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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Enbom

Why Hasn't There Been Any Proof Of Aliens; The Fermi Paradox

Our universe is around 14 billion years old, and has roughly 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 1 quintillion, planets. Our universe is extremely vast, leading to humanity long wondering wether or not we are alone, or if other intelligent lifeforms exist beyond our planet. Considering how long our universe has been around and how many planets there are, theres probably other life out there, right? So where is it? Where are the aliens?

In the billions of years that our universe has existed, our planet Earth has been around for around 4.5 billion years, and the human race has existed for about 200,000 years, which, in relation to the universe, is actually not that long. Humanity only took a couple blinks of the universes eye to become what it has; a mear 200,000 years to be sending proof of our existence into space in many ways, such as the Voyager 1, and the radiowaves we send into space everyday. There has never been any signal of life detected from space, which is vastly concerning, considering that, with all the time and planets available, there should have been by now. If other life forms have theoretically had billions of years to reach us, why havent they? Why havent we encountered any sort of signal from other life? This question describes the essence of what is known as the Fermi Paradox.

The Fermi Paradox was thought of by italian-american physicist Enrico Fermi, who is most well known for creating the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, and making the controlled release of nuclear energy possible. Besides his grand contributions to nuclear physics, he is also known for raising the question of the Fermi Paradox in the 1950s, which refers to the apparent contradiction between the super high probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the fact that there hasn't been any proof or evidence that these civilizations exist. The Fermi Paradox asks why, despite the vast number of potentially habitable planets in the universe, we have not yet observed or encountered any signs of intelligent alien life.

So why hasnt there been any sort of contact? Any definitive proof of existance of some other form of life? We certainly have been looking, even having initiatives like the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, which is dedicated to searching space for proof of extraterrestrial existence. Even so, we are yet to find any conclusive evidence of alien life. There are a couple popular possible explanations for this lack of aliens, including the Rare Earth Hypothesis, the Self Destruction Theory, and finally (my favorite), the Great Filter Theory.

The Rare Earth Hypothesis suggests that Earth-like planets, capable of supporting complex life, may be exceptionally rare in the universe. It argues that specific factors, such as a stable orbit, the right type of star, plate tectonics, and a large moon, must align perfectly to create conditions suitable for complex life forms. The hypothesis posits that these conditions are uncommon, reducing the number of Earth-like planets and potentially explaining why complex life is not widespread in the universe. If this hypothesis is the answer, it means that we are alone in this universe, or at-least numbers of intelligent lifeforms are extremely low.

The Self-Destruction Theory proposes that advanced civilizations, upon reaching a certain level of technological development, end up creating their own demise through factors such as nuclear warfare, ecological collapse, or even the misuse of technology! This would mean that the reason there are no aliens is because they all ended up blowing themselves up or losing to an army of robots before they could progress far enough to be able to support space travel or communication. If this is the reason that explains the lack of alien visitors, then its not looking good for our civilization, and it means we will probably end up facing self inflicted doom in the future.

The third theory is The Great Filter Theory, which is the idea that there are significant difficult challenges or barriers that hinder the evolution of life from simple organisms to advanced, space-faring civilizations. The theory suggests that past theoretical civilizations either failed to advance beyond certain stages that would lead them to becoming a civilization capable of communicating, or that they ended up succumbing to some specific "filter" that left them inable to communicate, such as extinction. These two different filter positions, in relevance to us on planet earth, both come with their own pros and cons.

If the "great filter" is one that is blocking organisms from becoming complex enough to signal their existance, then that would mean that the human species has surpassed the great filter, as we are able to send proof of our existance into space, but would also mean that we are probably alone, and that at some point we took some big step that is very hard to replicate. If we have not yet passed the great filter, then that means it is still coming, and unfortunately means we are likely to be met by death, and that all of the civilizations in the past have been met by death aswell. The existence of a great filter would explain the absence of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations, as it would imply that intelligent life is either rare or prone to extinction.

The Fermi Paradox and the explinations that come with it do not mean that aliens arent out there and that we are doomed. Our universe is truly massive; bigger then you can even comprehend. Its impossible to know for a fact what our future will hold; maybe tomorrow there will be contact. Space is grand and filled with mystery; this vastness and seeming emptiness should not be disheartening, it should be inspiring. Our universe, and our lives, are a great mystery that we work to uncover every day. Understanding the Fermi Paradox challenges our assumptions, and urges us to explore the factors that could potentially limit or prevent the emergence and longevity of technologically advanced civilizations. By contemplating these possibilities, we gain a deeper appreciation for our own existence and the unique circumstances that have allowed humanity to flourish on Earth.

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