Extraterrestrial life Human evolution Intelligent Design

Physicist: It’s good news that aliens likely don’t exist. And a space entrepreneur’s surprising reaction…

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War-of-the-worlds-tripod.jpg
Alien tripod by Alvim Corréa, 1906 French edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”

Further to researchers announcing that they have dissolved the Fermi Paradox (They can’t be Out There), physicist and science commentator Jim Al-Khalili at the Guardian:

In 1950 Enrico Fermi, an Italian-born American Nobel prize-winning physicist, posed a very simple question with profound implications for one of the most important scientific puzzles: whether or not life exists beyond Earth. The story goes that during a lunchtime chat with colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the issue of flying saucers came up. The conversation was lighthearted, and it doesn’t appear that any of the scientists at that particular gathering believed in aliens. But Fermi merely wanted to know: “Where is everybody?”

Indeed. It’s not as though the aliens would have much to fear. Or maybe…

There are some who argue that life on Earth appeared pretty quickly after the right conditions emerged almost 4bn years ago, which was when our planet had cooled sufficiently for liquid water to exist. Doesn’t that mean it could easily appear elsewhere too? Actually, no. A statistical sample of one tells us nothing. It is quite possible that biology is a freak local aberration, the product of a chemical fluke so improbable that it didn’t happen anywhere else in the observable universe.

Once we bring in the “statistical sample of one,” a great many media-friendly ideas collapse.

I did say that the study also provided some cheer. Some have claimed we have not found ET yet because intelligent life (including us) always annihilates itself before it can successfully develop the technology for interstellar travel or communication. But maybe the silence is simply because no such alien civilisations exist. So, as the authors put it, pessimism about our own future is therefore unfounded. We may be alone, but we may just survive. More.

Space entrepreneur Elon Musk isn’t deterred:

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk cited the study’s conclusions as an “added impetus” for humanity to become a spacefaring civilization capable of extending life beyond Earth. He tweeted: “This is why we must preserve the light of consciousness by becoming a spacefaring civilization & extending life to other planets…”

Image result for vector graphic coffee public domain Hmmm. Musk doesn’t seem to agree with Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett that consciousness is an evolved illusion or with the panpsychists that everything is conscious.

Hat tip: Ken Francis

See also: Researchers: We have dissolved the Fermi Paradox!

and

Question of the hour: Are space aliens hoarding stars in an expanding universe? If the aliens are really advanced, they can shop for stars in the past and the future and have them delivered. There’s nothing wrong with this stuff at all except that it isn’t science.

4 Replies to “Physicist: It’s good news that aliens likely don’t exist. And a space entrepreneur’s surprising reaction…

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I suppose the upside to no aliens out there is that there is probably a lot of real estate out there for us to plant a flag on and we won’t have to worry about clearing out any indigenous species.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, my thought would run to: being colonised or worse. What makes you think all who may be out there would be inferior or friendly? That’s where Wells started with war of the Worlds, locating the aliens on Mars. Distances have got bigger since, and there is talk of wormholes and warp drives. KF

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 2

    Sev, my thought would run to: being colonised or worse. What makes you think all who may be out there would be inferior or friendly? That’s where Wells started with war of the Worlds, locating the aliens on Mars. Distances have got bigger since, and there is talk of wormholes and warp drives. KF

    Those are definitely the downsides of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. I was just looking on the bright side of no life elsewhere.

    Come to think of it, how many SF movies or TV shows have there been that deal honestly with the potential consequences of meeting a more advances species? Usually they fudge it by having plucky and ingenious H Sapiens triumphing against impossible odds. Even Wells in War of the Worlds introduced a “mulligan” in the form of a humble virus to save humanity from their inevitable defeat and subjugation.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Movies and books gotta sell in markets. Even militaries are not encouraged to take up impossible what-if scenarios. KF

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