It’s no good asking if there is any other intelligent life in the universe because there’s no one out there to answer back, say scientists.
The sad truth is humans are probably as good as it gets, and we are alone in space.
That’s the conclusion of a team of astronomers at the Future of Humanity InstituteatOxford University, England, who have just completed a review of the controversial Fermi Paradox.
Physicist Enrico Fermi argued that paradox named after him explained that the probability of other intelligent life populating the universe was low – and that’s why there is no evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence.
Intelligence is rare
The paradox is a complicated formula that considers runs down how often the universe creates new stars, how many have planetary systems, how many of those planets can support life and how much of that life is intelligent.
Add to that the chances of those planets developing civilisations that have technology to communicate across space and the time all this would take to invent and transmit, and the chances of another intelligent life form living on a planet within communicable distance of Earth are slim.
One of the Oxford team, Anders Sandberg, said: “One can answer the Fermi Paradox by saying intelligence is very rare, but then it needs to be tremendously rare. Another possibility is that intelligence doesn’t last very long, but it is enough that one civilization survives for it to become visible.
Fermi Paradox reassessed
“Attempts at explaining it by having all intelligences acting in the same way, like staying quiet, avoiding contact with us, transcending, fail since they require every individual belonging to every society in every civilization to behave in the same way, the strongest sociological claim ever.
“Claiming long-range settlement or communication are impossible requires assuming a surprisingly low technology ceiling. Whatever the answer is, it has to be strange.”
Previously, scientists calculating a solution to the Fermi Paradox had assumed that around 10,000 intelligent civilisations live elsewhere in the universe.
The argument follows that a few would have developed interstellar travel and the odds are at least one would have visited Earth at some time in the past.