The Fermi Paradox looks at the mathematical probability that Intelligent Life is teeming in the universe and the fact that we Earth people have not received any signals from aliens yet. A number of possible explanations have been advanced to solve the paradox, including the depressing idea that civilizations tend to destroy themselves, say in a nuclear war or an environmental holocaust. However, Science Magazine notes that Alan Stern, the scientist most famous for his association with the New Horizon space probe that flew by Pluto a couple of years ago, thinks he has a possible explanation.

What if most intelligent life evolved on ‘ocean worlds?’

Scientists have long recognized that a new of Worlds in the solar system, such as Europa, a moon of Jupiter, Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, and even far distant Pluto are “ocean worlds.” They consist of a crust of ice overlaying a warm water ocean, in the case of Europa and Enceladus heated by tidal forces exerted by their parent planets. Scientists surmise that these oceans may have life inside them, some of which might even be intelligent.

Imagine being an intelligent being swimming in an ocean that has a rocky floor below and an icy ceiling above. The ocean is, in effect, your entire universe. You might develop philosophies that allow you to speculate whether or not there is anything “beyond.” However, if like dolphins or whales you do not develop tools that problem becomes academic.

You are not going to know that other intelligent beings exist, either in other ocean worlds or, more unimaginable to you, on the surface of a rocky world, breathing air instead of water. You will have no notion that you will be able to contact any of these other worlds.

Are we then unique in living on the surface of a rocky world?

Of course, if we evolved on Earth it is entirely likely that other intelligent beings rose on other planets that have a similar environment. Organic elements combine to create single cell organisms which in turn become more complex multi cell creatures which eventually become tool using intelligent beings.

The existence of ocean world beings does not rule out the presence of intelligent life on other rocky worlds?

Is it possible that we Earth people are the first to have developed radio and television in our immediate galactic neighborhood? Maybe alien civilizations are still at the technological level we were in the Middle Ages or the 18th Century, with no way to communicate over interstellar distances. Therefore, if we want to talk with ET, we might have to stop hanging by the phone, as it were, and go out and look for them.