations in the Milky Way alone. The numbers are just too high for them all to have fallen prey to the same evidence-erasing process . . . aren’t they?

image: epimethus

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Hal wrote on May. 18, 2007 @ 23:55 GMT
Let us consider some concepts related to Max Tegmark's "level 4 multiverse" concept, where all possible mathematical or computational structures exist, and those with appropriate complexity and structure can be thought of as universes. Of course this is not widely accepted but as an exercise, let us pursue what it says about the Fermi paradox. It leads to a curious connection between this paradox...

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Hal wrote on May. 21, 2007 @ 18:56 GMT
Let me just add a more concise way of thinking of the connection between the Fermi paradox and the fine tuning. Fermi shows us the sparseness of life (at least, intelligent life) in physical space; the fine tuning demonstrates the sparseness in parameter space. The idea is that the sparseness in parameter space predicts the sparseness in physical space, because if you have to fine-tune parameters to get life at all in our little "island" of parameter space, it makes sense that life would just barely exist there.

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William Orem wrote on Jun. 4, 2007 @ 16:07 GMT
Great points, Hal—and of course we all bow before the mighty Amtrak Keg Mixer.

Even if a sparsely populated parameter space does correspond to a sparsely populated physical space, though, aren’t we still left trying to make an implausible claim—that the actual universe we live in is one of those sparsely populated ones? It seems to me that fine-tuning arguments at best may persuade us that sparsely populated universes (let’s call them SPU’s) are possible; they may even make a persuasive case that SPU’s are common. But we’d still left on one horn of the paradox: based on what we see around us, our universe really should not be one of those universes.

For example, the evidence of our own existence (one planet, one technological species), the mounting evidence of a trend toward tool-use in other species (now including birds), the existence of complex biological life in every niche on the planet (including various extremophiles), the evidence of Earth-like planets around other stars, and so forth . . . none of this suggests that we are living in a SPU. It seems to me we’d need some mechanistic explanation as to why life is so absurdly fecund here, why it popped up with evident ease as soon as the bombardment period ended, why evolution led in relatively short order to a space-faring, high-tech civilization once . . . and not on literally billions of other planets with roughly the same timescales and conditions. Even if SPU’s exist and are common, would this kind of data be found in one of them?

Reason McLuhan’s question of what constitutes a “credible footprint” for an alien civilization strikes me as a good one. The tradition of the Dogon makes for an interesting sidebar, but it’s ultimately not compelling; we want something that would pass a double-blind test, something as solid as the Mars meteorite ALH84001, had it panned out. It really should be there. (No sentient species on Mars would be uncertain as to whether Spirit and Opportunity constitute evidence of extraterrestrial life.) Shouldn’t it?


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bob wrote on Jul. 13, 2007 @ 22:25 GMT
It seems likely now that the evidence for other "earths" will eventually be overwhelming; and, so, it also seems likely that life is everywhere. That suggests to me that the resolution of the paradox is that we aren't searching correctly.

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Fredric Litt replied on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 22:52 GMT
I think that we are not detecting alien life only because we are using the wrong detectors. By using radio or other electromagnetic means, we are limiting the more-intelligent civilizations to our own pathetic media of communications; perhaps the electromagnetic era for them lasted only a short time until they found something better. We could be like aborigines saying that there were no intelligent colonies elsewhere on earth because they didn't see smoke from campfires.

In the Drake equation, Sagan assumed that the radio era lasted about 100 years and that the end of the radio era corresponded to destruction of the civilization. Perhaps the radio era simply terminates when a better means of communication comes along.

If you let your imagination wander away from the limitations of electromagnetism and the speed of light, perhaps they communicate using modulated coherent beams of neutrinos, quantum coupling, or some other technique we can't even begin to imagine.

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 5, 2007 @ 17:19 GMT
We should consider the possibility of life radically different from that we see around us on earth.

This paper points to a much larger definition of life and a much more expansive set of potential venues.

There are a lot of inherent assumptions in the paradox about how life might evolve which may or may not be true and lead to the assumption that other living entities could/would travel beyond their environment. You could look at our planet today and make an effective argument that until we solve all the problems here on earth we should not be investing in extraterrestrial endeavors as well.



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Steve Colmer wrote on Nov. 19, 2007 @ 23:33 GMT
From our current knowledge of evolution on this Planet - it seems to be a reasonable assumption that life will spring up where ever it can - whenever the conditions are right. One of the tricky parts of the Drake equation in respect of real number plugging is the likelihood of 'intelligent' life arising.

