Russian physicist Alexander Berezin thinks he may have found an answer to why we haven’t encountered intelligent life in the universe, and it’s depressing as hell.
Berezin’s new paper presents a hypothetical solution to the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi paradox states that, given the literally astronomical number of stars in our galaxy (including those with habitable planets) there should be loads of life and also intelligent life, but there’s not (hence the “paradox” part).
The earth is only 4 billion years old, but the universe is much older, which means other civilizations should have evolved ahead of our own and be much more technologically advanced. And yet there haven’t been any replies to messages or encounters with alien life.
In his bleak assessment, Berezin suggests that once an advanced civilization develops the technological sophistication to travel between the stars it will eventually wipe out all other civilizations. Think of it like a super-advanced expanding colonial power.
“They simply won’t notice, the same way a construction crew demolishes an anthill to build real estate because they lack incentive to protect it,” Berezin writes.
But there’s a twist ending to Berezin’s gloomy prediction: we are the future evil destroyers of all other life in our galaxy.
You see, according to Berezin, the fact we haven’t encountered any other intelligent life simply means we were first—the oldest children of the stars and (future) pioneers in interstellar travel.
“Assuming the hypothesis above is correct, what does it mean for our future? The only explanation is the invocation of the anthropic principle. We are the first to arrive at the [interstellar] stage. And, most likely, will be the last to leave,” he writes.
Berezin names colonialism and capitalism as two historical forces that can become destructive as the push for growth crowds out all other concerns. Pretty bleak!