Scientists have proposed a rather interesting reason for why we haven’t found aliens yet, a problem known as the Fermi Paradox (if life is so abundant, where is everyone?). They propose intelligent aliens could be in a state of hibernation, waiting for the universe to get colder so they can be more productive.
This idea was proposed in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, with a pre-print available on arXiv. The paper was written by Anders Sandberg, Stuart Armstrong, and Milan Cirkovic of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, and picked up recently by Gizmodo.
Some people think that a civilization much more advanced than our own might become a digital race. That is to say, they’ll live as artificial intelligence inside computers, doing away with more limiting fleshy bodies. Experts including Elon Musk have suggested this is a logical progression in the far future.
If we are not alone in the universe (which we have no evidence for yet), one could therefore further propose that an advanced alien race might have gone down this route. But in order to make the most of their new digital bodies, they might not like the universe at the moment.
The temperature of the universe right now is 3 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero. That’s rather chilly, but that temperature will continue to drop as the universe expands. Sandberg and his colleagues argue that the temperature in the future could allow for 1030 more computational processes than are currently possible.
“We hence suggest the ‘aestivation hypothesis’,” the researchers write in their paper, adding that “the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras.” Aestivation is basically hibernation to avoid hotter temperatures, not cooler ones.
Our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center