Super-Civilizations Might Live Off Black Holes
Posted by Xeno on May 3, 2011
But perhaps it’s time to simply think far outside of the box regarding our preconceptions of how to find extraterrestrial civilizations, says Clement Vidal of the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. And, the most advanced aliens may be the easiest to find.
In a recent paper, he emphasizes that we have to look at a variety of search strategies in solving the mystery of our cosmic loneliness — that is, if we are satisfied with simply finding E.T. and not communicating with it.
Vidal’s reasoning: The universe is so old there have to be far-advanced civilizations out there, billions of years more evolved than us. They have to be doing super-human engineering feats that are recognizable across intergalactic space. “Super-human” might also mean that the most advanced life-forms could very likely be post-biological. They have evolved far beyond being creatures of flesh and blood, as described in Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001:A Space Odyssey.”
What defines a super-civilization? In 1964, Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev proposed a scheme for classifying technologically advanced alien societies. A Type I civilization uses energy resources on a planet-wide scale, like us. A Type II civilization would have 10 billion times more energy available by trapping the total output of its central star — perhaps by building a shell around it called a Dyson sphere. A Type III civilization would tap the energy resources of an entire galaxy — only God knows how! This would give a further increase to power available by at least a factor of 10 billion.
Energy-hungry galactic empires might skip tapping stellar energy and simply go to extracting energy from black holes. These collapsed islands of space-time are the universe’s ultimate Energizer Bunnies. They are far more efficient at converting mass to energy than are the fusion engines of stars.
But more than that, says Vidal, is the ability to control the microcosm as well. Today we can manipulate individual atoms via nanotechnology. But advanced alien physicists would tinker with elementary particles and the very structure of space-time itself.
Having mastered control over space-time, a super-civilization might want to fabricate their own black holes for a variety of tasks: waste disposal, starship propulsion, hyper-computing, maybe even time travel. …