We could be living in a galactic zoo run by extraterrestrials?

Are we alone? Or do other civilizations exist? The reason why we haven’t discovered another intelligent civilization yet is because of Fermi’s paradox, a theory that was created but he Italian physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950. So the question remains why haven’t we already discovered another civilization yet? At least humanity should have detected some already; but we still haven’t received any hint or sign confirming or denying that we are not alone in the universe.

Researchers from various scientific fields such as astrophysics, biology or history have been summoned to the Paris Science Museum Cité des Sciences et de I’Industrie, by an organization called METI (sending messages to extraterrestrial intelligence). These researchers raised the possibility that extraterrestrials remain at a prudent distance from the impact that this intelligent civilization may have on humanity.

According to Florence Raulin Cerceau, co-chair of the workshop and a member of the METI Board, the workshop was organized to discuss Fermi’s Paradox, she claims that “this puzzle of why we have not detected extraterrestrial life has often been discussed, but in the unique approach of this workshop, many of the talks addressed a controversial explanation that brought forward the zoo hypothesis, in 1970.”

What about The Great Silence? Why haven't they contacted us?

“Perhaps extraterrestrials are observing humans on Earth, just as we observe animals in a zoo.

How can we make galactic caretakers reveal themselves? If we went to a zoo and suddenly a zebra turned towards us, looked us in the eye and started throwing a series of prime numbers with its helmet, that would establish a radically different relationship between us and the zebra, as we would feel compelled to respond. We can do the same with extraterrestrials by transmitting powerful, intentional and information-rich radio signals to nearby stars,” says Douglas Vakoch, president of METI. 

So we come to question: Could we really be part of a galactic zoo? Are we being watched from a distance? And finally, could we be quarantined from the rest of the galaxy? This idea was expressed by Jean-Pierre Rospars, honorary director of research at the National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA) and co-chair of the workshop:

"It seems likely that extraterrestrials are imposing a 'galactic quarantine' because they realise that it would be culturally damaging for us to learn about them. Cognitive evolution on Earth shows random characteristics while also following predictable paths. There is no reason to think that humans have reached the highest possible cognitive level.”

Intelligent living?

All these conjectures also depend on how many civilizations exist, which is still an unknown. Drake’s equation has been used to try to estimate the number of civilizations, but there are still unknown variables that need to be taken into account. Like: How many exoplanets can support life? How many actually do? How often does intelligent life evolve? How many civilizations are more advanced than us?

While the zoo hypothesis may not offer more answers, at least it offers another hypothetical explanation as to why the universe seems like such a lonely place sometimes.

What do we do if there's finally extraterrestrial contact?

The basic protocols for our first contact with extraterrestrials were put into practice in the 1980s, but these are just guidelines, rather than a plan of action for dealing with extraterrestrial contact.

Seth Shostak, who directs the efforts of the SETI Institute for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, previously commented that a more detailed action plan should be implemented. As it stands right now, our response "would be as if the Neanderthals had a plan if the U.S. Air Force appeared," Shostak said.

Referencia: METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence)


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