[T]he Fermi Paradox – the question of why we have not so far detected any intelligent extraterrestrial life. Astronomers and a few social scientists have been debating this issue for years. UFO enthusiasts, of course, believe the question has already been answered. But I think it deserves more attention than it has gotten so far from serious scholars in a variety of disciplines.
This recent Huffington Post article has a good summary of the issues involved, why they are important, and why they are much more difficult than we might at first think. It also describes some of the possible solutions to the Paradox proposed by various scholars. As the article explains, under plausible assumptions about the number of habitable planets out there, the likelihood of life arising, and the possibilities of communication and interstellar flight, we should by now have detected some intelligent aliens, perhaps even a great many:
SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization dedicated to listening for signals from other intelligent life. If we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array pick up all kinds of signals? But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever. Where is everybody?
The WAPO columnist who penned the above links to a wonderfully lucid essay by Oxford University’s Nick Bostrom, which I strongly recommend – what better thing to you have to do with your time today? There is this to consider: what if we truly are unique?