POST Online Media Lite Edition


We will find aliens. But we must wait 1,500 years

Staff writer |
The Fermi paradox has puzzled scientists and philosophers since it was first posited more than 50 years ago by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who essentially asked: “Where are all the aliens?”

Article continues below

Fermi argued that taking into consideration the age of the universe and the high probability of other planets capable of developing intelligent life existing, Earth should have been visited by extraterrestrials long ago and many times over.

Taking this paradox as the basis for their own calculations, astronomers at Cornell University have now estimated that humans will most likely be contacted by aliens 1,500 years from now.

According to the astronomers, signals from Earth would need to reach half of all the solar systems in the Milky Way in order to be picked up by an intelligent lifeform. Given that signals from TV and radio were first sent into space as a byproduct of broadcasting 80 years ago, it will take around 1,500 more years for aliens to receive, decode and respond to the signals.

“We haven’t heard from aliens yet, as space is a big place—but that doesn’t mean no one is out there,” said Evan Solomonides, a co-author of the paper who will present it at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting on June 16 in San Diego.

“It’s possible to hear any time at all, but it becomes likely we will have heard around 1,500 years from now. Until then, it is possible that we appear to be alone—even if we are not. But if we stop listening or looking, we may miss the signals. So we should keep looking.”

What to read next

Stephen Hawking: Don't tell aliens we are here
Scientists seek $1 billion for alien-hunting telescope
Life on other planets most probably doesn't exist any more