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Fermi Paradox… July 22, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A very interesting spin on the Fermi Paradox on Slate during the week. The Fermi Paradox is the one where given that the probability is that there is life out there in the universe yet we’ve found no evidence of same. There are numerous theories which attempt to engage with this but given that we have only one example of an actual biosphere as of yet (early days granted) clearly we cannot know what the reason is.
Anyhow, this latest is very clever. It suggests that:

According to a new research paper accepted for publication in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, extraterrestrials are sleeping while they wait. In the paper, authors from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade Anders Sandberg, Stuart Armstrong, and Milan Cirkovic argue that the universe is too hot right now for advanced, digital civilizations to make the most efficient use of their resources. The solution: Sleep and wait for the universe to cool down, a process known as aestivating (like hibernation but sleeping until it’s colder).

I like it. it makes sense. But who knows. And the authors themselves aren’t convinced of it. In a way that’s the beauty of the Fermi Paradox. One can map whatever one likes onto it and it becomes a sort of mental exercise. Highly entertaining.

For more here are some ideas…

But riffing on that I’ve a thought, and I’ve no idea if it has been proposed previously. An interstellar civilisation is, as far as we know, bounded by light speed. For it to seem to function in a real time sense everything would have to occur much more slowly. I’ve no idea how that could operate in a planetary environment but if it was mostly/all space bound it is possible that some sort of fixes could be found – perhaps through using relativistic side effects or hibernation or some such. There’s on series of books and stories I know of that have that, Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep where an interstellar civilisation is in deep sleep for x number of years and then wakes up for a predetermined period. Of course in that schema there are those who don’t enter lockstep and who stay outside it. That’s a problem. But you see the direction I’m going in. Alien civilisations by dint of being alien might be able to transcend such petty matters. Perhaps a joint civilisational approach could function for them. And in that sense everything they had might be in low power/sleep mode (of sorts) for extended periods of time.

Which would explain why we see nothing of them.

I don’t believe it for a moment, but that’s the beauty of this. Until we know the answer – if we as a species ever do, we can offer as many ideas as we like. All suggestions gratefully accepted in comments.

By the by, any suggestions on good books on non-FTL universes. Always liked Alastair Reynolds one. And I suspect that’s the kind of universe we’re stuck in.

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1. EWI - July 22, 2017

The ‘Three-Body Problem’ books offer some highly idiosyncratic Chinese sci-fi touching on this problem (to say nothing of being a crash-course on Chinese culture).

Be warned that there are multi-page speeches by political commissar protagonists, though.

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