Home→ Exoplanets FAQ → What is the Fermi Paradox?
When something is labeled as a paradox it usually means that we are missing some critical understanding. A paradox is a euphemism for a lack of a proper understanding of the issue in question. The Fermi paradox has been phrased in several ways and essentially poses the question that if there are intelligent life-forms elsewhere in the Universe that are so advanced as to have developed the capability for interstellar travel and populate other planets by building self-reproducing machines, why have they not arrived on Earth. Where is everybody?
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There are many possible answers to the basic question. Here are just three. Firstly, we are assuming that they would want to populate as many planets as possible and that they would have the resources to do it. No matter how intelligent you are, you need the basic resources to provide the requisite colossal energy requirements. Just look at us. We have the basic capability to start developing the means to contact alien life-forms and to start developing machines to travel to other planets. But are we doing that? Of course not. We have made no effort and spent no money on even sending signals to other planets. Instead, what do we use a significant amount of resources to destroy other members of the species. Why would an alien life-form be any different? Would an alien species be prepared to invest a huge amount of resources on interstellar travel that would have to span many generations? (Again, superior intelligence could not necessarily overcome the limitations and energy requirements imposed by the speed of light).
I will give the second answer in the form of a question. Does (for example) a dog realize that he/she is living amongst life-forms that are more intelligent himeself/herself? Is it conceivable that a life-form is so advanced that we would not even recognize it even if it was right under our metaphorical noses? For example, the life-form could take a form that is closer to pure information and could be residing in your brain right now! How would you know that this is not the case?
I will give the third answer also in the form of a question. What if we are that intelligent species that arrived on Earth, sent here from another planet in the form of seeds of life? Think about it.
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File under: Fermi paradox. Why have advanced intelligent life-forms not arrived on Earth yet?