Bill Nye's Answer To Fermi Paradox: Be Patient

Bill Nye's Answer to Fermi Paradox: Be Patient

The Fermi Paradox is a question that stumps and fascinates scientists (and pretty much everyone else, let's be real.) The question, originally posed by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, wonders at why there are theoretically so many habitable planets in the universe, but humanity has yet to make contact with any form of intelligent life.

Bill Nye decided to tackle the question in a short YouTube video. And for the famous science educator, the answer is simple: be patient. Nye believes that the one of the biggest barriers to making contact with alien life is just timing.

The answer, I think, is not that complicated. We've only been listening for other civilizations for 50-70 years, depending on how you count. You have to acknowledge that civilizations have to emerge and be able to communicate at the same time. When you have something that's been going on for 13.6 billion years, there's a lot of opportunities to miss each other.

This explanation skews more positive when it comes to possible reasons for that silent blackness that we call space. Other theories believe that our civilisation has yet to reach the Great Filter, an evolutionary wall that's nearly insurmountable but one all species face if they wish to survive. Others believe we have already passed the Filter, and we just haven't found another species that is as fortunate.

Hopefully the answer is as rosy as Bill Nye suggests -- a classic case a telephone tag.

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    The Dbag theorem states that - Aliens are actively avoiding making contact with humanity because we have nothing of value and are just too douchey to deal with.

    Imagine - you've just traveled light years to get here and you make contact only to find out that as part of the exopolitical process you'll have to deal with the UN, no thanks!

    The other and somewhat more scary proposition is that there is another/other species out there that have decided that it is safer to watch and listen.

    As soon as they see/hear evidence of another sentient race they strike first before the other race evolves advanced weaponry and annihilates the new race. Thus preserving the silence, and their own species.......

    This is a definite possibility, and maybe we should stay quiet....

    Pretty simple really, the circumstances in which life came about and then evolved on this planet are due to a long series of events which, if not unique in the universe, are very unlikely to occur elsewhere, even given the vastness of space.

    It may be likely that life has evolved elsewhere but although not impossible it is very unlikely that living organisms elsewhere have evolved to the point that we have, or further, in a place in time and space where we might gain an awareness of each other.

      You seem very sure of yourself there. While your scenario is certainly a contender, I think the fact that a lot of very bright people find this to be a very tough problem suggests it's not quite such an open and closed case.

        Aye, Smokey makes many assumptions, some of which are confused, and some of which are confusing.

        1: Assumes a common understanding of what life is.
        2: Assumes that life (or its components) originated on this planet (and wasn't an import).
        3: Assumes that evolution is rare (which is boggling, it appears inevitable, not rare).
        4: Doesn't seem to understand that long chains of processes are likely if lower energy is the outcome at every step.

        Personally I don't think the Fermi paradox should be considered real, because at present we lack enough information to make an accurate calculation. We may as well be trying to calculate how many wampas live on Pluto.

    Nye only talks about communications. That's just one part of the search. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old; the universe is 14.5 billion years old. If life were common and prevalent, then there would be civilizations millions or billions of years ahead of us technologically. Such being the case, we would have definitely seen evidence of their existence in the sky -- in the form of spaceships, drones, satellites, flags, galactic artwork, galactic engineer works. But we've seen literally nothing, and we've been using telescopes that can see millions of light years away.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now