Scientists Claim Aliens Have Found Us and Are Keeping Us in a Zoo | 22 Words

Astronomy has really picked up its game over the past few years. With fancy technology, math and computer simulation, scientists have managed to estimate a total of two-hundred billion planets in this galaxy that could have other forms of life.

Last week, experts in various scientific fields gathered in Paris to discuss why, if there is so high a chance that aliens exist, we haven't come across any yet.

This is called the Fermi Paradox, and they've got some pretty wild theories about it.

According to the "zoo hypothesis," aliens must know about humans, they just don't want to meet us (and, honestly, we don't blame them).

Another theory, the "galactic quarantine," suggests that aliens are just "too nice" to disturb our lives.

But what if it's really our arrogance that keeps our neighbors away?

Recently, scientists started using telescopes both on the ground and in space.

These telescopes allowed them to estimate how many planets there are in our galaxy, Paul Scott Anderson, EarthSky, reports. Specifically, they looked at exoplanets, planets beyond our solar system that orbit other stars.

What about planets that don't orbit any stars and simply free-float in space?

Scientists have tried to count these, too... And they believe that there are around fifty billion of them!

The numbers are fairly new - the results were published just last month!

But that doesn't mean that they've seen all fifty billion of them! In fact, they've only actually discovered twelve of them.

So where did that huge number come from?

Math. And computer simulations. They looked at two-thousand five-hundred and twenty-two planets that orbit five-hundred stars within the Trapezium star cluster, which is close to the Orion constellation.

The simulation told them that three-hundred and fifty-seven of these would become free-floating planets within eleven million years since their beginning.

Then they used this number to estimate how many exoplanets and free-floaters there must be in the whole galaxy that is believed to have around two-hundred billion stars.

But the Trapezium cluster is just one of many that we know about.

So if there is a total of two-hundred billion stars and a quarter of them have already lost at least one planet, there must be around fifty billion free-floating planets in our galaxy alone.

So the chance of extraterrestrial life is very high!

That's why "leading researchers from the fields of astrophysics, biology, sociology, psychology, and history" met this year at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie museum in Paris, according to Jamie Carter, Forbes. "Every two years, METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International organizes a one-day workshop in Paris as part of a series of workshops entitled What is Life? An Extraterrestrial Perspective," says the organizer and member of METI’s Board of Directors, Florence Raulin Cerceau.

At the workshop, scientists discuss the most insane questions you've ever heard:

"Are extraterrestrials staying silent out of concern for how contact would impact humanity?" That'd be sweet of them... "Do we live in a 'galactic zoo?'"

"Should we send intentional radio messages to nearby stars to signal humanity’s interest in joining the 'galactic club?'"

"Will extraterrestrial intelligence be similar to human intelligence?" "Did life get to earth from elsewhere in the galaxy (interstellar migration)?" That would explain why I'm so out of this world... sorry...

But the one question that the workshop is working on this year is, "Why haven't we made contact with alien civilizations?"

Such a rush to turn reality into a Sci-Fi movie scene...

This is called the Fermi Paradox.

Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi was the first one to raise the question, "where is everybody?" back in 1950.

The Fermi Paradox addresses one major contradiction in astronomy.

According to Carter's summary, "if extraterrestrial life and even intelligent alien civilizations are not just likely, but highly probable, then why have none of them been in contact with us?"

"Are there biological or sociological explanations for this 'Great Silence?'"

Cyril Birnbaum and Brigitte David said at last week's workshop, "We are very interested in the scientific approach used in the analysis of the Fermi Paradox and the search for intelligent life in the universe."

"The question 'Are we alone?' affects us all, because it is directly related to humanity and our place in the cosmos."

Meanwhile, Raulin Cerceau explained, "This puzzle of why we haven’t detected extraterrestrial life has been discussed often, but in this workshop’s unique focus, many of the talks tackled a controversial explanation first suggested in the 1970s called the 'zoo hypothesis.'"

What is the "zoo hypothesis"?

Its main idea is that aliens do know we exist, but they choose to hide from us instead of establishing contact.

That would make sense as to why it's called the "Great Silence."

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI, said, "Perhaps extraterrestrials are watching humans on Earth, much like we watch animals in a zoo."

"How can we get the galactic zookeepers to reveal themselves?"

He believes we should show more initiative. "If we went to a zoo and suddenly a zebra turned toward us, looked us in the eye, and started pounding out a series of prime numbers with its hoof, that would establish a radically different relationship between us and the zebra, and we would feel compelled to respond."

Except zebras in a zoo don't care about meeting humans. They probably just to be sent back home to the wild...

Vakoch added, "We can do the same with extraterrestrials by transmitting powerful, intentional, information-rich radio signals to nearby stars."

An even crazier theory is the "galactic quarantine" theory.

This one is based on the kindness of aliens regarding the human race. (If they're actually kind, I really hope they'll never see Independence Day.)

"It seems likely that extraterrestrials are imposing a 'galactic quarantine' because they realize it would be culturally disruptive for us to learn about them," said Jean-Pierre Rospars, co-chair of the workshop.

"Cognitive evolution on Earth shows random features while also following predictable paths... we can expect the repeated, independent emergence of intelligent species in the universe, and we should expect to see more or less similar forms of intelligence everywhere, under favorable conditions."

"There’s no reason to think that humans have reached the highest cognitive level possible," he added.

"Higher levels might evolve on Earth in the future and already be reached elsewhere."

Scientists also use the Drake Equation to estimate the numbers of intelligent extraterrestrials.

This formula above is supposed to put the Fermi Paradox into numbers and give us a better idea of how many other "intellectuals" there are in our galaxy.

Radio astronomer, Dr Frank Drake came up with the equation in 1961.

But as impressive and "intelligent" as this equation seems, it's really not much more than guesswork.

Its actual purpose, Carter writes, isn't to find an answer.

Rather, it's meant to keep the conversation about alien intelligence going.

And if we want real answers, we should push into the alien territory, according to one scientist.

They believe that, although practical, radio communications are not enough to find the aliens. "Only full-blown colonization of other stars is the only way to prove the existence of intelligent life."

Right, because "full-blown colonization" has worked so well for us in the past.

Nicolas Prantzos, director of research of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, said, "It appears that although radio communications provide a natural means for searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence for civilizations younger than a few millennia, older civilizations should rather develop extensive programs of interstellar colonization."

"This is the only way to achieve undisputable evidence, either for or against the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, within their lifetime."

We might not be aware of it, but we do tend to "humanize" aliens when thinking of what they would look like. What if they're a completely different form of life? One that we can't even comprehend...

As Roland Lehoucq, an astrophysicist at the Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique, put it, "The environment on an exoplanet will impose its own rules."

"There is no trend in biological evolution: the huge range of various morphologies observed on Earth renders any exobiological speculation improbable, at least for macroscopic ‘complex’ life."

Lehocq is sure that aliens are unlikely to look anything like us.

That's because of "our persistent anthropocentrism in our understanding and description of alien life." We simply can't imagine other intelligent beings that do not look like us.

Or as Carter concludes, "We're too self-obsessed to even imagine extraterrestrial life, let alone find and communicate with it."

He adds, "And if there's not going to be proof within our lifetimes, we're not much interested in looking."