Ars on your lunch break, week 4: Fermi’s Paradox and the empty universe

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2018-07-10

Hello, universe? It's us, Earth. (credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO)

This week we’re serializing yet another episode from the After On Podcast here on Ars. The broader series is built around deep-dive interviews with world-class thinkers, founders, and scientists, and it tends to be very tech- and science-heavy. You can access the excerpts on Ars via an embedded audio player, or by reading accompanying transcripts (both of which are below).

This week, my guest is British astronomer Stephen Webb. Stephen has probably spent more time than anyone on this planet—with the possible exception of Frank Drake—pondering a fascinating subject known as Fermi’s Paradox.

This is the question of why can’t we detect any signs of intelligent alien life when we look to the skies. No signs of astro-engineering projects. No signatures of relativistic space travel. No obviously artificial electromagnetic waves, and so forth. And when you think of it, this is rather surprising. Or at least it was surprising to the ingenious physicist Enrico Fermi, who first drew attention to the matter.

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