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New Paper Offers Additional Reasoning for Fermi's Paradox

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the better-odds-if-we-would-just-start-colonizing dept.

Space 774

KentuckyFC writes "If the universe is teeming with advanced civilizations capable of communicating over interstellar distances, then surely we ought to have seen them by now. That's the gist of a paradoxical line of reasoning put forward by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950. The so-called Fermi Paradox has haunted SETI researchers ever since. Not least because if the number of intelligent civilizations capable of communication in our galaxy is greater than 1, then we should eventually hear from them. Now one astrophysicist says this thinking fails to take into account the limit to how far a signal from ET can travel before it becomes too faint to hear. Factor that in and everything changes. Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years, ten times longer than Earth has been broadcasting, and has a signal horizon of 1,000 light-years, you need a minimum of over 300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way to ensure that you'll see one of them. Any less than that and the chances are that they'll live out their days entirely ignorant of each other's existence. Paradox solved, right?"

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new post offers additional reason to eat my ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697657)

first post!

Hello, (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697659)

anybody out there ... ? I am alone ... ?

It's quite clear what the reason is (4, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697681)

We humans are God's only children. That's why there's no one else in the universe. And the universe was created 6k years ago. Duh! Scientists... what useful things have they ever done other than bring up heresy?

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (1, Funny)

superyanthrax (835242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697701)

Forgot the at the end?

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (2, Funny)

superyanthrax (835242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697715)

Wow that came out poorly. I meant to say, forgot the sarcasm tag at the end?

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698067)

I, for one, found his ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (4, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697773)

...the universe was created 6k years ago.

Hey - There's no room for rounding if you're going scriptural on us. The Earth's creation started the night before Oct 23, 4004 BC. [wikipedia.org] (In case anyone was wondering, Earth is a Libra.)

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (4, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698099)

Is that Julian or Gregorian?

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (4, Funny)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698163)

That explains the drama-queen mood and temperature swings, then.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697851)

Looking at the current moderation, it looks like Poe's law [rationalwiki.com] is in effect, and the_humeister just got charged as an adult.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697905)

If aliens are discovered will all you Christians finally admit that you're wrong?

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (4, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697987)

Actually, IIRC, the Pope made a declaration a while back that there's nothing biblical that bars the existence of extraterrestrial life. For many people who are strongly devoted to one religion or another, even finding a note from their messiah announcing "Just kidding - I didn't think that y'all were going to take me so seriously. Hopefully after I die, somebody will find this and avoid any real disaster," would defer them from their beliefs.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698031)

Actually, Native Americans the concept of anyone dieing before the birth of Christ prove Christians with that set of arguments wrong.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698177)

Why would finding aliens disprove the beliefs of christianity? Isn't God by Christian definition an alien? He's an infinitely powerful and knowledgeable being who created the earth and us. By not being from Earth he's automatically an alien.

Re:It's quite clear what the reason is (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697989)

what useful things have they ever done other than bring up heresy?

Annoyed creationists for the purposes of... well, humor mostly.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697685)

we've gone from

a) it's impossible to find other intelligent life

to

b) it's statistically impossible to find other intelligent life

I still have hope, as illogical as that is.

Hmmmm... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697693)

I blame the Jews.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697695)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Re:Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697741)

+1 funniest racist Slashdot troll ever

No heat death for us (2, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697697)

Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years...

Damn - We've got less time than I thought. Here I've been rooting for heat death. =(

What paper? (3, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697703)

No link to anything but Wikipedia and a blog?

Re:What paper? (5, Funny)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698219)

I don't know about you, but I prefer a link to a blog over the actual paper. Mostly because I don't speak Astrophysicsese.

I went ahead and clicked on the blog for you, and the link. Here's the paper (You can get a PDF if you want), it was submitted to the International Journal of Astrobiology.

http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.3863 [arxiv.org]

I understand your reluctance, after all you're the one who posted:

The last damn thing I want is to click a link out of curiosity and within five minutes be standing there having to listen to the IT guy say "here's your sign" or end up in the HR office explaining my seeming poor hand-eye coordination because I accidentally clicked on a link in an email from the fscking HR department. Don't these people have enough work to do?

