10 Theories Why We Haven’t Discovered Aliens Yet



‘Alien’ is defined as ‘a hypothetical or fictional being from another world’, which just about hits the nail on the head. For countless years, mankind has been obsessed with what lies above, whether in the form of deities or little green men in an unidentified flying object. And when science developed the technology that probing the universe was finally possible, Earth leaped at the opportunity.

The search for extraterrestrial life has been a popular subject for the past century, and yet it doesn’t feel like any significant progress has been made towards discovering Earth’s neighbors in the universe. The scientific community is divided on why alien life proves so elusive, maybe because there’s very little that smart people agree on. But it’s a good idea to be well-informed on the possibilities, so you can tell your alien friends in 2045 that you knew it all along

10. 4-Dimensional Beings


Picture what a two-dimensional being would be like. It would be flat because it would lack depth. Its surroundings would similarly only be measured by length and width as well. A two-dimensional being would be unable to comprehend or even look upon a three-dimensional being such as humans. Now imagine how a four-dimension being would seem to us with our measly three dimensions.

When a scientist talks about dimensions, they most likely mean a set of numbers by which space is measured. In the case of three dimensions, the measurements lengthwidth, and depth. Scientists are unsure of what the fourth dimension could be, though the most common hypothesis is time, meaning that these theoretical creatures exist out of a linear perception of time.

This theory posits that aliens do exist and may have discovered us, and they might even be more populous than us. They could exist in the same space that people do, but humans aren’t able to perceive or understand such a high level being such as that. So, you never have to feel alone. Even when you settle down to sleep tonight, take a look at your empty bedroom, and maybe a 4-D creature is watching you. Sleep tight.

9. They’re Not Developed Enough


The universe has existed as it is for 14 billion years, while Earth took 10 billion years, and of that history, humans did not emerge until recently in the scheme. Early humans went through many stages, from hunter-gatherer to agrarian, leading to the rise of cities and nations. History can be traced back thousands of years but after that, things start to get fuzzy.

As previously mentioned, it was not until the 20th century that humans were at a point technologically that contacting aliens was even feasible. It took the species 99% of its history to develop a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of the world, all while prospering in other fields.

If you have an idea of alien life in your head, it’s most likely a depiction of a super-advanced and technologically superior race. This fuels the narrative of cinema and television, but it’s equally likely that while humans send complex messages out into the reaches of space, they have yet to master fire.

8. We Are The First


Considering the vast age of the universe, Earth emerged surprisingly early to develop life. Similar to the previous entry, this hypothesis believes Earth is the most annoying Youtube commenter, the one hurriedly typing down, “First! I’m first, guys!” It is not unreasonable to assume that humans are the first creatures to become sentient and develop the technology to begin searching the galaxy because Earth did develop relatively early on.

In comparison to Earth, other planets could lay dormant for thousands or millions of years to come. Humanity could be waiting, checking its watches and tapping its feet impatiently, while alien existence is on the horizon. In that case, humans are going to be on their own for quite some time.

7. We Are Rare


According to this idea, humans are both the first creatures to survive and the only ones. Allegedly Earth is unique among planets, though scientists are not sure how the Earth could have a quality that makes it better at supporting life than its peers. It doesn’t necessarily state that alien life does not exist, but the odds of it are greatly reduced.

This has its own problems, as astronomers have discovered a good many planets with a lot of the features that makes earth habitable, and are confident that the ingredients used in the life concoction found on Earth aren’t rare at all.

On the other hand, science is far from knowing everything about Earth, so it is possible that while they think planets like Earth are a dime a dozen, it has an unknown characteristic that puts it above all the rest.

6. They Are Too Far


A universe is a big place, so big in fact, that it got infinitely larger in the time that it took you to read that sentence. In comparison, the current rate of space travel is not going to get future astronauts anywhere significant. Now, the fastest confirmed particle in existence is a photon, a light particle. With our current understanding of physics, nothing can move faster than light. While that means the Millennium Falcon will have to wait, it means that space travel is a snail’s pace.