I'm pulling numbers off the top of my head here - but they are relatively accurate to illustrate my point. The dinosaurs were around for 150+ million years, and if my rusty memory on the last paeleontological tv program I saw serves me - there was another epoch of creatures around for 100 million years before them. In comparison the mammal line has taken 65 million years to produce us.

This suggests to me that there is not a necessarily a natural attractor for intelligent life to always evolve otherwise surely the dinosaurs would have done it in the time they had.

We arose from conditions that took at least 2 major extinction events to generate - but why not a thousand..?

When we finally get powerful space telescope arrays in place - at conservative estimate it is likely that the first 1,000 planets we discover to contain life - will not actually contain native intelligent life. (I say 'native' here - because if we are subject to a 'prime directive' and there are plenty of space fairing aliens - it is likely that they will have colonised at least some of them.)

This could potentially give us quite a large playground to expand into - but I digress.

It may be that the physics of really long distance interstellar travel in one go - are just not there - or have not been discovered by even the most advanced aliens. The result being that it may only be feasible to travel to the nearest inhabitable solar system - set up shop there - before being ready to move on to the next viable solar system. Thereby an advanced race would only be able to progress relatively slowly in its quest to explore/colonise a Galaxy.

If there are various civilisations out there capable of pan galactic travel - I like to think we would be protected by a 'prime directive'. It's not unreasonable to assume that they would have had to undergo the same trials & tribulations as we are undergoing in our quest to reach out to the stars. They certainly would have to match us or better in interpersonal collaboration, communication and creativity to bring the math, science & technology to a level that would be required. Assuming there is enough resources out there to satisfy their needs - why bother with us. To them we are adolescents - and they are just waiting for us to mature to the right age before letting us in the club.

If there are millions of advanced races in one big Galactic Club (Federation?) maybe they are using cloaking technology to hide the regions of the Galaxy they inhabit. That would explain dark matter...

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Kenny wrote on Nov. 7, 2008 @ 22:34 GMT
I'm not a scientist but I am a big fan of this site. Keep up the quality!

Maybe the answer is "patience". We're only looking for a few decades. We're up to 322 knows exo-planets according to NASA's Planet Quest. At best, we've seen an exo-planet as a pixel (and even that wasn't 100% certain).

Imagine Europeans in the Middle Ages speculating if there was "life" across the sea. Why didn't they contact them? The answer then was that the inhabitants of the New World didn't have the technology to ring them up (nor did the Europeans!).

It doesn't look like we're about to be able to visit other star systems, so we hope to find "E.T." somewhere on the spectrum.

I still think it can happen. Were we to make contact tomorrow - or even in the next 50 years, history will record that we "found them" pretty darn fast.

The answer is to keep doing "all of the above" - the SETI Project, searching and studying exo-planets, NASA and European efforts and everything else.

A bit of patience - the toughest answer.

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J Miller wrote on Nov. 8, 2008 @ 00:07 GMT
I believe the answer may lie in alternative, computer based simulations (read: Matrix type thingy). It would be far cheaper and pragmatic to create a reliable machine based other-world to explore the cosmos, as opposed to zipping around the universe like Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Aliens, in any form intelligent enough to begin detailed exploration of the universe very likely realize this themselves.

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kev wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 21:07 GMT
The solution to the paradox is easy. One horn can be immediately elliminated. The chances that alien life eleswhere in the universe does not exist are negligable. We are almost certainly 'not alone'.

The reason we have not seen any positive 'signs' of intelligent alien life forms is almost certainly due to the vast size of the universe. Even if our local neighbourhood, the Milky Way Galaxy, had dozens of Earth like planets supporting humanoid life forms that are at least as technologically advanced as us, we would be unlikely to detect them.

Witness out attempts at space exploration. If we use a scale where the Earth represents the Galaxy, then we have not yet stepped outside our own backyard in our space exploration. How many thousands of years will it be before a human will actually be able to travel to within an Earth orbit distance of our nearest star? Even for an alien civilization that is significantly more advanced than ours, the distances are formidable and searching even the local galaxy will be a very difficult task.

You might think that maybe alien races will develope time travel technology that will overcome the distance problem. The indications are that time travel will never be discovered. For if some civilisation, even billions of years in our future, anywhere in the universe, discovers the secret of time travel, then they will use that technology, to dominate all space and all time to expand their species and use all resources to their advantage. The fact that we are not already enslaved by some advanced alien lifeform as a resource, indicates that time travel will never be discovered anywhere in the universe at anytime in the future. I am of course assuming that any alien species will have the tendancy of all currently known life forms to replicate their own kind at the expense of everything else and take all available resources.

