14

There's no reason a Von Neumann probe could not be built once a civilization reaches the appropriate technology level, it's a matter of desire. When a civilization becomes advanced enough all it needs to build anything is a supply of matter or energy, as the one can be used to make the other. When you say "the absence of Von Neumann probes" I suspect that ...


10

A couple of issues with the Fermi paradox: The Fermi paradox is closely tied to the Drake equation. This equation is the best method we currently have for thinking about the probability of intelligent life in our galaxy. The problem is that there are so many assumptions you have to make in that equation, that the results vary drastically. If you plug some ...


8

I don't see how it could possibly be the cause--it would make interstellar travel harder, it wouldn't make it impossible and it wouldn't destroy the species--once they found out about it they could beef up the defenses of their starships.


6

It is actually the Drake Equation that applies best to this. The Fermi Paradox framed the issue, the Drake Equation tries to wrestle it into an analyzable framework. This io9 article gives an idea of what we are facing when we try to narrow down the possibilities here. It is an extremely compelling matter for which we have no data points. We don't even ...


5

Having written a short article on this is my first year of uni, I concluded that the main problems with the probes would be reliability. Not only in terms of mechanical functionality but also in terms of programming. If you were to imagine that when each probe replicates there would be some degree of transmission error or corruption. This would normally be ...


5

This answer will make some assumptions (which I will state explicitly as much as possible) and simplify things, but it should give a rough explanation as to why detecting extraterrestrial life is difficult. Now, we can, of course, use the Drake equation (and all of the assumptions therein) to make a rough estimate of how many civilizations there might be in ...


5

I think the answer to your question is "yes". The combination of "space is big" and "humans haven't been around long" is a valid (as opposed to good) explanation for the Fermi paradox. I replaced "good" with "valid" because "good" is subjective and can be colored by one's own opinions, and desires, about the possibility of alien life. But as logical ...


4

Every analysis of the Fermi Paradox is an opinion. I think it always bears mentioning that. We posit the existence of civilizations up to billions of years old based on a set of assumptions that seem very sound. Then we predict their behavior, even though we only discovered farming 12,000 years ago. It's a mistake to draw conclusions about species that, if ...


4

That's Not How Science Works We don't need an explanation for the Fermi paradox, because we have no evidence that needs explaining. We have a sample size of exactly one when it comes to life in the universe, and we can't draw scientific conclusions from that. Of course, scientists love to speculate like everyone else, so lots of them have opined on ...


4

If anyone anywhere anytime did space travel, they should have been here by now. The Milky Way is small compared to its age and travel times. The Sun has made about twenty orbits around it. The dinosaurs actually lived on Earth when it was on the other side of the galaxy. Either we are alone as a space faring society, or we have company very close by. The ...


3

Interstellar travel isn't the issue — stars are close together and even at 10%c the Milky Way could be traversed safely in 10M years. 10M years isn't a factor. Even if it's 100x slower at 0.1%c, 1bn years to colonize an 11 or 12bn year old galaxy with 6-10bn year old metallic stars (thought to be required for life) isn't a strong filter. If a filter ...


2

I think you have to extend that a bit, to "(Technological) humans haven't been around long, and on present evidence aren't going to be around all that much longer". If the average lifespan of a technological civilization, from the point at which it can produce radio waves (or other emissions) that could conceivably be detected from another star to the point ...


1

One interesting approach to this problem is to think about requirements for Von Neumann probes and if we’ve seen these features in nature. Thousand year plus high fidelity self replication? Life’s DNA/RNA + cellular mechanism are pretty good at replicating the information and the machinery. Thousand year plus “continuous” power? Stars - but maybe a ...


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