With the recent discovery of water on the surface of Mars, the paradox comes into much sharper focus.
The Fermi Paradox is the argument made by the physicist Enrico Fermi about the apparent contradiction between enormous estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, and the complete lack of evidence for those civilizations. In other words, if the Universe is teeming with life, how come we haven't actually met any yet?
|Aisha Parks - From Space Cadets by Laurence Moroney|
Given that we've found water on Mars, it's paramount to go there to see if there's life. If there is, than that 1% number would probably be much greater.
It's also safe to assume that if there are 2-4 billion stars with life, that we aren't the most advanced. Split the difference, and you would say that there are 1-2 billion that are more advanced than us. Of those 1-2 billion, surely some of them have conquered interstellar travel.
So where are they?
One answer could be that the light speed barrier is insurmountable, and we're all trapped within our solar systems. There's no warp drive. There's no hyperspace. There's no folding space. Recent technological developments suggest that this is not the case, and that we might be closer to faster than light (FTL) than we think.
In Space Cadets, I've taken a different route. What if interstellar travel was easy, and we discovered it. Then what would happen, and in particular how could we then explain the Fermi Paradox?
Where are they?
Perhaps Soo-Kyung Kim, from Space Cadets has the answer. Here's an excerpt from the book where she discusses it:
“There’s something that still bothers me,” said Soo-Kyung. “Let’s get on a local closed channel.” The others touched helmets with her to establish the channel. When they were ready, she gave a thumbs up.
Seamus, as always, was looking out for her. “What’s up?” Concern in his voice.
“We keep talking about going out to the stars, about exploring. But if it’s so easy to go interstellar, why haven’t we encountered others?”
“We discussed this--”
“I know, and I’m not satisfied with the conclusions. The odds are, if space travel is so easy, that there are many civilizations that would have discovered it thousands of years ago, maybe even hundreds of thousands of years ago. So where are they? Why haven’t they conquered the galaxy by now?”
Aisha thought about it a moment. “What are you driving at? Do you think it doesn’t work? Do you think we can’t travel the stars?”
“No,” came the response. “I think it can. I worry about--”
“Have you ever seen those videos of the bottom of the ocean? About the fish that are camouflaged so well that they’re indistinguishable from rocks?”
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool.”
“They camouflage like that because there are predators who will devour them. Yet we are here screaming our existence out into space, and now going out to explore further. To perhaps poke the proverbial sleeping dragon.”
“Why else do you think we’re going out there well-armed?”