An Astrophysicist on Why We Haven’t Heard From Extraterrestrials, Yet

In a recent paper penned by Amri Wandel, the astrophysicist aims to explain why extraterrestrials still haven’t made contact with us here on Earth. Wandel dives into numbers to illustrate “the size and scale of the universe as we understand it today, the probability that life exists on other worlds” and more. Essentially the Great Silence—as it’s known to SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute)—comes down to the fact that we are not only tiny, within the vast universe, but also quite well hidden. While earthlings are sending out radio signals that spread out some 200 light years in diameter, “that’s a flyspeck in a galaxy that measures 100,000 light years across and a universe that is a staggering 94 billion light years.” If there was life that did receive our messages, they would be 50 light years away, which means 50 years for our radio signal and another 50 years for a message back—an entire century for just two greetings. There are, however, “2,000 stars harboring who knows how many planets” within that space. So it’s not so much that Wandel doesn’t believe we will have correspondence, but we just have to be patient. Read much more about the paper at Time.

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO