The reason aliens haven’t come to Earth yet might be because they’re like us: too much on their plates and burnt out.
Dr Michael Wong, of the Carnegie Institution of Science, and Dr Stuart Bartlett, of California Institute of Technology believe that alien civilisations can become too big, burn out and is the reason we haven’t seen any.
They are theorising that alien civilisations develop to a point where they hit crises that prevent them from visiting their earthly neighbours.
Wong and Bartlett’s theory is their answer to the Fermi Paradox which contends that there is a contradiction between the continued absence of aliens and the probability of their existence.
In their paper published in Royal Society Open Science, the pair analysed previous studies on how cities grow at a faster rate than linear due to their social nature.
This superlinear growth leads to crises when energy demands become unsustainable, described as “asymptotic burnout”.
The researchers cited ozone depletion, escalation of weapons of mass destruction and whaling as Earth’s potential burnouts, if they had continued at their previous pace.
They say that extraterrestrial civilisations nearing burnout may actually be the easiest ones for us to detect.
“Civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely.”
“They would be altering their environments and dissipating free energy in a wildly unsustainable manner – fluctuations on the planetary scale that exhibit the largest signal-to-noise,” they continue.
“This presents the possibility that a good many of humanity’s initial detections of extraterrestrial life may be of the intelligent, though not yet wise, kind.”
But even the scientists behind the idea admit that’s all it really is.
“Like so many other astrobiological hypotheses, there is no evidence yet that this idea is true, other than its rooting in the laws of life that seem to govern biological organization on Earth,” they said.
The only way to confirm this theory right now is if a burnout actually occurs.
“Observing such burnouts (provided humanity is long lived enough to do so) would provide potential confirmation of part of our hypothesis.”
Another research paper says extraterrestrial communication is 400,000 years away, so let’s hope humanity is very long lived.
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