Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some scientists hope that the aliens are NOT out there!

Enrico Fermi's "napkin" question is "Why do they never write? Never phone?"

In Technology Review (May/June 2008), Where Are They? [freewall], troubled genius Nick Bostrom offers a fretful hope, "Why I hope the search for extraterrestrial life finds nothing":

... it seems unlikely that the galaxy is teeming with intelligent life and that the reason we haven’t seen any of them is that they all confine themselves to their home planets. Now, it is possible to concoct scenarios in which the universe is swarming with advanced civilizations every one of which chooses to keep itself well hidden from our view. Maybe there is a secret society of advanced civilizations that know about us but have decided not to contact us until we’re mature enough to be admitted into their club. Perhaps they’re observing us, like animals in a zoo. I don’t see how we can conclusively rule out this possibility. But I will set it aside for the remainder of this essay in order to concentrate what to me appears to be more plausible answers to Fermi’s question.

Look, many women have asked Fermi's question in a variety of much humbler circumstances. If you exist, you may be a part of the solution in a given case. So go do that and decrease the number of such questions.

The rest of us would like to concentrate on questions where existence rather than decency is in doubt.