“If we are not alone in the universe, why has no one appeared yet?“. This is a paradoxical question posed by Enrico Fermi (“The Fermi Paradox”) to Edward Teller in the Los Alamos laboratory cafeteria in 1950 during a discussion about UFO sightings.
What you will find in this article:
What is the Fermi Paradox?
Often, Fermi’s question serves as a reminder of the more optimistic perspectives set out by the Drake Equation, which paints a picture of a universe populated by countless planets hosting advanced civilizations capable of establishing radio communications, sending space probes, or even colonizing other worlds. . .
The “paradox” appears as a puzzle in a statement widely shared and supported by Drake’s assessments., indicating a cosmic reality infused with life and intelligence beyond Earth, as well as empirical data gathered from astronomical observations that seem to contradict this hypothesis. This gives rise to a kind of bifurcation: either Drake’s ideas and estimates may contain errors, or our interpretation and understanding of current data is inherently limited and not comprehensive.
Back in 1961, the eminent American astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake conceived the idea. In fact, his goal was not so much to establish the exact number of alien civilizations, but to provoke a fruitful scientific discussion., during the first meeting dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It is, in effect, a series of hypotheses, partly based on observational data, partly derived from extrapolation of experimental data concerning our solar system, and partly drawn from inference, though without experimental support. This is the Drake equation:
N = R*fp*ne*fl*fc*L
N = number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy.
R = number of rising stars per year in the Milky Way.
fp = % of stars with a planetary system
ne = % of planetary systems that have planets capable of supporting life.
fl = % of Milky Way planets where life originated
fc = % of area where intelligent life exists
L = average life of intelligent civilizations
M = nN = intelligent civilizations in the universe with n = number of galaxies like the Milky Way. Based on the most recent research, it can be assumed that N is between 10 and 30, and n is at least 100,000.
Explanation of the Fermi paradox
There are countless interpretations (explanations) of the Fermi paradox:
- Rarity of the Earth: Planets inhabited by advanced civilizations are extremely rare (D. Brownlee).
- Extreme distance in space-time.
- Extraterrestrial civilizations that refuse contact with other civilizations in order to ensure the survival of their species (Liu Cixin).
- Means of communication unknown to us (gravitational waves – neutrinos – brain fields).
Each of the above arguments is based on the wealth of data and experience inherent in our planet.However, what is missing is a detailed study of the concept and inner meaning of Mind, extending it to the numerous and potential civilizations that could inhabit the Universe.
Fermi paradox from the entropy point of view
An advanced civilization is inherently characterized by a tendency towards globalization: geographical expansion, the removal of physical barriers, the elimination of ethnic differences, the reduction of cultural differences, the unification of faiths and religions, the globalization of facilities and services, etc. But there is another influencing factor: (uncontrolled) world population growth due to the development of medical science and the associated increase in life expectancy.
Civilization is not only a dynamic system, but the expansion of this concept is justified by the globalization of both the physical and the social system. Interventions on the planet, on the one hand, and the dissemination of information and cultures, on the other, lead to the elimination of differentiation between territories, species, societies, ethnic groups and individuals.
That this is an isolated system, apart from solar radiation and cosmic dust (current space launches do not matter), follows from the very hypothesis that there is a search for other advanced civilizations and other equivalent planets Earth.
The Fermi paradox and the second principles of thermodynamics
From the second law of thermodynamics: “In an isolated dynamical system, entropy can never decrease.Thus, we get a continuous and progressive growth of the Entropy of an advanced civilization or, in the statistical sense of Entropy (Entropy = level of disorder), an advanced civilization tends to increase its disorder. It may seem paradoxical that an increase in human intervention aimed at the uniformity and standardization of territories, cultures, facilities, services, ethnic groups, lifestyles, history and ideologies can lead to an increase in “disorder”, but this follows directly from the concept of disorder.
Imagine an ice cube in a glass of water. Ice has a perfectly ordered and rigid hexagonal crystal structure. Dissolving, the molecules fall into a Brownian excitation with a statistically chaotic distribution: the disorder, and with it the entropy, have increased. Moreover, entropy grows as the elements of the system increase. In this case, uncontrolled population growth leads to a logarithmic increase in entropy (or system mess, if you will)
In the same way, a well-organized but not yet fully globalized (hence developing) civilization has an ordered but not yet completely unified structure (even physical) in which the distinction between individuals, states, ethnic groups, technical means or services, territories is still remains undefined. perhaps, while total globalization implies an increase in entropy and chaos.
A possible explanation for the Fermi paradox is to consider the life of an intelligent civilization as a limited stage in which the possibilities of galactic communication have not yet been reached, but which has already passed the stage in which entropic disorder reduces its survival. Under such conditions, the existence of intelligent civilizations is extremely small, and this may explain the Fermi paradox.
This idea (it is not allowed to give definitions to hypotheses, conjectures, or, even more so, theory) follows from the statistical-thermodynamic consideration, according to which the chaos of any complex system arises due to an increase in its entropy: this is strictly true for isolated systems and an extragalactic civilization, of course. is.
It took human civilization (so to speak) about 300,000 years to reach the current stage where interplanetary (not intergalactic) travel is possible, but also the stage of potential and theoretical (hopefully) total war. Will we be able to meet a new extragalactic civilization under such conditions?
other ring Alberto Sacchi, graduated from Polimi with a degree in electrical engineering in 1962, former top manager of numerous US and Swiss SME groups, passionate science communicator, author of dozens of technical publications in trade journals, popular science essays in mathematics and physics, and science fiction stories. and books. The acquired both engineering and managerial experience allows him to make a unique contribution to the field of dissemination of scientific knowledge.