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Brian Beverly wrote on Jan. 4, 2009 @ 07:29 GMT
Here are some useful numbers:

Number of stars in the Milky Way ~ 100 Billion

Percent of the Milky Way's stars in the galactic habitable zone ~ 5%

Percentage of binary star systems in the Milky Way ~ 33%

(No stable planetary orbits possible in multiple star systems)

Lifetime of the Sun ~ 10 Billion years

(~5 Billion left)

Length of time life has been on earth ~ 4 billion years

Length of time creatures have existed more “complicated” than bacteria ~ 0.5 billion years

Cambrian explosion was about 600 million years ago

Time the Milky Way has left before Andromeda slams into it ~ 2.5 billion years

The result!

Distance to the nearest star ~ 4x10^16 meters (4.3 light years)

Distance of the habitable zone from the galactic core ~2x10^20 meters

Diameter of the Milky Way ~ 9x10^20 meters (100,000 light years)

Diameter of the Local Group ~ 9x10^22 meters (10 million light years)

30 galaxies Andromeda and Milky Way form the gravitational center

Speed of light ~ 3x10^8 m/s

Fastest speed achieved by any man made object ~ 7x10^4 m/s

(Helios probes)

Farthest distance man has travelled ~ 4x10^8 m (1.1 light seconds) (Moon)

Distance manmade technology has travelled ~ 16x10^12 m

(Voyager 1)

Probability an alien civilization will discover voyager’s golden plate ~ 0% (or close to it)

(Star Trek I sucked anyway)

Probability there is other alien life ~ 100%(or close to it)

Lastly radio signals dissipate at the rate 1/R^2....bummer.

Is it really a paradox? about 3.5 billion possible stars spread across a 314,000 light year circumference.

RSmaxstrength ~ 1/(4.3 light years)^2

RSminstrength ~ 1 /(314,000 light years)^2

Assuming radio signals are not distorted and reflected by any interstellar plasma.

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Brian Beverly wrote on Jan. 4, 2009 @ 07:42 GMT
I almost forgot the earth has undergone 5 mass extinctions. We are currently in the sixth mass extinction which is man made. Are we really part of the intelligent civilizations club?

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amrit wrote on Jan. 5, 2009 @ 17:41 GMT
there is no paradox here as universe is atemporal, we imagine eternity infinitely back from present and future infinitely forward from now, all that is wrong, eternity is this present moment, this is the main insight of the theory of atemporality, see more

Sorli A. (2008) The Theory of Atemporality

as consciousness is a basic frequency of quanta of space evolution on this planet is a part of larger universal process, see more

Fiscaletti D., Sorli A. (2007). Basic Frequency of A-Temporal Physical Space As A Driving Force of The Evolution, Scientific Inquiry, Vol 8. Num 1. pp 29-34


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amrit wrote on Jan. 6, 2009 @ 09:11 GMT
Time as a “coordinate of motion” is not elementary physical quantity as energy, matter, space and motion are; time exists only when we measure it. Time is invented by man in order to describe motion in atemporal space. We have to distinguish between:

-psychological time - the basic model of the mind in which we experience motion

-physical time - where symbol t represents number of units of time as a coordinate of motion in atemporal space.

The difference between these two is not clear yet. Main stream of science consider time to be fundamental physical reality not being aware that scientists “project” their physiological time in physical reality. Universe is an atemporal phenomenon. We cannot think that universe run in time, because we do not have any evidence for that. Opposite is truth: we experience atemporal universe in psychological time and we describe motion in atemporal space with physical time that is only a scientific tool and not fundamental physical reality.

Through psychological time we experience flow of material change in atemporal space in a linear way: present moment X is followed with present moment X+1, present moment X+1 is followed with X+2 and so on. Actually atemporal space that we experience as a present moment is always the same. Linear time “past-present-future” is a mind model in which we experience flow of material change that run in atemporal space. This means that eternity is not infinitely back from the present moment and infinitely ahead from the present moment, eternity is contained in the atemporal space, it means in this present moment.

see more on file attached

attachments: 2_The_Theory_of_Atemporality_Scientific_Way_to_Peace_and_Prosperity__Sorli__2009.pdf

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Panz wrote on Jan. 10, 2009 @ 14:16 GMT
Despite the non-interference protocol, subtle mixing occurs in most Fermi paradox situations, the real problem is to see the subtle mixing for what it is. Skeptics tend to be the protectors without realising their role. Evolving life requires low radiation fields, like out on a galaxy arm; so, the isolation seems insurmountable. It takes a relatively long interval to evolve intelligent life and extraordinary care to ensure its survival, which includes being there to prevent serious mishaps.

Resolving the paradox can be likened to collapsing a wave function in that the outcome only becomes certain on measurement, but even then it demands an interpretation in keeping with what measure is believed by the majority.

