There are billions of galaxies in the universe, each with up to a trillion stars, meaning there are likely trillions of habitable planets in the cosmos.
But, if such worlds are so abundant, and life on Earth has been able to thrive, then why have we not found any signals from intelligent life forms?
New research suggests that intelligent aliens haven’t made contact yet because they are hibernating until conditions in the universe become more habitable.
A new study claims that alien lifeforms are most likely to have shifted to a digital-based existence.
Living life as a machine would have many advantages, including being able to process information faster and being less vulnerable to disease and death, they argue.
But supercomputers capable of processing vast amounts of information are known to be more efficient at lower temperatures.
That’s because a large amount of energy is required to cool down the processing activity of a super-fast machine.
Because of this, intelligent machine-based lifeforms have chosen to go into hibernation until the climatic of the universe starts to cool down, according to the researchers.
Scientists from the University of Oxford call this theory the ‘aestivation hypothesis.’
‘If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature environment,’ the scientists, led by Dr Anders Sandberg, said in the Journal of British Interplanetary Society.
‘We hence suggest the “aestivation hypothesis”: the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras.’
The level of background radiation of the universe is currently three degrees Kelvin above zero, which could be intolerably hot for machine-based life, the scientists said.
As the universe expands and stars die out over the course of millions of years, it’s likely that the temperature will drop back to absolute zero.
This would be the ideal time for aliens to come out of hibernation, the scientists claimed.
‘An advanced civilization may have explored a big chunk of the universe, done what is doable with existing nature, and now mostly have internal “cultural” things to do,’ said Dr Sandberg on a personal blog.
‘These things can be regarded as information processing.
‘If they want to maximize processing they should not do it today but wait until the cold future when they will get tremendously more done.
‘They should hence aestivate.’
He added we may one day be able to detect presence of these dormant lifeforms.
‘The thing to look for is a suspicious absence of processes that would waste resources useful for the aestivators,’ Dr Sandberg told Gizmodo.
The researchers suggest that we should be looking out for a variety of processes including stars imploding into black holes, galactic winds losing gas in space, collisions between galaxies and galaxy clusters splitting up as the universe expands.