Fermi Paradox and Advanced Civilizations.

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by BenTheMan, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

    I apologize to DH in advance, but I think there IS some scientific discussion to be had on this topic. If you disagree, by all means--you're the boss! But I didn't see anything explicitly prohibiting discussions of these types in the guidelines, although I fear that this will just be a big failure when the ``Aliens are among us'' crowd starts posting here.

    The Fermi Paradox can be stated as follows: if there are advanced civilizations, why don't we see them?

    Now, I'm sure that UFO aficionados can poke all kinds of holes in the underlying assumptions. Who's to say that the aliens are more advanced than we are? (Slim to no chance of this, but ok.) Who's to say that the aliens don't have invisible, or impossibly tiny probes? (Again, ok. Probably a fair critique.)

    Anyway, let's assume that we're more or less typical, and there are some more advanced civilizations than us. This is a good assumption, I think, as we live around a 3rd generation star, and the Milky Way has some older stars. The question is, how many more advanced civilizations are there than ours?

    Because we are more or less typical, we should guess that these aliens are also inquisitive about the universe, and that they will try to investigate the different corners. We should assume that the aliens are limited by the speed of light, as we are.

    A paper today on arXiv attempts to calculate how many advanced civilizations we should expect, based on the fact that we haven't seen them yet, and based on the above assumptions.


    They find, in a conservative estimate, that there can be no more than 10 more advanced civilizations. The study is condensed here:


    The conclusion then, to me, would be that there are a dearth of civilizations in our Galaxy, or that we are highly atypical.
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  3. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    I have no problem with people discussing the Fermi paradox so long as they realize that the right answer is "we haven't the foggiest idea (yet)". My own opinion, which is just an opinion, is that they aren't out there -- at least not in our galaxy, maybe not even our local cluster. It is the easiest solution to the Fermi paradox, for one thing (Occam's scalpel). For another, we might not be all that typical.

    What about nowhere else in the universe? Not likely, but does it really matter? Suppose one advanced intelligent civilization (Type I on the Kardashev scale; we aren't there yet) arises per galactic cluster. That means "billions and billions" of such civilizations throughout the universe, each of which is utterly alone.
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  5. Gustav Banned Banned


    you must mean sighting representatives of advanced civilizations flitting about our neighborhood in their spaceships, ja?

    here is the hole i poke............. we have already seen them
    here is the hole you dug yourself into...... an investigation into the veracity of alleged sightings

    i am game
    are you?
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  7. Gustav Banned Banned

    i like it
    like it a lot

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    got issues?


    lookee here

    isolation of each and every civ from one another is an unnecessary assumption and also an invalid extrapolation.
    just cos we appear to be, does not mean they are too

    dispersion patterns, if any, can be varied. some random, others uniform or clumped
  8. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

    I think this is a discussion for another forum

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  9. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    Moderator comments: Discussions of UFOs in this thread will be deleted. Use the Pseudoscience forum for such rot.
  10. Gustav Banned Banned


    see goddamn what?
    how? when? where?
  11. Gustav Banned Banned


    rebbutted with this....

    and this....

    looks like you have not "realized the right answer"
    you seem to have "some ideas"

    pardon dh
    in light of the rather startling revelations outlined above, i have a problem with you discussing or moderating this conversation
    you are clearly unfit

    go harass another thread

  12. eddie23 information sponge Registered Senior Member

    If they are more advanced than us. Why would they contact us?
    All they have to do is watch and they will know we are still primative and warlike.
    Would you contact someone who you think will eventualy try to steal from you or kill you, or would you just wait around and see if they grow out of it?
  13. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    What part of "My own opinion, which is just an opinion, is that ..." do you fail to understand?

    Different people's answers to the Drake equation range from millions of civilizations in our galaxy to we are alone in the universe. There is no solid evidence (yet) indicating which of these extremes is closer to the truth. That is what I meant by "we haven't the foggiest idea".
  14. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    It's not just contacting us. We don't see any signs of their existence. A Type II civilization would leave telltale signs that are visible across a significant portion of the galaxy. We see virgin stars, virgin star systems. We do not see Dyson spheres. A Type III civilization would leave telltale signs that are visible across galaxy clusters. We don't see those, either.
  15. Gustav Banned Banned


    i shall dismiss the fact that you are a scientist (which by definition, implies possessing the faculty of critical thought), and assign the same weight to your opinions as i would do to my 5 year old sister

    any time i see wildly divergent conclusions and extremities of opinion, i assume the data being utilized is off base and not appropriate for the measurements being made. that and sheer stupidity. what you should be looking for are conservative estimates gleaned from inserting reasonable parameters into the variables found in the equation

    N = 40 × 0.5 × 0.5 × 1 × 0.1 × 0.1 × 500 = 50.

    That is, if these estimates are valid, there are roughly 50 civilizations in the entire Galaxy which are likely to be engaged in trying to communicate using the means presently available to us on Earth. Assuming, as we have, a 500-year "radio-window", and given the fact that humans have had the ability to receive and broadcast interstellar messages for about 50 years, this suggests that there are about 5 radio-capable civilizations that are marginally behind us in their technology and about 45 that are somewhat more advanced yet not sufficiently advanced to have progressed beyond our "earshot". Fifty radio-stage civilizations equates to one for roughly every 8 billion stars. Since the nearest such civilization would probably lie well over 1,000 light-years away, it would not be possible to exchange even a single greeting before one or both of the parties had transcended the proposed 500-year radio-window. (link)

    if anyone wants to argue the values for the variables, lets do so
  16. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

    Simply impossible to say. We could not even really detect if we are simply and elaborate alien experiment started a couple million years ago and just left in our petri dish.

    Far too many factors and possibilites to fathom as of yet. To Declare Fermi Paradox or multiply similar stars to find a base number of civilizations....both are sheer folly.
  17. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    nietzschefan, you don't seem to understand what "paradox" means in this context. The twin paradox in special relativity and the birthday paradox in statistics seem to defy common sense. There is no contradiction. Several posited answers to the Fermi paradox explain how intelligence can be widespread. See post #23 by eddie23, for example.

    Gustav: Regarding the numbers you referenced -- read the site you cited:
    Allowing answers that vary by a dozen orders of magnitude or more is just a bit of a problem. Another problem: Is the equation even right?

    This does not mean that asking about the Fermi Paradox is "sheer folly". This question is one of the motivating factors behind the Kepler mission.
  18. Buffalo Roam Registered Senior Member

    Why is the assumption that a advanced civilization would necessarily be peaceful?

    That is something that always amazes me, as it is based on our own preconceptions and dreams of utopian society.

    The greatest advancements have come during the times of war, advancements are driven by conflict, and survival is conflicts imperative.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum
  19. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

    I agree. There's no reason to assume that a more advanced culture would be a more peaceful culture. It sure hasn't worked that way on earth, has it?
  20. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

    Here's where I disagree.

    I suspect it requires a very very peaceful culture to get "extra-planetary" at the very least. Using earth as an example - the most advanced space program currently is NASA (but actually might not be in a few years), and it's budget is pathetic compared to the U.S Defense budget...like really minuscule. That's pretty much why they gotta dump the space station to land a few robots on the Moon. That's fuckin pathetic, even compared to where we (humanity in General) were even in the 60s.

    Another point is at this stage of growth self destruction is probably universally obtainable as space exploration is. Civilizations must find a way to tolerate their own sub-factions in order to not annihilate themselves. That's a requirement just to get started.

    One you are setup as an interplanetary or even inter-stellar(if possible) species, you might say THEN you can open up the cans of whopass. Nope. It is still far too simple to completely destroy a terrestrial planet, for a species that gets that far along in technology. That is not to say it NEVER would happen...it's just that species sure a fuck won't last long enough to meet another species. They will kill themselves first.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  21. Buffalo Roam Registered Senior Member

    Most of the technology for our current space programs comes from Military Black projects, and again in war the greatest break through's come, Survival of the Fittest is the ultimate imperative, no matter where or what, driven by the need for resources to insure that survival, all you are stating is Utopian Logic, and a hope that the first extraterrestrial contact isn't from a species that is looking mineral resources for a new food source.
  22. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    I'll say it. There are doubtless countless civilisations more advanced than our own. We just happen to regard ourselves as the pinnacle because it's all we know and all we can see and therefore all we can conceive.
    Holy shit Ben, you're supposed to be smart and analytical.
    We are a very young planet in a young solar system in a tumultuously changing habitat.

    Yes there would be even more countless species and/or civilistaions less advanced than ours but suggesting we are the apex of the universe is so..so..so bloody human.
    Waky, waky!
  23. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

    I've heard that argument before but consider this. Why did we land on the moon in the sixties and not do jack shit since? No competition. In the sixties we wanted to rub it in the noses of the Soviets. Since that motivation was removed, we haven't done crap in space.

    A truly peaceful species will follow the logic: we shouldn't go to space until we've dealt with all the problems on our home planet; and thus never get around to it.

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