An interesting comment is that sufficiently advanced technologies seem magical to the unknowing - perhaps the answer lies in magic!

Good luck in your hunting, you will need lots of luck over the coming centuries...

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Jan. 13, 2009 @ 08:52 GMT
Of course people like to tackle the second horn. It is exciting to think that aliens are out there waiting for us to be mature enough before they step out from behind their cloaking devices and invite us into the intergalactic club. But the "realist" answer is the more plausible so let's look at the first horn again.

If you fill in the variables of the Drake equation optimistically you will...

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nataie wrote on Jan. 13, 2009 @ 23:35 GMT
Complex adaptive systems do not need to know they exist for them to exist. It is not "life" that is rare, but intelligent life. Galaxies are much like living organisms too, perhaps 'they' are all around us.

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T H Ray wrote on Jan. 24, 2009 @ 12:40 GMT
For what it's worth, the attached essay was written for a competition sponsored by The National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) about ten years ago. It earned only an honorable mention, but it does deal with most of the hard science questions of ET existence and contact expressed in this forum, with an emphasis on complex systems science.

The contest rules required one to address specific questions that boil down to--what is the most probable form of contact and how would we prove it, suggested by a research program outline.

To my memory, not many scientists responded to the contest, and most of the entries simply assumed ETI uncritically, using the assumption as a departure point for philosophical views on the subject.


attachments: ray1.pdf

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atomiton1 wrote on Jan. 25, 2009 @ 02:24 GMT
LOOK!! Life is just a continuous chemical reaction that needs certain rectants and catalisks needed to form it. So if there is another planet with elements we have. i can guarentee that there would be life on it.

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Jason Wolfe/ wrote on Mar. 2, 2009 @ 20:46 GMT
What would be the incentive of intelligent alien races who may be thousands of years (older) more advanced (tech/spiritual maturity)to come down in a space ship and risk getting attacked? Even Ronald Reagan was enamored with the idea of an interstellar war. At the very least, maybe we're not ready to listen to what they have to teach us?

Personally, I think they (1) do exist and (2) communicate with us. The friends of the aliens are generally labeled crackpots. Maybe the problem they see is the same problem I struggle with. It breaks my heart that I have enormous difficulty reconciling the consciousness of Albert Schwietzer, (others) with the cold amoral intellectual/

mathemtical analysis of facts, patterns and evidence.

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Sajjad wrote on Mar. 11, 2009 @ 15:28 GMT
I wrote and published a sci-fi adventure novel based on the concept that dark matter is actually just ordinary matter purposely hidden from our view - it simply consists of many more star systems in our galaxy heavily populated by highly advanced aliens who wish to remain unseen. Why they would do such a thing and how they do it are explained in the story. In essence, such a scenario would solve both the Fermi paradox and the mystery about the composition of dark matter. Details about the book can be found on my website at

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Jason Wolfe/ wrote on Apr. 5, 2009 @ 10:49 GMT

That's a logical and interesting idea. Does anybody know if dark matter/dark energy distributes itself that way in the Milky Way or other galaxies?

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Jason Wolfe/ wrote on Apr. 7, 2009 @ 20:49 GMT
Quantum Chess

I was wondering if anybody had ever compared chess strategy to quantum mechanics? When you're trying to win against the other opponent, and you're thinking strategically, you position your pieces in optimal places. But what is quantum-like in chess is that, for example, a chess piece can gaurd several spots simultaneously. Both opponents will measure (probabilities) of the best moves and subsequent consequences. This will govern the succession of chess pieces to be captured. In other words, the chess pieces of both sides will be removed from the border in some order based on the strategy and skill of the two players.

While computers can be taught to play chess in an automated way; and the laws of physics are automated. This might also be my sneaky attempt to derive "intelligence" from quantum mechanics.

Is there anything potentially useful in this idea? Is there anywhere in quantum physics where the particle-waves are collapsing/behaving strategically?

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Cristi Stoica wrote on Apr. 13, 2009 @ 17:07 GMT
The Fermi paradox? How about this extraterrestrial, which I found in my hotel room?

Maybe there are extraterrestrial intelligent life forms, visiting us and even establishing close encounters with us. Then, the question is “why isn’t this official enough to be clear for all of everybody?”.

On the other hand, maybe it is so improbable for life to occur, that this makes our planet very rare, so rare that it is unique, at least in our part of the Universe. This possibility raises other questions, such as “if life is so improbable, then how come that we exist?”. To this question, some choose a religious answer (stating that God created us, and only us, at least in our part of the Universe), forwarding the problem outside the realm of science.

