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We Are Afraid: Our Dark Universe

We Are Afraid: Our Dark Universe

Have you ever wondered whether we are alone in our dark universe? Or why have other intelligent life not been contacting us? And why have we not been able to see or hear from them? Have you ever pondered these inquiries? If yes, then you are not alone. I am one of those who think about these mysteries. And many of humanity’s greatest minds have thought about these inquiries. They have tried to answer these inquiries for a long time. Thus, here are some of their answers.

Firstly, maybe we are alone in the universe. That Earth is the only planet capable of sustaining life. Or maybe all of the other advanced aliens are now extinct. The second solution is that maybe there is life. But they and including us do not have the capabilities to find each other. After all, the universe is unfathomably large. Third, it is possible they do not want to talk to us. This train of thought has come from the concept that aliens might see us as animals or lesser creatures. They might think that our level of technology is too primitive for them. Thus, not worthy of their time.

First five full-color images and spectrographic data from the James Webb Space Telescope. Photo Credit: NASA
First five full-color images and spectrographic data from the James Webb Space Telescope. Photo Credit: NASA

On the other hand, maybe aliens do want to talk to us because they might be afraid. And this is the concept that revolves around the Dark Forest Theory. But you might ask yourself why are they afraid. Well, let us talk about it.

The Drake Equation

Illustration of The Drake Equation. Photo Credit: University of Rochester.
Illustration of The Drake Equation. Photo Credit: University of Rochester.

Before we start talking about the Dark Forest. Let us first start the discussion with The Drake equation. In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake created the equation to estimate how many aliens or intelligent life may exist. Initially, the results of this equation are quite promising. Because statistically speaking there should be a myriad of planets in the habitable zone. Therefore, it is theoretically possible for liquid water to form. And then by extension of our logic based on life on Earth. It might be possible for other planets to harbor alien life. Moreover, with enough time it is plausible to speculate an advanced alien civilization might form. Thus, alien life in the universe is a possibility.

Fermi Paradox

Going back to the answers given to the inquiry. Those replies are based on Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi. The Fermi Paradox postulates that yes; it might be possible that we are alone in the universe. But even if there is intelligent life beyond Earth they might not be able or want to contact us. And here are the reasons.

Image of Enrico Fermi. Photo Credit: Atomic Heritage Foundation
Image of Enrico Fermi. Photo Credit: Atomic Heritage Foundation

Firstly like in the introduction, Fermi speculates that maybe the vast expanse of space is too much of a hindrance. As such, the distance of space prevents us from communicating with other intelligent life. Moreover, we might be too early or too late to meet them. Many have speculated that life on Earth developed too early in the cosmos to meet other intelligent life. Or that we developed too late and that all of the aliens are not now dead. In addition, following this logic, we might see future astronauts uncover ancient alien civilizations on far-off planets. Or the opposite might happen. Just imagine, aliens visiting Earth and then finding the ruins of our civilization. This might be akin to science fiction films and video games.

Lastly, Fermir said that it might also be possible they just chose not to contact us. Now there are several reasons why this is. Firstly, they do not see any value in contacting us. Or is it possible they have ethics to consider? But, one more interesting possibility is that they are afraid.

The Dark Forest

Liu Cixin's The Dark Forest book cover
Liu Cixin’s The Dark Forest book cover

Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixin made a book trilogy called Remembrance of Earth’s Past. The book trilogy consists of the first book called The Three-Body Problem. Liu Cixin named his second book, The Dark Forest. And lastly, Death’s End is the final book in the trilogy. And in the second book where the author best explained the concept of The Dark Forest:

“The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life—another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It’s the explanation for the Fermi Paradox.”

Person looking up into the night sky. Photo Credit: NASA
Person looking up into the night sky. Photo Credit: NASA

This paragraph sums up all you need to know about The Dark Forest. Ultimately, it is the fear of the unknown which drives us into isolation. So, there may be aliens in our universe. But, we might never see aliens because they are hiding. And if we might find one then we should be cautious about contacting them. Because the aliens might be willing to strike first before saying hello to us.

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Not all Doom and Gloom

In the end, it is not all doom and gloom. Because this logic is based on our perception of reality. Survival and competition have marred our perception throughout history. We believed in the idea of survival of the fittest. Hence, we saw decades of colonization and abuse of our fellow kin. There we thought to ourselves it is better to be victimizers rather than a victim. So, our understanding of life on Earth forms our perception of other alien civilizations. Thus, we see the universe as a massive hunting ground where you are either the hunter or the prey.

The Golden Record of the Voyager spacecraft. Embedded on it are the recordings of sounds of Earth and instructions for use, should alien life find it. Photo Credit: NASA
The Golden Record of the Voyager spacecraft. Embedded on it are the recordings of sounds of Earth and instructions for use, should alien life find it. Photo Credit: NASA

But, this perception might one day change. Humanity is still young and we still have a lot to learn. Therefore, this perception of The Dark Forest is a manifestation of our primitive consciousness. And maybe the future is much more hopeful. Look at the present day. Even though there is still war and violence. You can see that we have become kinder and more cooperative than our ancestors. Hence, maybe this is our future we might make a new world where cooperation is the best means of survival. And that our first contact with other intelligent life might be one of unity.

Nevertheless, one thing is for certain about finding intelligent life. We have to be thoughtful about our actions. Because anything is possible in the grand expanse of space.

The End

Here ends our discussion. Do you think there are aliens out there? Or do you think we are alone in the universe? And if we find another intelligent life what will happen? Comment below what you folks think.

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