The Fermi paradox is based entirely upon a lunch conversation between Enrico Fermi, an iconic physicist, and his friends and co-workers. When discussing their belief that there must be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, Fermi asked a simple, but profound question: “Where is everybody?”
While, on its surface, this question seems somewhat ridiculous, it is actually a very serious question that must be answered. If, as many scientist believe, there are countless intelligent civilizations likely thriving throughout the universe, then how come we haven’t seen any evidence of their existence? There seem to only be a few possibilities:
- There actually isn’t any other intelligent life; humanity is alone in the universe.
- Perhaps other intelligent life lack the urge to explore and colonize the universe.
- There are massive galactic civilizations that have yet to reveal themselves to us.
The first possibility, that there is no other intelligent life seems to have the most dire implications. Due to the nature of life on Earth, we have strong reason to believe that intelligent life has evolved throughout the universe. Therefore, if the first case is true, then it seems that societies just destroy themselves prior to colonization of the universe; this could be disastrous for our near future. The second possibility, no desire for colonization, seems rather unlikely if the species is as intelligent and inquisitive as we would expect. Finally, the third possibility offers the most interesting option. Perhaps we are surrounded by aliens, but they have somehow masked their existence from us. Perhaps, one day, when they deem us worthy, they will reveal themselves and share their secrets to intergalactic travel.