Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

The Fermi Paradox

In 1950, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, creator of the first nuclear reactor, was having lunch with three other members of the Manhattan Project. Legend has it that, while discussing the possibility of other (more advanced) life forms in the universe, he made the comment “Where is everybody?” In 1984, NASA started the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Project, the purpose of which was to “listen” for messages from other life forms in our galaxy. The result? Either God left the phone off the hook, or no one is out there. Over time, Fermi’s question has become even more chilling. “Where” indeed?

I sometimes like to let my mind think about things like this – it’s fun (if not humbling and a bit scary). I think it’s a good exercise for everybody to ponder the unknowable, to just let your mind go…

There are lot’s of different theories about this – for a fun to read synopsis of these, check out Tim Urban’s excellent blog post here. I just listened to a recent, very thoughtful podcast with Physicist David Kestenbaum, that spurred me to think about this idea again.

I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but in light of the apparent state of the world today (my emphasis), Kestenbaum was discussing possibilities as to why there doesn’t seem to be anyone out there, and he postulated two chilling statements:

  • It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself
  • It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy other life

Looking at the behavior of humans throughout history, this is certainly a sickening possibility…

But here’s an idea that recently occurred to me – did you ever wonder why humans sometimes seem to behave so differently, almost as if we are two different species? A fearful, warlike, nihilistic species existing with a more benign and pragmatic one? One that believes in science and one that doesn’t? Perhaps we are two different species and we just have no way yet to identify this. Maybe this occurred when some alien life form long ago somehow either reproduced with us and/or introduced some of their DNA into ours. Perhaps some of us are alien/human hybrids and don’t even know it. “They” are already here – and they are us.

Or not – It’s fun to let your mind wander freely…