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Do you believe we are alone in the universe?

The universe is far, far, far too big and ancient a place to reasonably rule out life elsewhere. Even if the galaxy is currently lacking intelligent life other than our own (and I'm not convinced it is - our expectations of what intelligent life should be doing with itself is, obviously, prejudiced toward our own ideals), I don't think it was nor will be. I'm also much more optimistic about FTL. :)


A Wicked Kendragon
I hear that this space thing is large, or something. Like there's multiple places to go to. More than three, at least.

And we've been here for a couple of hundred thousand years now, and we've only been to the one rock that's already married to ours.

For longer than I've been alive there's been talk of getting to that rust coloured place over yonder. Still nothing.

And the radio and television stuff that we've been broadcasting out there, they've reached something like 0.05% of our own galaxy. If that. There's this thing called the inverse square law which suggests that we might not even have enough broadcasting power to reach any significant distance.

On top of all the incredible vastness the farthest reaches of space expanding away from us faster than the speed of light. So even in an infinite amount of time an infinite human species would not be able to explore everything.

FTL is the magic acronym which could flip things around. Perhaps. Depending on how F it would be, if it were possible. Lots of if's. Very much space. So many places.

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Mod Squad
Staff member
the vast majority of the intelligent life that's out there will be completely incomprehensible to us;

People say that, but I'm not sure it has a good basis. If it has a physical form, and can master technology of the form that can cross interstellar distances, that implies a vast array of experiences similar to our own. Shared experiences are the basis for communication.

Our fiction is loaded with cases where communication is difficult or impossible, and if we manage to communicate, that's distinctly not the interesting part of the story, so it gets glossed over. But, these are fictions, which by nature focuses challenges, because challenges are interesting, and create drama, which sells books.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah. We can comprehend a lot of stuff. We’re cavemen who went from rubbing two sticks together to figuring out that black holes exist, all by ourselves! We’re really quite clever. I’m sure we can comprehend the existence of an alien race just fine, and vice versa, and we’ll figure out how to talk.


I hate to think other mes could be roaming the universe. One me is more than enough.

If all is relative. As we travel 4 light years away, if we were to travel faster than light or even near light speed, we would be different from those we left behind. Would we be a representative of what humans are at that point or what humans once were?


Staff member
I hate to think other mes could be roaming the universe. One me is more than enough.

If all is relative. As we travel 4 light years away, if we were to travel faster than light or even near light speed, we would be different from those we left behind. Would we be a representative of what humans are at that point or what humans once were?

There’s a short story- whose name escapes me at the moment- that I think was done by Larry Niven. If not him, then one of the other great old ones.* In it, as humanity is spreading through the galaxy over a great deal of time, they finally encounter an alien species. The two races start trying to communicate, and when they succeed?

...they find that they’re each just the other side of humanity’s space empire, and they’ve completed the circle.

* not the Great Old Ones, just one of the writers from the dawn of sci-fi


Mod Squad
Staff member
A good movie about the communication problem is Arrive, it's also slightly confusing until you get to the end. At least it was for me.

Well, no, Arrival is not a good movie about the communication problem, insofar as it basis its communication problem in ...

[sblock]...exotic, highly speculative physics. The whole, "learn their language and you can then see through time," isn't a good example of the basic communication problem. This communication problem is, in effect, "learn to use magic".[/sblock]


Naked and living in a barrel
It isn't just about where are aliens, but also about when intelligent life evolved. The universe is billions of years old. Intelligent life might have existeded somewhere in the universe before dinosaures walked on Terra and it might happen again after the human race is extinct.

We might be alone in the universe right now (might), but de might not be the only intelligent the universe knows.


"Belief" is a difficult term to use. There isn't any evidence we have currently, to prove the existance of extra-terrestial life, but we have a lot of limitations both in terms of our own physical perception and also in terms of the means, technologically, to investigate further.

The universe is vast, and the argument goes that it would be improbable that there isn't intelligent life somewhere else in it, but people sometimes forget just how improbable intelligent life is, with a similar level of self awareness and existance as we do, on Earth itself. Most species on Earth aren't like humanity, and haven't evolved the same cognitive ability as humanity has - the odds of humanity existing on Earth alone are billions to one.

