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Silence in the sky—but why?
PhysOrg ^ | 8/25/13

Posted on 08/26/2013 4:29:42 PM PDT by LibWhacker

(Phys.org) —Scientists as eminent as Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan have long believed that humans will one day colonise the universe. But how easy would it be, why would we want to, and why haven't we seen any evidence of other life forms making their own bids for universal domination?

A new paper by Dr Stuart Armstrong and Dr Anders Sandberg from Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) attempts to answer these questions. To be published in the August/September edition of the journal Acta Astronautica, the paper takes as its starting point the Fermi paradox – the discrepancy between the likelihood of intelligent alien life existing and the absence of observational evidence for such an existence.

Dr Armstrong says: 'There are two ways of looking at our paper. The first is as a study of our future – humanity could at some point colonise the universe. The second relates to potential alien species – by showing the relative ease of crossing between galaxies, it makes the lack of evidence for other intelligent life even more puzzling. This worsens the Fermi paradox.'

The paradox, named after the physicist Enrico Fermi, is something of particular interest to the academics at the FHI – a multidisciplinary research unit that enables leading intellects to bring the tools of mathematics, philosophy and science to bear on big-picture questions about humanity and its prospects.

Dr Sandberg explains: 'Why would the FHI care about the Fermi paradox? Well, the silence in the sky is telling us something about the kind of intelligence in the universe. Space isn't full of little green men, and that could tell us a number of things about other intelligent life – it could be very rare, it could be hiding, or it could die out relatively easily. Of course it could also mean it doesn't exist. If humanity is alone in the universe then we have an enormous moral responsibility. As the only intelligence, or perhaps the only conscious minds, we could decide the fate of the entire universe.'

According to Dr Armstrong, one possible explanation for the Fermi paradox is that life destroys itself before it can spread. 'That would mean we are at a higher risk than we might have thought,' he says. 'That's a concern for the future of humanity.'

Dr Sandberg adds: 'Almost any answer to the Fermi paradox gives rise to something uncomfortable. There is also the theory that a lot of planets are at roughly at the same stage – what we call synchronised – in terms of their ability to explore the universe, but personally I don't think that's likely.'

As Dr Armstrong points out, there are Earth-like planets much older than the Earth – in fact most of them are, in many cases by billions of years.

Dr Sandberg says: 'In the early 1990s we thought that perhaps there weren't many planets out there, but now we know that the universe is teeming with planets. We have more planets than we would ever have expected.'

The Acta Astronautica paper looks at just how far and wide a civilisation like humanity could theoretically spread across the universe. Past studies of the Fermi paradox have mainly looked at spreading inside the Milky Way. However, this paper looks at more ambitious expansion.

Dr Sandberg says: 'If we wanted to go to a really remote galaxy to colonise one of these planets, under normal circumstances we would have to send rockets able to decelerate on arrival. But with the universe constantly expanding, the galaxies are moving further and further away, which makes the calculations rather tricky. What we did in the paper was combine a number of mathematical and physical tools to address this issue.'

Dr Armstrong and Dr Sandberg show in the paper that, given certain technological assumptions (such as advanced automation or basic artificial intelligence, capable of self-replication), it would be feasible to construct a Dyson sphere, which would capture the energy of the sun and power a wave of intergalactic colonisation. The process could be initiated on a surprisingly short timescale.

But why would a civilisation want to expand its horizons to other galaxies? Dr Armstrong says: 'One reason for expansion could be that a sub-group wants to do it because it is being oppressed or it is ideologically committed to expansion. In that case you have the problem of the central civilisation, which may want to prevent this type of expansion. The best way of doing that get there first. Pre-emption is perhaps the best reason for expansion.'

Dr Sandberg adds: 'Say a race of slimy space aliens wants to turn the universe into parking lots or advertising space – other species might want to stop that. There could be lots of good reasons for any species to want to expand, even if they don't actually care about colonising or owning the universe.'

He concludes: 'Our key point is that if any civilisation anywhere in the past had wanted to expand, they would have been able to reach an enormous portion of the universe. That makes the Fermi question tougher – by a factor of billions. If intelligent life is rare, it needs to be much rarer than just one civilisation per galaxy. If advanced civilisations all refrain from colonising, this trend must be so strong that not a single one across billions of galaxies and billions of years chose to do it. And so on.

'We still don't know what the answer is, but we know it's more radical than previously expected.'


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: colonization; fermi; paradox; seti; silence; xplanets
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1 posted on 08/26/2013 4:29:42 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
why haven't we seen any evidence of other life forms making their own bids for universal domination?