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1112493&cid=26694469 [slashdot.org]

Don't worry, you can continue to click on links out of curiosity. I put one above, go ahead, click it. You know you want to. everyone else is clicking it. Now with more fiber, and it cures Alzheimer's too.

Solved? (3, Insightful)

MutantEnemy (545783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697733)

"Paradox solved, right?"

No. Some planets suitable for life have almost certainly existed in this galaxy for billions of years longer than the Earth. By now, one would expect there to have been civilisations that spread throughout the galaxy and therefore brought Earth within detection range of their signals...

Re:Solved? (4, Interesting)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697775)

And if they're communicating by some mechanism that we can't read? E.g. the equivalent of "subspace radio".
Or maybe it's a point to point via laser (see Niven's Known Universe).

Re:Solved? (5, Funny)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697903)

Exactly. Maybe all those "crazy" people are actually talking to aliens.

Re:Solved? (5, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698037)

No - Those people really are crazy.

The aliens talk only to me and I have the good sense not to answer them (at least not out loud). I just carefully carry out their instructions and try to get mixed up with those crazies.

Re:Solved? (4, Interesting)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697953)

True. The calculation of 1000 years seems a bit too long. We can't figure out how to shorten it because we don't know how long we're going to be using broadcast signal based communication as opposed to some other more direct means.

Besides . . . attempting to extrapolate with so many unknowns is, at best, an exercise in postulation. At worst, it is dangerously misinforming.

Re:Solved? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698021)

And if they're communicating by some mechanism that we can't read?

Gamma Ray bursts. Any sufficiently advanced civilization is going to be using antimatter for propulsion. We're sitting on the cusp of such technology ourselves. All we need is a breakthrough in antimatter creation and we'll be heading off to alpha centauri in our souped-up space jalopies.

So if you want to find signs of little green men, follow the gamma radiation.

Re:Solved? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698119)

Creating it isn't so difficult, but keeping it is a bitch.

Re:Solved? (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698129)

Most of those civilisations could be beyond the small radio-technology window we occupy. A more advanced mechanism could be "obvious" for communication to those civilizations. Or we could just be overlooking the obvious: Does SETI search for messages encoded in the polarization of EM waves for example?

Re:Solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697841)

What if they experience a technological singularity, and become a race of digital beeings instead. Maybe advanced civilizations create their own digital universe and stay forever silent to us.

Re:Solved? (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697949)

Maybe there really is no FTL, and other alien races are as leery of sending out giant seedships that they themselves can't ride in as we are, and are thus still hanging out in their home starsystem.

Maybe aliens are everywhere, aware of us, and simply choosing not to communicate.

Disproving aliens deductively is the opposite of science. The lack of easily obtained evidence for alien life is far from damning given the area that we are capable of observing with any real scrutiny.

Re:Solved? (2, Insightful)

MutantEnemy (545783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698001)

"other alien races are as leery of sending out giant seedships that they themselves can't ride in"

But for this argument to work, you have to believe that every alien race declines to send out automated self-replicators.

Re:Solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698045)

Sign of intelligence, no?

Re:Solved? (2, Funny)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698077)

"Damnit, can't those monkeys from the Sol system just shut up?"
"If we ignore them, they'll go away"
"They've been shooting radio waves at us for decades, I think we've established they aren't going away..."

Re:Solved? (2, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698095)

other alien races are as leery of sending out giant seedships that they themselves can't ride in as we are

I don't think humans are particularly leery of the idea of getting on a starship. And even if 99% of humans have no interest in getting on a starship, that leaves ~70 million perfectly willing volunteers. Give it another few hundred years of technological advancement and we'll be able to contemplate something large enough to be a "generation ship", or place the travellers in suspended animation, or some other trick to make the lengthy trip survivable.

Re:Solved? (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698097)

Maybe aliens are everywhere, aware of us, and simply choosing not to communicate.

Many people have speculated this about cats. Owners know it to be true. Perhaps aliens live among us, and late at night, turn into psyochotic axe-murderer chasing predators from the foots of our very own beds.

Re:Solved? (2, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698209)

"Maybe aliens are everywhere, aware of us, and simply choosing not to communicate."

