Monday, June 25, 2018

Further thoughts on whether Fermi's paradox has been solved ...

My son, who has an interest in science, exclaimed "that's a huger story" when I drew his attention to the Royal Society paper which argues that Fermi's paradox may have been resolved. (see previous post earlier today or a blog post by one of the paper's authors here

The authors think the probability distribution of the number of high-energy civilisations in the universe is very highly skewed much so that the mean is 27 million and the median about one!

They are not saying we are alone in the Universe. They are saying we may be. Suggested odds are 30% that we are alone in the visible universe and 53% that we are alone in the Milky Way galaxy. Which is another way of saying that the odds of there being one or more other civilisations in this galaxy are approximately 50:50

I'm a little surprised myself that it has not had more attention. This could have huge implications for the survival of the human race. The authors think that their work, while not by any means indicating we can be complacent about our long term survival, makes the probability of some "Great Filter" which wipes out most civilisations at a stage a little past where we are now that much less. It's probably still a good idea not to elect any persons of poor judgement to positions where they will have their finger on the nuclear button. Oops.

Perhaps the attention of the media is too heavily focussed on little matters like the World Cup, Brexit, and the Heathrow vote. And no, when I describe them as little matters in this context I am not being ironic.

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