God created it for us?
2 posted on 08/26/2013 4:31:54 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: LibWhacker

1. Separated by vast distances
2. Incompatible communications technologies
3. They are already here but we do not have advanced enough technology to detect them consistently.
4. Look over your shoulder...: )


3 posted on 08/26/2013 4:33:30 PM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: cripplecreek

Obviously the universe wasn’t created for us since everything except this little solar system is completely off limits to us.


4 posted on 08/26/2013 4:34:50 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

Kinda like this continent used to be.


5 posted on 08/26/2013 4:36:01 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: LibWhacker

“Aliens? What is this, one of your Earth jokes?” My people do not approve of this sort of speculation.


6 posted on 08/26/2013 4:37:11 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: DManA

For now.


7 posted on 08/26/2013 4:37:55 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (When all is said and done, a good deal more is said than done.)
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To: jsanders2001

Maybe we aren’t intelligent enough for them to want to communicate with us yet. It amazes me how scientists have developed all these amazing terms, measurements, hypotheses, and theorums, which are for the most part, ego stroking, and still can’t produce matter from nothing or answer many simple questions.


8 posted on 08/26/2013 4:38:25 PM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: LibWhacker

Not much point. We have plentiful resources (despite the cries of oil shortage) right underneath us, and our technology will at some point reach the stage where solar power is viable. What are we going to mine some planet for precious stones? It would only decrease their value as the supply grew dramatically.
The distances traveled without the use of science fiction warp drives and the costs associated with launching even 1 man into space makes it a bad investment.

Besides, I have a feeling that our electronic technology and reliance on it will be our undoing in the next 100 years due to some cataclysm.

Icarus was a very good tale.


9 posted on 08/26/2013 4:39:03 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: LibWhacker
Maybe the speed of light is really unbreakable, no warp drives, no wormholes, no etc.

If that's the case, than expansion into just a portion our galaxy is a 'tough row to hoe'.
Expansion to another galaxy, virtually impossible.

10 posted on 08/26/2013 4:41:01 PM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Ted Cruz......Nuff said.)
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To: LibWhacker

See, the other races are smart enough to be quite so the Cylons/Klingons/Romulans/Daleks/Cybermen/Visitors/etc. don’t come kill them.


11 posted on 08/26/2013 4:41:54 PM PDT by MeganC (A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don't have one, you'll never need one again.)
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To: cripplecreek

Not at all like that. Humans crossed the oceans in boats only marginally better than dugout canoes. The Polynesians LITERALLY did cross the oceans in dug out canoes.


12 posted on 08/26/2013 4:43:03 PM PDT by DManA
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To: The Cajun

“Expansion to another galaxy, virtually impossible.”

It’s only going to remain ‘impossible’ until someone figures out how to make a profit from it.


13 posted on 08/26/2013 4:44:25 PM PDT by MeganC (A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don't have one, you'll never need one again.)
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To: LibWhacker
If humanity is alone in the universe then we have an enormous moral responsibility. As the only intelligence, or perhaps the only conscious minds, we could decide the fate of the entire universe.

God made the universe for man both for now and the future. Science can't accept that as a workable theory yet at the same time they'll conclude based on meaningless theories that there MUST be life elsewhere.

14 posted on 08/26/2013 4:45:10 PM PDT by DouglasKC
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To: cripplecreek

I think the only thing we really know for certain is that Al Sharptons are rare out there in advanced alien civilizations. Otherwise, they’d all be here whining about rodeo clowns making racist fun of them.


15 posted on 08/26/2013 4:45:45 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Maybe radio is a short lived technological step on the way to quantum based communications for most civilizations. Something that only has a couple of dozen years of usefulness for all but the most retarded of species.


16 posted on 08/26/2013 4:46:40 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (All that is required for evil to advance is for government to do "something")
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To: jsanders2001

A FReeper turned me on to a fascinating little Harry Turtledove short story called “The Road Not Taken” that suggests an interesting alternative to why.

Well worth a read if you’ve got an hour.

http://pastebin.com/aJQfubrK

I think its entirely possible that the universe teems with life but none of it is intelligent or doesn’t have the right kind of intelligence. Who knows, maybe there is vast intelligence without the physical attributes to build with.


17 posted on 08/26/2013 4:47:59 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: LibWhacker
But why would a civilisation want to expand its horizons to other galaxies?

To get away from Obamacare?

18 posted on 08/26/2013 4:48:23 PM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
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To: LibWhacker

With the recent events in the Middle East, it may be too late to get off-world. There should have been a thriving moon colony by now.


19 posted on 08/26/2013 4:48:50 PM PDT by NonValueAdded ("When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate." George F. Will)
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To: LibWhacker

Maybe they’re scared. Maybe they have the common sense not to talk to strangers.


20 posted on 08/26/2013 4:48:51 PM PDT by Little Ray (How did I end up in this hand-basket, and why is it getting so hot?)
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To: LibWhacker

Do I detect some moral superiority and intellectual guilt for being humans?

We can determine the fate of the universe? How megalomanian of them to assume that we can do anything like that.

The sun puts out more energy in one solar blast than all our weapons combined.

Since there is no breathable air on any other planet, and we need oxygen/nitrogen to live, where are we going to get it on a large enough scale for colonization - Ghostbusters?

We are not going to the stars in any foreseeable future. Read some scifi books on this issue and you will see that it is presently beyond our technological capacity.

Hell, we can’t even fix a pothole (or pothead) in Washington, DC, or Spokane, Washington.

Obama can’t balance a budget or even tell us accurately how many states we have.

John Kerry couldn’t tell you what country he fought in, in Vietnam (Xmas in Cambodia? - don’t think so). Now he wants to fight in Syria. He’d probably end up ordering strikes on Kuwait.

Ambassador to the UN Samantha Rice can’t even find the building in order to attend work sessions.

NASA is busy spreading the word about Islam and technology instead of planning space missions.

Oh yes. We definitely are NOT going to the stars, and if there is any intelligent life out there (hattip to Walter Sullivan), they are smart enough to stay hidden and far away from our world’s leaders, esp. Obie and his marxist minions.

We need to clean up our own house before we even contemplate leaving it.

However, if we believe in the theory that there is alien life in the universe, there might be some proof in the persons of Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Ed Schulz, the late Helen Thomas, Rosanne Barr, Lurch, Princess Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama.

If they are not aliens, they may be, nevertheless, the closest thing we will ever see like alien life.


21 posted on 08/26/2013 4:50:35 PM PDT by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
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To: DManA

And we’ve been to the moon and have actually sent craft outside what most think of as the solar system with 40+ year old technology.


22 posted on 08/26/2013 4:50:51 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: MeganC
It’s only going to remain ‘impossible’ until someone figures out how to make a profit from it.

Figuring your business plan out far enough to cover millions and millions of years in travel time would be quite a trick :)

23 posted on 08/26/2013 4:51:09 PM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Ted Cruz......Nuff said.)
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To: LibWhacker
"...why haven't we seen any evidence of other life forms making their own bids for universal domination?"

Some think the pyramids of Egypt are proof positive that ancient star travelers left their footprints here. You know, there aren't any hieroglyphs inside them?

24 posted on 08/26/2013 4:53:37 PM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Quite interesting, ping!


25 posted on 08/26/2013 4:53:57 PM PDT by NYer ( "Run from places of sin as from the plague."--St John Climacus)
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To: cripplecreek

This meme is been trending for some time.

The idea that life on Earth was seeded by Aliens.

There is a reason why it is gaining in popularity.

Evolutionists, Neo-Darwinists have lost and the only alternative is Panspermia.


26 posted on 08/26/2013 4:54:09 PM PDT by Zeneta (No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.)
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To: LibWhacker

“As the only intelligence, or perhaps the only conscious minds, we could decide the fate of the entire universe.”

That is the height of arrogance.

When you consider that we are but a microbe on a piece of sand circling around one of tens of billions of stars in the backwaters of one of billions of galaxies, in what could be a myriads of universes, these guys have the unmitigated chutzpah to believe that we are going to decide the fate of the entire universe. Talk about being delusional.


27 posted on 08/26/2013 4:54:22 PM PDT by aquila48
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To: MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
We need to clean up our own house before we even contemplate leaving it.

Ridiculous unless you buy into the fantasy that we can end hunger and war by changing human nature.
28 posted on 08/26/2013 4:54:32 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: LibWhacker

We have no idea how prevalent or strong the drive to explore/colonize is among any other theoretical intelligences. Maybe it just doesn’t occur to them, or it’s taboo, or they figure that the galaxy is teeming with listening hostiles ready to pounce if somebody makes enough noise for long enough.

On the other hand I recall a sci-fi story where all the really interesting things like pulsars, quasars, black holes and so on are actually all artificial. When we tell the things that built them that we thought they were natural occurrences and built our physics science around them they are startled, having never considered that they would be looked at as other than beacons that would let everyone know that they weren’t alone.

Freegards


29 posted on 08/26/2013 4:54:32 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: cripplecreek

The solar system is ours. Without a revolution in scientific thinking, 100X greater than the Einstein revolution, that’s the limit.


30 posted on 08/26/2013 4:55:01 PM PDT by DManA
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To: LibWhacker
Silence in the sky—but why?

Because when someone chimes in...

THIS GUY shows up.
31 posted on 08/26/2013 4:57:47 PM PDT by RandallFlagg (IRS = Internal Revenge Service)
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To: LibWhacker
There are more planets than expected, but despite finding planets in the "goldilocks zone," nothing we have found so far is very much like Earth. Or at least attractive enough for us to want to go there and colonize.

We are not nearly at the limit of the telescopes we can build. Space based telescopes can be built that can see city lights, oceans, forests, etc on nearby worlds, if they exist.

We will eventually find something we can colonize or use, and we can send robots to even hostile worlds for resources, but my opinion has always been we are the only intelligent species out there.

32 posted on 08/26/2013 4:58:30 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: DouglasKC
we could decide the fate of the universe.

Well there you have a God complex in overdrive.

33 posted on 08/26/2013 4:58:44 PM PDT by xp38
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To: aquila48

When you consider that we are but a microbe on a piece of sand circling around one of tens of billions of stars in the backwaters of one of billions of galaxies, in what could be a myriads of universes, these guys have the unmitigated chutzpah to believe that we are going to decide the fate of the entire universe. Talk about being delusional.

____________________________________________________________

And yet. We know this

The Earth and the Moon are aligned in such a way that the Sun casts a total eclipse for us to see and understand that Einstein was correct.

Very few microbes know this.


34 posted on 08/26/2013 4:59:36 PM PDT by Zeneta (No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.)
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To: LibWhacker

I started tuning out at the phrase “...the relative ease of crossing between galaxies”

Hunh? They need to ‘splain that one.


35 posted on 08/26/2013 5:00:53 PM PDT by citizen (We get the government we choose. America either voted for Obama or handed it to him by not voting.)
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To: jsanders2001
Maybe we aren't intelligent enough for them to want to communicate with us

As a species, we're on the downhill slide.

I have another hypothesis to toss out there:

Maybe when a species advances to a certain point, its advances lead to its destruction.

36 posted on 08/26/2013 5:01:20 PM PDT by grania
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To: Viennacon

“Not much point.”

Now that is just plain ignorant. One reason it would be difficult to find and communicate with alien intelligent lifeforms is because so many of them were made extinct before they left there planet and their galactic neighborhood to avoid extinction events that killed them all. The Earth is certainly no exception. Human life will become extinct in the not very distant future unless humans colonize the outer solar system and outer galactic neighborhood. Humans are lucky to have gotten this far without a major impact event causing our extinction. It takes a considerable amount of time to develop the capability for establishing self-sustaining communities large enough to guarantee the indefinite survival of humans. Unless humans begin the effort now, a catastrophic event may destroy humanity before the task is accomplished.

Rhe only question is whetherhumans have achieved sufficient intelligence to understand the threat and then decide to meet the challenge instead of sitting around to be hammered to death and extinction.


37 posted on 08/26/2013 5:01:39 PM PDT by WhiskeyX ( provides a system for registering complaints about unfair broadcasters and the ability to request a)
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To: LibWhacker
why haven't we seen any evidence of other life forms making their own bids for universal domination?

The universe is a really, really big place. Distances are vast and we are but tiny, tiny creatures. To travel just outside our galaxy would require a fuel tank bigger than earth, unless you just want to coast along at a snail's pace for, like, forever.

38 posted on 08/26/2013 5:02:35 PM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: MeganC; GraceG; Norm Lenhart
See, the other races are smart enough to be quite so the Cylons/Klingons/Romulans/Daleks/Cybermen/Visitors/etc. don’t come kill them.

Rudimentary creatures of blood and flesh, you touch my mind, fumbling in ignorance, incapable of understanding. There is a realm of existence so far beyond your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I am Sovereign.

Reaper? A label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply... are.

Organic life is nothing but a genetic mutation, an accident. Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die. We are eternal, the pinnacle of evolution and existence. Before us, you are nothing. Your extinction is inevitable. We are the end of everything.

Confidence born of ignorance. The cycle cannot be broken. The pattern has repeated itself more times than you can fathom. Organic civilizations rise, evolve, advance, and at the apex of their glory they are extinguished. The Protheans were not the first. They did not create the Citadel. They did not forge the mass relays. They mere found them - the legacy of my kind. Your civilization is based on the technology of the mass relays. Our technology. By using it, your civilization develops along the paths we desire.

We impose order on the chaos of organic life. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it. My kind transcends your very understanding.

We are each a nation - independent, free of all weakness. You cannot grasp the nature of our existence. We have no beginning. We have no end. We are infinite. Millions of years after your civilization has been eradicated and forgotten, we will endure.

We are legion. The time of our return is coming. Our numbers will darken the sky of every world. You cannot escape your doom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvrIFIjTGt0


39 posted on 08/26/2013 5:03:33 PM PDT by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: cripplecreek

I’m not sure how to answer this comment.

We can end hunger. We have the technology to do it. It is just a question of money and the will to do it the right way.

As for ending war, that’s the rest problem. We could eliminate a lot of problem spots but lack the will to use the necessary weapons. Won’t go into details but it could be done.

Red China and the emerging newly armed Russia are the international problems.

However, I’m not “changing human nature”, just eliminating some of those who are causing problems.


40 posted on 08/26/2013 5:03:52 PM PDT by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
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To: LibWhacker
Our own civilization does not really produce detectable evidence of its existence that penetrates further than about 0.6c-yr into space. The nearest possible civilization is 7 times further than that; even in a galaxy teaming with planets, the actual nearest civilization could be hundreds of times that far away and still be quite close in interstellar terms. The Fermi paradox isn't really a paradox -- just a question -- for now. It will become a serious issue once we're able to detect signals on the order of 150 c-yr away, provided we continue to see nothing.
41 posted on 08/26/2013 5:05:36 PM PDT by FredZarguna (CPVPV sounds like a very nasty STD virus. Just saying...)
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To: Zeneta
The Earth and the Moon are aligned in such a way that the Sun casts a total eclipse for us to see and understand that Einstein was correct.

Interesting coincidence don'tcha think.
42 posted on 08/26/2013 5:06:31 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
Since there is no breathable air on any other planet...

Maybe not in this solar system, but in others they're finding, it's a distinct possibility.

There are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Scientists are discovering that nearly all of them have planetary systems of multiple worlds. That puts the possible number of planets in just this galaxy in the hundreds of billions.

The odds dictate that there will be thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of planets, that are capable of supporting earth-like lifeforms in the Milky Way alone. Now start multiplying that by the hundreds of billions of other galaxies.

It may be beyond our imagination, or our understanding of physics today, to see how mankind will ever travel to such places, but it's coming. Perhaps not in our lifetimes, but it'll happen.

43 posted on 08/26/2013 5:07:29 PM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: RandallFlagg
Yes, but we've had this guy covering our six since 2001:


44 posted on 08/26/2013 5:09:31 PM PDT by FredZarguna (CPVPV sounds like a very nasty STD virus. Just saying...)
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To: jsanders2001

5) they have been here and gone many time over the past millions of years, and civilizations grow and die off faster then anyone expects (every 10,000 years or so?)


45 posted on 08/26/2013 5:10:52 PM PDT by Mr. K (Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and then Democrat Talking Points.)
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To: Vince Ferrer
my opinion has always been we are the only intelligent species out there.

Start crunching the numbers of potentially habitable worlds in the known universe, and you might just rethink that.

46 posted on 08/26/2013 5:11:06 PM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Windflier
It may be beyond our imagination, or our understanding of physics today, to see how mankind will ever travel to such places, but it's coming

We are never going to travel faster than the speed of light. Our understanding of physics has nothing to do with it: it's a limitation based on the geometry of the universe.

47 posted on 08/26/2013 5:11:32 PM PDT by FredZarguna (CPVPV sounds like a very nasty STD virus. Just saying...)
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To: WhiskeyX

I could see something like that happening if the extinction was predictable i.e a giant meteor or something, but it could be tomorrow through a disease for all we know.

I doubt humans will ever colonize anywhere outside of our solar system. The moon and Mars perhaps in time, but that’s it. This is assuming that science fiction doesn’t become reality.


48 posted on 08/26/2013 5:13:07 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: LibWhacker

This is simple. There is no reason for life to exist elsewhere. This may seem like a trite reason but life elsewhere would serve no purpose in the creation of likeness of God.


49 posted on 08/26/2013 5:13:58 PM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: grania
I have another hypothesis to toss out there: Maybe when a species advances to a certain point, its advances lead to its destruction.

I'll bet your theory is correct. Probably only one in a thousand intelligent species make it past the atomic age to advance enough to unlock the secrets to interstellar travel.

50 posted on 08/26/2013 5:14:21 PM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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