I think this is most likely.
To reach space you have lots of self-control so that you don't..uh..risk wiping out your civilization.

Once you reach that point of sophistication, you would feel that we humans are so damn annoying, unpredictable and of little use that you would want to avoid us at all cost.

That or we are an experiment they have been running for billion+ years and don't want to contaminate it. kinda like what we earthlings do when we send out space probes.

Re:Solved? (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698213)

Maybe they've already sent out seedships and we're the result.

Re:Solved? (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698015)

"Paradox solved, right?"

No. Some planets suitable for life have almost certainly existed in this galaxy for billions of years longer than the Earth. By now, one would expect there to have been civilisations that spread throughout the galaxy and therefore brought Earth within detection range of their signals...

But they would have to be within earth's range in the last 100 years or so for them to detect us. "Billions of years" means they could have existed on Venus before humanity ever showed up, for all we know. If they were that close, the signals would have long since passed us by at the point we were discovering fire.

Or they could have been reasonably nearby, but too far for the signal to reach us without fading out completely.

Or they could be using a different form of communication than we are able to perceive.

So, honestly, "expecting" anything is a little silly and assumes far too much.

Re:Solved? (5, Interesting)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698201)

Not necessarily. It may just be that interstellar travel isn't feasible, the ardent wishes of sci-fi writers everywhere notwithstanding. Remember, it's never enough to simply be able to do something: it has to make economic sense if you expect to get anybody else on board, too.

Assuming you can't skirt around the light barrier then that basically means sending small groups of people (or aliens or whatever) across trillions of miles, probably in some kind of hibernated state, in the hope that they'll bump into a habitable somewhere, set up shop, and begin to populate. Any returns on investment will be very intangible indeed- physical goods have to come back the same way they came (meaning it would have to be extraordinarily valuable to merit the shipping and handling on an interstellar ark) and information is cheap. You'd need to expect a very valuable treasure-trove of knowledge indeed for information to start making sense as an expected ROI.

I know many people just assume that interstellar travel is the "next step" in the development of societies but the longer I look at it the less it seems to offer tangible benefits for the people who have to invest in this.

I expect a society thinking in the long-term would obviously see the benefits of spreading one's seed across multiple star systems... but you have to postulate the existence of a society that takes the long view. Considering how easily a society as advanced as ours (not saying we're very advanced: just a society at the same level of advancement as us) is busily undermining its own biome, knows it's doing it, and doesn't care, and took pains to smother other societies which might have taken the longer view, I don't think we should expect many societies to reach the "long-view" stage before they wiped themselves out or got wiped out.

Quantum Communication? (3, Interesting)

gpronger (1142181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697735)

One of the thoughts that's crossed my mind as we further explore and understand utilization of quantum information is that if there is sentient beings "Out There" with some level of capability for space exploration is that it would seem that this would be a very likely way for them to maintain communication. Efforts such as SETI would then be attempting to discover background noise (I use the term "noise" here more as commentary on what most of what we communicate tends to be) of civilizations no more advanced than ourselves attempting only very nearby levels of communication.

Civilizations capable of greater levels of exploration would likely have developed means of utilizing communication along the lines of quantum information than our radio waves.

Only if we're not the first (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697737)

Only if we're not the first, or amongst the first to get to a level of technological advancement. A good question would be 'how long should it take to start broadcasting?'

300 isnt teeming with life (1, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697743)

If the universe is teeming with life then there would be a whole lot more than 300 civilizations out there who can transmit on this level. I think the paradox still stands.

Re:300 isnt teeming with life (5, Informative)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697799)

Did you read the summary? The point is that outside of our galaxy no intelligible signal is going to reach us. Therefore, the rest of the universe doesn't even enter into it.

And I thought... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697747)

I thought it was because as they reach our level of civilisation, they built giant particle accelerators for research and turned their planets into black holes.

Re:And I thought... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698191)

it reminds me of a description of drug crimes:

most meth labs are discovered due to their blowing up....

One wonders how many civilizations end up announcing themselves with their own destruction? (We are only a few errant commands away from doing so)

The First Ones (5, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697757)

Maybe we are the first to achieve this capability. If life did create itself from a universe that created itself, ONE of the life forms which achieved this interstellar communication would have to be first. Why not us?

