Fermi Paradox – Why We Are Alone
There is only “us” in the galaxy!
As Arthur C. Clarke said, “There are two possibilities: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
The Italian physicist Enrico Fermi went even further, making our minds almost certain that the first hypothesis is much more probable than the other…Among his other merits, the Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi was esteemed for his extraordinary ability to go straight to the heart of a problem and then be able to describe it in its real essence.
Impressive was his way to estimate the order of magnitude of a numerical value related to a given phenomenon from almost nothing (often by performing complex calculations in his mind).
Fermi tried to impress this ability on his students, so much so that he used to ask, without warning, seemingly unanswered questions. How many grains of sand are there on the world’s beaches? How far can a crow fly without stopping? How many atoms of Caesar’s last breath do we inhale every time we fill our lungs? How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?
These “Fermi questions” forced students to propose rough estimates drawing on their knowledge of the world and their daily experience, rather than on theoretical or prior knowledge.
One day in the summer of 1950 Fermi was in Los Alamos in the company of colleagues such as Edward Teller, Herbert York and Emi Konopinsky.
Together they walked to a nearby restaurant amiably discussing the recent spate of “flying saucer” sightings that had spread across the country.
After a few jokes the conversation turned serious and the four colleagues wondered whether or not the flying saucers could exceed the speed of light. Fermi asked Teller what he thought was the probability of having confirmation of the possibility of superluminal travel by 1960. His friend’s answer, one chance in a million, did not convince him: it was too low. According to him it was closer to one in ten.
The four sat down at the table and the talk turned to lighter topics. Then, in the middle of the conversation and as if it had rained down from the sky, Fermi asked: “But then, where is everyone?”.
His diners immediately understood that he was still referring to the issue of extraterrestrial visitors. And since it was Fermi who was speaking, they realized that the question was more complex and profound than it first seemed.
York recalls that Fermi made a series of quick calculations and concluded that if aliens really existed we should have been visited a long time ago, and more than once.
A result that immediately answered his question: there are no extraterrestrial intelligences in this galaxy (and perhaps in the entire universe), we are alone! Where is everyone?
Do not forget to share your opinion with us to provide you with the best posts !