The other factor is that the same limitations that stop us from exploring the universe are the same factors that suggest it is also physically difficult for other species to visit here. The universe is so vast that actually transversing it is well nigh impossible. Following on, if our own limitations are on a perceptual level - ie we just lack the awareness to sense extra-terrestial things around us, as in some scifi literature - then the question arises as to whether we will ever be able to perceive them anyway. Something would have to dramatically change in our current technological and perceptual paradigm, in order for us to encounter intelligent extra terrestial life.


As I understand it (and this is not my area of expertise so forgive me if I am wrong), the currently accepted model is that the universe is finite. We have evidence that it is expanding and at an increasing rate. The current model predicts that it will eventually dissipate and lose atomic cohesion. The speed of light is the universal constant, and cannot be exceeded except in some non-mass instances. This model could be wrong, but the alternatives are not much better.
This means, given the amount of time our planet has existed, the tiny amount of time organic life, let alone human life, has existed, and the probability that our runaway cognitive evolution will destroy us all in a relatively short time span, that our chances of other beings with human like cognitive abilities existing in the same time span as us is very low.
The next problem, given the rarity of planets with elements and conditions conducive to organic life, let alone ones with disproportionately expensive organs such as human brains, is that it is extremely unlikely that any such beings would be close enough to our solar system that we could interact in any way within the probably short time span of human like life.
This means that we are either alone in the universe, or so far away in time and space from anything like us that we may as well be. And given our difficulties existing with ourselves, that is likely best for all beings involved. That said, chances of contact are much higher if you count microorganisms. Then we get into the question of "are they truly alien, or do we share the same point of origin?"

We are functionally alone. So far there's really no way to span interstellar distances meaningfully. The odds that two scientifically advanced civilizations existing in the same time frame equal to how far they can travel are seemingly low.

Likewise, would we even find extraterrestrial life that we could communicate with? We can barely talk to apes and dolphins. Imagine a species who sees a range of light frequencies that doesn't coincide with ours. One of us might be invisible to the other. There's a sci-fi story where the aliens are butterfly like and use wing flaps, faster than human perception, to communicate. Would we even notice they are intelligent? Would they notice we are?

It's both depressing and relieving. The Earth is dangerous enough without having aliens with advanced tech stopping by for conquest.

Oh and as for Mars. We have a planet that is slowly losing its ability to maintain life. But it should be far cheaper to fix this planet than to make Mars inhabitable.

Legatus Legionis

< BWAH HA Ha ha >
This is where the "Drake Equation" comes in.

wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

The Drake equation is:

N = R ∗ ⋅ f p ⋅ n e ⋅ f l ⋅ f i ⋅ f c ⋅ L


N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);


R∗ = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

I personally liked how Carl Sagan had explained it in his series "Cosmos"

So with NASA's continued "discoveries", we are getting more accurate numbers for the Drake equation. Sadly, the last four variables are still too unknown to make it useful.

But it is a interesting mental exercise to see what range of numbers one can get.


My guess, we are not alone, but we'll never find out for sure.

I think the Fermi paradox isn't really a paradox. I just think that interstellar colonization, perhaps even interplanetary colonization is far harder than we usually estimate. There's the obvious factor of different suns or even insolation from your home sun, but then there's surface gravity. I suspect that complex life just can't really deal with very drastic changes in either in a manner that would allow colonization. (I suspect cosmic radiation makes cryosleep next to useless, as well.) I suppose that puts the Great Filter ahead of us, at the last step. (If you can't colonize, then eventually something gets you.)

Given humanity's all but complete unwillingness to seriously deal with Anthropogenic Climate Change, I suspect Hanson's argument about technological societies being inherently self destructive is a little too close to the truth. Even without ACC, our waste heat will boil us off the planet in a few hundred years (As Larry Niven foresaw for the puppeteers in Known Space). Although I doubt we'll last that long, at this point. See Under a Green Sky. The Anthropocene extinction is increasingly looking like a second "Great Dying" to me.

I we are very lucky, we might encounter another species' Dyson Probe, but otherwise, we are effectively alone.

After buying and reading my core book of Eclipse Phase RPG I understand the reason to want avoid the rest of alien civilizations like a quarantine. Let's imagine Skynet, the supercomputer of Terminator saga hacking files of Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) to create virus to infect machines and living beings.