Re:The First Ones (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697779)

FIRST POST!

Re:The First Ones (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698071)

Gah, your post was traveling at relativistic speeds across the internets. Unfortunately, I have observed it and you are no longer first.

Re:The First Ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697837)

Look at how self centered you are. Next you'll say the rest of the universe rotates around us. Heathen!

Re:The First Ones (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697877)

Maybe a zillion races have achieved the capability at roughly the same time, and are just more than 100 light years away from us.

What are the odds of anyone picking up our broadcast noise anyhow? It's not like we're aiming high wattage transmissions directly at likely stars, and with the transition to digital, our signal becomes even more ellusive (smaller spectrum footprint).

It's just as likely that other races only went through a brief period of wideband, and then switched to wired or line of sight optical or quantum bits or some crap we haven't even thought of yet.

The whole paradox is the height of hubris: aliens have to be like us, they have to advance along the same technological track, and they have to be broadcasting on a scale that we can easily pick up...We haven't cataloged every star yet, and that's an order of magnitude over any artificial broadcast we can understand.

Re:The First Ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697891)

Supposedly our galaxy is too old for us to be the first ones. Maybe we're just in a corner full of late bloomers, which would make sense if the Dark Ages are typical of other civilizations...

Re:The First Ones (1)

MutantEnemy (545783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697969)

"Maybe we are the first to achieve this capability."

Absolutely. That's the explanation I favour, but it means that intelligent life is much, much rarer than a lot of people suppose.

Re:The First Ones (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697971)

That's an interesting point, indeed. However, I would like to know what the probability of us being first is. How old is earth relative to the rest of the universe? How long does it take for intelligent life to form, and is that a long time relative to the age of the universe? Considering the size of the universe, I would say the chances of us being first (if there are others) are pretty insanely low, if not impossible, but what do I know, I'm just a slashdotter.

Re:The First Ones (3, Interesting)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697985)

Though it's possible we are the first, it's as likely as winning the lottery. Someone has to do it but the chance of that someone being you is so small that you should first rule out other, more plausible, scenarios.

My favorite is that only the paranoid survive. Civilizations that learn to communicate quietly are the ones that survive. Broadcasting your existence is a great way of advertising 'livable real estate here!' and inviting other civilizations over for a look see. Not too smart if it turns out they end up wanting your planet.

Re:The First Ones (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698029)

Maybe we are the first to achieve this capability. If life did create itself from a universe that created itself, ONE of the life forms which achieved this interstellar communication would have to be first. Why not us?

Who are you?

What do you want?

My solution (2, Insightful)

pondermaster (1445839) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697759)

Easy solution: This is not a paradox to begin with.

Re:My solution (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697819)

It's easily explained if you posit the simple hypothesis that other civilizations are stuck up, and just don't want to talk to us. This should be obvious to any geek who lived through middle school.

Re:My solution (1)

pondermaster (1445839) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697983)

Sorry. Was busy watching the gals.

But if that's right... (5, Insightful)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697765)

...it means that civilizations that spread out and last longer than 1K years are exceedingly rare. Which would mean that our odds of achieving any meaningful interstellar travel are quite low. (We might make a space probe or two, but like how we got to the moon but haven't done anything with it, apparently nobody puts out space colonies.) There are other posible theories, though [accelerando.org] .

Re:But if that's right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698017)

Which would mean that our odds of achieving any meaningful interstellar travel are quite low.

That's probably true. Near-c may be as good as it gets.

apparently nobody puts out space colonies.

I don't know about this. The really cool thing is that Mars is almost certainly terraformable to some extent, if we're willing to spend a few trillion dollars and wait several decades. In the grand scheme of things, it should be very achievable.

But who knows. Maybe such planets are rare. If you can't find one within a few light years, colonization would become much more difficult. Even under good circumstances, it'd be slow. And we really have no idea where we are on the timeline of intelligent species emerging in this galaxy.

Re:But if that's right... (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698059)

Does it really mean that our chances of interstellar travel are actually low? What if we're already past the bottleneck? What if the hard part is the evolution of intelligence in the first place? Since we were lucky enough to get past that hurdle, maybe interstellar space flight is pretty likely.