Others use an anthropic reasoning. A good anthropic solution to the Fermi paradox should show that:

1. It is much probable for life to appear in very simple forms, then to evolve into intelligent and self-aware beings, than for disembodies Boltzmann brains to materialize out of nothing. This would explain why the intelligences we know are part of a planetary ecosystem.

2. The probability for the existence of a planet providing the necessary conditions for self-aware life is small enough, such that finding two such planets closed enough to establish contact is improbable.

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Richard Shoup wrote on May. 5, 2009 @ 05:01 GMT
"...and yet no observations to date have produced credible 'footprints' of any of them" Are you serious? There is a ton of evidence including close range sightings of craft, radar+visible sightings of objects making impossible manuevers, encounters with beings by reputable fully-awake individuals, and much more. Read a few books, starting with Stanford astrophysicist Peter Sturrock's dry and serious "The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence", then any of Jacques Vallee's recently reissued books such as "Dimension".

The best evidence, while by no means conclusive, clearly suggests the answer to Fermi is "They ARE here" but we are mostly just too unimaginative to recognize them. The very real data are dismissed because they are simply too strange to believe. But science is about *all* the data, *especially* that which doesn't agree with our current theories and understanding. Unfortunately, mainstream science today, often fearing ridicule and lacking courage when confronted with strange and difficult data, has failed to fairly and seriously consider it in this case.

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macrofactsoflife wrote on Aug. 25, 2009 @ 14:25 GMT
The complex physical systems we call LIFE have been studied through the eyes of evolution and comology now for a century or two with very little (i think) success at explaining the uniqueness of our planet. (yes as far as we know for sure we are unique, so let's proceed with that mindset until proven otherwise.) This historical research framework fails to see the big picture of the reasons for life on earth, which include the habitable zone, earth's spin rate, the speed of light around earth, the mass of the sun, and the geoenergy released from the sun. These macroscopic factors specific to our star-planet scenario are required for life around any star; or at least our kind of life since there may be others we cannot comprehend.

As for the topic of consciousness, simply begin to acknowledge that our star just may be influencial in how the mind works. As the holder of 99.9% of all the mass in the solar system, what else could be more influencial to any aspect of life? Life is a product of these macroscopic attributes and it is connected intimately to them. It's finally time we discovered how they work.

Until we are able to explain how life has conspired to exist on our little speck of matter not just once, but over and over again after many extinctions, every earth-bound life form is equally as quixotic as any alien that may approache us from another place. i cannot imagine a more mute question - pondering possiblities of life elsewhere - until we have pinned down life here way better than we have.

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Anonymous wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 23:08 GMT
It's debatable.

How likely is it really to find intelligent lifeforms like humans in the universe?

A closer look at home should provide an answer. We know, given the correct conditions life can form and thrive. We need four basic elements to allow life to procreate - these are nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Now, some point in the earths history, a single celled life, a prokaryote gave life to all earth. Today, these conditions has given life a sucessful flux into the thriving world we see today... but humans are superbly unique.

On the scale of intelligence, we are actually very quite rare. There is nothing which shouldn't suggest the universe is teeming with life - it most probably is. Question is, is intelligent life something which is a rare phenomena, or something which is quite frequent? Studying this planet, it seems to be quite rare... and considering how quiet spacetime is, it's rare universally as well.

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Astro wrote on May. 16, 2010 @ 23:10 GMT
I meant to also state... there are intelligent lifeforms on the planet beside us, such as Dolphins, but even our intelligence scales far above theirs.

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Georgina Parry replied on Dec. 7, 2010 @ 22:20 GMT
How would you do on a hypothetical dolphin constructed intelligence test without any technological aid? Bearing in mind you don't have personal sonar and they do ( giving them "x ray like" vision as well as normal sight.) Unfair test you may cry.

As a species we have been able to construct ever more complex tools due to our hands with -opposable thumbs-! Our species has technology that most people do not understand and could not construct for themselves and can not control. Many have forgotten how to survive as mere human beings and have become like utterly dependent domestic pets. Our technology destroys our natural life support system, and lets us temporarily forget about the harsh realities of population dynamics, be comfortable and entertained. How intelligent is that really? Should we hope to meet creatures as "intelligent" as us?

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 21:12 GMT
Space travel is too hazardous in a virtual reality, you may run out of space, literally

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 29, 2010 @ 21:32 GMT
I like the biocentric explanation: that our observed universe is specific to our particular biological lineage, and that any other causally unrelated lineage would necessarily observe and dwell in a different universe:

This view also solves the bizarre anomaly of CMB anisotropy, where the largest features of the universe seem to be correlated with the motion and orientation of the Earth around the Sun, in apparent violation of the Copernican principle:

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reasonmclucus wrote on Sep. 3, 2010 @ 07:14 GMT
Ever watch Star Trek? Advanced civilizations might have some variation of the non-interference directive that prohibits contact with the inhabitants of planets. Considering the behavior of humans during the last century, other civilizations might prefer not to have contact with us in our current stage of development.

