Kurzgesagt: Solving the Fermi Paradox with Cartoon Birds

The German design studio Kurzgesagt –“in a nutshell”– created these entertaining clips full of interesting infographics, to tackle at one of the most persistent logical quandaries in modern Science: The (in)famous Fermi Paradox –a.k.a. “where are all the bloody aliens?!”

The videos stick firmly with the accepted scientific parameters, while at the same time utilizing some of the latest far-out concepts proposed by the likes of Freeman Dyson and Nikolai Kardashev, who came up with a classification system for advanced civilizations depending on their energy consumption –ours is about level 0.75, while the Galactic empire in Star Wars is probably between 2 and 3 (though the matter would no doubt trigger an onslaught of rants from angry fanboys everywhere!)

What’s interesting also is how our own technological advances dictate the differences in how we decide to interpret the paradox itself. In 1950, when Enrico Fermi first came up with the idea during an informal conversation, notions re. the vast distances between stars and the age of the Universe were only initially considered, whereas now that we live in the Information Age, new elements like the emergence of strong A.I. and Virtual Reality also have to be thrown into the mix –why risk your life in something as useless as conquering the Galaxy, when you could choose immortality inside a simulated Paradise catered to your every whim?

NASA and SETI keep insisting that evidence of intelligent ETs is 20 years in the horizon –though they keep repeating that every 10 years or so. The prediction will either come true or it won’t, like so many other scientific broken promises (where’s my god-damned jet pack?!) and if in 2035 we still hear nothing but apparent silence from the Great Beyond, I’m sure the Fermi Paradox will remain an inexhaustible fountain of creative ideas to explain our cosmic isolation.

…Maybe that’s the point of it?

  1. well…….
    To be honest, I’d LIKE to know if there is other sentient life, or intelligent life, or any other sort of life out there. But there’s also the possibility that we as a species may never know if we’re alone, or part of some greater community.

    Why? Because the Universe is infinite. There was never any “Big Bang” that started it all. There’s nothing on the other sode because there is no other side. The Universe has no center. No end. It’s like the frikkin’ Energizer Bunny: It just keeps going and going and going, etc.

    That being the case, we, and our little blue ball, are really of no consequence to the big picture. We have our little bit of Heaven, and considering the size of Infinity, well, we’re pretty small potatoes, as it were.

    So if there IS life out there, we may never run into it, unless it’s a LOT more common than we currently believe.

    I’d like to know, but in the end, I’m willing to just believe it’s there and hope that some day we get to meet up and discuss things.

    1. Be Here Now – Alien.
      They’re here now, they have been here in the past, and they will always be here. It is naive to think that they should be “landing on the White House lawn” to formally announce their presence. They are fully aware of the shock to the modern psyche that would be precipitated by so abrupt an exposure, and frankly many of them don’t want any interaction with current humans in a grand way or in any way period.

      1. “Take us to your leader”
        You know as well as I do that those who worry themselves with the Fermi paradox are the least willing to entertain the possibility of an existing contact between humans and ETs, either current or in the past.

        Why? Perhaps because what the paradox is really showing is the limits of human logic, not an actual reality of life outside the Universe.

    2. Small potatoes
      Well, the current thinking is that even if we were too simple and uninteresting to be worth a visit from some interstellar civilization, we should still be able to indirectly detect their presence; either by snooping in their communications, observing tell-tale energy signatures of their every-day activities, or at least finding archeological remains they might have left behind, if for some reason they happened to become extinct.

      But so far we haven’t found anything. SETI spokespersons say it’s because we haven’t looked long and far enough, and maybe that’s true. Or maybe it’s because we really don’t know what we should be looking for in the first place. All our ET detection programs are based on our constant anthropomorphization of aliens and their intentions, but those could be grossly mistaken.

      It’s like something John Anthony West mentioned in some radio interview, on how there could have existed some highly advanced ancient civilization who devoted all their energies in expressing themselves through dancing. Since they wouldn’t have bothered to leave behind any pottery, written language or architectural structures, we would never know they existed at all.

      1. “Take nothing but photographs
        “Take nothing but photographs – leave nothing but footprints” – an ethic that may be universal.

        Having read “Sky People” though it is arguable that they left no trace at least in the reportage of Mesoamericans and Native Americans, and of course Big Greek Hair and The History channel argue, sometime convincingly, that “traces” are right in front of our faces.

        1. Traces
          The evidence gathered from Close Encounters of the 2nd Kind is controversial to say the last –perhaps deliberately so, as part of the self-negating nature of the phenomenon. Take for example the ‘space pancakes’ given to Joe Simonton by the ‘Italian-looking’ UFOnauts. After they were analyzed, they were found not to have anything particularly strange –other than the absence of salt, which to me is quite interesting– which would be enough for a skeptic to dismiss the case, yet I still consider that to be genuine.

          IMO the UFO phenomenon is ANYTHING but inconspicuous, to the point that I suspect every single UFO sighting to be a carefully-staged event. Meaning they WANT to be observed, yet at the same time they appear in such an absurd fashion the phenomenon doesn’t severely disrupt the fragile fabric of our society.

    1. LOL
      I liked their style. I already pinpointed another one of their videos I wanna plug here at The Grail –one that is bound to generate a LOT of discussion >:)

  2. Squirrels and mayflies…
    The squirrel allegory is funny but a bit off topic โ€“ the poor thing definitely knows we’re here. It doesn’t want to have rocket science explained, it just wants to survive (Kaku’s ants are perhaps a better example). And you’re right, the entire presentation and the “solutions” are rather old-school.

    Strange how often the Fermi Paradox has been tossed around lately, it almost looks like the idea is deliberately pushed for some weird reason – maybe as the last “theory” to justify denial and keep us guessing at our “cosmic isolation” which is, simply put, an embarrassing fallacy. There is no paradox. Look and see.

    After all, meeting “them” would probably be the last big narcissistic injury humankind would have to endure (and yes, conspiratorially speaking, upset the apple cart). Maybe that’s why SETI has so far โ€œsearchedโ€ an infinitesimally small area of space (yes, with questionable methods). We have been a hi-tech civilization for just a few generations; that doesn’t even count in cosmic terms. Mayflies see humans maybe once every 100 generations, right? I think it’s all a matter of scale and perspective, and the first thing we probably should get over is anthropocentric humanism.

    1. A sub-theme of Ardy Clarke’s
      A sub-theme of Ardy Clarke’s “Sky People” interviews – especially among the Maya interviewees, is that the ET interactions during the height of Mayan culture were friendly and transactional whereas the sightings and encounters nowadays tend to be chilly, clinical, and inconsiderate. According to the interviewees the current ET’s are disgusted with what we are doing to the planet and predicting a catastrophic “cleansing.” They have in a sense “given up” on our current path and are standing off in order to let us learn a big lesson.

      1. Learning the big lesson
        As horrible and inconsiderate as that may sound, I feel that, if true, it at leasts shows a kernel of respect toward us that might refute other alternatives to the Fermi paradox –e.g. the Zoo and the Farm scenario.

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