Re: Fermi Paradox in the news

Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 10:56:55 MDT

In a message dated 10/25/00 2:59:50 AM,

>Jason Joel Thompson writes:
>>Alright, let's play a hypothetical game. Let us suppose that there was
>>intelligent life on Mars. We discovered them when we were first able--many
>>years ago. Everything else is equal. Today, we look up into the cosmos--
>>nothing. Just us Earthlings and Martians, staring up into the vastness of
>This is much better than you cetaceans example, but it still won't
>quite do, because Mars and Earth are near enough to be
>crosscontaminated by ejecta. That way if both planets can support
>life, and one planet kindles, the second will be very soon to follow
>by infection. But that way you can at least assume that
>cerebralisation is deterministic, to a fairly high degree of
>certainty (well, the nucleating critters are the same).

The question hinges on how many parts of the Drake equation are shared
between the two examples of intelligent life. Mars could be a very good
independent data point: development of intelligent life and development
of technology would be independent; life might or might not be,
depending on whether life *had* been transferred from one to the other,
which we and the Martians could probably figure out. Survival duration
for the Martian civ would be a great independent data point. The only
thing definitely shared between Mars and Earth is stellar environment,
and that is a part of the Drake equation we are *finally* getting some
data on.

The Fermi paradox is the conflict between our theoretical expectation
that civilization shouldn't be *that* hard to develop and out knowledge
that absolutely every piece of evidence we have ever collected indicates
there's nothing out there. In science, data trumps theory, *especially*
when the theories are as vague and unsupported as our theories of the
origin of life or the survival duration of technological civilizations.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:18 MDT