Animated Explainer on the Fermi Paradox from Kurz Gesagt

Article written: 7 May , 2015
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
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If you’re fascinated by the Fermi Paradox like I am, you’re going to want to spend a few minutes and watch this wonderful video from the Kurz Gesagt team. We’ve shared a bunch of their videos on the past about the Big Bang, the Solar System, and neutron stars.

This video tackles the infuriating question: if the Universe is enormous, and ancient, and there seem to be planets capable of supporting life everywhere… where are all the aliens?

After you’ve watched this video, go to their channel and go down the rabbit hole and watch all their videos.


5 Responses

  1. BrianFraser says

    I liked his “final thought: maybe we are alone . . . no evidence that there is any life besides us.” If life on Earth ceases, the Universe has no life at all.

    If intelligent life is out there, we should have been visited by now.

    And there is another compelling reason.

    Rearrange the Einstein-Lorentz gamma correction factor to this form:
    c^2 = c^2/gamma^2 + v^2

    This suggests the following interpretation:

    1. Everything moves at the speed of light. The total speed is composed of two orthogonal components: a “non-local” (temporal) speed and a “local” (spatial) speed. If the spatial speed is zero in our kind of reference system, then the temporal speed is c. When I am sitting in a chair, my spatial motion is zero, but I am moving in time at the speed of light.

    2. Mass does not increase with an increase of speed. At relativistic speeds, a better measure of the “amount of motion” is energy. Temporal speeds are non-directional in a spatial reference system. They can only be mapped in as a magnitude, with a Pythagorean-like correction factor.

    3. If “temporal speeds” are technologically accessible, we could develop a completely new kind of space propulsion system that is not based on the production of ordinary velocity. It would have to be a “field propulsion” technology based on the non-local characteristics of electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields. It would be capable of non-local motion: an object could go from “here” to “there” without traversing the intervening space (that is, it has no trajectory. An object would appear, then disappear, then reappear somewhere else). Ordinary spatial motion is also possible. And it seems possible that the two could mix, depending on how the type and dimensions of the momentum map into our reference system; spatial dimensions could overlap, and an object could appear to be semi-transparent, seemingly “materializing” out of thin air, and even occupying the same space with something else. Such an object may also manifest side-effects of powerful electric and magnetic fields.

    Such a propulsion system would NOT have a Newtonian reaction, like a rocket ship. The reaction in such a system would be radial and symmetric and cancel itself out. The reaction is like the Poynting vectors in a charging capacitor of cylindrical construction. The vectors point radially inward and cancel out to yield no net momentum (unless the capacitor is asymmetric). The action itself is perpendicular to the plane formed by the reaction vectors. That means a spacecraft could be entirely self-contained and “bootstrap” itself (and its occupants) to high spatial velocities or even non-local motion. It would be like a railgun accelerating itself with no recoil. The structure of the ship, however, must be strong enough to withstand the radial reaction.

    The ability to produce non-local motion would make ANY location in the Universe easily accessible. The Andromeda galaxy could be 30 minutes away from Earth, let us say (using figures from astronomy). That means that any advanced civilization could easily visit Earth, even if “they” are billions of light years away from us.

    And that goes back to Fermi’s question: Where are they–if they are out there?

    • forj says

      not sure i can wrap my brain around most of that.. but sounds pretty cool!

      as for the Fermi Paradox.. i see no reason why we cant be the first intelligent civilization in our galaxy to achieve spaceflight. or maybe there is one other, on the other side of the galaxy but theyve only colonized the 10,000 light years immediately around their origin so far.. maybe the kindof space travel you proposed is impossible.. there are tons of reasons why we havent heard from ET yet.. if they do exist.

  2. Richard Kirk says

    The dullest but perhaps most likely solution is that a civilisation may not want to conquer the whole galaxy. I can see the attraction in spreading out a bit and exploring a few neighbouring star systems. But, unless there is some magic way of travelling there quickly that is unknown to us, it will be a hard slog to get out there, and then to make a planet inhabitable. Indeed, it might be easier to have some very long-lived mechanical system make the journey, and prepare the planets, sowing life where necessary, and then after thousands of years when everything is ready, to make some humans to live on it. But, having done this a few times, and found that stars are pretty much the same everywhere, would we want to go on doing the same thing over and over again for millions of stars, spreading like a fungus until we meet another life form? I think this something like building the Dyson sphere that we could do one day, but there would be no need and no want to do it. The only civilisations we would meet would be the ones that felt they had to spread everywhere and multiply, whatever the cost. We don’t seem to be meeting any of those, and that can only be good news.

  3. Tim Reyes says

    In my blog article – “Will We First Find Simple or Intelligent Life beyond the Earth?”, I propose another possibility. Consider how quickly our technological know-how is growing and our understanding of the universe. We also imagine what may happen with the arrival of the singularity. The possibility exists that for all technological civilizations, their capability is suddenly expanded far beyond a type 1 Kardashev civilization like our own.So the universe may have sparsely spaced K-1s that either destroy themselves or accelerate within a few decades, a blink of a cosmic eye, to something far beyond. Kardashev 2 and 3 are anthropomorphic conceptions of technological paths. “Where is everybody?” They are out there and many of them and it makes no sense for any of them to interfere and help us cross the bridge to the far more advanced state. It is not a hand-holding baby step but a giant leap. We must prove our worthiness on our own; altogether, akin to a biologist allowing nature to take its course, not interfere (one thing Star Trek had right, at least in principle).
    https:[email protected][email protected]522161434ac

  4. BlackWolfStanding says

    Space is an awfully big place. Suppose the speed of light limit is actually the limit. That there is no physics that can speed a full sized vehicle past that limit. Sure, the physics equations say that the limit can be skirted. But in actual application, it can’t be done. Then what?

    All space faring life would be traveling in self contained colony ships. And did I say that space is an awfully big place? How do we not know one of these races were not here in our distant past when the Earth was not inhabitable? They could have seen Mars with cold atmosphere but dying. They could have seen Venus before the run away Greenhouse effect poisoned it.

    Now that race could be 20,000 light years away and not be turning back. They could have found new planets to colonize. And while those colony ships are huge, they still can’t be seen with a telescope. And unless we stumble blindly on the frequency of their communications, we will never know they are out there.

    That leads me to another question: Would their communications be easily detectable? Or would it be all fully encrypted designed to look like background radiation?

    Let’s say there is a FTL civilization in our own Galaxy. Would we be able to detect them? The first thing they would have is FTL communications. Do we even have a clue right now how to detect that?

    It’s not that there is no life. It’s that we simply don’t have the means to detect that life right now. Heck, we are not even trying to detect our own technology from afar. So, what makes you think some interstellar neighbor is seeking us out?

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