It's sort of frustrating to say, well 40 years ago we went to the moon, but we haven't done anything since. But in the grand scheme of things, 40 years is a blink of an eye, and whether it takes us another 4 decades or another 4 centuries, I think it will happen.

God I hate Fermi's Paradox. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697769)

This is hardly a new idea. It's so not new that I think I remember saying something similar about two years ago [slashdot.org] , and I'm not exactly an expert.

Analog signals degrade quickly, and digital signals are worse, in their way, because they don't tolerate degrading as well. Couple that with broadcast limitations imposed by local governments to keep signal strength down, and I can't see how our signal could be reliably detected more than a few light years away without a HUGE radio antenna array.

Is there stuff in space that acts like rain fade t (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697781)

Is there stuff in space that acts like rain fade that can block / make signals to weak to pick up?

Any science fiction writer can make up... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697789)

...scenarios like this. But it takes a science fiction writer of special talent to be able to get their fiction to be considered a 'paper'.

Re:Any science fiction writer can make up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698179)

...scenarios like this. But it takes a science fiction writer of special talent to be able to get their fiction to be considered a 'paper'.

Hey, remember that science fiction writer that started a religion? (and no I am not referring to Gene Roddenberry)

Now THAT takes talent.

Is the author even familiar with the Fermi Paradox (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697801)

The scope of the Fermi Paradox deals with the length of time it would take an intelligent civilization to explore and colonize the galaxy, and given Fermi's estimates we should have observed spacecraft and/or probes. SETI's signal hunting doesn't even scratch the surface of the paradox.

There is no mystery here... (3, Funny)

rwalker429 (1452827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697813)

The real answer is that they've been trying to communicate with us for years but RIAA, fearing they might play music for us has already had their ISPs throttle their messages into oblivion.

anti-commercial aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697849)

evil race killed the mall?

only humans think in this way (5, Funny)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697863)

We humans are still a bunch of young, angsty teenagers. We desperately want to make the "first contact", crying and yelling and suffering from the depressive thought of loneliness.

Other galactic civilizations simply matured and stopped worrying about such pointless things. They make themselves busy with real business.

Grow up, humans.

Re:only humans think in this way (1)

nbates (1049990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698235)

Do you mean our civilization is in a myspace emo stage?

Communcations (2, Insightful)

TechwoIf (1004763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697879)

What about new type of commutations that we have not invented yet? Its possible they are communicating all over the place but we can't hear them yet because we don't have the technology to hear them yet.

Re:Communcations (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698051)

In Logic of Empire, Heinlein gives an example of this sort of thing. All comms are done via FM; AM is an antiquated and forgotten technology. The rebels redevelop AM broadcast capability, and a receiver in the bush can hear the signal, while a stock FM receiver can't hear the AM.

Mistake in summary (3, Interesting)

bbasgen (165297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697883)

Summary says: "300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way". The quote is: "300 communicating civilization in the galactic neighborhood". I interpret the latter to mean all solar systems within 1,000 light years. The former quote leads to the entire milky way, which has a diameter of 100,000 light years.

Too many unknowns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697895)

Just how do we know the odds of life evolving? And of intelligence developing?

"Oh, the universe is so big! Life must be everywhere" isn't an argument.

Re:Too many unknowns (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698069)

Just how do we know the odds of life evolving? And of intelligence developing?

"Oh, the universe is so big! Life must be everywhere" isn't an argument.

We know that the odds of life evolving to intelligence[0] are non-zero because *ahem* we did it. Doesn't mean it's not crazy insanely infinitesimally small, only that it's not 0.

[0]Sentience, at least...

intellgient life... (3, Interesting)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697899)

Suppose intelligent life was a super freakish accident, not a forgone conclusion. It took 4-billion years for it to develop on earth. I'll bet it might easily have never happened. And then, there was no reason why we had to develop a technology based culture. That, in itself, might have been a freakish cultural event.

So, maybe, we are pretty special after all.

What if... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697915)

What if the signal's been there all along, and we've just taken it for granted as a physical phenomenon?

