“Where is everybody?”
What is the Fermi paradox?
Here’s the short version: There should be intelligent life on other planets. But so far, we haven’t found credible evidence of any civilization other than the one here on Earth. Why not?
We now know that in our galaxy alone, there are over one hundred billion stars. We think that most of them have planets. We know that intelligent life is possible, because it exists on our planet. Even if only a small percentage of stars have habitable planets, intelligent life could have developed on millions of other planets in our galaxy. (The Drake Equation is one tool for making such estimates.)
Since most stars are billions of years older than our sun (which is about 4.5 billion years old), some of those intelligent beings would have had billions of years to develop technology far beyond what we earthlings have achieved since we first started on a technological path a few thousand years ago.
By now, there should be spaceships zipping all over the universe! Aliens should be exploring every corner of the galaxy, as portrayed in popular science fiction series such as Star Trek and Star Wars.
And yet, there is no scientifically sound evidence that alien civilizations have ever visited our planet, nor have we been able to detect any signals or other evidence for the existence of any intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe.
So where is everybody?
Many answers have been suggested to the thorny question raised by the Fermi paradox. Most conclude that intelligent life on other planets is very rare, and maybe even unique to Earth.
A common assumption in these answers is that other intelligent species would naturally follow the scientific and technological path that we humans on Earth have followed. Any cultures that didn’t develop advanced technology would be primitive, and far below our level of development.
Swedenborg had a different view.