A downloadable project for Windows, macOS, and Linux

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A relatively simple visualizer to see the Fermi Paradox in action, where species arise in star systems and broadcast signals until they are destroyed. If a species becomes intelligent while another is broadcasting, they will find each other. A dead species also sends out one last broadcast which can be spotted if another arises in time.

Using a density wave model of 2¹³ stars in galaxy. Stars have a 1% chance of supporting life. That life will randomly appear within the next 2 Billion Years, become intelligent (defined as sending radio signals) in 500 Thousand to 5 Billion Years, and destroy itself in 1 Thousand to 100 Thousand years.

Timescale is 1Kyr/s, with an exponential time slider going up to 10Myr/s. The speed of light and size of the galaxy are also roughly accurate. There are obviously a lot of other assumptions, caveats, and inaccuracies - if I could recreate it all correctly, I probably wouldn't be living on this planet.

Made by nic tringali in Processing for Fermijam.


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Fermi Paradox Visualizer - Mac 60 MB
Fermi Paradox Visualizer - Windows 66 MB
Fermi Paradox Visualizer - Linux 4 MB
Source Code (.pde) 12 kB


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Intelligent life always lasts less then 1000 years for some reason. Is there some settings I need to change? (win 7)

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It's possible there are framerate or tick settings that are broken, but I am not sure. If you download the source code and run the file inside Processing it may work better.

Even without the Fermi Paradox thing, it  is a very good simulation to understand how spiral arms form.

here a visual of it.

Would be a lot better if we had stats of the civ /culture/what they look like when you click on 'life detected' /intelligence found but good simulator

Mac version seems to be broken at least for me. I downloaded it twice and got a message saying it's broken and won't open.

Hi, sorry, as far as I can tell this is out of my hands - try adjusting the security settings to allow opening of any application, or use the itch.io app, somehow it seems to make the file run.

I really like the minimalist look and the serious approach to the subject.

I love that you also make games in Processing!

This looks really cool, but I'm not able to play.. How do you run the Linux version? (For that matter, is the Linux version packaged right? The Mac & Win versions are 60+ MB; Linux is 4 MB)

The Linux version is what came out of the Processing export as is, so if it doesn't run I'm not entirely sure there. I'm not familiar with Linux programs but there weren't any options (except 32/64 bit) for exporting. The Mac/Win versions are so much larger because they package in a Java distributable alongside the program itself.


This looks fantastic!


this is awesome!! really feels like a simulator of the concept and also just visually pleasing