Beyond “Fermi’s Paradox” VIII: What is the Zoo Hypothesis?

Local Group of galaxies, including the massive members M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and Milky Way, as well as other nearby galaxies. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Antonio Ciccolella

Welcome back to our Fermi Paradox series, where we take a look at possible resolutions to Enrico Fermi’s famous question, “Where Is Everybody?” Today, we examine the possibility that we haven’t heard from aliens because a super-advanced civilization is deliberately avoiding us.

In 1950, Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi sat down to lunch with some of his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he had worked five years prior as part of the Manhattan Project. According to various accounts, the conversation turned to aliens and the recent spate of UFOs. Into this, Fermi issued a statement that would go down in the annals of history: “Where is everybody?

This became the basis of the Fermi Paradox, which refers to the disparity between high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) and the apparent lack of evidence. Since Fermi’s time, there have been several proposed resolutions to his question, which includes the Zoo Hypothesis, which states that aliens are keeping their distance to allow humans to evolve without interference.

Continue reading “Beyond “Fermi’s Paradox” VIII: What is the Zoo Hypothesis?”

This Video About Solar Superstorms is Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and It Looks Awesome.

What’s better than a full 180-degree digital theater experience that takes you into the heart of our Sun to see how solar storms form? Why, all of that accompanied by a rumbling narration by Benedict Cumberbatch, of course.

The video above is a trailer for “Solar Superstorms,” a digital planetarium presentation distributed by Fulldome Film Society and co-produced by Spitz Creative Media, NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Lab, and Thomas Lucas Productions. It uses the monster Blue Waters supercomputers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois to visualize the complex processes occurring in, on, and around the Sun. It might look a little weird in the flat 2D format above, but I can only imagine what it will be like to see it from inside a digital dome (and have the disembodied voice of Smaug/Sherlock/Khan thundering through the room!)

The film itself is still in production so I couldn’t find an official release date. But keep an eye out for it at your nearest planetarium and visit the FulldomeFilm.org catalog page for other films from the same distributor.

You can find a database of fulldome theaters and digital planetariums around the world here.

Video credit: Spitz Creative Media