Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fermi's Paradox

Although some scientists reckon there are anything between 361 and 38,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, I was intrigued to learn about Fermi's Paradox.

It's a notion put forward by a guy called Enrico Fermi who asked - 'If there's intelligent life out there, where is everybody?'. Assuming the universe is four billion years old, he reckoned that the galaxy should be teeming with life by now, and that surely we would have heard about it - either intentionally or by accident. The reality is, no one has heard anything no matter what the conspiracists have said. The universe, it appears, is very very big and very very quiet. Read more about Fermi's Paradox here.

In light of this, there seems to be two ways of looking at it. Either: 
a) there ARE aliens out there, they are just keeping very quiet, leaving us alone, and occasionally kidnapping one or two of us for bizarre experiments OR
b) humans are one of the first (or only) forms of intelligent life in the universe.

For me, I'm inclined to go for the second scenario, mainly because it kind of affirms my Christian faith. My view is that God created the planet Earth with humans on it in a unique act of love. By creating us - infinitely small compared to the vastness of the universe - our very existence indicates that we are special. We are not a cosmic accident and our planet is not some galactic backwater - which gives me some comfort when I contemplate how ridiculously huge the universe is.

My views may change if an alien spaceship shows up at the White House, but until then I will be grateful for Enrico Fermi's wise ponderings....

1 comment:

  1. There's a good bit in 'The Science of Superheroes' which goes into the maths/sstats and basically shows how very unlikely it is that there is any (intelligent) life anywhere else in the universe, despite the huge numbers of planets.

    I can lend you the book if you want.