On the other hand there is evidence that can be interpreted as visits by other civilizations. The best evidence involves the stories of the Dogon people in Africa whose ancestors may have been visited by E.T's who gave them knowledge of the Sirius star system including knowledge of Sirius B and its relationship with Sirius A.

Visits by E.T. might well be described as visits by gods considering the way the Aztecs initially viewed the Spanish conquistadores.

I'm doubtful about alien abductions, but recognize that an E.T. wanting to examine us scientifically might try to find subjects whose claims would be ignored.

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Karl Coryat replied on Sep. 3, 2010 @ 18:54 GMT
I am reminded of an episode of "Cosmos" where Sagan talks about old theories about life on Venus: It's an obscure white blob, it must be covered with clouds, therefore it must be wet and steamy, wet and steamy means swamps, and if there are swamps there must be swamp creatures, like dinosaurs. "Observation: Can't see a thing. Conclusion: Dinosaurs!"

In this case, it's: Observation, can't see a thing. Conclusion: Intelligent complex beings watching us, hiding themselves from us, and only experimenting on individuals who won't blow their cover.

It's amazing how people's own minds and desires lead them so easily to bizarre conclusions.

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Justin McCarthy wrote on Oct. 28, 2010 @ 21:08 GMT

I am hoping to get commentary and criticism on my web site which defines the complexity of the universe.

It is really simple, and I hope someone can give me some pointers on how to explain it better.

The basic idea is that the complexity of the universe is equal to the information content of the universe. The information content of the universe is equivalent to the objective probability of a state.

A more complex state == more informed state == less probable state.

I am really looking for good questions which then I can respond to to help clarify the ideas.

Markov Chain Universe

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Kevin wrote on Oct. 29, 2010 @ 19:23 GMT
Life is somewhat rare, but intelligent life that has managed to survive any local catastrophic events and build the means for space exploration is much rarer still.

I think we can safely assume that there is no time travel or faster than light space travel, since in that case we would be overrun by alien life forms and would not be wondering where they were. If that is true, then suppose that an intelligent alien civilization can travel for thousands of years to reach us, and that it would. The journey would need to be worthwhile for such a massive expenditure of resources. How would it decide to use its resources to visit Earth, specifically? It would have to have seen us with very powerful telescopes that could actually discern that our planet has life on it. It would need to observe that life doing something intelligent-looking, like building a civilization, etc., because it would be a waste of time to visit a planet of grazing herbivores, right? That is, unless it was just looking to colonize and/or take the resources.

If that all makes sense, then Earth creatures have only looked intelligent for a few thousand years, which makes the time in which we could have been discovered, an expedition to us mounted, and to have gotten here very short by interstellar travel standards. The alien civilization would have to be very close (within a few thousand light years, assuming near-light speeds are possible), would have to have been looking right at us at the dawn of "civilization," AND not be distracted by something more interesting or closer.

So, I think intelligent life just hasn't arrived yet, and it may be awhile. Hopefully, we'll still be here then.

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christopher Vaughan wrote on Apr. 12, 2011 @ 23:38 GMT
has anyone considered the possibility that while intelligence may not be rare, The evolutionary necessity to build tools is very rare. example: Dolphins often show signs of very high intellects(syntax understanding, communication, learning) and have no evolutionary need to build tools.

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Georgina Parry wrote on Aug. 23, 2011 @ 20:51 GMT
Alien life? Radio? Here they are!

Sesame street aliens discover Dub step.

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alaric stanton wrote on Oct. 9, 2011 @ 18:25 GMT
Next Steps in Mans Évolution

Before the sun goes down for the last time Mankind must have already found the means ( not in small tin boxes) to leave the earth en mass but to prosper in other environments or artificial one of planetary scales

Before that Mankind must learn to connect/fuse intellectual activites since there is no time for the individual brain to develop the capacity required

Forget the maths for a moment and consider a future where Mankind populates the universe. How can we/must we change to achieve this and to do so in harmony and plenty?

Answers please?

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Louis Brassard wrote on Jun. 18, 2012 @ 16:35 GMT
Within the next ten years, when the most advance astronomical instrument being design and built will get into service, we will be to observe planets in the hospitable zone around other stars in our galactic neighborhood. We will then be able to indirectly detect the presence of life on these planet by the detection of the spectra of oxygen in the atmosphere or of other atmospheric substance or even the presence of large forest.