Maybe there are (2, Insightful)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697919)

Maybe there are advanced aliens looking for intelligent life.
If they found earth they'd keep right on looking.
As a species we're violent, irrational, deluded, greedy and self interested.
The occasional deviations from this norm in no way redeem us.
If I had a choice not to be involved with this disgusting species then I wouldn't either.

Earth life isn't out there (2, Interesting)

farmer11 (573883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697931)

To my thinking the key is that we have such a narrow definition of life, since we are only aware of one kind - life on Earth. Perhaps there exist intelligent entities out there that are undetectable to us. Perhaps, they are so different that they are also looking for life but with an entirely different definition. So it's like ships passing in the night.

A few points (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697955)

1. They might not communicate with radio waves. Maybe they've developed other ways to communicate among themselves, and we can't detect that.

2. Why would they talk to us? Presumably they're interested in intelligent life, and we're questionable there. Maybe when we develop the means to travel beyond our solar system, they'll take notice. Whether that's good or not is debatable.

Re:A few points (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698181)

Why would they talk to us? Presumably they're interested in intelligent life, and we're questionable there.

Seriously, we're made of meat for crying out loud! What kind of self respecting alien would want to talk to someone who communicates by flapping thier meat together?

http://baetzler.de/humor/meat_beings.html/ [baetzler.de]

One of my favorite Sci-Fi short stories.

Re:A few points (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698227)

1. They might not communicate with radio waves. Maybe they've developed other ways to communicate among themselves, and we can't detect that.

I believe so. Maybe they are using the Point-of-View Gun as the most ordinary tool of communication but we Earthlings (esp. males, which make up the 50% of us) are simply too thick for those guns to penetrate.

2. Why would they talk to us? Presumably they're interested in intelligent life, and we're questionable there. Maybe when we develop the means to travel beyond our solar system, they'll take notice. Whether that's good or not is debatable.

Yeah, I believe in three or four years we *can* reach Warp Speed. But by the time the scientists find the way, a patent troll lawyer will have been there already, waiting for them, showing his teeth... Mmm, cash...

Lots of other reasons, too... (5, Insightful)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26697959)

Unless it's been vastly misrepresented in mainstream presentation (like TFS), Fermi's Paradox sounds pretty ridiculously simplistic.

Other bad assumptions it makes, just off the top of my head:

1. Other intelligent civilizations want to engage communications with aliens who, for all they know, might try to blow them up or eat them.

2. Those civilizations are willing to spend resources to beam electromagnetic radiation out into space in the vague hope of someone noticing.

3. Other intelligent civilizations "capable" of "communication" will follow the same technological arc as us and develop electromagnetic communications rather than, say, quantum communications or something we haven't even thought of yet.

4. Those aliens will assume that WE (or some unknown aliens) will be listening carefully for extrasolar broadcasts.

5. Those aliens even have a concept of "communication" and aren't just some hive-mind that never needed to evolve social skills.

6. They didn't cut their Alien-SETI funding to pay for medical research or an Alien-Wall-Street bailout package or something. (I mean, what do you think the chances are that WE will broadcast for a thousand years?)

And so on.

Really, Fermi's Paradox sounds like me saying that if I sit on a lonely beach for a week and don't find a bottle with a message in it in proper English, there are no other intelligent beings in the world.

Spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26697965)

Maybe there is just a spam filter and it's all in a junk folder somewhere?

Either that or it's on it's way via an AOL CD (hell there is enough of them for any number of civilisations! :)

Middle of nowhere (4, Funny)

kmahan (80459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698049)

It's not like we're located close to Downtown Galaxy. We live out on the edge. There's probably some galactic equivalent of AT&T or Comcast that is telling everyone else "We'll be providing them with service 'soon'. So our monopoly is justified."

Either that or the installer showed up and we were too busy/unaware to answer the door. So they said they'd be back later.

Another resolution (1)

deego (587575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698055)

Upon some reflection, it can be argued that a situation in which there are teems of civilizations, each growing up in what looks like a natural universe, it very unlikely. Paradox solved, right? Here's [gnufans.net] my take.

