Sunday, June 24, 2012
"Solutions" to the Fermi Paradox - our contest winners! (Part Two)
Last time in Part 1, we went over the top prize winners of our experiment/contest, drawing "crowd-sourced" answers to the Fermi Paradox or The Great Silence -- the quandary of why humanity has (apparently) never encountered extraterrestrial civilization.
Now let's finish going through the finalists:
#7 We're an evolutionary simulation coded into some incredibly complex computer, and while there's enough computing power to model the behavioral and biological processes and interactions of all the life on planet Earth, there isn't enough to model intelligent (or otherwise) life for the rest of the universe, so they have to rely on simpler astrophysics algorithms. Maybe if that next grant gets approved, they'll be able to add in another few clusters and work on a "First Contact" situation... —Carter Boe
A big concept, but also a bit of a Giant Waffle. I have put some creative thought into it. (See my stories "Reality Check" and "Stones of Significance"!)
#8 Our universe is part of a very advanced simulation in another universes cutting edge computer system. The system is designed to test out various theories of creation i.e. a big bang based on whatever the prevailing theories are - they then watch it all unfold and see how closely the results are to what these beings perceive in their "real" universe. this simulation has been tweaked and rerun many times because the results didn't quite match - the last time has been amazingly successful so they let it keep going and add memory and processing power as time goes by and as the simulated cosmos coalesced into our universe. They kept it running but tweaked it here and there and eventually decide to help form a world that can contain life similar to their own. Most of the computers' processing power in concentrated on resolving the detail and simulated life on that single simulated world. Every individual being, their thoughts and dreams, every bird that falls from the sky... They simply don't have enough memory and drive space yet to create "aliens" for us. (spoiler alert) in the "real" universe they never generated any speculative fiction so they haven't wondered in any important way at the coincidence... why are there no radio signals coming from intelligent life in their space? Until they read some sci fi created by the folks in their simulation...—Jim Simbrel
Hommmm you folks certainly glom onto a fashionable idea! It was pretty fresh a decade a go! See those stories...
#9 We are, in fact, alone in the Universe. We are the first, We are the Progenitors of the great galactic civilizations yet to come. It's lonely at the top. –Tom Owoc
Now for this, let me recommend a different story... it won a Hugo Award! "The Crystal Spheres."
#10 Most societies evolved real-time communications using a fundamental principle or particle of physics we never discovered and thus never had to leverage the electromagnetic spectrum in this way. Radio is our solution to a problem no one else has and thus unique in the universe. –Adam Maxwell
Hm... well, maybe. And yet when we found radio, did we completely abandon drums? Completely? Or even at all? New Guinea natives might not notice the radio waves all around them, but they'd recognize the thumping on a passing ocean liner as having human origins!
#11 There are one or more paranoid, raptorial spacefaring species who attack, pillage, and destroy any civilizations whose electromagnetic radiation they detect. The only civilizations to escape destruction are those who have shielded their EM radiation sources from detection, by virtue of natural, innate caution, or from having learned of the dangerous aliens prior to developing electronic technology. For all other civilizations, they are detectable only in a narrow time window, until they are discovered and annihilated by the aggressors. This produces a relatively silent galaxy that may in fact harbor hundreds of sentient species. –Ed Uthman
Very much a theme in Existence. But also, again, have a look at this missive against METI: Shouting at the Cosmos…or How SETI has taken a worrisome turn into dangerous territory. We aren't saying this is likely. We are saying that sensible people should discuss it before arrogant fools scream into the cosmos "Yoohoo!" on our behalf.
#12 Given the scale of just our own galaxy, much less the vastness of the universe, the likelihood of anyone being in our celestial "neck of the woods" is slim at best. I'd propose that there's no paradox...if they're out there, they're just too far away. –Jared Freeman
True, we might simply not overlap with the others! But this assumes that the number of advanced races is very small in order for the statistical non-overlap idea to work. But if there are numerous long-lived species, then we get the Fermi Paradox. And if they travel? A lot? Colonization changes all the numbers!
#13 The civilizations that are advanced enough to communicate with us are too advanced to want to communicate with us.—Derek Whittom
Hrm. So we're like ants to them? Well there are still plenty of human scientists who are interested in ants. You neglect how inherently interesting we are! The number of new tech races appearing in the galaxy at any time is not comparable to ant colonies on Earth. At absolute maximum it might be one or two a year. And advanced race would deputize specialists, or robots, or lesser selves to look into and see what such newbies might have that's interesting or entertaining to offer.
Good stuff! As I said, you'll find versions of some of these -- and some that will surprise you(!) in the novel. A few of them revealed with surprise gotchas!
What impresses me most is your mental agility and verve. Keep at it! Stay interested and lively. Never let us stop being a vigorously future-facing and scientific civilization.
I discuss many of these ideas in my novel, Existence.
Return to Part One, or see a collection of articles exploring the Fermi Paradox and SETI: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence