V.M. Lipunov

Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Universitetskij pr., 13,
119899, Moscow V-234, Russia E-mail: lipunov@sai.msu.su

Astrophysics and Space Science, 1997, vol 252, p. 73-81

The Giant Silence of the Universe or the absence of ``Space Miracles'' is in obvious contradiction with the rapid evolution of our civilization. The most striking fact is that both these phenomena, if taken separately, are in crying contradiction with ``materialistic common sense'', and are to be considered real ``Space Miracles'' themselves. In fact, this is the main problem of modern natural science. This crisis may be overcome if we recognize the Super Reason, that is, God discovered scientifically.


Here, I shall try to speak about the most important problem of modern natural science -- a problem that is undoubtedly of more importance than the discovery of black holes, the creation of a Grand Unification Theory, or the development of artificial intelligence. Moreover, this problem seems to be not only more profound and complicated, but also much more urgent (Lipunov, (1995)).

In modern natural science, there is an experimental fact that is quite incomprehensible and paradoxical, and is crying contradiction with every modern orthodoxal picture of the world. This is the absence of Supercivilizations, or the ``Silence of the Universe''. Naturally, this fact had been discovered and realized previously. It was realized with the most acuteness in a paper by I.S.~Shklovskii (Shklovskii, (1985)), which appeared to be a "voice crying in the desert" (and still seems to be completely unknown in the West).

Fermi's Paradox

In 1985, Shklovskii (Shklovskii, (1985)) formulated the problem of Extraterrestrial Intelligence. He was engaged in this problem nearly all his life. However, the most surprising fact is that, having passed from the early romanticism of the 1960's (suggesting the artificial creation of Phobos and Deimos) and through the more realistic concept of the uniqueness of life in the Universe (the absence of space miracles (Shklovskii, (1975))), which has engaged western scientists up to now (Tipler, (1981), Brin, (1983)), Shklovskii came to a conclusion that could have been obtained before the space age and programs of searches for extraterrestrial life!

In fact, the problem can be reduced to so-called Fermi's paradox (Lipunov, (1988)), which in modern language is the following (Lipunov 1987). There are two observational or, if you like, experimental facts: (1) the age of the Universe is T = 1010 year and (2) the time t for the exponential development of our civilization is of the order of some tens of years. For the sake of simplicity, we can adopt = 100 years, which is obviously an overestimate. A gigantic dimensionless number arises, characterizing the growth of a technological civilization over the time of existence of the Universe:


It is sufficient to say that theoretical physics has never dealt with such large dimensionless numbers. For example, the total number of elementary particles in the Universe looks ridiculously small - 1080. Fermi himself exclaimed: ``If there are anywhere space civilizations, their spaceships have been in the solar system long since'' (I don't guarantee the exactness of the quotation). Naturally, this number is so gigantic that any unknown intermediate factors are unimportant. In fact, it can be confirmed that the probability of the absence of ``space miracles'' in our Universe is 10-43,000,000, i.e., it is equal to zero! Nevertheless, nobody has discovered them even after 20 years of searches. On the contrary, a Giant Silence of the Universe has been revealed. A world without miracles is an incredible thought, but it exists - that is the paradox.

The idea of uniqueness

How can Fermi's paradox be resolved in terms of a modern scientific approach? In the middle of the 1970's, Shklovskii formulated the concept of a ``Space Miracle'' as a result of activity of Supercivilizations, and proposed the idea that our civilization is unique in the entire huge Universe (Shklovskii, (1985)). If there are no ``Space miracles'' and ``the Universe keeps silence'', there is no extraterrestrial intelligence. That was an awful thought, especially for a man who was looking for artificial roots inside Mars' satellites. Neither were matters much better for humanity. One of the most optimistic human ideas crashed down: the idea of a multitude of worlds. As was said by Ya.~B.~Zel'dovich in another connection, ` `What was Jordano Bruno burned for?''

Is the hypothesis of the uniqueness of Terrestrial Civilization so natural? Certainly, not. This hypothesis is in crying contradiction with the observed uniformity and isotropy of the Universe as a consequence of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation. A rise of only one civilization in a uniform and isotropic (on the whole) Universe, in a galaxy that is not distinguishable from others, near an ordinary yellow star, seems rather incredible. There are billions of such stars in our Galaxy -- and the number of the galaxies themselves is even greater. Nevertheless, the probability that terrestrial life is unique is not so small, and cannot be compared to Fermi's paradox. The question thus arises of the number of planetary systems, Drake's formula appears, and so on. However, the uniqueness hypothesis puts us back at the anthropological point of view, from which physicists always try to keep their distance. Moreover, as will be shown below, this idea and connected calculations on the probability of the appearance of life lose their actuality in light of Tsiolkovskii's paradox.

Shklovskii himself, in his last paper, rejected the idea of uniqueness and put forward the even less consoling hypothesis of a ``deadend branch''. Let us look once more at the formula given above. The only possibility to get rid of this gigantic number is to suppose that time for the exponential stage of development of civilizations is much less than the time of existence of the Universe. In other words, the Giant Silence of the Universe can be explained by assuming that technological supercivilizations don't arise at all. Why? At least two answers can be proposed: because of loss of interest for technological development or because of their destruction. Shklovskii chose the second possibility, and he had his reasons for this (we don't notice yet any limit for technological development). In the words of Shklovskii, the Earth represents ``a cemetery of species'': biological estimates argue that about one billion species have evolved on the Earth since the appearance of life, and now there are only two million. It could be that an intellect is also some ``hypertrophic'' function (such as the mass of a dinosaur's body), which leads to inevitable destruction? Thus, intellect may be only an unsuccessful invention of nature, a``deadend branch''. What is the direct reason for destruction? An atomic war, an ecological catastrophe? It doesn't seem so. It is clear that, in spite of all the possible variety of specific ``local conditions'', the destruction of different civilizations must be due to the same, universal reason. What reason? An interesting possibility is discussed by V. Khlumov (Khlumov, 1987). A single, common reason for destruction of intelligence in the Universe could be connected with the loss of its main function, the function of cognition. His arguments is as follows.

Simple Universe

What is intelligence or intelligent life? What is the purpose of its appearance among other creatures of nature? We shall not discuss in detail these questions. We shall restrict ourselves with the following simple thesis: an intelligent being tries to understand and explain phenomena that happen around it. It is important that the interest and curiosty arising in this process are highly unstable. Interest to a phenomenon that has been understood vanishes nearly instantly. When we discover a new law of nature we begin at once to look for some new phenomena that are not subject to this law. There are no practical applications of old laws that would be more interesting than searching for new ones. With various particular cases, new regimes, original approaches, etc. as attractive as they can be, all this is a pale shadow of the real process of cognition. Intelligence is stunted without fundamentally new, unexplained phenomena.

It is possible to perish from an atomic or biological bomb. However, all these are childish toys compared with what could be invented by a civilization outstripping us, say, by some 200 years. Even now, in the limits of the natural laws discovered by us, we can imagine such a powerful weapon that, once used, could evoke consequences noticeable in the entire Galaxy. Such a ``brother-murdering'' war would be quite a space miracle. But miracles do not exist! The forces preventing the development of intelligence must be of quite another nature. And, certainly, they must be of a universal character that doesn't depend on any specific conditions.

Before we begin to describe a possible reason leading to the destruction of intelligence (its natural destruction), let us consider the following problem: why human beings, during the shortest time intervals (on a cosmological time-scale), have become successful in understanding the laws of nature acting in the entire observable Universe? Some two or three thousand years was enough to reach quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity. How has man --- whose every-day experience is limited to commonplace scales measured by meters, to velocities some tens of million times smaller then the velocity of light, and to insignificantly small gravitational fields --- how has this weak being penetrated, without leaving his house, into the huge space of the Universe and into the deepness of infinitely small elementary particles?

The ancient philosophers described the cognition process in the following manner. Let us imagine an infinite plane. A circle on the plane symbolizes the knowledge we have already attained. In the cognition process the circle increases and absorbs the previous knowledge, but also the boundary of the unknown increases. Cognition yields more and more questions. The process is infinite.

This point of view is old as the world. Is not this a too primitive generalization of our quickly passing experience? Can an infinitely complicated object indeed be so simple? Rather no then yes. ``Complexity'' is, first of all, a qualitative characteristic, not a quantitative one. An infinitely complicated object must consist of infinitely complicated, qualitatively different parts which are under no obligation to be compatible. The world or, more correctly, a system of knowledge about the world, is not a ``matrioshka''. If we have understood a part of this non-simple object we cannot be sure our knowledge will enter into the next system of knowledge like a small ``matrioshka'' enters into a big one.

The process of cognition rather must be a strongly nonlinear one. An extreme, but not particular, case could be so strongly nonlinear that comprehension of any part would be impossible without realization of a full picture. In other words, an infinitely complicated object cannot be comprehended in principle. Intelligence could not arise in an infinitely complicated universe!

The negative thesis expressed above about the incompatibility of subsequently comprehensible parts is in crying contradiction with all our experience. All our experience cries that our world is something like a ``matrioshka''. For example, Newton's mechanics became a part of Einstein's special theory of relativity, which, in turn, became a part of the general theory of relativity. This is Bohr's compatibility principle.

