Superintelligent Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations by James Jaeger
In the last analysis, everything we believe or "know" about the Universe and even Existence itself, is little more than theory and speculation. What we hold as "facts" in 2004 will probably be seen as superstition in 3004. So, with that in mind, here is how I arrived at my personal theory that superintelligent, extraterrestrial technological civilizations are, or have been here, but have not been seen because they are microscopic and/or practicing a policy of non-intervention.
The Universe and Our Place in It:
Let me start by saying that I approach this as a scientist and believe much valuable work has been done by the scientific community. Nevertheless, I still don't expect to be able to "prove" what I say is true, as we have no hard evidence, only what I have termed "circumstantial evidence" based on what we can observe and measure in the Universe from the POV of humans on Earth. Circumstantial evidence is probably not even the correct term, but when I use it I mean, events or things we CAN observe or the circumstances in which we CAN ask the question: Have we been visited by superintelligent extraterrestrials . . . ? Again, the circumstances are the Observable Universe itself. We ARE able to look up at the Universe and deduce some of the events that must have happened, or that must be in process, purely by the circumstances we can see with the unaided eye, telescopes and the myriad of other instruments we have developed over the past several hundred years. We CAN discover some of the circumstances that exist here, and at a distance. And this is possible MOSTLY because the Universe has shown itself to be both isotropic and symmetrical. What we see close up here in the Solar System near our own star is thus similar to what can be observed "out there" trillions of miles away near other stars.
Thus we continue to unfold the revolution started by Copernicus in that we discover that we are NOT unique, NOT at the center of the Solar System and NOT at the center of the galaxy. This leads us to suspect that our VERY existence may also NOT be unique. IF this is true, THEN there are other technological civilizations "out there." So let's look at the evidence, circumstantial or not, that indicates this MAY be true.
Background on the Quantity of Stars in the Known Universe:
Our Sun is one star in a grouping of between 300 and 400 billion other stars in a grouping we call a galaxy, such galaxy having been named the "Milky Way Galaxy." The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and 17,000 light years thick at its center. It is shaped like a disc with spiral arms. Our Sun is about 27,000 light years from the center of the galaxy, the galactic nucleus. The Milky Way's galactic nucleus is about 16,000 light years in diameter and our Sun orbits it at about 155 mi per sec (or 8.4 times Earth's speed around Sun).
The Solar System's period of rotation around the entire galactic nucleus is about 200 million years, thus the Sun has made perhaps 25 trips.
The mass of the Milky Way is 150 billion times mass of the Sun. The billions of stars in the Milky Way make up 94% of the baryonic mass in the galaxy although it is recognize that MUCH more of the galaxy is probably made up of invisible matter. Other galaxies, like and dissimilar to our Milky Way exist, the closest galaxy being the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). LMC is a galaxy about 170,000 light years away with 10 Billion stars. The next nearest galaxy is called the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a galaxy 200,000 light years away with 2 billion stars. LMC and SMC are satellite galaxies to the Milky Way as the Milky Way is 25 times as large as both the LMC and SMC combined. The Andromeda Galaxy, another galaxy, is 2,200,000 light years away or 11 times farther than the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Not only this, the Andromeda Galaxy is several times the size of the Milky Way with an estimated 600 billion stars. Maffei I, yet another galaxy, is 3.2 million light years away but about the size of the Milky Way.
There are BILLIONS of other Galaxies though out space, nevertheless, the same force that causes an apple to fall from a tree, "gravity," causes these galaxies to fall towards each other into clusters. We call these clusters "galactic clusters." Near our Milky Way there are clustered together about 15 galaxies including LMC, SMC, Andromeda, Maffei I and the 15 other smaller galaxies with less than 1 million stars each. We call this cluster the "Local Group." The Local Group may contain as many as 1.5 trillion stars.
