By Wade Roush

The Fermi paradox asks why we haven’t any evidence of extraterrestrial life when it seems likely that we’re not alone in the universe. Or, as the physicist Enrico Fermi is reported to have blurted out to a group of fellow scientists at Los Alamos: “Where is everybody?”

Assigning a number to just how likely it is that we have company is the work of the Drake equation, but both the Fermi paradox and Drake equation are just conversation starters. Given that we don’t have any evidence to work with, and that we can’t even be sure what sort of evidence we should be looking for, speculation is free to get highly creative and imaginative. Fertile ground for science and science fiction then.

Wade Roush keep the discussion on the level while at the same time communicating a sense of wonder when considering how Fermi’s question and Drake’s equation may be solved. My own sense of what’s going on is that the distances involved are so great that we might as well be alone, and any message we get is likely to only be a dead letter. But just imagine!


8 thoughts on “Extraterrestrials

  1. It’s the same as the time traveller paradox. Sure, we think it’s impossible that we’re already being visited, but surely if time-travel was possible, we’d have time travellers putting messages in films (Back to the Future) and books (The Time Machine) that suggest that it was possible. Oh, wait…


  2. Not familiar with Drake but Fermi’s stuff is all predicated on a strictly materialistic, evolution based universe and completely ignores any other possibilities. That in itself makes any conclusions drawn very suspect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Drake equation here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

      It seems really technical, but Roush does a good job going through all the different variables and making sense of it. In the end though it’s really speculative and seems to me more like a list of factors that are in play than anything like an equation.

      Since Fermi they’ve done a lot of tweaking with his assumptions. But it’s still just a “what if?” sort of question.

      Liked by 2 people

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