Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Space Science

A New Take On the Fermi Paradox 388

TravisTR points out some new research that aims to update and supplement the Fermi paradox — the idea that if intelligent life was as common as we expect, we should have detected it by now. The academic paper (PDF) from scientists at the National Technical University of Ukraine is based on the idea that civilizations can't expand forever on their own. The authors make the assumption that an isolated civilization will eventually die out or go dark through some other means, which leads to some interesting models of intergalactic colonization. "In certain circumstances, however, when civilizations are close enough together in time and space, they can come into contact and when this happens the cross-fertilization of ideas and cultures allows them both to flourish in a way that increases their combined lifespan. ... Bezsudnov and Snarskii say that for certain values of these parameters, the universe undergoes a phase change from one in which civilizations tend not to meet and spread into one in which the entire universe tends to become civilized as different groups meet and spread. Bezsudnov and Snarskii even derive an inequality that a universe must satisfy to become civilized. This, they say, is analogous to the famous Drake equation which attempts to quantify the number of other contactable civilizations in the universe right now."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A New Take On the Fermi Paradox

Comments Filter:
  • by Brucelet ( 1857158 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @08:20PM (#33038702)

    (Warning: The maddening concept that the infinity of all planets is larger than the infinity of planets with life may harm your brain. Viewer's Discretion is Advised)

    A slight correction: these two infinities (assuming they even are infinite) could be the same size even when the set of inhabited planets is a subset of all planets. Infinities are really weird.

  • Re:Their take (Score:3, Informative)

    by rufty_tufty ( 888596 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @07:53AM (#33042572) Homepage

    Part of the fermi paradox assumes that a planet that is suitable for life will develop life.
    Therefore any planet we would want to live on will already have life there. If it doesn't have life on it then it's not suitable for us. Add to this there will probably be other planets that aren't suitable for us that have life on them as well and that's a lot of competition for resources.
    Now I personally don't buy that we would want to live on planets when if we have the technology to build spaceships we have the technology to build orbital colonies that have many advantages to the upwardly mobile space civilisation.
    Now all of this is unless it is easier to devastate than it is to build those orbital colonies. My hunch is that humans like to hunt and would view the natives similar as how we view lions at the moment - there are plenty of people who'd love to hunt them given half a chance provided they see them as inferior life forms.
    So yes I see that contact with an alien species would probably end badly for one of the parties; but it will only be so if it is easy and convenient or religiously necessary.
    And that is all without the military mindset classifying them as a risk and therefore exterminating them for "our own long term protection".

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.