Other galactic clusters exist, some with thousands of members. We can detect up to 1 billion galaxies up to 1 billion light years away. With off-Earth observational ability, or the best we may be able to get, we may ultimately be able to view up to 12 billion light years before reaching an absolute limit where further observation becomes impossible. This limit, if it exists, would be called the "Observable Universe." The Observable Universe may thus comprise 100 billion galaxies!
In keeping with the Copernican revolution, the Milky Way is a galaxy of intermediate size. Some galaxies are 100 times more massive and others are tiny ones with only 1/1000th the mass as the Milky Way. This is normal because small objects in a particular population greatly out number the larger objects thus it is also natural there are many more small galaxies in the Observable Universe than large ones.
Thus, on average there are 10 billion stars per galaxy; hence the average size of a galaxy is about the size of the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Background on Number of Planets with Biospheres:Interesting Aside:
If our star, the Sun, were the size of an M&M milk chocolate candy, the next nearest star, Alpha Century, would be represented as another M&M 96 miles away. Each of the other billions of stars in our Galaxy would be spread out in a similar fashion, 300 to 400 billion M&Ms each 96 miles apart. Galaxies are much closer to each other than stars are to each other. In other words, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) the closest galaxy to the Milky Way would be represented by an M&M only 5 inches away and the galaxies in the Local Group would be M&Ms between 5 and 100 feet away. All the other galaxies, galaxies outside the Local Group, represented by M&Ms would fill a volume of 1 kilometer. This is the "Known Universe" to date.
The reason we have some idea of all these quantities and sizes and relative sizes is because many hard-working astronomers and cosmologists all over the world have been able to piece this picture together. Cepheid variables have made it possible for us to determine the approximate distances to the stars and galaxies because their period is proportionate to their distance. Supernova give us an absolute candle for measuring still farther distances into the Universe.
The reason I have gone through all the above is because the number of stars consideration in the Known Universe alone makes it almost certain technological civilizations exist in the Observable Universe. At the very least it's a non-zero probability that such exist simply because WE exist (I think). Now down to whether these stars have planets and biospheres:
When something spins it has what is called angular momentum because it is sweeping out degrees of angle as it spins. When we say something is losing angular momentum, all it means is that the thing is spinning more slowly because mass is being lost from the spinning thing itself. In other words, mass is flinging-off due to what is called centrifugal force.
This is why an ice skater spins more slowly when he lets his arms extend from his body and faster when he pulls them in.
Billions of years ago, the Sun used to spin more quickly than it does today. This is because hot mass flung-off it over the eons. This mass condensed into what we call the planets of the Solar System. Earth is one of these planets. However most of the mass which flung off formed the planets Jupiter and Saturn. These two planets alone have 1/800th the mass of the Sun but possess most of the planetary mass of the system. Because they posses most of the mass of the system, they have captured 40 times as much angular momentum as the rest of the planets in the Solar System. Thus 60% of all the angular momentum in the Solar System is possessed by one of the nine planets, Jupiter, and 25% by another, Saturn.
Angular Momentum and Spectroscopy:
We can't see "extrasolar planets" around stars directly, but by using the Hubbell, we have been able to detect about 100 stars with planetary systems over the past decade. The way this is done is through spectroscopy and angular momentum observations. A star's loss of angular momentum is a clue that planets are orbiting and such loss can be measured through spectroscopy.
Spectroscopy uses a spectroscope to spread light out in order of wavelength from short waves of violet to long waves of red. Isaac Newton demonstrated spectrum in 1665 and Joseph von Fraunhofer demonstrated spectral absorption lines in 1814. The Doppler effect was discovered in 1842 and the Red Shift effect discovered in 1848 by Edwin Hubbell.
Absorption lines are missing wave lengths which were absorbed by the atoms in a star's atmosphere before reaching Earth. These lines were shown to be "fingerprints" of elements since atoms of each element emitted or absorbed particular wavelengths particular to no other element. If the absorption lines from a star were displaced towards the red end of the spectrum (relative to a known pattern taken from the sun for instance), per the Doppler effect, the star would be receding at a speed calculable from the degree of displacement toward the red end of the spectrum. The Red Shift is name of this phenomenon.