In the following decades the radius of astronomical observation will increase to 500 million light years, a radius that include our Galaxy group and will multiply the reliability of our method to assert the presence of life and even intelligent life within that radius. This means that the presence of life on earth is known to all advance civilizations within this radius.

We are the only form of intelligent civilization that we know. Life evolved 300 million years after earth formation, 4 billion years ago. Base on the cycle of stable star such as the sun, earth like planet exist for about 5 billion years; life in microbial forms exist for about 4 billion years; so a civilization can live on a given planet at most for 1 billion years on a given planet. Intelligence civilization only exist since the neolithic which is 12 000 years ago. So we are just entering this phase of intelligent life.

If traveling to other habitable planets would be a logical phase of an advance civilization, then earth would have been colonized million of years ago. It is more likely that the next frontier for us or for any other advance civilization is not territorial but it is about what was inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi : "Know Thyself"

We may soon discover ways to communicate instantly across the visible universe. Maybe there is a cosmic cyberspace where million of civilizations are currently communicating in real time. We might not be far from discovering the new physics which allow us to tune in to the cosmic cyberspace.

But we just on the threshold of the one billion period of civilized life on this planet. It is evolving at an accelaring rate. Assuming the civilization evolution is as much in the order of things as the evolution of life, then we could ask the question of its direction.

Through the evolution since the Neolithic of gradually more advance form of communications , we are gradualing thinking more and more collectively. So there might be a threshold of collective thinking that will be reached where this planet will have a consciousness, will have a being. If this is the order of things in the cosmos, then it likely that the next order of being in the universe is an order of planet beings which together will gradually reach a level of cooperations which will eventually lead to the participation into to even higher order of beings.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jun. 18, 2012 @ 17:37 GMT
Louis, Alaric,

I agree we're about to enter a phase of intelligent life. If we can escape backward science. But has a critical mass been reached where enough students are indoctrinated for the 'rut' to be inescapable?

Alaric it's a shame nobody responded to your question. It is important. We have information overload now going ballistic but communication hasn't improved. Our brains and intellectual power will evolve too slowly. I've developed a model on big projects where specialisation is tiered, and even 'multi helical' from a management and communication viewpoint. It has possibilities.

However. I suspect the Fermi principle may be resolved by the cyclic model of both galaxy and universal eternal re-ionization and reiteration. We seem to have only perhaps another 5bn years max locally. Can we get to a younger galaxy in time? The evidence is the chances are against us, but hey, why not go for it anyway?


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John C Hodge wrote on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 18:01 GMT
The slightly modified Copernican principle tells us there is nothing special about us. Why would an intelligent species want to visit our home? We want to get off this death trap that is going to explode.

Space near suns is a dangerous place. There are all kinds of rocks, radiation, strong fields, etc.

I think a species capable of going beyond an Oort type cloud for a generation would want and be able to stay out of the danger zone.

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Aishwarya Malarvannan wrote on Aug. 23, 2014 @ 16:49 GMT
Think about it. If you are standing beside an isolated atom and you think atoms are a natural consequence of laws of our universe you’d wonder why you can’t see another atom near, as if it is a violation of Principle of homogeneity. But if you look out on a grander scale you’d see there are other atoms and they are (on appropriate scale) spread homogeneously. Of course as intelligent, conscious, technological civilization has evolved on Earth, it should also have done on other planets by now. I think the problem is we are seeing on a smaller scale just around our planet. Biological systems are a natural consequence of our set of laws of Nature. When we have the appropriate technology we will find that life has indeed formed all over our universe.

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larens imanyuel wrote on Nov. 30, 2014 @ 04:40 GMT
The elegant resolution of the Fermi Paradox is to reject the Principle of Homogeneity, specifically the modern version of the Copernican Principle. I have posted an informal proof that "people have a privileged position as observers of the universe" on the "A Physicist and a Science Writer Walk Into a Bar" thread. See "Testing for an Isomorphism between Mathematics and the Physical Universe" dated Nov. 28, 2014 @ 10:23 GMT. It is part of a discussion thread starting with Steve Agnew's comment on Nov. 21, 2014.

I thought that there was too much philosophical speculation about how to make definitions that would be useful for all of physics, so I choose a piece small enough on which to construct an informal proof. It shows how to describe the motions of the Sun and the Moon as seen from the Earth using pure mathematics. The probability of the correlations (including those from my further comments) being random is less than one part in 10-15. This extreme improbability implies that all of math and science are just different facets of the same reality. Empirical data is useful for insight and validation, but is not strictly necessary.

