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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In a 1950 conversation at Los Alamos, four world-class scientists generally agreed, given the size of the Universe, that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations must be present. But one of the four, Enrico Fermi, asked, "If these civilizations do exist, where is everybody?" Given the fact that there are perhaps 400 million stars in our Galaxy alone, and perhaps 400 million ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2002 by Copernicus Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Point a decent-sized radio antenna at any part of the sky, or just look up at it all on a cloudless night: not a trace of aliens - doesn't that strike you as odd?

It struck physicist Enrico Fermi as very odd: if the laws of nature are universal, working in the same way all over the galaxy, and have produced the Earth, life (and us) here, then they should have produced Earths (and 'us') everywhere. Worse, our solar system may be more than four billion years old, but the Universe itself is more tha
Very very fun. All the science-based speculations that I love about science fiction, without the misogynist plots.
I loved the premise of this book so much, but the execution fell a bit flat for me.

Why? I think it was just because the author takes a sort of detached and tedious elaboration of all the different possibilities so that it fills a whole book. I would have preferred something with more pop and pizazz. Give the big picture summary, then break out the key parts, wrestle with the parts and try to really engage with the arguments to highlight the strengths and weaknesses. Instead, it seemed kind of dr
This book discusses in the detail the decades-old "Fermi paradox" -- if the universe is so congenial to the formation and evolution of life, then where are all of these other civilization? Webb presents a list of 50 proposed "solutions" to the paradox, including: (a) societies lose interest in space exploration and colonization; (b) societies invariably destroy themselves before they venture out; (c) there is a "galactic ethic" that civilizations not disclose their existence to nascent civilizat ...more
Swapnil Bokade
50 years ago the great Enrico Fermi posed this question to 3 other physicists while out on lunch, " where is everybody?" Which is known as Fermi Paradox now.
The crux of the paradox is as follows. Given there are so many billion stars and so many billion planets, if we follow the principle of mediocrity which says there's nothing special about life on earth and it can evolve anywhere given the right conditions, there should be an awfully large number of civilizations capable of communicating wit
Chris Lugo
This is one of the most interesting books I have read in some time. It is an easy read for the non-scientific types but addresses one of the most important questions I think people can consider at this moment in our cultural development. Unfortunately I think that I agree with the conclusions of the author that perhaps intelligent life in the universie is exceedingly rare.
What an interesting book! Not only did I learn a great deal about the landscape of theories regarding the Fermi paradox, but I also learned a lot about a variety of related topics, including astrobiology, evolution, probabilities, maths, quantum mechanics, and general/special relativity! While I don't 100% agree with the author's final conclusion that we are likely alone in the Galaxy, if not the Universe as a whole, I was able to clearly follow and understand his reasoning in support of it.

Simon Macarthur
One of the most thought provoking books on our place in the Cosmos that I have read. Could it be that no - one can be bothered to contact us because we are so utterly insignificant in the grand scheme of things? Whatever scant curiosity there may be would come from galactic scale scientists involved in an ant colony experiment just to see if we can avoid polluting our home beyond repair... come back in a millenia or two and there might be something of interest if these mental midgets have manage ...more
Couldn't make it through it, but I don't think that's the authors fault. Engaging and funny at time, just not for me, I guess.
Fresno Bob
some of the 50 are mostly repetitive, would have like to have seen more depth of discussion
Al Bità
This is essential reading for anyone interested in the idea of extraterrestrial civilisations (ETCs) and wanting to know what the various sciences say about them. More specifically, it deals with a particular 'problem' the author calls Fermi's Paradox, which goes something like this: there are billions of stars like our sun in the Milky Way galaxy; and there are billions of galaxies in the universe — so the odds that there are very many highly developed extraterrestrial civilisations out there, ...more
John Szucs
In the late 1940's, the great physicist Enrico Fermi posed a simple but profound question. In essence, he observed that our galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars, surely other intelligent, technological civilizations must have evolved. Some, if not most of them, would be older and more mature than our own and capable of either communicating with us, visiting us, or at least revealing some evidence of their existence. So, where are they?

Scientists and other thinkers have pondered this question
Dennis Littrell
Webb, Stephen. Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life (2002) *****
Examining their navels?