How can we take away the obvious contradiction? There are two possibilities: either our concept of an infinitely complicated object is incorrect, or the surrounding world is not infinitely complicated. One can choose the correct answer only based on observational facts\dots

Let us recall: intelligence without food perishes. And everything proves to be in its place. The experimentally proved absence of supercivilizations argues for the fact that our Universe is too simple for intelligence. Quickly (in some thousand years) an intelligent species comprehends all natural laws, exhausts all possibilities of its applications, and perishes. This is a paradox but a fact: intelligence arises and perishes due to the same reason, that is, the simple structure of our world.

Tsiolkovskii's Paradox

I shall not discuss in detail other (less interesting) possibilities, for example, connected with the invention of an artificial mind and self-producing machines (this is often told by the western futurologists (Tipler, (1981), Brin, (1983)). They bring nothing new in the problem under consideration, since they encounter the same Fermi's paradox. On the contrary, I want to show that in reality, Fermi's paradox is only a pale shadow of the actual problem that stands before modern natural science. As a matter of fact, it has already stood for several centuries.

Let us return to our formula. What does it have from modern science? First, an exponent. Second, the observed rate of development of our civilization and, third, the age of the Universe. Imagine now you were living in the last century and trying to write a formula of this kind. What would change? The exponential development had been already observed. The characteristic time, t, for the development of civilization was already known. In those days, it was somewhat more than nowadays but in our calculations it was taken as from the last century. As concerns the age of the Universe, matters were quite different. In the last century, I had to substitute in the formula T=. Indeed, the expansion of the Universe was not yet discovered, and the Universe was believed to be eternal! And it would be no matter for me how quickly a civilization developed: in a thousand, million or billion years. Next to eternity, everything is equal.

Then, in the answer, we would obtain not an anomalously large number, but an infinite one. This is not only a paradox, this is a real ``deadend''. It is astonishing: how could the best minds of the last century pass by such a crying fact? Having the possibility to give birth to life during an infinitely long timem, Nature sooner or later had to give rise to SUPERINTELLIGENCE. Not speaking of the last century, even in our century, A.~Einstein, and F.~Hoyle after him, tried to argue for an eternally living Universe. They didn't know what they created, did they?

For a long time I have tried to find a physicist or a philosopher who discussed, though in passing, this fact, which is begging for comprehension. And such a man has been found, although not in the last, but in our century. As a matter of fact, he reasoned as a representative of the last century because he didn't suspect the expansion of the Universe, or didn't believed in it (the first estimates of the age of the Universe were extremely low, and contradicted geological data). This was K.E.Tsiolkovskii, technician of genius, dreamer, and evident philosopher. Unfortunately, his most consecutive ideas were stated orally when he was speaking to Chizhevskii, and the latter wrote down their talk later (Tsiolkovskii, (1986)). But the results of reflections were published from time to time. Yes, Tsiolkovsky understood, from his pure materialistic point of view, that infinite development of nature sooner or later (it is an expression almost out of place) must come to complete the expansion of intelligence. And so he derived the idea of ``an intelligent atom'', ``perfect creatures'', and the Intelligent Universe. These ideas, of course, may be perceived by a modern natural scientist with irony; nevertheless the reason for their appearance is quite natural for a scientific method. If the Universe has lived for an infinitely long time, then Tsiolkovskii's paradox can be solved only with one key, the key of ``Superintelligence''.

You may say, thank God, there was the astronomer Hubble, who discovered the expansion if the Universe, and we understood that our Universe had not been eternal -- ``only'' something like ten billion years old. And afterwards, we could close our eyes to this ``ten'' with 43 million of ``0''s, and refer to the uniqueness, ``deadend branch'' or ``an eastern variant''.

First of all, as we saw, this is not so simple at all, because of the remoteness of years ``lived out'' by nature. And besides, is not indeed this world eternal?

The current state of matters in cosmology has been formed in the beginning of the 1980's, when the concept of inflation saw the light (Guth, 1981). In reality, as A.D.~Linde and A.A.Starobinskii show in their models of stochastic birth, our Universe is only a part in some quasistationary process of constantly arising and fanning universes. In other words, the old dream of humanity about other universes is now considered from a quite scientific point of view, although in a semi-qualitative manner, at the limits (more precisely, the frontiers) of the Grand Unification Theory, which is not yet constructed. There are two important items here: 1) our Universe is not alone, 2) there exists a ``pre-Planck'' life time for every such universe, when, generally speaking, the classical concept of time loses its sense (due to, for example, purely quantum indeterminacy of cause-consequence cohesions). Briefly speaking, in spite of the rescue discovery of E.~Hubble, the question of the time infinity of our Universe has floated once more, as in the 19th century. And we are to consider once again the stationary version of Einstein or that proposed subsequently by Bondi and Hoyle. Of course, now we deal with quite a different concept of time. The significant point is that the nature has had an infinite number of possibilities to create worlds of our type, and consequently, an infinite number of possibilities for the appearance of life. And so, we must solve Tsiolkovskii's paradox once more.

Scientifically discovered God

Let us return to the post-mortem paper by I.S.~Shklovskii, to its ending so remarkable for the characteristic of our time and of the discussed problem. Shklovskii writes: ``An alternative to the concept sketched above, rather non-optimistic, is the idea that intelligence is the manifestation of some super-material, transcendental principle. This is the old concept of God and the godlike nature of human mind. For persons standing far apart (and not always far) from science, this concept seems much more optimistic and even moral. However, it is rather difficult nowadays to stand for a position having nothing in common with science. Oblivion of that basic fact that we are part of an objectively existing and recognizable material world doesn't promise anything to anybody, although it does creates false optimistic illusions'' (ending of the quotation). As for me, after having read that now, I want simply to keep silent and to think.

This fragment comprises our latest ten years, speaks for the author himself and the problem itself. And it is not difficult now to stand for this position; moreover, now, to the contrary, a person who hasn't God in his heart is considered to be indecent. Nevertheless, the striking intuition of this man has revealed itself in the finality. It is clear, after all, that the concept of a ``deadend branch'' can hardly survive, and only in a small universe with a finite age. And what to think having in mind Tsiolkovskii's paradox? In fact, we have consequently conducted a materialistic, atheistic, scientific point of view and have discovered God, the scientifically supported God.

It is worthwhile here to present a quotation from a letter by A.~Einstein to Moris Solovin on 1952, 30 March (Einstein, 1967): ``You find surprising that I talk of cognizability of the world (to a certain degree as we have a right to talk about it) as of miracle or eternal enigma.

Well, a~priori, a chaotic world is to be anticipated, which cannot be cognized with the use of mentality. This world only might (or must) be anticipated to subject the law to a measure in which we can arrange it with our mind. This would be an arrangement like an alphabetical arrangement of the words of some language. On the contrary, the arrangement being brought in, for example, by Newtonian theory of gravitation, has quite a different character. Although the axioms of this theory were created by a man, the success of this enterprise suggests a significant arrangement of the objective world, which we haven't any foundation to anticipate a~priori. And this is ``a miracle'', and the further our knowledge is developed the more magic it becomes.

The positivists and professional atheists see in that a vulnerable spot, as they feel themselves happy of the consciousness of succeeding not only in banishing God from this world, but in ``depriving this world of miracles''. It is curious, we must be satisfied with the admission of ``a miracle'' because we have no legal ways to get out from the position. (Italics is mine,-V.L.) I have specially to underline this so that you don't think that I, growing to an old age, became a victim of priests''. (translated from Russian)

This is also a very specific saying having mainly two points. First, a real ``space miracle'' is admitted to exist and, second, there is an obvious realization of the fact that this leads at once to the admission of the God existence, but that one cannot make this admission if he doesn't want to become ``a victim of priests''. Equally, we cannot admit the infinite complication of the world and its successful cognizability (i.e., the existence of a mind in an infinitely complicated world) without admitting a Superintelligence --- the scientifically discovered God. If Einstein would only have suspected Tsialkovskii's paradox, he could have done nothing more natural than this.

Endlessly Complicated World

What does it mean, God being discovered scientifically, or Superintelligence? And what is the future of science dealing with an endlessly complicated world? Can the human intellect create any model, theory, conception, even primitive, for an endlessly complicated object, uncognizable in its parts? It can hardly do so in terms of contemporary science. In fact, all science is originally constructed based on ``atomic'', ``matrioshka''logic acting in a linear world, and suggests the existence of independent and countable elements. And the mathematics supporting contemporary physics is based on a pastoral experience with numbers --- a herd of sheep can be divided to separate ones and counted. (This is also surprising: how science with this slight luggage in hand succeeded in penetrating into the deepest mysteries of the Universe and of the atoms?) This classical scientific method has operated in terms of an approach that suggests a transition from simple to more complicated objects. Thus, the meaning of modern science is ``to explain''. But the human lexicon also has such important words as ``to understand'' and ``to believe''. One of these belong rather to art, and especially to literature (which, as science, uses the language of words), and the other --- to religion. But how can all this be joined together, how can formal mathematical expressions be ethically coloured? And how does the scientifically discovered God that has been inevitably reached by modern simple science correlated with the religious God?

Certainly, the search of extraterrestrial intelligence must be one of the most important directions in natural scientific investigations. Although it must be clearly realized that the discovery of habitable planetary systems, although interesting in itself, can hardly provide any significant advance. Such a discovery resembles the discovery of Indians by Columbus. It is important, of course, if we are aware of a new biological species, but what is much more important are their impressions of God, Good, and Evil.


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