Black Hole Sun, redux: are supercivs sucking at the event horizon?

Paul Raven @ 06-06-2011

Via Sentient Developments, here’s some brainfood for them as likes their high-concept cosmological hard SF. Y’know how SETI has yet to locate any alien civilisational traces by looking for large-scale exploitation of stellar energy sources? Well, perhaps they’re looking in the wrong cupboard; a new paper from Clement Vidal of the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel posits that black holes are the ideal energy source for an ultra-advanced civilisation, and that our own universe might actually be “a science fair project of an entity from an exo-universe”:

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.

On the macro-scale, super-civilizations might re-engineer stars using black holes. The quest for immortality beyond a star’s lifetime would be a big motivation.

Suppose extraterrestrials manufacture a black hole to accrete material from a burned-out star, a white dwarf. This would provide abundant energy beyond the star’s fusion-burning stage.

It may be impossible to define sensawunda, but I can sure as hell point it out when I see it. *points*


Dr. Michio Kaku: humans are almost Kardashev Type I

Paul Raven @ 08-04-2008

Science fictional city concept artOur sf-nal brothers-in-blog over at SF Signal have managed to score an interview with the occasionally controversial but always entertaining pop-science writer Dr. Michio Kaku.

The SF Signal gang ask Dr. Kaku a bunch of questions (including what he thinks about Mundane SF, believe it or not), but what I found most interesting was his response when asked whether humans stood a chance of becoming a Kardashev Type I civilisation:

“I see evidence of our historic transition from a Type 0 civilization to a Type I civilization. For example:

  • English is rapidly emerging as the most likely candidate for a planetary language.
  • The internet is an emerging Type I telephone system.
  • The EU, NAFTA, etc. are the seeds of a planetary economy.
  • A planetary culture is gradually emerging, based on youth culture (e.g. rock and roll, rap), fashion, movies.

But there is also a backlash against this historic transition. Anything this monumental is bound to create a counter force. These are the terrorists (who instinctively dislike a planetary civilization, which is necessarily multicultural, scientific, progressive, and tolerant). Also, we have the forces of chaos and destruction, such as nuclear proliferation and designer germs.”

So rock music is a sign of an advanced civilisation? I feel vindicated! 🙂

More seriously, it seems Dr. Kaku is cautiously optimistic about our progress so far – perhaps uniting in opposition to the “forces of chaos” will crystallise us into a Type I planetary civilisation?

That said, Karl Schroeder isn’t convinced by the Kardashev Scaleit’s inherently homocentric, meaning that what applies to us hairless monkeys is unlikely to apply to any other species. So perhaps we’re trying to classify the unclassifiable?

I love the smell of philosophy in the morning! [image by Shayan]