Thus the rotation of a star, causes one side of the star to red shift and the other to violet shift hence the absorption lines grow fatter. The fatter the absorption lines, the faster the spin. Star rotation was thus discovered because of broad absorption lines in spectrum in 1877. All this is the circumstantial evidence I have been referring to.
The stellar spectral classes are O, B, A, F, G, K & M. O Spectral Class is most massive, hottest and most luminous. M Spectral Class is least massive, coolest and dimmest with gradient scale between the O and M classes. Spectral Classes are subdivided into B0, B1 ... B9, A0...A9, etc. Sun is Spectral Class G2.
The more massive a star, the more likely it was a fast-rotator hence O..F2 are the fastest rotators. F2...M are thus slow rotators. By observation we can see that about 7% of stars are fast-rotators and 93% are slow-rotators. Hence, 93% of stars have lost their angular momentum probably to planetary systems as discussed above.
Planets revolving around a star cause it to wobble about the center of gravity. If two bodies are same mass, the center of gravity is in the exact center. If a more massive body is 2X the mass of a smaller body, the center of gravity is 2X closer to the center of the larger mass. Earth is 81 times as massive as Moon thus Earth and Moon rotate about the Earth-Moon center of gravity - the Moon does not rotate about the Earth. The center of gravity of the Earth-Moon system is 2,950 mi from Earth's center or 1000 miles under the Earth's surface. Center of Earth also moves in small circle about the center of gravity of the Earth-Moon System once every 27-1/3 days. This causes the Earth to wave in its path around the Sun wave period being 27-1/3 days long.
If the Moon weren't there the Earth would not wave (wobble) and instead would move around the Sun in smooth path.
Jupiter causes the Sun to wobble as the Moon causes the Earth to wobble. Sun is 1,050 times as massive as Jupiter hence the center of gravity of Sun-Jupiter System is 1,050 times closer to center of Sun than the center of Jupiter. The center of gravity of the Sun-Jupiter system is a) 460,000 miles from center of the Sun, or, b) 28,000 miles outside the Sun's surface. The Center of the Sun thus circles the Sun-Jupiter center of gravity once every 12 years hence the sun, in its otherwise smooth progress about the Galactic Nucleus, wobbles slightly to and fro from its path.
Sun's wobble is complex pattern caused from the combined effect of all the Sun's Planets.
All of the above observable and circumstantial evidence lay the groundwork for the Drake equation. The Drake equation looks at the raw observable statistics and speculates on the average duration of civilizations and their birth rates, as well as a number of other factors. Granted much of this is very speculative, especially the average duration of a technological civilization. If technological civilizations exist but their durations are very short, say only 10,000 years, they may not have existed long enough to contact us.
The Fermi Paradox:
So given if the Universe has so many stars and so many technological civilizations, the Fermi Paradox poses a very valid question: where is everyone?
There are a number of possible answers to this question, the easiest and simplest one (and the one Occam would probably like the most) is: We don't see them because they simply are not there. They don't exist. We are thus unique. The revolution Copernicus started is only valid up to a certain point. We are the only biosphere in the entire Universe of trillions of stars that managed to give rise to sentient life.
I am willing to accept this. After all, I have never seen a UFO or one single piece of hard evidence that "they" have been here. All of the Roswell stuff is pure horseshit and I basically believe it is, with the possible exception of the military letter they have now been able to decipher using high-powered computer resolution. But "all" this letter indicates is that the military may be hiding something. We don't know what.
But, given the first answer to the Fermi paradox is: They are not here because they do not exist, let's take a look at what might be another reasonable answer given the data we have about the Universe and do some speculative thinking based upon circumstances that seem reasonable to us, at least at the human level.
If the Copernican Revolution IS correct and we are not unique in any way, every other technological civilization out there may be similar to, or even exactly like, us. If this is so, they would not be here, because, like us, they don't have the ability to travel to other stars (yet).