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larens imanyuel replied on Dec. 2, 2014 @ 17:36 GMT
Erratum - The probability of the correlations between the motions of the Earth and Moon on the sky and elementary number theory being random is less than one part in 1015. I left in a minus sign when I had to repost after the Previewer did not show me that the posting operation would break on a unbalanced left pointed bracket.

The probability is really on the order of one in 1020. To get that high improbability one has to further analyze the second order constant associated with the month and the year and to look at a couple of things in the background. Because 2 was divided out three times, 10 needs to be used in three places. The first was the 10*7 = 70, the inverse inclination of the Moon's orbit. Another one is the 10*47 = 470 year lifespan of Copernicanism from 1543 to 2013. The last is in the 1020. The finite symmetries of the Celestial Sphere are represented by the Platonic solids. There are 20 ways, 10 of each handiness, to embed a tetrahedron in a cube in a dodecahedron. The 1020 is the number of chiral ways raised to the number of achiral ways. This arises from the formation of a phase space.

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larens imanyuel replied on Dec. 5, 2014 @ 20:28 GMT
Correction - In calculating my dates for the era of "Copernicanism" I did not take nutation into account. Ignoring nutation the obliquity of the Earth would have been exactly 23.5 degrees about November 1542. That would be about when Copernicus fell ill leading to his death in May 1543. His master work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was being prepared for printing at the time. Including nutation gives an earlier date about July 1545 and a later date about July 2015, which is about when my ideas for a new geocentrism are likely to be widely distributed.

These dates are important for understanding how to interpret "realism" in the new science. Using the Big Bang as the center we have a "holographic" universe in which dynamically changing interference patterns become "simple" for some particular model, so it can be "discovered". Copernicus may be thought of as the last of the old guard preparing the way for the new "centerless" universe of Newton and later scientists. Thus the earlier correlation is with the end of Copernicus's life.

Taking "Now" as the center we have a "Shakespearian" universe. The whole world is a stage upon which to live out the stages of life and the rest of the universe is a backdrop. Mathematically we can extrapolate into the past and future using the simple patterns currently observable.

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John Prytz wrote on Dec. 18, 2014 @ 11:11 GMT

Where is everybody?" was a question posed by physicist Enrico Fermi. The 'paradox' is that extraterrestrials should be here, yet there is no indisputable evidence to support that. Or is there? Those pesky UFOs just will not go away!

The Fermi Paradox (after physicist Enrico Fermi) briefly goes as...

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RJ Tang wrote on Apr. 12, 2015 @ 17:23 GMT
Life is a very interesting phenomena. I tend to think that life is a pure chancing event, an anomaly due to the sheer number of possible events in the whole universe. It is like a lottery winner, we know out of a bizillion possibilities, there will be one winner. Then you ask the winner why he even exists.

There is no other plausible explanation but pure chance. By that understanding, it is highly unlikely to have conscious biological beings out there.

My verdict is that we are the lottery winner and lottery winner ought not to ask other lottery losers why they lose.

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Steve Agnew wrote on Apr. 12, 2015 @ 19:47 GMT
Now that science has firm evidence for earthlike planets from the passage of those bodies in front of their suns, it would seem likely that the nearest intelligence will be in excess of 400 years away in time. Some of those other planets will then be looking at earth's passage just as we are looking at theirs.

The dispersion of light pulses means that communication would need to modulate ...

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RJ Tang wrote on Apr. 14, 2015 @ 14:22 GMT
Another aspect of the simplicity is that it indicates the death process of the universe toward infinite entropy. Based on the second law of thermal dynamics, our universe is slipping into this final death of maximum entropy. An accompanying result of this process is that the universe becomes simpler and simpler. Imagine a universe where homogeneity rules and any imaginable infinitesimal particles and forces are distributed absolutely uniformly and cannot be changed a bit. This would be the simplest state and requires the simplest mathematics or physics. If we are slipping in that direction, which I think we are, then we should not be surprised that the physics laws in describing the universe is becoming simpler. Our current simplistic physical forces and laws are hinting that.

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Vesuvius Now wrote on Nov. 30, 2018 @ 21:45 GMT
"Where are they?" Here is an answer. The time between the first detection of astronomical radio waves in 1932 and the technological singularity in 2045 is only 113 years. Each civilization capable of detecting astronomical radio waves will have a singularity. After a singularity a civilization would not bother to send out signals because it would be like communicating to dumb creatures and it would be a loss of energy (as carried away by photons). 113 years is nothing on galactic or cosmic time scales. The window of time for seeing alien life that is approximately at our stage of technological development is thus way too short. We should expect to not see them and vice versa.

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