This is the most up-to-date and thorough discussion of the Fermi Paradox that I have read. Stephen Webb examines all the popular solutions as well as some esoteric ones, giving us considerable background on each along with the benefit of his knowledge on a wide range of relevant subjects including microbiology, plate tectonics, evolution, intelligen
Very neat book for anyone interested in astronomy, physics, or paradoxes! Almost makes me wish I hadn't skipped that physics class back in high school. Having weaseled my way out of any extra classes involving numbers, however, I can report that this book manages to be informative and lightly technical in spots without going over the head of this math-illiterate Classics major. I was originally put on to this book by Canadian futurist, ethicist, and animal rights advocate George Dvorsky, who lis ...more
I'd heard about this book for a while and, while I'm glad to have read it and I did find it interesting, it left me a bit underwhelmed. My primary issue is with the author's lack of imagination and rather irritating tendency to dismiss ideas without explaining why he's doing so. Several of the entries are wrapped up with, essentially, "This is a very compelling resolution to Fermi's Paradox, but I'm not convinced"; if you set out to explain why proposed solutions to a conundrum do or don't work, ...more
I think the author does a great job laying out many different types of arguments which attempt to answer the Fermi Paradox, knowing fully well that most of those arguments aren’t even refutable using the scientific methods, given our existing technology and data. The strength of this book doesn’t lie in the way the author clinically tries to agree or disagree with each hypothesis (a better word might be “speculation”, since the hypothesis is not testable), but the way in which he introduces and ...more
In this book, Webb explores 50 different possible solutions to the famed Fermi paradox, which states that if the universe is so large and presumably plays host to thousands of intelligent species, why have we not made contact with them? This book was refreshingly based on actual scientific reasoning and not on the musings of a bomb bunker-bound, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. Furthermore, Webb did well to explain the pros and cons of all the solutions, and I did enjoy his own solution ...more
Riju Ganguly
Finally, I'm through with this book! What had begun as an exciting quest to find an answer to one of the most intriguing questions that has pestered mankind since time immemorial (ARE WE ALONE IN THIS UNIVERSE?) eventually meandered into a text-book reading. Chapter after chapter, I would begin with high hopes that maybe tonight I would find an answer that wouldn't make me too depressed, and then would find my hopes dashed as the author clinically close the case by establishing YES as the only p ...more
Very interesting book, full of brilliant ideas across multiple fields!

Trying to answering to the Fermi paradox (on why we didn't meet extraterrestrial intelligent forms of lives yet or the Great Silence), the author shares with us brilliant ideas on the evolution of our galaxy, of our solar system, of our planet and on terrestrial life in itself.

Particularly insightful the last chapters, where Webb explains the exceptionality of the transition from mono-cellular to multi-cellular life and the p
Riikka Vaahtera
Loppuun saakka upeasti rakennettu teos, joka tarjoili jopa maailmankaikkeutta selittäviä ratkaisuja Fermin paradoksiin: "jos universumissa on muuta älyllistä elämää kuin ihmiskunta, niin missä kaikki ovat?" Kirja, joka sai sekä itkemään että nauramaan.
Interesting summary of all angles of the Fermi paradox. I just dont understand why the author understands that evolution can lead to incredibly complex structures in a relatively short time, but thinks that the development/evolution of language is somehow exempt from this principle. ...more
Great book, excellent approach to the question of why we haven't yet detected life in outer space. A little dated and could use a new edition updated with the latest discoveries, but still a great book on the subject.
The most annoying things that are in this book are the explainations for simple things. It seems to be for an audience who doesn't know much about the Fermi paradox or science. In the later sections Webb felt the need to give a biology lesson. He also has to explain a lot of other simple concepts, which most people with a basic interest or education in science would already know. The best part of this book is the collection of proposed solutions to the Fermi paradox. The authors solution is some ...more
I have always held a soft spot in my imagination for big topics like the Fermi Paradox. Though it requires tonnes of information we do not have, it is an amazing intellectual experiment to discuss. I think one of the quotes in the book is true, when speculation deals with this much grey area, it becomes more about psychology than science.

This book displays 50 possible solutions to the infamous Fermi Paradox. If there are aliens out there, why have we not heard from them? Through attempts to answ
A very interesting read. This book really opened my eyes to what is out there in the universe.
An excellent "science-for-poets" text, the author creates 50 mini-essays in which he proposes various explanations as to why, despite the apparent very favorable odds of intelligent civilizations being prevalent in the universe, we haven't been able to find any reliable indication of them. Webb manages to hold fast to occam's razor without ever coming across as dismissive of some of the more imaginative theories, and while the note on which the book ends is rather depressing, I as a non-scientis ...more
Carl Bromwich
I read this a few years ago and with all the current news of discoveries being made of extra-solar planets has reminded me of what a great book this is. It answers the question of the Fermi Paradox.... "If the Universe is teeming with Aliens, where is everyone" To read all the reasons why life has been able to developed on earth leaves one with a true sense of what a miracle our tiny blue planet really is, in fact everyone one of us is a miracle. I don't agree with the conclusion, but the 50 rea ...more
boring, tons of totally not important informations
Jose lana
Inteligent solution of the Fermi paradox
Claus Wøbbe
Very interesring
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