In 1950, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi asked why, with 100 billion planets in our galaxy, we hadn’t come across alien life.
He theorised that, with the high probability of Earth-like planets in our solar system and therefore the high probability of intelligent life, it would only take extraterrestrials about ten million years to colonise the Milky Way – even just using primitive rocket technology.
Given the galaxy is 13.21 billion years old, Fermi said we should’ve detected alien life by now.
So, why haven’t we made contact yet? Brian Cox may have the answer – and it’s terrifying.
The Stargazing Live presenter believes that any alien civilisation is destined to wipe itself out shortly after it evolves. Meaning, the reason humans haven’t been able to contact aliens yet is that they’re already extinct – or soon will be.
Cox said: “One solution to the Fermi paradox is that it is not possible to run a world that has the power to destroy itself and that needs global collaborative solutions to prevent that.”
Basically, with rapid advances in science and technology, extraterrestrials (and humans) could outstrip the development of institutions capable of keeping them under control – ultimately leading to the civilisation’s self-destruction, the Huffington Post reports.
He added: “It may be that the growth of science and engineering inevitably outstrips the development of political expertise, leading to disaster. We could be approaching that position.”
So while there is still hope that intelligent life does exist outside Earth, going by Cox’s theory, there’s a very slim chance we will ever be able to make contact.