As we’ve seen over the past few generations, our ability to harness technology to accomplish things never before seen or done has only increased exponentially. As a race, we’ve been able to photograph a black hole, we’ve been able to send probes to places in space that were thought to be unreachable, and we’ve just overall been able to further explore the Cosmos as a whole. However, with this rapid increase in explorational manpower, we beg the question — are we the only organic beings out there? How is it that we have not found evidence yet of any galactic civilization?
This is the exact question that the Fermi Paradox concerns itself with. Enrico Fermi, a Nobel-Prize winning physicist, created the paradox to encompass the idea of how we have yet to detect an alien civilization even though we know that there are billions of different stars, planets, and other places in space that aren’t our Solar System. As we know, there are several different solutions that attempt to explain Fermi’s Paradox. They include the following list of different explanations:
- We could be alone in the entire Universe. Galactic civilizations are so rare that we’re seemingly just an anomaly (i.e. we’re the first).
- We could be one of many different civilizations, but nobody’s colonized the galaxy we’re in. This could be a result of costly interstellar travel, space exploration being boring, or that most galaxies are colonized and ours just isn’t overly important or relevant. It could also be that all civilizations in the past that have had the ability to colonize the Cosmos have destroyed themselves before actually colonizing anything.
- There are galactic civilizations out there, but they have yet to reveal themselves to us yet (for whatever reason).
It’s important to note that Drake’s Equation readily ties into the ideas that Fermi’s Paradox discusses. As we know, his equation represents a probability that estimates the number of different extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. All in all, it seems like most of these theories and equations are largely conjecture — we really don’t know what’s out there, at all. The moment we learn about another civilization existing in space, there will be a large turning point in history. It would be crazy to find out that there exists civilizations other than ours!
The picture below explains Drake’s Equation, which summarizes the different factors that represent how likely we may come into contact with alien civilizations (which is super relevant to the Fermi Paradox!).