So, back to Erasmus. He is saying that the reason that we are not in contact with extra-terrestrials is that it takes too long to find each other. The following is an extract from an article in the Grauniad, a newspaper lacking the political perspicacity of Viz, but not bad if you are really bored.
He found that even if the alien ships could hurtle through space at a tenth of the speed of light, or 30,000km a second, - Nasa's current Cassini mission to Saturn is plodding along at 32km a second - it would take 10bn years, roughly half the age of the universe, to explore just 4% of the galaxy. His study is reported in New Scientist today.
The question is, why bother? Surely our experience here on this tiny planet (Dave has written about smallness today) would lead us to believe that there is an abundance of boring beings within spitting distance of us at any time (I will leave Mr Bjork to do the calculations on the dimensions of spitting distance), so why waste our time searching the universe for others? I spend my working life try to avoid conversations with myriad accountants, consultants and marketers; do I really need to explore the possibility of there being a race of tax auditors a couple of galaxies across, even if they do have three noses? The fact is that none of us have anything worthwhile to say, and most of us manage to devote ours lives to the demonstration of that truth.
Were Star Trek to be made realistic (I am now going into a territory I know little about, I am not a fan of science fiction), then Captain Kirk would be portrayed sipping the national beverage of some small republic on a planet 3.7 light years away discussing the route he took to get their with some boring, fat middle aged alien with a droning voice, an irritating accent and wearing an out of shape cardigan. Star Wars should, to mirror reality, be in the form of a home makeover programme with interesting ideas on how to decorate houses made of helium, and add interest to a garden that has a ground temperature of 208 degrees Celsius.
We should not be asking about finding intelligent life in the universe, but the chances of finding interesting life. Is there a solar system out there somewhere where there are jokes that have not already been round the internet three times?
Not boring you, am I?