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In the not-so-distant 2045, humanity achieved a significant milestone. Years upon decades upon centuries of research yielded the technology eagerly anticipated by sci-fi writers and dreamers.
Interstellar space-travel became feasible and cost effective. It was a long journey, but mankind did not give up. All those failed experiments, whitepapers, conferences, sleepless nights, all the homework exercises... Everything played its role in making this breakthrough possible.
The newly devised space technology enabled humanity to wander far into the void. Omicron Persei 9 was chosen as a destination. The trip would last 500 years.
Earth's most venturous sons and daughters boarded Phoebe - the first spaceship to use the new technology. Their objective was to reach Omicron Persei 9, then colonize one of the planets from its habitable zone. Observations have revealed a cornucopia of resources the new colony could use to establish an excellent standard of living. The plan was created, and it was good.
The colonists envisioned themselves as founders of a completely different, completely new world. A better place, a world they'd build from scratch, without having to worry about backward compatibility and the layers of inefficient cruft needed to maintain it.
Off they went.
Two decades later, those who continued to stand upon the shoulders of giants devised a new and improved method of interstellar travel. All those written reports, symposia and mountains of GML sketches on napkins finally paid off.
Using the new method, the same distance could be covered in 50 years. It was a matter of months, before another spaceship was on its way to Omicron Persei 9. Sam, with one hundred families and five thousand frozen embryos aboard.
When Phoebe reached Omicron Persei 9, all the planets were already flourishing with life and anthropic artifacts. Everything was exploited by automated probes, there was literally no room for phoebians.
Fortunately, samians knew the phoebians were coming, so they left some free space and prepared everything to make the integration as smooth as possible. Phew! ;-)
Moral of the story:
- phoebians - students who don't bother to complete their studies, focusing on a job that pays X.
- samians - students who are patient and focused on education. A few years later, with sharper skills - a job that pays X*N (N>1 :-) is an easy target.
What does this have to do with aliens?
There could be another way to handle the Fermi paradox. Perhaps other civilizations are huge fans of the law of accelerating returns? They understand that exploring the universe today is more expensive than doing it tomorrow. Exploring it tomorrow is more expensive than doing it the day after tomorrow, and so on.
Maybe they're just waiting for the speed of progress to settle down?
NOT those who told themselves today "Ah, screw the uni, let me explore right now".
Instead, this (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/an-anti-college-backlash/73214/) and some related reads on the same page might seem interesting to you.