There are many theories that try to explain why we haven’t made contact with aliens, but the Dark Forest Theory is the most terrifying of all.

It suggests the reason why we haven’t heard from aliens is that they are deliberately keeping quiet.

The Search for Alien Life

The search for extra-terrestrial life captivates human beings. We make films and write books about it. We spend billions of dollars on equipment designed to listen and emit signals into the depths of the universe.

But as of yet, outer space has remained resolutely silent. But how is this possible? In the observable universe alone there are approximately 10 billion galaxies. Within each one of these galaxies are around 100 billion stars, just like our own sun.

Even according to esteemed astronomer Frank Drake, it is inconceivable that aliens have not made contact yet. The Drake Equation estimates that there should be around 20 alien civilisations close enough to Earth to have been detected.

So why haven’t we found alien life if the odds are so stacked for there being life in the universe? More to the point, why is the Dark Forest Theory so scary?

Astronomer Martin Dominik alludes to the theory in an interview with The Times. He is discussing the plan by the US to broadcast a powerful radio message to a nearby star:

“Maybe,” he said, without humour, “they will come and eat us.”

But before we start fashioning ‘End of the World’ placards, let’s look at other theories why humans have not made contact with aliens.

3 Theories about Alien Existence

1. The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox is named after physicist, Enrico Fermi. It asks: ‘If there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies, then why haven’t we seen aliens?

There are reasonable explanations:

  • There is alien life on other planets but they haven’t got the technology to reach us yet.
  • They don’t want to visit us.
  • They have already been to Earth but at a time when humans were not on the planet.
  • Alien civilisations have only recently acquired the technology to travel through space.

2. Catch 22

For aliens to visit Earth, they have to live on another planet. However, life on other planets is extremely rare. Earth is truly a one-off, a miracle planet. It lies on the Goldilocks zone of just the right temperatures situated away from the sun.

In fact, it’s fair to say that the default state of the universe is a dead, silent, vacuum. It is totally devoid of any life. And this is where the Catch-22 comes in. For a planet to be habitable, it first has to become inhabited.

The reason for that is that the organisms that live on the planet change the atmosphere. Plants give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Organisms do the opposite. You can’t have one without the other. Earth is the exception to the rule in the universe. That is why we haven’t encountered aliens – because there aren’t any.

3. We haven’t waited long enough

Human beings have been listening for and sending out signals for about 100 years. The universe itself is nearly 14 billion years old and extends 92 billion light years in diameter. We really are being incredibly impatient.

At present, we have listened to an area well under 1% of our galaxy alone. Actually, astrophysics experts from Cornell University advise it may well be 1,500 years before we have scanned enough of the Milky Way before we hear from extra-terrestrials.

The Dark Forest Theory

So why is the Dark Forest Theory so frightening? Because it suggests that there is alien life out there, but it is hostile. In fact, it is staying silent for a reason. The reason is this killer alien species wants to end human civilisation on Earth and take the planet for its own species.

If you think this is a storyline best suited for a Hollywood blockbuster, you only have to look back at our own history.

When explorers set foot on the new unchartered territory, they do not acclimatise themselves with the local people. In fact, if they consider themselves to be more civilised, they take over the land and the rights of the indigenous people.

Here are three reasons why experts believe in the Dark Forest Theory:

  • Survival of the fittest

All living creatures have an innate drive to live and to survive. Whether they are a human, animal, fish, bird, or alien. If one species cannot communicate effectively with another, and they don’t know their intentions, it is prudent to eliminate them first.

  • Limited resources in the universe

We already know the Earth is a rare planet in the universe. How many science-fiction movies feature plotlines where aliens attack because their planet is dying and they need our resources?

  • Other civilisations are keeping quiet to survive

Astronomer Dominik believes the reason we have not made contact with life in outer space is simple. The more advanced civilisations are hiding from hostile aliens.

Which begs the question, should we be trying to make contact if we don’t really know what’s out there? There are some astronomers that would prefer to keep a much lower profile and take the ‘wait and see’ approach.

However, the problem remains that just about anyone can send a message into space. In fact, in 2008, the manufacturers of Doritos blasted a 30-second advert towards Ursa Major.

What are your thoughts? Wait and see or shout loudly and hope someone visits?

“Some say (alien contact) is the greatest thing we should do. Some think we should be very quiet and this should be the last thing we should do — and it might indeed be the last thing we will do.”

– Dominik

References:

  1. bigthink.com
  2. nasa.gov


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