A new paper claims that intelligent aliens would only be interested in contacting the most technologically advanced planets, and Earth doesn’t make the cut.
An astrophysicist at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Amri Wandel in a new preprint paper published to the arXiv database suggests that intelligent extraterrestrials might not find planets that host life particularly interesting.
‘If life has evolved on many planets in the galaxy, then aliens are probably more interested in the ones where there are signs not just of biology but technology,’ he wrote.
The study explores the Fermi paradox, which holds that given the age of the universe, it’s likely that intelligent aliens would have developed long-distance space travel by now, and thus it’s likely that they would have visited Earth.
Harbouring the fact that they haven’t (as far as we know) may be evidence that there is no other intelligent life in the Milky Way galaxy.
In the new paper, Wandel offers another possible explanation: that life is actually really common in the Milky Way.
If many of the rocky planets orbiting in the habitable zone of stars host life, aliens probably aren’t going to waste their resources sending signals to every one — they’d likely end up trying to communicate with alien algae or amoebas.
Wandel in his study research found that unless intelligent civilizations are very abundant, with more than 100 million technologically advanced planets in the Milky Way, it’s likely that Earth’s signals haven’t reached another form of intelligent life.
However, with time, and as our planet beams out more and more radio chatter, it becomes more likely that Earth’s technological signals will find intelligent listeners, Wandel wrote.
The findings suggest that perhaps there are no intelligent civilizations within about 50 light-years of our planet, he wrote. But intelligent life could still be out there — they’re just waiting for our call.
Could Earth’s mundane qualities therefore make us go unnoticed by otherworldly civilizations? Though yet unpublished and unverified by experts, this theory is an exciting one certain to spark debate among astrobiologists.