The Fermi Paradox seems to have eluded scientists since Enrico Fermi popularized the idea in 1950. It’s the contradiction between quintillions of nearby habitable planets, and zero evidence of any extraterrestrial civilization’s radio signals. “Great Filter” is the idea that there is a filter in the history or future of Earth’s civilization that prevents civilizations from generally existing, which is why scientists see no evidence of aliens. If the great filter is in Earth’s future, it essentially means that all civilizations exist in a doomsday scenario where they are more likely to self-destruct than they are to exist long enough to become multiplanetary. On the other hand, if the Great Filter is behind us, it suggests that the lack of evidence for alien civilization is simply due to its rarity, or in other words, the Rare Earth Hypothesis.
(authors of “Rare Earth”, Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee)
A new research paper may have solved the Fermi Paradox once and for all, arguing that the great filter is behind us, and that earth is the only civilization in the observable universe, with 99.99(twenty 9’s)% certainty. The author took what scientists already knew from Rare Earth, but used new statistical techniques that allowed him to create a probability estimate for civilizations that can be generalized. This is the logical proof the author used:
1. NASA scientists say that Earth has less than 1 billion years left before the Sun renders Earth uninhabitable.
2. Therefore, if Earth’s evolution to civilization was 30% slower, it would have taken 5.84 billion years, which is too slow for the expanding Sun.
3. Each event in Earth’s history that sped up Earth’s evolution by 30% or 1 billion years was necessary for the existence of civilization. This is called the 30% rule.
4. By finding all events in Earth’s history that follow the 30% rule, and estimating their probabilities, scientists can estimate the probability that civilization existed on Earth.
5. The principle of mediocrity states ‘if an item is drawn at random from one of several sets or categories, it's more likely to come from the most numerous category than from any one of the less numerous categories’. What this means is that Earth is most likely the most numerous “type” of civilization, and also means that each event that follows the 30% rule is also the most numerous “type” of event to cause that result.
6. Therefore, Earth’s probability is generalizable to all civilizations, because Earth is most likely an ordinary civilization.
Essentially, the author estimated the combined probability of all events that follow the 30% rule, concluding that civilization is unlikelier than 1 in 3.9 * 10^42 star systems. Because there are only 10^22 star systems in the observable universe, it suggests Earth is almost certainly the only civilization in the observable universe, considering that there are even more undiscovered 30% rule events.
Counter Argument: “The findings are not falsifiable.” - Nature Journal
Rebuttal: There are two ways to falsify this paper. Either find evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization, or make an argument that the numbers are off by more than 10^20. One might do this by arguing that a mentioned event does not follow the 30% rule, or arguing that the 30% rule itself is constructed with faulty logic.
These are leads on possible additional events that follow the 30% rule.
1. The End-Permian extinction was possibly necessary for dinosaur and mammal existence.
2. The End-Ediacaran extinction 541 Million years ago might have been necessary for the existence of vertebrates (this extinction data appears to be vertebrates only).
3. The Snowball Earth starting 720 and ending 635 million years ago might be necessary for the first multicellular life.
4. Mitochondria first entering the cell might have been the result of an uncommon event.
5. The Late Heavy Bombardment might have deposited necessary volatile elements for evolution speed, or altered plate tectonics in a beneficial way.
6. Nuclear War might be the norm for civilizations, which was maybe prevented by ideal conditions, such as having two continents rather than a “pangea” scenario, which allowed colonists to create democracy, making nuclear war less likely.
The author also appears to be researching other phenomena as well, like AI and the concept of a singularity, which is the idea that technological advancement on earth is rapidly accelerating to the “singularity point”. The author explains both of these ideas on his YouTube channel.
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