While light speed would more than likely kill you in minutes from radiation poisoning, that would be the wall for space travel. Assuming humans ever managed to achieve light speed, and devise a way to not die immediately, that would be top speed for navigating the universe forever. The closest star to Earth (not our sun) is Proxima Centauri, about 4.22 light years away. It would take over four years to find the nearest star to Earth, much less search the outer reaches of the cosmos. Unless scientists discover and harness tachyons (theoretical particles that move faster than light), it is possible aliens are too far to reach.

5. They Aren’t Anything We Recognize

20th Century Fox

In Terry Bisson’s short story They’re Made Out of Meat, two aliens have discovered the human race, while one tries to explain to its partner that humans are ‘made of meat’. It’s implied that the two aliens, and every other known species, is not made of flesh and bone but could instead be machines or any number of things incomprehensible to a human. The alien has difficulty understanding the concept, and it leaves a hollow feeling about the narrow way humans look for alien life.

The way used to search involves finding the things that humans need to survive. This makes sense, it is geared towards a human understanding of life, but it might not be the correct one. They might not require oxygen or water, and scientists don’t know if the only kind of life that exists is ours, and thus have not calibrated their searches for anything else.

Aliens could only be a stone’s throw away, and our definition of life could just be too narrow to include them.

4. They’re Ignoring Us


In They’re Made Out of Meat, the aliens look at humans (once they are done deliberating about what they’re made of) and decide to ignore them. Their job is to make contact with any life they discover, but they can’t get their heads around contacting a life form made of flesh, so they mark the sector as unoccupied and move on. So, what if aliens discovered humans decades or even centuries ago, and decided that they weren’t worth the effort of talking to?

That’s a little hurtful to the collective self-esteem of the species, but if a super-advanced race of aliens that had outgrown constant war and conflict looked at Earth, maybe it’s not unreasonable. Or, it could be like the Prime Directive in Star Trek, and they have to wait until mankind develops sufficiently. The downside to this theory is that it does not seem likely that any alien would think another type of life form is completely unremarkable. Either way, they know humans are out here, and it’s a coin toss as to whether or not they’re watching.

3. We Haven’t Been Listening

20th Century Fox

The first primary method to search for alien life is to send radio signals out into the universe, hoping for a reply back. The second is through nifty gadgets like telescopes, seeing planets and checking for things like water, an atmosphere, etc. That is our method of communication, looking and calling out if anybody is there, but it hasn’t yielded results, and that might be because they’ve been replying, and humans haven’t been paying attention.

Statistically, the current method is the best choice, but it could be that aliens have been trying to talk to humans for ages, and neither party has a compatible means of communication. Imagine if someone were trying to call you on a cell phone and all you had were smoke signals.

It is impossible to say if humans are the ones with the phone or the smoke signals in that scenario, but either way, everyone will feel silly when they realize they had been blustering around, doing it wrong the entire time.

2. The Great Filter

20th Century Fox

Maybe Earth isn’t the first, or rare, or has been doing the right form of communication, but it doesn’t matter, because every other life form that has ever existed in the galaxy is dead, and has been for a long time. That’s the Great Filter Theory; there comes a point in a species’ development that they experience an extinction event, and they are wiped off the map.

Earth has experienced five (and is still undergoing a sixth), and humans have managed to come out of them, either through blundering into the right place at the right time like a species of Forrest Gumps, or some natural advantage we didn’t know we had. However, if Earth was successful beyond all other planets, then that means much more failed. Perhaps Earth passed up the Great Filter years ago. Or, the more unsettling part of the theory, that Earth hasn’t passed the filter, but every other species has, and it will hit any day now. That might just be worse than being stalked by 4-dimensional creatures.

1. They Don’t Exist


The Fermi Paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the contradiction between one factor with high probability yet has no evidence of existence, such as aliens. The universe is full of the building blocks for life similar to humans, and has existed long enough that it is plausible that contact could have been established by now, so what’s up? Enrico Fermi ran the Drake equation (used to estimate the number of alien species open to contacting humans), and found that humans should have encountered an alien, and yet, nothing.

It might be the most boring theory and maybe not a likely one, but it explains why UFOs have not been discovered by anyone except poor photographers and not actual astronomers, and why no communication has taken place. All the pieces are there, but not a soul in sight. Imagine buying all the drinks and snacks for a party, sending out infinite invitations, and no one showing up. In Fermi’s own famous words, “Where is everybody?”

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