Now that Yuri Milner has thrown $100 million towards the search for aliens, Tim Urban ponders just why there isn’t anybody out there at Quartz. Where are all the aliens, dammit!
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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:
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).