Gamma Ray Burst Theory:
This gets into an interesting application of the gamma ray burst theory. This theory emerged by observing supernovae in other galaxies. Supernovae give off lethal doses of gamma radiation that can rip through an entire galaxy. By observing a large number of galaxies at different distances, hence different times in history (due to the time it takes their light to reach Earth), astronomers have been able to determine the average period for such supernovae. The startling fact that has emerged is that the period has been slowing down. There are more supernovae bursts in more distant galaxies, hence younger galaxies, than in closer, hence older, galaxies. As the number of supernovae bursts decreases with the age of a galaxy, there comes a zone of time where the interval between bursts exceeds the amount of time it would take a biosphere to develop life, especially technological civilization. Thus the Universe may be in a phase transition. We may be going from an era where life was being constantly wiped out by gamma radiation to an era were life has enough time to develop. If this is true, then all the life in our galaxy got wiped out when the last supernovae happened, BUT all the life in our galaxy started over at exactly the same time. Thus "we," if any, are all the same age. This might explain why none of us have communicated with each other, thus explaining the Fermi Paradox.
But whereas I DO feel explains most of the Fermi Paradox, I don't think it explains all of it. Populations usually follow a bell-shaped distribution pattern. There are likely to be as many very tall people as there are very short people with most of the population's height falling somewhere in the middle. Intelligence statistics in the human population also follow a bell-shaped distribution pattern, thus I feel it is not unreasonable to apply this same distribution pattern to the intelligence of civilizations. Generally the more time a civilization has to develop, the more intelligent it becomes. I would apply this to the development of civilizations in our galaxy, thus there are likely to be as many very immature "dumb" civilizations (few in number) as there are very mature "smart" civilizations (few in number) with most of the "average" civilizations falling somewhere in the middle. If Copernicus holds true, we are probably just an average civilization in the middle, or just at either side, of the peak of the bell-shaped distribution curve.
Rarity of Intelligence:
If computing power is on a double-exponential curve, as Ray Kurzweil exhaustively shows in his book, AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES, and we are on the verge of a Singularity where computers will supercede human intelligence in only 30 years, we can see that a lot can happen in a short time. If, as Eliezer Yudkowsky says in STARING INTO THE SINGULARITY at http://yudkowsky.net/singularity.html, we can advance as much as we have in just 200 years, think about civilizations out there that are on either side of the bell-shaped curve, civilizations that are plus or minus our development by only 200 years.
If we may be able to reach supercomputing in only 30 more years, how far could we be along in 200 more years? How about 2,000 more years, a blip of time when you are applying it to possibly hundreds or thousands of civilizations that may exist in our galaxy? Thus we must allow for the possibility that IF there ARE technological civilizations out there, and Robert Zubrin through the Drake equation puts the number of them at 5 million (in his book, ENTERING SPACE), THEN some of them are going to be on either toe of the bell-shaped curve. Some of them are going to be 200 to 2,000 years in advance of us, and some of them are going to be 200 to 2,000 years behind us. Maybe more, much more! All I am saying is, judging from when we invented electronic computers in the 1950s to the present, and extrapolating that out only 30 to 200 years, we can see a AWFUL lot of change in a relatively small unit of time. Perhaps even a post human era where, AI will be billions of times more intelligent than meat-computing humans of the late 20th Century, can happen in the next 30 to 200 years.
So, if it is possible there is ANY technological life in the galaxy, it is ALSO possible that such technological life COULD BE orders of magnitude more advanced than us (as well as orders of magnitude more primitive than us). Since the Copernican revolution seems to be moving forward, I feel it is more likely there ARE technological civilizations out there than it is that we here on Earth are the only one -- thus making us unique.
Based on the above, I believe superintelligent extraterrestrial technological civilizations are here in the galaxy we share. If they are superintelligent, THEN they are super aware, thus they are likely to be AWARE of our existence, if not our entire history and all or part of how we will develop. For all we know, they could be growing us.
