April 12, 2010
THE PARADOX IS, LIKEWISE, FATAL TO MULTIVERSE THEORY:
The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe? by Paul Davies: review: Will aliens ever get in touch? Sameer Rahim weighs up the case in The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies (Sameer Rahim, 12 Apr 2010, Daily Telegraph)
The Italian physicist and ET-sceptic, Enrico Fermi, spoke for many scientists: “If life is widespread and Earth is typical,” he said, “there should have been many planets with advanced, space-faring civilisations long, long ago. So why haven’t aliens come here already?” Davies admits that the chances of intelligent life developing on Earth were minuscule; and an enormous number of factors had to line up to produce our space-exploring society. “It’s entirely possible that life’s origin is so freakish it has happened only once, and we are it.”
Most of the book takes apart the arguments for the existence of extraterrestrial life; but because he was once a boy staring in awe at the stars, and because a negative story is not likely to encourage funding for SETI (governments stopped supporting the project in 1993), in the book’s final chapters Davies sets his speculative side free. And this is where things get very interesting.
Davies imagines what humans might evolve into to get a better picture of what aliens might be like. There will be a “utopia in which computer-designed beings enjoy the best of biological qualities without illness or early death, flawed memory and poor reasoning”. No “moodiness or impatience or jealousy” will be present in these “self-created, godlike mega-brains”, floating in space and amusing themselves with mathematical theories (this is very much a physicist’s fantasy). In one extraordinary passage, he writes that if aliens did drop by Earth, “they would presumably be aware of the danger posed when a technologically advanced culture comes into contact with a less advanced one, and manage the interchange with sensitivity”. Has he not seen what happens in Mars Attacks!?
Davies employs a striking amount of religious language here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 12, 2010 6:29 AM