Where Are All The Aliens?

A thought about the Fermi Paradox

Ah, the Fermi Paradox… If you are a Sci-Fi nerd, you know very well what it’s all about. But for those of you with your feet firmly grounded in the boring, real world, here is a VERY quick explanation:

So, first you take a huge, huge place – the universe – with so many stars and planets as to be virtually infinite.

Then you take a random planet. Say… this one! And what have got? Life! Intelligent life to be precise, with enough curiosity to raise our eyes to the stars, marvel at its vastness, and ask the obvious question:

Where the *** is everybody else?!

That is the Fermi Paradox.

Why a paradox? Well, the universe should be teeming with aliens, right? Being so big and all. But we’ve seen nothing yet (and I mean in a rigurously scientific way, not the odd farmer account, burnt crops or blurry pictures).

Now, there are many so-called solutions to the paradox. I’m not going to bore you with them. You can find them easily enough all over the Internet (that’s one of my hobbies right there, haha). You’ll get to hear very exotic names, like the zoo-hypothesis, simulation-hypothesis, great filters, etc, etc.

Enlighten me, Isaac! What is the solution to the Fermi Paradox?

Alright, since you insist, I will tell you why there is no paradox at all when you really open your eyes to the vastness of space.

I know, I know. How arrogant to think I know the answer when so many great minds have failed to grasp an undisputable solution. But, hey, my grandma has always said I’m special, so there. No, seriously. This is just a thought, alright? Nothing else. It might be wrong. Probably is. But I don’t think so, haha.

To summarize my brilliant opinion: doesn’t matter how many aliens there are out there – millions, billions – if space is big enough.

So obvious, right?

Let’s think about the word “big” for a minute.

No, even better. Let’s think about the word “infinite”.

I know, I know. This sounds “mathy” but bear with me, please.

Take any number and start counting upwards. Keep doing that forever. That gives you a sense of infinity, doesn’t it? But now take that same number, square it (multiply it by itself), and then square it again, and again, forever. That gives you quite a different sense of infinity, doesn’t it? Like, the second infinite is really, really big! The first infinity is pathetic in comparison. Mathematically speaking, the first infinity is infinitisimally smaller than the second one.

Alright, back to the real world of things that we can actually touch and aliens that can actually stick stuff into our anuses. Say that there are many, many aliens, virtually infinite, kind of like our first sequence of numbers as we counted up forever. But what if the amount of space around each alien civilization is much, much vaster, more like squaring numbers forever?

I mean, look up there in the sky. Take the darkest night, in the remotest place on Earth, and look up. Everything you see is closer than about a thousand light years. That’s it. A thousand puny light years! That’s just 1% of the size of the entire galaxy. And that’s only our galaxy, don’t get me started with how large the enire universe really is…

Trust me when I say it is BIG.

What if it is so big, that the chances of seeing somebody else out there are – yeah, I’ll use the word – infinitesimal?

But it gets better, because space is not the only dimension that can be stretched to mindbogling sizes.

What about time?

Like, take us, humans. How long have we been around? And I mean, in the sense that isomebody else could reasonably pick out our technological signature? A hundred years? Perhaps less?

So let’s compare our show time in the universe with its current age, shall we?

100 years vs 1,800,000,000 years.


I think my point is clear: doesn’t matter how many alien civilizations are out there, if space and time are large enough. Chances us, my friend, we’ll never see anybody else out there.

But worry not. That’s what science fiction is here for. To alleviate our loneliness in this vast, cold universe.

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