The Fermi paradox describes the apparent contradiction between why there is no evidence of extraterrestrial life, despite the very fact that logically, it should have been discovered by now.
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.