If there is one trope I am sick of it is the one I like to call the Empty Universe.
This is when humanity has spread out to the stars and finds...well, nothing. Spending centuries exploring the galaxy, hundreds of billions of worlds cataloged and observed and we found no intelligent space shipbuilders, no tribal rock bangers, not even animal life or bacteria, and the most baffling part of all, after centuries of pondering what else could be out there, the fact that it’s only us running around doesn’t even warrant a comment.
Now personally I do not believe that we live in an empty universe. There are simply too many stars, too many worlds, too many opportunities and too many resources out there for nothing to take advantage of them and in the words of Michael Crichton, “life finds a way.”
But let’s give this unlikely scenario a fair hearing and ask what would happen.
Imagine for a moment, you have lived your entire life inside a house and watched the lights at your neighbors house. Some of your siblings say there is no one over there, but your crazy uncle said he met some of them and they are, “odd-looking ducks.”
One day you leave the house, you knock on the door, but no one answers. You knock again, the door opens and you call out, “Hello? Is anyone there? I’m a friend.” But no one answers, you search the house and while you find food in the fridge and plants on the window sill, there is no one there.
So you go to the next house, the same story. The table is set, the lights are on, but there is no one home. So you try the next one, only it’s empty too. It’s at this point our natural paranoia begins to set in. All these homes but no sign of anyone in them? Did something horrible happen? Is someone traveling home to home killing people and leaving no trace? Should you be worried that you are next?
So a little more frantically now, you keeping searching until you find the whole neighborhood empty of anyone that didn’t come from your house. So you check the next neighborhood, and the next and the next, until you find a city, only to find every office building and every apartment empty too. There will be massive psychological ramifications if we find out our pale blue dot is the only place life came to be.
So the million credit question: What would be different psychological reactions to finding the universe completely empty of life?