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Where are all the aliens?

Food for thought!


This post originally appeared at WaitButWhy.com.

Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this:

The Milky Way is seen in the night sky over rocks in the White Desert north of the Farafra Oasis.

Some people stick with the traditional—feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.

Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—“Where is everybody?”

A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars (roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy), and almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way). So what we’re really looking at is…

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