What is Enrico Fermi and the Fermi Paradox?

What is Enrico Fermi and the Fermi Paradox?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Let’s meet Italian physicists Enrico Fermi and Fermi Paradox, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, considered one of the pioneers of the atomic bomb, mentioned by a paradox whose existence is debated whether it belongs to him or not (it is even debated whether the paradox we will talk about is a paradox or not) and died of cancer.

When I think about life in space and aliens, I would jokingly say, ‘If they have a mind, they will stay away from us, that is, humans. Then when I researched the Fermi paradox, I found that it was taken as a possibility. The Fermi paradox is an expression of the inconsistency between the very high probability of life in space and the fact that we still haven’t made contact with them. According to Fermi’s estimation, there must have been about 10 to the 16th civilization in the observable universe, and for millions of years we could not reach anyone. Considering that there are hundreds of billions of earth-like planets in the Milky Way alone, at 13 billion years old, our loneliness was getting weirder. These were the questions our loneliness made us ask. This paradox is tired of possibilities, such as the fact that there is no one but humans in the universe and that we may be at the most desolate point of the universe. However, even if they existed, it was assumed that they preferred not to communicate because they were smarter than us.

Among the possible answers to this paradox is that we are a part of a simulation and other lives are not in our simulation… Let’s finish with the research that Robert H. Gray did on the origin of this nomenclature in his article published in Scientific American:

“I would like to explain why the so-called Fermi Paradox is misunderstood, based on my deep research on the subject; because this mistake has undermined the search for extraterrestrial life. This paradox was cited by Senator William Proxmire in 1981 as a reason for the termination of NASA’s SETI program. The program was resumed at the urging of Carl Sagan, but was terminated by Senator Richard Bryan in 1993. No US research has been subsidized since then; although thousands of new planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than our sun.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi, who built the first nuclear reactor, never wrote a word about extraterrestrial life. We know something about his thoughts because we collected the oral testimonies of three people who had been found by physicist Eric Jones at Los Alamos in the 1950s, the origin of the Fermi Paradox: Emil Konopinski, Edward Teller, and Herbert York (Fermi passed away in 1954).

According to these eyewitnesses, when they were talking about a cartoon in a newspaper (drawing of aliens carrying garbage they collected from the streets of New York to their flying saucer), Fermi said: “Where is everybody?” Those present thought he was referring to the fact that we had never seen spaceships around, and the conversation shifted to the possibility of interstellar travel. York seems to remember it most clearly, saying: “The reason we never visited may be because interstellar travel was impossible, or because it was thought [by aliens] that the effort would not be worthwhile even if it were possible, or because the technological civilization [aliens] did not survive long enough to do so. ”

Both York and Teller think Fermi questions interstellar travel; not the presence/absence of extraterrestrial civilizations. In other words, the Fermi paradox, which questions the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life as it is used today, does not reflect Fermi’s thoughts correctly. Fermi’s skepticism about interstellar travel is not surprising; because in the 1950s, rockets hadn’t even reached orbit yet.”

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook