From: Dani Eder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Apr 23 2002 - 20:54:20 MDT
This is a request for pointers to previous thinking
on the relationship of the 'Fermi Paradox' to the
Singularity, in the form of books, articles, URL's
For those not familiar with it, the 'Fermi Paradox'
is named after Enrico Fermi, one of the physicists
who worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.
Fermi started with the fact that nuclear reactions
have energies about one million times that of
chemical reactions. Since the energy required to
get a particular velocity goes as 1/2 mass x velocity
squared, a vehicle propelled by nuclear power
should be able to reach speeds about 1000 times
that of a vehicle propelled by chemical power.
Chemical rockets have a characteristic velocity
of ~3 km/s, so nuclear vehicles should be able
to travel at ~3,000 km/s, or about 1% of lightspeed.
The Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light-years
across, so it would take about 10 million years
to go from one end to the other at that speed.
But the Milky Way is about 1000 times older than
that. If there is another intelligent, expansive
civilization in the galaxy, they should have been
here by now. We see no evidence of such, thus
thus the paradox.
Progress in technology since the 1940's added to
a future Singularity only make the paradox more
pressing. Today we can envision matter-antimatter
propulsion that has a characteristic velocity
near lightspeed. Instead of a generation ship
taking hundreds of years between stars (at 0.01c),
we can envision a much smaller automated probe
travelling at near lightspeed. On arrival it
builds an infrastructure capable of receiving
AIs, which can be transmitted at lightspeed itself.
Therefore an expansive post-Singularity civilization
may grow at near lightspeed. Given enough of a
headstart in time, it could fill a significant
portion of the universe by now. But still we
see no evidence of such. The possible solutions
to the paradox from Fermi's original question can
be extended to the present day considering the
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