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New ‘burnout’ theory explains why aliens are avoiding Earth


In 1950, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi asked a question that torments astronomers to this day:

“Where is everybody?”

His query has been immortalized in the Fermi paradox.

The theory contends that there’s a conflict between the apparent absence of aliens and the probability that they exist.

Proponents note that the universe is about three times older than our solar system, and contains more than a billion trillion stars. If stoopid humans can travel to the moon, why haven’t intelligent extraterrestrials paid us a visit?

A pair of astrobiologists this week proposed an answer: alien civilizations get so advanced and large that they can’t handle interstellar travel.

Dr Michael Wong, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Dr Stuart Bartlett, of the California Institute of Technology, describe this crisis as “asymptotic burnout.”

Societies reach this point when their energy demands become unsustainable. They then face a stark choice:

“Civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely,” the scientists hypothesize in Royal Society Open Science.

Planetary civilizations can divert these catastrophes through technological resets — but this merely delays the inevitable.