So the Fermi Paradox may be partially answered by the idea that most technological civilizations are not capable of traveling to distant solar systems nor communicating with them. Using the Drake equation and plugging various values in, we can estimate that 1 out of every 80,000 stars in the galaxy host a technological civilization. Given the typical distance between stars is about 5.5 light-years, and the average duration of civilizations is about 50,000 years, we can calculate the expansion rate of technological civilizations through out the galaxy. This "settlement wave" would propagate through interstellar space at an average rate of .5 percent the speed of light giving such civilization a settlement zone of about 63 light years. Given these figures, and there is a lot of math behind them which I can't go into here because of space limitations, the nearest technological civilization to Earth is about 120 light-years away.
If the radio bubble from Earth is only about 80 light-years in radius or extends a diameter of 160 light-years, it is possible that we have entered the settlement zone of a technological civilization, either by virtue of the fact that they have expanded outward at the above rate, OR by virtue of the fact that we have wandered into their zone do to our travel around the galactic nucleus (as described above), OR both.
So for these reasons I feel there is a good chance we have encountered an advanced technological extraterrestrial civilization at least some time in our past. But if so, why are there no artifacts? If there were artifacts, would we recognize them? If they are here now, how come we can't see them? The answer to this may be that they are microscopic and/or are practicing a policy of non-interference. Let me take them one at a time.
Microscopic Superintelligent Civilizations:
If a civilization reached its Singularity and went superintelligent, it probably would invent nanotechnology, if possible, though difficult. If it invented nanotechnology it would be able to assemble the needs and wants of its life by converting any matter into intelligent design such as tools, supplies and transportation vehicles. In fact, an entity that reached superintelligent status would probably have solved its survival problems and would thus have no need to seek out new worlds for their natural resources to create the means of survival. In such a case, any missions into the galaxy, or beyond, would more than likely be "knowledge missions" or "supervisory missions." Not seek and destroy missions or mining missions. Such a civilization would thus have no need for "space ships" to carry cargo, or machines or forces. To the contrary, they would probably travel light and fast taking only with them what was absolutely necessary. And I maintain the only thing that would be absolutely necessary, given the above mission parameters, would be their intelligence, their computational ability. Thus the simplest way of traveling would be to travel as an entity of pure computation, a traveling computer.
If we consider that nanotechnology, by definition, will be able to assemble gates and logic circuits at the molecular and atomic level, it's reasonable to consider that computational devices, and traveling computers, could be made in any form -- even as an amorphous cloud of nanobots. Such a computational device could therefore be microscopic or unrecognizable to the human eye yet be able to travel through space quickly and lightly. Perhaps they will have discovered negative mass and thus are able to travel at the speed of light because they can literally cancel out the inertia associated with mass.
Given there is nothing unique in the Universe (as demonstrated in the continuing Copernican revolution) it would be a pretty dull Universe for superintelligent beings. But what if the creatures that grew in every biosphere developed along different parameters? After all, the particulars of environment on every planet -- gravity, proximity to moons, and other planets, water and mineral content, atmospheric pressure, temperature, climate, tidal forces, solar type (K or G) -- would all give rise to differing survival challenges. Thus each biosphere would develop a species with unique survival techniques. If this is true, the Universe might not be such a dull place after all. Perhaps superintelligent extraterrestrial civilizations practice non-intervention simply because they don't want to adulterate us before we mature. Wouldn't that make sense?
If you want diversity in your galaxy or Universe, don't mess with the creatures before they develop (or before they reach their Singularity). Let them develop along their own unique evolutionary and technological lines because the uniqueness that might develop could be the only thing of value they will have to contribute to Universal Knowledge or some Galactic Club we might get invited into someday.
Thus are the basic reasons I speculate that superinteligent extraterrestrial technological civilizations exist AND have been here, OR still are here, but we can't see them because a) they are microscopic and/or b) they don't want to be seen.
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