Maybe we aren't alone, but we are the "valley of the lepers". for the rest.

Seer Maria Valtorta wrote:

"I would be a very small and limited God the Creator if I had created only the Earth as an inhabited world! With a beat of my will I have brought forth worlds upon worlds from nothing and cast them as luminous fine dust into the immensity of the firmament.

The Earth, about which you are so proud and fierce, is nothing but one of the bits of fine dust rotating in unboundedness, and not the biggest one. It is certainly the most corrupt one, though. Lives upon lives are teeming in the millions of worlds which are the joy of your gaze on peaceful nights, and the perfection of God will appear to you when, with the intellectual sight of your spirits rejoined to God, you are able to see the wonders of those worlds".

Stacie GmrGrl

No. Other intelligent life does exist, even on our own planet. There is enough weirdness in earth's past, too many strange ancient structures built with such incredible precision constructed in ways we still don't understand today.

Evidence is everywhere. The massive increase in Sightings all over the world in the last few years is extremely high.

Then there is the newest discoveries in quantum science, the fact that modern day humans did not evolve here on earth as was once assumed (read Human by Design by Gregg Braden where he shows the science behind this along with all the different experiments by different scientists that show this), and the holographic nature of our relative reality...

Other Intelligences much greater than ours do exist.

I think it's not only possible, but highly likely that we are not alone in the galaxy. Given the fact that life was almost exterminated on this planet several times in history, and yet bounced back, shows that life is (or can be) very resilient. No one can slap a number on the chance of encountering intelligent life, since our sample size is so small. We can see not even a tenth or a hundreth of the universe. It would be like looking at one inch of a cookie jar, and concluding that it must be empty. We simply have too little information. But it seems to me that if intelligent life developed here, it must have happened somewhere else as well, given the immense size of the universe.

Additionally, we only know the conditions that were required for earth-based life as we know it. But there is no guarantee that these are the only conditions that can support life. Even on our own planet, we find life in the most impossible and hostile environments. It seems highly probable to me that there are many different kinds of life out there, that we can't possibly imagine.

Will we ever meet intelligent life? I hope so, but it is impossible to say. The universe is gigantic, and while this increases the chance for other intelligent life out there, it also increases the chance that we might be a very long distance apart. But perhaps by some fluke we happen to be close enough to another life form to encounter it. Stranger things have happened.

There is enough weirdness in earth's past, too many strange ancient structures built with such incredible precision constructed in ways we still don't understand today.

I don't think this is true. Can you provide an example?


First Post
Apologies. I understand where you’re coming from, but no offense was meant. I specifically avoided naming any particular island to avoid that.

I was trying to find an area on the earth isolated enough that belief that your local area was everything was conceivable. Land masses don’t give you that kind of isolation very often. Despite the well-known trade in the Pacific, it is so vast that it is possible that an island existed on which the inhabitants eventually lost the knowledge that they came from somewhere else.

Because, if we’re honest, there probably haven’t been many cultures unaware of “others” since the Paleolithic era. (Though whether or not they regard the others as human or not is a different question.)

Easter Island probably comes close.

Timing is probably a big issue. We are here now and have had the tech to begin looking for other for about a hundred years. In that time, we have faced loss of civilization via nukes, bio-warfare, ecological issues and just plain getting hit by a really big rock. Likely that other civilizations have/will face similar problems. Could be that most don't keep a level of tech able to develop interstellar travel long enough to overlap some nearby civilization's existence.


I strongly believe in the zoo theory to explain the Fermi Paradox.

It is possible that over the last few billion years a smarter species (and really we shouldn't consider ourselves that smart as a specie) have colonized our entire galaxy.

Their civilization and technology would be so advance to be fully incomprehensible to us. Litteraly akin only to magic to our little caveman eyeballs develop to see underwater. It would also explain why we don't really see them - we are looking for radio-wave and mega structure while they could have, summoning techno-babble here, sub-space communication, cold fusion and 4th dimensional structure.

Our technological development is just but a blinked compared to a billion year old civilizations, we tend to look too much at our navel and think we would meet equal but really we are just ant. Those aliens would be incomprehensible to us akin to uncaring eldritch horror more than friendly alien like in Star Trek.

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