Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Fermi Paradox: Conclusion

Ever since our species came to realize that other species could be out there, we have had a driving curiosity to know whether they are out there. An initial sense of optimism, where many people thought that our own solar system would be full of intelligent life, has crashed into the real world. The solar system not only lacks intelligent life, but it seems to lack any life other than our own, potential Martian fossils and speculations for life in the Europan ocean notwithstanding. SETI, likewise, has failed to turn up a single unambiguous signal from the stars.

Very Large ArrayMany people are still optimistic that other intelligences may exist that are able and willing to communicate with us, but against the very real silence and emptiness that we have encountered, Fermi's profoundly simple question has become a very pertinent one to those holding such hopes. The fact that it may only be possible to gain a definitive answer to the question by actually going out into the galaxy and making a comprehensive search hasn't prevented us from suggesting answers. Indeed, as such proposed solutions to the Dangerous Neighbors, the Apocalyptic, and the Lotus Eater Hypotheses show, such speculations may be pertinent not only to our curiosity but to our future as a species.

So we wait, and we ponder, and we listen with keen ears for the faintest indication that we may not be alone in the universe. As Carl Sagan stated on numerous occasions, any answer to that question is one that is well worth knowing.

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