Do you feel small yet...?

Discovered on Tumblr. The Milky Way is around 100000 light years in diameter, meaning that 200 light years makes about 0.002% of the Milky Way’s diameter. Perhaps the answer to Fermi’s Paradox is simply that others are out there, but word of them has not yet arrived…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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7 Responses to

  1. I don’t believe anybody has ever wondered why nobody has answered us. The point of the Fermi Paradox is that we should be seeing some indication of intelligent activity when we examine the universe but we don’t. That’s one of the reasons I get very interested in things like, high resolution images of the Lunar surface, or asteroids, or KIC 8462852 — I’m expecting that sooner or later we’ll observe artifacts of intelligent activitiy.

    And with every additional negative observation we are putting additional constraints on how much technology is operating in the universe and how many different things it is doing. Very little on the large scale apparently. And this is very definitely not the “Star Trek” universe where you can’t swing a cat without hitting 3 Klingons, a Ferengi, and two transcended beings. Nobody’s left footprints on the long-duration surfaces that we have seen.

    • invaderxan says:

      Sorry, I think perhaps I wasn’t entirely clear. My point was rather that perhaps we see no signs of technological activity, because those signs haven’t reached us yet. If it takes 50000 years for our transmissions to reach halfway across the galaxy, then similarly it would take 50000 years for a signal to reach us from that same distance. Assuming such a signal would even be understandable or recognisable once it reached us.

      Additionally, given the inverse square law, it’s questionable whether a signal with such a distant origin may even stand out against the background noise of the galaxy. Similarly, it’s doubtful how many Earth-based transmissions are even noticeable against the background noise from the Sun. Past a sufficient distance, something would need to be very loud or carefully aimed to be statistically significant in our observations, and no one’s going to be aiming anything towards a star system which, from their distance, still appears to be uninhabited.

      As for footprints, particularly on the Lunar surface or asteroids, I’m not entirely sure who you’re expecting might leave them. That argument is a little like saying that when you look through the peephole in your front door you don’t see anyone standing there, and therefore there are no other people at all…

  2. Sorry, this doesn’t solve the Fermi problem. Why would the ETIs wait for us to shout before coming to the solar system? A colonization wave would have washed over this place aeons ago, if ETIs were common.

    • invaderxan says:

      I think you’re overestimating the importance of our decidedly average G2V star amongst the billions out there. Who’s to say that a “colonisation wave” is something which another species would do? Or if it’s even viable? Or necessary?

      The Fermi paradox is, simply, “where is everyone?” There could be a huge civilisation somewhere in the Norma Arm of the Milky Way, spanning light years, which has been broadcasting transmissions for 5000 years, but their signals simply wouldn’t have reached us yet. Consequently, we’d see nothing. Similarly, they’re so far away that they don’t yet know our civilisation (or, for that matter, our species) even exists.

      (I should add that I’m speaking purely hypothetically. I don’t know whether anyone lives in the Norma Arm.)

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  4. We’re down in the bottom of a canyon in the Rockies, wondering why nobody from China has heard us yelling…
    Not sure if the scales match up exactly. Probably not.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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