New Research Analyzes Humanity’s Past to Test the Great Filter
For as long as we’ve stared at the stars, we humans have wondered whether we’re alone in the universe. Our ancient ancestors imagined mythical stories about what the stars could be and who might live among them — inspiring the creation of heavens, gods and goddesses, and eventually religion.
As our scientific intelligence evolved and we invented the telescope, we learned of our solar system, and our curiosities morphed. No longer was it deities we searched for among the stars, but alien life.
These days, our curiosities about the stars and extraterrestrial life, have grown from stories shared around a fire to a global government and scientific expedition worth billions. We want to know, does intelligent alien life exist? Does any alien life exist? If so, where are they? Are we really alone? We wonder these questions so much there’s even a name for it — the Fermi Paradox.
What is the Fermi Paradox
Rumor has it that in 1950, physicist Enrico Fermi became inspired by a cartoon in the New Yorker while chatting with some colleagues during a visit to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The drawing led him to consider the potential existence of alien life, and he wondered out loud that if aliens are out there, where is everybody?
Unfortunately, Fermi didn’t publish any official research about his curiosity, nor did he have much time to investigate it since he passed away four years later. Still, his question lived on and became known as the Fermi Paradox, which continues to inspire an entire field of science dedicated to answering it.
I wrote about the fermi paradox earlier, but that was before I learned of this research. First, though, there have been several hypotheses over the years, and many almost seem like common sense. For instance, the cosmos is massive. Outer space is so extensive that we don’t even know how enormous it is, making it pretty challenging to explore.
Another possibility is called the Great Filter, a hypothetical universal law of sorts that prevents…