skip navigation

Florida Gulf Coast University

Website Directory  

Department of Chemistry and Mathematics

[Return to Directory Listing]

Thomas Hair

Thomas HairAssociate Professor, Mathematics
Phone: (239) 590-7178
Office: AB7 207

Are we alone in this galaxy of hundreds of billions of suns? It's a question of the most profound significance and one that I have been trying to examine in a mathematically rigorous way. My recent research examines how advanced civilizations, if they exist at all, would spread themselves out in both time and space. For example, we know from the historic rate of star formation that the galaxy has been capable of producing planets with environments like ours for almost five billion years. This would strongly suggest that if we are not alone within the galaxy that many civilizations could have had an enormous head start. My computer simulations suggest the first intelligences to emerge could have had whole geologic epochs to explore every nook and cranny of the galaxy long before our emergence.

The pessimist might say this question is moot. That maybe all civilizations have finite life spans measured in thousands and not millions or billions of years because of resource depletion or self-annihilation...or that maybe they simply turn solipsistic. These scenarios, however, would imply a uniformity of motive among all civilizations across both light years of distance and mega years of time. It would take only a small subset of societies to abrogate this uniformity for it to break down, so it is not very likely to exist.

Therefore, if we are not alone in the galaxy, and our uniqueness is a distinct possibility, then intelligent life has evolved on numerous occasions in the distant past, has had tens of millions of years or more to migrate across the galaxy, and has intentionally left us alone each time. The staggering implications of this are what drive my research.

Recent Publications

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Spatial Dispersion of Interstellar Civilizations: a Probabilistic Site Percolation Model in Three Dimensions, Joint meeting of the American Mathematical Association and the Mathematical Association of America, Boston, Massachusetts, 5 January 2012.
  • Temporal Dispersion of the Emergence of Intelligence: an Inter-arrival Time Analysis, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astrobiology Science Conference, Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, Georgia, 13 April 2012.
  • Destinations and Habitats, Proceedings of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency 100 Year Starship Study Symposium, Houston, Texas, 14 September 2012.
  • Time and Distance Solutions, Proceedings of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency 100 Year Starship Study Symposium, Houston, Texas, 15 September 2012.
  • Temporal and Spatial Considerations in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, 37th Annual Suncoast Regional Mathematical Association of America Meeting, State College of Florida, Bradenton, Florida, 7 December 2012.
  • Provocative Radio Transients and Base Rate Bias: a Bayesian Argument for Conservatism. Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress, Dallas, Texas, 17 August 2013.

Recent Media Articles

  • Lonely Planet. Babbage Blog, The Economist, 19 January 2012.
  • What's Taking E.T. So Long? NBC News, Discovery News,,,, 30 January 2012.
  • Others should be out here, but where are they? Fort Myers News-Press, Opinion-Editorial, 8 March 2012.
  • Where No Math has Gone Before: FGCU Professor Calculates Probability of Alien Civilizations. Florida Gulf Coast University's Pinnacle Magazine, Summer 2012.
  • What are the Odds: FGCU Professor Calculates Probability of Alien Civilizations. Guest Commentary, Naples Daily News, 2 September 2012.

[Return to Directory Listing]