At the beginning of time, when the universe was but a few moments old, bathed in radiation so intense that not even atoms could coalesce, might not a creature have formed, its unknowable body composed of a bundle of ultrahigh-energy photons and ripples in the fabric of gravity, a creature so perfectly equipped to feed on the near-infinite free energy that permeated all of space? And as the universe began to cool, and the energy began to solidify into atoms, and this inscrutable creature began to go extinct as the energy diffused into the expanding vacuum, it will think "Wow...the universe is really becoming uninhabitable...it's going to be really cold, and the energy really scarce, for eternity."

In the heart of a supermassive star, might not an organism form as patterns of electrons within the core, a core compressed so tightly that it becomes a type of matter with which we are totally unfamiliar, and begin to reproduce in the abundant soup of free, fast-moving electrons and the bath of stupendous energy around it? As these organisms reach the threshold of consciousness, and begin to study the external universe, they will think, "Wow...outside of the Home Star, the universe is a really cold, frozen, and dead place. Nothing can possibly be living out there."

Above the surface of an average black hole, orbiting along with the light bent from its path by the tremendous gravitational force, might not an organism be born from the speeding, doomed particles of matter, reproducing and feeing on the energy drawn from the gravitational field, a field so intense that we really have nothing with which to compare it? They will think, "Wow...out there in the rest of the universe, the gravitational fields are so weak. How can anything possibly survive."

On the smallest scales of space, over the smallest time intervals, might not an organism come about that lives and dies so quickly and so microscopically that none of the other life that has ever existed might even begin to take notice of it? In the infinitesimal flashes that comprise a few generations of these creatures, they will look about and think, "Wow...the rest of the universe moves and evolves so slowly, nothing at all like us. Looks like life can't exist anywhere else in the universe."

Somewhere in here, is us. Humble humanity, many of whom believe that the fact that we have not received signals from carbon-based organisms biologically identical to us means that no extraterrestrial life exists at all.

Out in the cold darkness of the deep, might not a life form coalesce from the sparse hydrogen crystals and fragments of carbon dust, floating for eons through empty space until it falls into orbit around a mighty star? Feeding on energy from this star's demise in a supernova, a grand flare of light and a blast of superheated gas – brighter for a moment than any galaxy – it will ride out into the darkness on the current of hot gas. As it floats by minor stars and average planets, they will think, "Wow...the energy falling on that planet is so weak and long-lived. There's no way anything can survive in any real way on such limited energy."

In a hunk of Uranium slowly decaying under the crust of an unregarded planet, might an organism arise composed of the stray particles of radioactive decay, bound together by the strange forces that hold together the atomic nucleus? Spreading through the Uranium, slowly rising to the surface where it feeds on the stray cosmic ray particles, so much like the radiation it loves, this organism will, for the first time, observe the universe beyond their Uranium ingot. They will think, "Wow...so little of the universe consists of solid Uranium...it would seem that, if other life exists, it's probably very far away. That's too bad."

At the end of time, when the universe is far vaster than it is today, and all the free energy has dissipated into the darkness of the deep, and the only reminders of what had been are the frozen carbon stars and the errant plants cast free from their long-dead systems, might not an intelligence form? From stray photons and the remaining handful of viable electrons, it will arise. Feeding on the scant energy still locked up in decaying matter and errant cosmic particles, it will learn slowly, think slowly, grow slowly. But it will grow, and learn, and think, and in time perhaps its consciousness will dawn. And when it does, it will look at the remnants of what used to be, and think about the time and the universe – by then long gone – that we call home. It will think, "Wow...I'm glad I got here when I did. The universe used to be really hot and unpleasant and uninhabitable."

On the longest of time scales, scales that make the lifetimes of planets, even of stars, seem like rapid flashes, might not an organism evolve, forming from the slowest processes in the universe? As the universe flashes around them, slowly decaying into cold, dead nothingness, they will think, "Wow...everything but our little pocket of space goes by so quickly...there's no way thinking organisms could possibly become complex in such a hurry. There must be no other life in the universe."

None of these would ever make contact with another. All the other life in the universe would be too early, too late, too hot, too cold, too dense, too sparse, too large, too small, too fast, or too slow to even be noticed. They will all think, "Since no life like me exists, then the universe must be without life."