Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The End of All Things (except for this blog)

As a refresher for anyone who might have jumped on the bandwagon too late, and is too unmotivated to go back and read my history here, I am a wannabe writer.

A science fiction wannabe to be exact. I have deep love of the genre and I think that in some ways, science fiction, or at least the sub-genre that I most frequently ascribe to, is attempting to answer the most fundamental questions that exist.

Why are we even here? Are we alone in the universe?

All that sort of stuff. Science in general is an attempt to answer those same questions. The dream of answering life's great mysteries with definitive and provable methods is a dream that teeters in the back of the mind of many a researcher I'm sure.

With that being said, one of my personal enjoyments during my quiet time is to ponder one of the great mysteries of the modern era. Why aren't there aliens already here?

The Fermi paradox is so named because Dr. Fermi is the first person articulate the delimma. Thinking about the age of the universe, the probablity of intelligent life arising even once in a great while in a galaxy leads to the inevitable conclusion that the entire galaxy should have been colonized a dozen times over already - we should be living in a universe more like Star Wars than we do. So where is everybody?

I won't waste anyone's time trying to outline the line of reasoning for reaching that conclusion. But some of the smartest folks that have ever lived have tried their best to come up with a possible reason we don't see aliens popping up around every corner and their answers generally never satisfy (which is why I love science fiction, there is still plenty of room to speculate about such things)

Please take 10 minutes or so and check out my heros at The Daily Galaxy. They have a short article about the conundrum and do a brilliant job of outlining the possible reasons we can't find any evidence of super civilizations of planet hopping citizens.

Anyhow, I do enjoy thinking about the topic, I don't see myself ever being able to contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way, but I at least know some possible reasons why it may be so. We may just be alone, or so separated from out nearest neighbor that we might as well be. The implications of that are profound.

Or we may be the first, or last to arise. Did others before us rise and fall already? What does that say about our chances? I've read some folks that have predicted the end of humanity based on nothing more than mathmatical models... Sounds stupid, until I read that just after the Berlin wall was built, this same model was used to predict when it would come down. The prediction was eerily close to being dead on.

So how was it done? What sort of crazy math is used to get those sorts of answers? And is it applicable to humanity at large? I don't know. I'll find a link for the reader to check out and post it later (I'm doing a "stream of consciousness" blog post at the moment).

My larger point being that science fiction is a gold mine for exploring these and other ideas without fear of anyone taking you too seriously. I don't think I can really have a serious conversation with most most folks about why I haven' t been abducted and probed by aliens yet, but a writer can wax on about just that topic all he or she wants within the genre.

It is just fiction after all.

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