Named after Nobel Prize winning nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, who was also known as the “architect of the atomic bomb“, the paradox is all based-on a lunchtime conversation between the famous scientist & several colleagues at Los Alamos National Lab in 1950, following a cartoon in The New Yorker that commented on a spate of UFO reports.
Fermi is claimed to have performed a couple of back of the envelope calculations to estimate the prevalence-of humanlike technology in the Universe. Based on his rough figures, he argued, Earth should have been visited-by aliens by now.
“Where are they?” he said to have re-marked.
The Drake Equation
Similar to Fermi’s estimate is amore detailed equation formed in 1961 by American astronomer Frank Drake, written to-provoke conversation at an in-augural meeting on Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
The equation suggests several civilizations close-enough for us to have heard from can be often based on a combination of statistics.
These include several life-supporting planets and chances life might develop both ability and desire to transmit information which can cover vast distances in a reasonable amount of time.
In the half-century, since Fermi paradox was first suggested, we’ve learned tons about the diversity of exoplanets & their stars. Yet we’re still a very long way from being able to make remotely accurate-judgements on the development of life on worlds aside from Earth.
Where are all the aliens?
Today, there are many potential solutions to the Fermi paradox, including explanations like:
• We are overestimating the prevalence of intelligent life in the Universe.
• We are overestimating the will of any single life to willingly transmit information.
• The information is there, we are just not seeing it or understanding it.
• The information was there and might be there again, but humans have not been listening long enough to detect it.
• Humans are the first to reach the interstellar stage and we are too-early to detect other civilizations.