The end of the human race as we know it

I have been thinking about the Fermi Paradox for some time so I really enjoyed this blog post. Tim Urban does a much better job than I think I could do in discussing the issue of why we have not had contact with other intelligent life (I am including all things intelligent and not just carbon based creatures).

You have all heard that there are billions of stars in each galaxy, and there are billions of galaxies. Many stars, it is believed, would have planets that would be suitable for life forms such as us not to mention life forms based on other structures. So why have we not seen evidence of other life forms especially when you consider that the universe is a lot older than our planet?

The blog post discusses “filters”. For instance, maybe it is extremely hard for life to form in the first place. Or even if simple forms of life form, it is very difficult to get to multi-cell life forms that can evolve. Or even if this happens, it is very unlikely that intelligent life forms such as us (excluding the USA congress) would evolve. Or even if intelligent life forms evolve perhaps they are only around a for a brief amount of time before they blow themselves up or destroy their planets (as we are trying our best to do). Maybe all these filters are in effect so it is one very improbable event multiplied by another multiplied by another. There is also the possibility that the kind of life form we represent transitions rapidly into something we are not capable of recognizing and it is intact all around us.

My own point of view is that the kind of life form we are seeking last less than a thousand years and maybe much less. I am talking about life forms capable of sending electromagnetic energy into space. We have been doing that less than 200 years and our planet is about four billion years old. I don’t think we will be doing it more than another 100 years, myself. There are children that are born now may actually witness the end of the Human Race as we know it or better said, the transition of the human race.

Of course, there are those that think we were created by a divine force who only create us. Frankly, I find that one hard to buy into.

So please read this excellent blog post. As I said, it is better than anything I would have written.

3 thoughts on “The end of the human race as we know it

  1. I loved the article, but wondered why 1 very important “great filter” wasn’t listed. The speed of light is the speed limit of the universe. So far it is completely true. Nothing goes faster. Every one talks about sci-fi ways of going faster than the speed of light. What if it never will be possible? More importantly, what if communication (which we know to be currently travelling at the speed of light) is also the fastest possible communication. Again, this could be the “great filter.” Say you did find a way to artificially create a worm hole, and traveled through it. You end up light years, or hundreds of light years (or more) away. Now you send a message back that you made it. And it takes years, or hundreds of years, or more to get back. Oh… and when you got there, something broke and you can’t do it in reverse to get back. So the people that sent you are long gone.

    Next… let’s look at science fact. As you approach the speed of light time slows down. If you reach the speed of light (not supposed to be possible, but let’s go with this one small hurdle before we try to go past the speed of light), your on board clock stops. So essentially you get where ever you were going instantaneously. A photon of light that leaves the Andromeda Galaxy doesn’t experience any time coming to us. It arrives instantly (relative to itself). So you go somewhere and do what? Send a signal back? Or maybe you turn around and come back. It will feel instantaneous for you both ways. But all the people that knew you left are long gone. If you travel AT the speed of light, you could go ANYWHERE in the universe in an instant. The problem is when you come back years, or hundreds, or millions of years have passed on your home world. Why would you do this?

    This is why we really want to go faster than light. Because we need to go AND come back in time to tell the tales of our trip to the people that knew we were going on the trip.

    So.. I present to you the MOST LIKELY “great filter”… the speed of light can’t be broken. No civilization would ever justify the massive cost of sending its people out into space at near the speed of light for millennia never to hear from them again.

    Oh… and since communication with other intelligent life is based on this one simple & universal speed limit, all communications is the same way… and it would take years, hundred or even millions of years to send and receive messages. And we have only reached out less than a 100 years out so far. A tiny speck of distance in a universe so incredibly large. And the reverse is true… we really have only been listening to such a small part of the sky. So it is extremely likely given the speed of light being the true speed limit of the universe that it could take millions of years to find another civilization worth communicating with.

    And we just got started. Patience young grasshopper.


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