The Fermi Crisis

‘Where are they?’, asked Enrico Fermi decades ago. He meant all the aliens, of course. Apparently, the sky is empty of them, but why? Did they all die or what? Have they ever lived?

As Marshall T. Savage put it:

Scientists huddle around radio telescopes listening intently to one star at a time for the sound of dripping water, when what they are seeking would sound like Niagara Falls.

We have a major bookkeeping imbalance to correct. So many stars and planets on one side, and so few space travelers and space conquerors on the other.

Maybe, there’s also too much water in space.



8 thoughts on “The Fermi Crisis

  1. msjr says:

    The main problem by my opinion is compression. Nowadays even on Earth most of the communication is compressed and therefore appears as noise to someone who doesn’t have the proper decompresion technique.

    Thomas, your task is to make somekind of standard decompressor and listen to the noise we are receiving from space. I bet that something would appear soon 🙂

    • If they mask their communications by a random noise – what they would probably do – there is NO way to read that.

      The problem I see is the following. They permit a lot of natural word. Why?

      Why to play such a dangerous game? It’s suicidal.

      • msjr says:

        I think that masking communnications is not necessary. If you don’t know the encoding and compression, results are unreadable and (if compressed) look like noise. I made a quick experiment with base64 encoded image with simple error:


        Script just replaces every n-th data element with 0 (see the number below images, for instance for 800, every 800th character is replaced by 0). Nothing random in that code but results 691, 683, 659, 571, 567, 535, 531 (etc) show the noise I’m talking about (some images are even not displayed as header is corrupted).

        And this si simple error where we have known filetype and encoding everything is . With technology used to listen to outer space is just impossible to decode [little] chunks of [compressed, even encrypted] information and therefore we just receive “silence”.

      • We have tried with the SETI@home, as well as with SETI@their place, with OZMA project and many more – but we still hear just a silence behind all the noise.

        Everything looks very pristine, death nature. But if someone is actually hiding there, we must be quite afraid.

  2. Winston Miniluv says:

    What if an advanced civilization employs minituarization to such extent that it effecively “disappears” from our universe (say into a black hole), as suggested here:


    I found this propostion quite appealing some time ago, but I have to re-read and reconsider it myself. Anyway, if this is the case, the Fermi silence is to be expected. Do you think it’s probable?

    • Even if they do go down the scale, where there is a plenty of space, they still have some limited resources which they can improve by going outward at the sane time. A more thorough colonization, but colonization non the less.

      And there is another reason for not to lose the interest for the world around. Because the world around may not lose the interest for you. One, intelligent enough, will colonize all around, he has no other option.

      The thing is, Alexander the Great was right. It’s to conquer or to be conquered. Peaceful coexistence is just a fairytale.

      I think that the Fermi silence came quite naturally for the first few billion years after the Big Bang. Or few ten billion years, even. Not enough time has passed to have a colonization, yet.

      • Winston Miniluv says:

        In fact, I was thinking the same: even at optimal STEM compression, sooner or later all resources are exhausted, so the outward expansion seems inevitable.

        But I’m a bit suspicious on conjecture that there wasn’t enough time for sufficiently advanced, universe colonizing civilization to emerge by now. If humans are on the verge of doing this, isn’t there quite a low probability that we are the first? And even lower probability that there is a considerable number of civilizations developed almost as ours (a bit more or a bit less) that are also near that point, practically ready to start their engines any time now.

  3. > But I’m a bit suspicious on conjecture that there wasn’t enough time for sufficiently advanced, universe colonizing civilization to emerge by now.

    Why such a complexity, we see on Earth (and around it, already) might be so rare? Or even for the first time at least in our light cone?

    Perhaps, because, it is true, that the Universe is big. But we can very easily produce much bigger numbers then there are stars, even atoms in the Universe. In the form of the inverse probabilities, for example. What are the odds, to toss a coin heads up all day long, tossing once every minute? Pretty small. one in 10^420. Say that the whole Universe we see is packed with coin tossers which all try to have 1440 heads in a row. Right from the Big Bang. Most likely, no one has succeeded yet.

    And our past biological evolution could easily hide a number as big as that one inside its mechanics.

    Then, the Universe just isn’t big enough. The average distance between civilizations might be 10^100 ly. Or something.

    Then, the next one exists only if the Universe is much more immenser than we see it..

    But also, this is a strong hint, that it is much immenser, indeed.

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