Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
Arthur C. Clarke
I think you’ll find being alone is a lot more terrifying.
Not really. If we’re not alone, they’re probably coming to eat us. If we are alone, the whole universe is our plaything.
I think it’s pretty clear that we’re alone in this galaxy. The rest of the universe, hard to tell.
My money is on the likelihood that we are effectively alone as a technological civilization.
Life out there? Sure, all over.
Intelligent life? Rare.
Intelligent life at a high level of technology *today*? Doubt it.
All we have to go by is Earth but all the evidence is that technological civilization takes time to develop: in a 14B year universe on a 3-4B year planet, intelligent life has existed for at most for 0.2B (200M) years at most and technological civilizations for maybe 10,000 years. Generously.
A more restrictive definition might limit our civilization to 1000 or even 100 years.
It’s not that I doubt other, similar civilizations might arise. I just doubt any exist right now within any range close in enough in space and time that we might detect them or them us before either species dies out.
It’s a big universe in big space and time.
I’ve long believed other civilizations were out there, but I only recently started wondering about the chances that they might exist during the same time frame. The thought that we may be effectively alone makes me sad.
Heh, and even if we ‘hear’ someone out there, would they still be there by the time we could make the trip?
Or we head out to colonize an empty world, only to find that a civilization grew up there as we traveled?
You mean, like this? http://web.archive.org/web/20080718084442/http://lucis.net/stuff/clarke/star_clarke.html
I love you guys! So many plot bunnies. 🙂
Also, James Gunn’s THE LISTENERS:
Sorry. I hated “The Star” the first time I read it. The idea that an entire race was wiped out to illuminate Bethlehem repulsed me. I find it exceedingly narcissistic.
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