On the Meaning of the Fermi Paradox
Carl L. DeVito
The many extra-solar planets the astronomers have found lends greater poignancy to Enrico Fermi’s famous question: “Where is everyone?”
My paper dealing with this question appeared in a special issue of Futures.
The paper begins with a thought experiment. Suppose that the universe had been scanned continuously, and at many frequencies, for intelligent signals. Suppose the scan had been programed to note any signal detected but then to simply continue the search. We would expect the rate at which societies would be found to depend, in some unknown way, on the number of societies and the rate at which such societies arise. Had this scan begun when the first society arose and continued to the present the number of societies detected would be expressible as a definite integral.