Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Astrophysicist: If there really are extraterrestrials, what difference would it make?


He warns that the aliens may be boring or unreachable:

Boring? How very un-Star Trek of them! But it’s possible, says Caleb A. Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University (pictured). He worries that, “Perhaps other life in the universe is, in the end, utterly dull.” Why might he think so?

He is reflecting on the recent report of what may be a technological signal at roughly 982.002 MHz, coinciding with the direction of Proxima Centauri. If it is, what might the aliens turn out to be like?

“There’ll be some initial oddities, some curiosities that aren’t quite the things we planned for. A dull carrier wave signal for instance. Over time more evidence will show up, until eventually it’s clear that there are lots of species out there, puttering around in their own little neighborhoods and doing nothing truly extraordinary, because those possibilities were, in the end, more the product of our lively imaginations than anything that the universe compels life towards…

“Eventually it might all just be a bit of a relief. We’ll neither be alone, nor surrounded by anything particularly extraordinary. Copernican mediocrity will be somewhat restored, and we can go back to worrying about everything else that can go wrong on our speck of rock and water as it sails through the cosmos.” – Caleb A. Scharf, “Extremely Boring Aliens” at Scientific American

On this view, it wouldn’t be Star Trek’s “Boldly go” but rather, “Yes, they’re out there but what follows?”

News, “Astrophysicist warns: Aliens may be boring or unreachable” at Mind Matters News

You may also wish to read:

We are warned: Don’t try to colonize super-Earths. Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel tells us why he thinks it would end in disaster. Our solar system is unusual in having no super-Earths, whose atmosphere would trap volatile gases, unsuited to life. Earth is just the right size to avoid that.

Polistra: that is one person in 10^14, but there are fewer than 10^10 people in the world. The fact that at least a few of them have pondered this, clearly shows your error of many orders of magnitude. Sorry, I just had to say that, pedantic as I am. :-) Fasteddious
99.999999999999% of earthlings never spend even one microsecond thinking about ETs. When the subject does get into the media, it's usually a Deepstate cover story for evil acts committed by Deepstate and evil weapons designed by Deepstate. polistra

Leave a Reply