Monday, January 05, 2004

News of the Fermi Paradox: Abundant mature galaxies, abundant earth-friendly regions

Galaxies in Young Cosmos More Massive and Mature than Expected
The universe is laden with massive galaxies that formed while the universe was just one billion years old, an era when such mature galaxies were not expected to exist...
and separately
Conditions Ripe for Complex Life at 10 Percent of Stars

As many as 10 percent of all stars in the Milky Way Galaxy might offer suitable conditions for the development of complex life, according to a new computer model...

The study concludes that one in ten stars are in a region where enough heavy elements existed to form Earth-like planets and where supernova explosions were sufficiently rare so as not to squelch life. A final condition the stars met: Each could have supported planets over at least 4 billion years, roughly the time it took for complex life to evolve on Earth.

Taken together these results further diminish one proposed solution to the Fermi Paradox -- namely that we seem to be "alone" because conditions that are favorable for technologic civilizations are exquisitely rare. In fact they are in line with the sample-of-one theory -- if you have only one sample from a distribution you're best statistical assumption is to assume that it's typical.

That leaves the other common solution -- that expansionist technological civilizations like ours are very short lived; either because they destroy themselves or because they univerallly and fairly quickly turn into something that's not interested in following the Fermi path of exponential growth in the physical universe. Here we don't have a "sample" to go by -- our technological civilization is young but not yet over.


Paul said...

Well, wouldn't even an unimaginable, sythetic, silicon mind running a virtual universe in which to live need a safe platform to run the program?
Unless the program itself is running outside of our universe, then eventually something bad is going to happen in the region where it is running (comet, burster, supernova, virus).
It still seems that not putting all the eggs in one basket would be a prudent course, whether you feel like traveling or not!
If the silicon singularity folks are getting hit by ateroids, no wonder we aren't hearing from them.
One of the things I read today suggested that we are "already" in someone's simulation, accounting thus for the lack of other tennants in the building.
Until recently I just failed to grasp how big a problem this Fermi Paradox mess really is.

John Gordon said...

It's one of my favorite topics Paul, and I'm not alone in my hobby.