Where is everybody? (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698079)

  • Current SETI work assumes that someone is specifically sending a "carrier" at us, an RF signal with a constant frequency. That's 1930s technology. No modern transmission system has a strong "carrier"; they all look like noise unless you can figure out the decoding. An advanced civilization may assume that anybody worth talking to has antennas the size of moons, picks up all RF that comes through its solar system, and figures out anything interesting. We're not there yet.
  • Maybe technological civilizations don't last that long. Recorded human history is about 3000 years, but industrial civilization is only 200 years old. (The first railroad ticket was sold in 1808; that's a good starting point for deployed industrial technology.) Already, we're starting to run out of natural resources.

The truth of the situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26698083)

Is that our galaxy is full of advanced civilizations and most of them are beyond our level of technology, and more than likely use FTL communication technology. And as a result of this we don't have the technological means to detect such signals which leads some scientists to ignorantly conclude that no one else is out there.

Furthermore, the scientists that are acting as if the Fermi Paradox is still valid refuse to accept the obvious truth that was uncovered years ago by The Disclosure Project, namely that we are surrounded by more advanced civilizations, and we have been for quite some time.

Uh... duh. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698101)

I should have thought that the limitations of communication would have been obvious to anyone seriously considering the situation. I have a hard time imagining anyone contemplating this "problem" for any length of time without running across that little "detail"!

Even further, one has to consider limitations of technology. We have just recently shown the ability to "communicate" faster than light, at a distance of 1 meter. Whether that will ever become a practical technology, in the sense of communication, remains to be seen. But it should be obvious that if radio is inadequate to the job, something like faster-than-light communication would be the only way to make oneself known. And a minimum level of technology is needed to detect that... if in fact we ever do.

I always wondered why this was called a "paradox", when some of the reasons we have not so far detected ET life are so glaringly obvious.

Long distance (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698111)

I prefer to think that the aliens just forgot to pay their long distance bill last millennium.

Wired, line of sight & shit we don't know yet (1)

mstroeck (411799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698125)

... are so much more efficient than simple broadcasting that any advanced civilization would use them. If they are out there, we can't detect their communications directly.

Unwarranted asumption (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698131)

Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years

I would think that once a civilization reaches the point where it's sending EMF radiation, its chances of survival become greater. Look at us - if an asteroid were coming toward Earth in 1886, Earth would have been doomed. If one comes at us now it MAY be doomed, but again we may be able to deflect it.

Once a civilization gets a handhold on any planet but its own, it stands a far, far greater chance of surviving.

Once it gets a toehold on a different stellar system it seems nothing will stop it but entropy.

We are far too vain. A thousand years is NOTHING. The dinasaurs ruled for millions of years, we've only been here as Homo Sapiens for perhaps a few hundred thousand at most.

In ten million years there will likely be no himans, but our inhuman/superhuman decendants will likely be alive, and communicating (somehow) at faster then lightspeed. I have little doubt that we'll (or our superintelligent decendants will) find a way around the speed of light. We're just not smart enough - yet.

We can't talk to Dolphins (1)

neo (4625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698153)

Here on Earth we have what most people would consider intelligent life and we can't communicate with it on any meaningful level. We can't talk to Dolphins and we've had years of trying. Communication is complicated enough with beings that are based on the same system (DNA). I can't for the life of me understand what makes people think that we will be able to understand alien life or vice versa.

If anything we will be a curiosity to be examined and fed fish.

I know what's going on (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698159)

The broadcasts catch the attention of entities it would be best to avoid.

Big Assumption! (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698167)

Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years

That's a big assumption, and why would one assume that?

Line of sight (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698169)

or they could be using a line of sight communications technology that we can't intercept. Or the universe is very big... or or or..

Paradoxically (pun intended), Fermi's own work ... (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 5 years ago | (#26698183)

...helped make sure that our own planet's civilizations have the type of bomb that places their lifetimes at the lower end of all estimates:

Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years, ten times longer than Earth has been broadcasting, and has a signal horizon of 1,000 light-years, you need a minimum of over 300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way to ensure that you'll see one of them.

Now factor in nukes to turn that figure into a fraction:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi#The_Manhattan_Project [wikipedia.org]
He was a Nobel laureate for physics, not for peace...

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