from the better-odds-if-we-would-just-start-colonizing dept.
KentuckyFC writes "If the universe is teeming with advanced civilizations capable of communicating over interstellar distances, then surely we ought to have seen them by now. That's the gist of a paradoxical line of reasoning put forward by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950. The so-called Fermi Paradox has haunted SETI researchers ever since. Not least because if the number of intelligent civilizations capable of communication in our galaxy is greater than 1, then we should eventually hear from them. Now one astrophysicist says this thinking fails to take into account the limit to how far a signal from ET can travel before it becomes too faint to hear. Factor that in and everything changes. Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years, ten times longer than Earth has been broadcasting, and has a signal horizon of 1,000 light-years, you need a minimum of over 300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way to ensure that you'll see one of them. Any less than that and the chances are that they'll live out their days entirely ignorant of each other's existence. Paradox solved, right?"
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a
cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H.L. Mencken