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Thread: What do you think is the most likely explanation for the Fermi paradox?

  1. #1381
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    ADDED: Yes, a whole star system is pretty unlikely to fill up in less than geological time. But all the accessible low hanging fruit can be monopolized, leaving outsiders only regions where resources are scattered.
    I wouldn’t assume that. It depends on how difficult it is to build habitats and if there is exponential growth. Compare the US of today with the land a few centuries ago. With a modest growth rate it would only take a few centuries for the solar system to have a population in the hundreds of trillions.

    This is why I’ve said exponential growth simply can’t continue for long compared to the age of the galaxy, regardless of psychology or other factors, but just assuming finite resources. A species must be able to learn to control its population in a relatively short period or will face collapse.
    Last edited by Van Rijn; 2021-Jul-05 at 08:07 AM. Reason: Typo

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  2. #1382
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    On the other hand, the issue for me is that when you talk about a seed falling into a new field, it is basically in an area where the seed can naturally grow (for example, if you drop it at the south pole, it is unlikely to proliferate). But if we're talking about the expansion of ET civilizations into space, it seems unlikely (maybe you wouldn't agree) that they would be naturally adapted to the various places they go, and would not require building an infrastructure to allow them to survive.
    I wouldn’t agree. As hunter-gatherers, with minimal technology and no attempt to modify the environment to suit us, humans could have a world population of about 50 million at maximum (that’s from material I remember from an old university course). We can only have such populations and live in so many places today because we alter conditions to suit us. Tomorrow, we will build habitats on Mars and elsewhere to live. Today that would be difficult, but as technology advances it will become easier.

    I would expect technological ETs to do similar things, building habitats they can live in where it would otherwise be unsuitable.

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  3. #1383
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Yeah, it's true that this thread seems to be in a kind of long derail where we're talking about the growth of human civilizations (like the Romans), and it's a bit irrelevant to the question of the paradox.

    On the other hand, the issue for me is that when you talk about a seed falling into a new field, it is basically in an area where the seed can naturally grow (for example, if you drop it at the south pole, it is unlikely to proliferate). But if we're talking about the expansion of ET civilizations into space, it seems unlikely (maybe you wouldn't agree) that they would be naturally adapted to the various places they go, and would not require building an infrastructure to allow them to survive.
    Of course it would require them to build an infrastructure, that's a base assumption. Perhaps the problem is, we may have different ways to visualize what an interstellar colonization is.

    My view is that interstellar travel is not really plausible for a civilization that has a mainly one-world industrial infrastructure. It would take a great deal of skill in building long term life support and the resources of a developed space construction industry to build a viable starship, in addition to the propulsion technology. So any group capable of colonizing another star already would have significant field experience in building their own life supporting habitats, or why go at all? Certainly the odds of finding, let alone surviving on, a natural planet suited to your kind of life are slim to none.

    I believe any society than can survive a trip to another star can also live without planets. They'd thrive in the materials and energy of a new star system. And if they can build themselves one habitat they'll eventually build many and spread to other parts of the system, just as they did in the original one. Perhaps even terraform a suitable terrestrial planet or moon, but that's not a necessity.
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  4. #1384
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I wouldn’t assume that. It depends on how difficult it is to build habitats and if there is exponential growth.
    You're right, of course. I did not mean to imply an exponential population growth, just a more than break-even.

    Resources are not evenly distributed in any star system. Some space bodies are "better" than others; have more volatiles or strategic elements, be in orbits more conducive to travel/transport, need less delta-V to lift off, etc. These would most likely become the major hubs outside the species' home planet. The holders of those prime locations would have advantages in population growth rates than those at the less suitable rocks and moons.

    So that's what I meant by the low hanging fruit. It would not take trillions of beings to reach that point; only for groups in competition for the easy-access objects. Even a more cooperative society than ours would have trouble distributing resources equitably simply due to the conditions in space. Getting stuff anywhere uses up energy and materials (even to make solar sails, etc) so some places would have more or less no matter the level of technology.
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    A recent discovery of smaller rogue planets by microlensing. https://academic.oup.com/mnras/artic...4/5584/6315707

    If interstellar space is littered with such masses, then it may be more "crowded" on smaller scales than we first figured. That might make interstellar travel even more hazardous and difficult than we currently envision, not only in terms of relativistic collision with matter, but in navigational complexity from undetected gravity sources. Another possible braking mechanism on exponential Galactic expansion.
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    Interstellar dust shows planets with composition like Earth may form rarely: https://phys.org/news/2021-07-astron...ins-milky.html

    "Our solar system was formed in the outer regions of the galaxy and is the result of a complex sequence of events, including nearby supernova explosions. It remains an open question what is the right environment to form planetary systems and which of these events are vital to form a planet where life can flourish."
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  7. #1387
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    It is possible that intelligent life operates on a shorter timescale toward self extinction than non intelligent life that is forced to fit in with many other species. Intelligent life overcomes negative feedback mechanisms and thus does more damage ensuring a final collapse. The history of Easter Island is a miniature example. When clever people navigated there it was covered in palm trees with millions of birds. The clever people cut down the trees, made clever giant statues, killed all the birds, and trapped themselves, unable to make the kind of boats their ancestors arrived in. They expanded, used up all resources and died off. In other words, the very attributes that confer success are likely to lead to total exploitation. Not a new argument, I admit. Malthus.
    So it seems the consensus is that Easter Island's fate was not entirely the fault of Rapa Nui society:

    https://phys.org/news/2021-07-resili...land-myth.html

    In short, there is no evidence that the islanders used the now-vanished palm trees for food, a key point of many collapse myths. Current research shows that deforestation was prolonged and didn't result in catastrophic erosion; the trees were ultimately replaced by gardens mulched with stone that increased agricultural productivity. During times of drought, the people may have relied on freshwater coastal seeps.

    Construction of the moai statues, considered by some to be a contributing factor of collapse, actually continued even after European arrival.

    In short, the island never had more than a few thousand people prior to European contact, and their numbers were increasing rather than dwindling, their research shows.
    The original paper:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24252-z
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  8. #1388
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    There is no paradox.
    We have no idea how likely life is, no matter what presumptions you decide on.
    It is maybe more pertinent to consider how blind we are.
    Last edited by alromario; 2021-Sep-18 at 12:46 AM.

  9. #1389
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    Quote Originally Posted by alromario View Post
    There is no paradox.
    We have no idea how likely life is, no matter what presumptions you decide on.
    It is maybe more pertinent to consider how blind we are.
    I'm gonna guess that the Fermi Paradox not being a paradox has been brought up previously.

    Here's an explanation from SciAm:
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...not-a-paradox/

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