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Extraterrestrial intelligence

extraterrestrial intelligence, extraterrestrial intelligence evidence
Extraterrestrial intelligence often abbreviated ETI refers to hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrial life The question of whether other inhabited worlds might exist has been debated since ancient times The modern form of the concept emerged when the Copernican Revolution demonstrated that the Earth was a planet revolving around the Sun, and other planets were conversely, other worlds The question of whether other inhabited planets or moons exist was a natural consequence of this new understanding It has become one of the most speculative questions in science and is a central theme of science fiction and popular culture


  • 1 Probability
  • 2 Search for extraterrestrial intelligence
  • 3 Potential cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact
  • 4 UFOlogy
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References


The Copernican principle is generalized to the relativistic concept that humans are not privileged observers of the universe Many prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking have proposed that the sheer scale of the universe makes it improbable for intelligent life not to have emerged elsewhere However Fermi's Paradox highlights the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations

The Kardashev scale is a speculative method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to utilize

The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence

Main article: Search for extraterrestrial intelligence

There has been a search for signals from extraterrestrial intelligence for several decades, with no solid results Active SETI Active Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is the attempt to send messages to intelligent extraterrestrial life Active SETI messages are usually sent in the form of radio signals Physical messages like that of the Pioneer plaque may also be considered an active SETI message

Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence CETI is a branch of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence that focuses on composing and deciphering messages that could theoretically be understood by another technological civilization The best-known CETI experiment was the 1974 Arecibo message composed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan There are multiple independent organizations and individuals engaged in CETI research

The US government's position is that "chances of contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence are extremely small, given the distances involved"

Potential cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact

Main article: Potential cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact

The potential changes from extraterrestrial contact could vary greatly in magnitude and type, based on the extraterrestrial civilization's level of technological advancement, degree of benevolence or malevolence, and level of mutual comprehension between itself and humanity Some theories suggest that an extraterrestrial civilization could be advanced enough to dispense with biology, living instead inside of advanced computers The medium through which humanity is contacted, be it electromagnetic radiation, direct physical interaction, extraterrestrial artefact, or otherwise, may also influence the results of contact Incorporating these factors, various systems have been created to assess the implications of extraterrestrial contact

The implications of extraterrestrial contact, particularly with a technologically superior civilization, have often been likened to the meeting of two vastly different human cultures on Earth, an historical precedent being the Columbian Exchange Such meetings have generally led to the destruction of the civilization receiving contact as opposed to the "contactor", which initiates contact, and therefore destruction of human civilization is a possible outcome However, the absence of any such contact to date means such conjecture is largely speculative


The extraterrestrial hypothesis is the idea that some UFOs are vehicles containing or sent by extraterrestrial beings usually called aliens in this context As an explanation for UFOs, ETI is sometimes contrasted with EDI extradimensional intelligence, for example by Allen Hynek

See also

  • Extraterrestrial life
    • Rare Earth hypothesis
    • Cosmic pluralism
    • Fermi Paradox
  • Extraterrestrials in fiction
    • First contact science fiction
    • Contact 1997 American film
  • Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence METI or Active SETI


  1. ^ Plurality of Worlds: The Extraterrestrial life Debate from Democritus to Kant, by Steven Dick, Cambridge University Press 1984
  2. ^ The Extraterrestrial Life Debate: 1750-1900, by Michael J Crowe, Dover Publications, 2011
  3. ^ Are we alone Peter Spinks May 21, 2013
  4. ^ Peacock, John A 1998 Cosmological Physics Cambridge University Press p 66 ISBN 0-521-42270-1 
  5. ^ Hickman, Leo 25 April 2010 "Stephen Hawking takes a hard line on aliens" The Guardian Retrieved 24 February 2012 
  6. ^ Krauthammer, Charles December 29, 2011 "Are we alone in the universe" The Washington Post Retrieved January 6, 2015 
  7. ^ Kardashev, Nikolai "On the Inevitability and the Possible Structures of Supercivilizations", The search for extraterrestrial life: Recent developments; Proceedings of the Symposium, Boston, MA, June 18–21, 1984 A86-38126 17-88 Dordrecht, D Reidel Publishing Co, 1985, p 497–504
  8. ^ Zaun, Harald 1 November 2011 "Es war wie eine 180-Grad-Wende von diesem peinlichen Geheimnis!" Telepolis in German Heise 
  9. ^ a b "The search for ET is a detective story without a body" by Nigel Henbest, New Scientist, March 9, 2013, p 53
  10. ^ Larson, Phil 5 November 2011 "Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet" White House Archived from the original on 24 November 2011 Retrieved 2011-11-06 
  11. ^ Atkinson, Nancy 5 November 2011 "No Alien Visits or UFO Coverups, White House Says" UniverseToday Retrieved 2011-11-06 
  12. ^ a b Harrison, A A 2011 "Fear, pandemonium, equanimity and delight: Human responses to extra-terrestrial life" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369 1936: 656 Bibcode:2011RSPTA369656H doi:101098/rsta20100229 Archived from the original on 25 December 2012 Retrieved 5 April 2012 
  13. ^ Kazan, Casey 1 August 2008 "The Impact of ET Contact: Europe's Scientists Discuss The Future of Humans in Space" Daily Galaxy Retrieved 21 April 2012 
  14. ^ Fuller, Curtis 1980 Proceedings of the First International UFO Congress New York: Warner Books pp 157–163 

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