In a previous post (here) I talked about some of the boring and lunatic solutions to the Fermi Paradox, here are the rest, the cool and faintly disturbing solutions
The cool solutions:
One of the cool solutions is called the ‘zoo scenario’, the idea is that the really advanced alien civilizations recognize that intelligent life is rare and fragile and thus create safe areas in which less-advanced intelligent life can develop, the Earth could be one of these areas, we could be living in a protected wildlife reserve, deliberately isolated from all the other alien life out there. Maybe other life-baring planets are being protected from us. This is kind of the idea in the film 2010 (you know the 2001 sequel that you secretly preferred… because Roy Schneider was in it) in which intelligent aliens stop humans interfering with Europa. It’s a comforting solution, there is alien life, and if we’re really well behaved then eventually the benevolent super-intelligent aliens will let us join the party. We just need to make sure they never hear about Sarah Palin, if they do, we’re fucked.
Another cool idea is that alien life may be so different from us that we can’t see or communicate with it. Maybe the aliens live in black holes or in the centre of neutron stars, or are made of some kind of dark matter we can’t detect, or exist in different dimensions from us; we could be surrounded by alien life and have no idea. Our assumption that all life must be carbon based is sensible, but maybe a little narrow-minded, after all, life and the Universe continue to surprise and confound us, we certainly have a lot to learn, and who knows what forms life may take? The Galaxy maybe full of exotic life, we just haven’t noticed yet. Think about microorganisms, before the first microscopes were invented we had no idea we were surrounded by tiny life.
The faintly disturbing solutions:
One of the disturbing solutions is called the Planetarium Hypothesis and Stephen Baxter proposed it, Stephen Baxter is awesome by the way, Brian Cox awesome. It’s an expansion of the zoo scenario, basically super-intelligent aliens have created a fake world in which we’re living, maybe in reality our Galaxy is full of life, but we’re trapped in a simulation to keep us or others safe. I know what you’re thinking, the Matrix right? Yep, the Matrix, made by aliens. It sounds a bit far-fetched, but lots of people have independently thought of Matrix-style ideas, from Descartes to Buddhists, and its one of those ideas that quietly nags at the back of my mind. I probably sound slightly paranoid right now, but it would surely be very easy for an advanced civilization to create a Matrix-style simulation to trap us inside, and how would we know if they did. I probably still sound crazy, I’ll write a blog post about this sometime and explain in more detail, then you’ll see, you’ll all see!!!
Firmly in the disturbing category is the ‘predator hypothesis’. This explanation says that the Galaxy is full of life, but that everyone is staying quiet, as there is something really nasty out there that is trying to kill all life, maybe some kind of militaristic religious race on some kind of crusade or killer artificial intelligence trying to exterminate all organic life, a Mass Effect explanation. It explains the silence, and also suggests we should probably stop all that SETI business in case we alert the predator to our existence.
An expansion of the predator hypothesis is the ‘nano-bots turning everything to grey goo hypothesis’. Many theoreticians have stated that it would be far easier for an alien race to send out robots to colonize the galaxy rather than actual people/aliens. After all, robots don’t get easily bored, and don’t generally need to eat and drink, just the occasional bear and cigar. And why use big expensive robots, why not a swarm of self-replicating nana-bots that can scavenge material on their journeys to make copies of themselves, exponentially growing in numbers and quickly spreading throughout the galaxy. Great. But what if it goes slightly wrong? What is these self-replicating nano-bots don’t recognize alien life, what if they start assimilating everything? Trees, cats, dogs, people, politicians, sharks, everything. What if they spread exponentially through the galaxy eating all life, leaving nothing but grey goo? I forget why they actually leave grey goo; maybe they don’t need to leave that behind. It’s in the disturbing category as I have it on good authority from a couple of nano-bot scientists that this would be relatively easy to do, even humans would be able to create something similar in the near future, even irrationally-angry cult-member humans who dislike the world.
Well that’s me done, probably too long for one blog post. I don’t suppose anyone will ever read this, maybe my Mum, out of a sense of duty. But if someone is reading this, let me know what you think is the solution to Fermi’s paradox?