More Berserker Theories

My post from several years ago on the Efficient Berserker is very popular and I wanted to extend a few ideas.

Suppose there are many intelligent alien species in the Milky Way and most of them believe in the Berserker Hypothesis. Maybe they believe because of evidence, or maybe it's just speculation.

If I believed in this I would hunker down and make sure that my species were as invisible as possible. So this can explain a portion of the Great Silence. Species want to be invisible because bad things can happen when they are found.

This is like being in the French Resistance during World War II. How do you go find other patriots without exposing yourself to the Nazis?

Saving a star

If we could create a wormhole at an arbitrary position we could prolong the lifetime of a star to nearly infinity.  All we need to do is open a small wormhole at the center of the star and put the end out in empty space.  A steady flow of helium rich material would stream out preventing the helium from building up to the point where the star begins creating lithium and carbon.

At some point the mass of the star would drop too much and we would then open a wormhole into the core of a gas giant like Jupiter.  The other end of the wormhole could be opened at the surface of the star and hydrogen rich material would accumulate at the surface creating a continuous flow of hydrogen from the surface towards the fusion core.

I wonder if any jets in Active Galactic Nuclei are artificial.  They could be evidence of advanced species who are extending the lifetime of their star to trillions of years. The composition of those jets might match the stellar core material of an older star.

Never - Explaining the Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox is the most profound measurement in the history of Darwinism.  If intelligent life is so easily produced by evolution then why do we see zero evidence of alien intelligence?

Most theories of the Great Silence require the use of the word never

Intelligent species never build self-replicating exploration craft. They never build galactic scale artifacts. They never exhibit visible advanced technology. They never build berserkers. They never develop FTL spacecraft. They never reveal any evidence of their existence. They never remain corporeal long enough to be detected. They never survive their nuclear age.

99% isn't good enough, the universe is too large. If 99% of species don't survive their nuclear age then 1% do and we should see some of those 1%. That's what so many proponents do not understand. 13 billion years is a very long time for the 1% to populate the Milky Way with robots or spaceships or colonies.

Even my preferred explanation uses never: There never has been a 2nd intelligent species.

Here's an answer to the FP which does not need the word never. Intelligent life is rare, and it did not evolve in any galaxy until about 1 million years ago.  In this case no species has had time to send out exploration craft far enough for humans to see them.  There might be 10 or even 1000 intelligent technological species in the Milky Way.  But if they are all young species then we won't know about them for millennia.  I can't explain why intelligence only arose recently, but neither can I explain the Fermi Paradox.

25 more answers to the Fermi Paradox

Stephen Webb is an author specializing the Fermi Paradox and other cosmological subjects. I have previous linked to his book 50 solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

A new edition of his book is available and he has added 25 more possible answers to the Fermi Paradox.  If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Seventy-Five Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life

I still prefer Occam's Razor.  The reason we don't see any intelligent aliens is that there aren't any.



The Efficient Berserker Hypothesis

There are multiple explanations for the Great Silence, also known as the Fermi Paradox. I'd like to explore the idea of the Berserker, a device constructed to destroy and prevent advanced species from expanding into interstellar space. I have coined the term "Efficient Berserker" to describe the constructs of one civilization whose Berserkers are so powerful and numerous that this single species is capable of policing the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  This ties in with the idea of Von Neumann and/or Bracewell probes.  The reason we haven't seen any of them yet is that they are quietly waiting for evidence that we have reached a key scientific milestone.  Then they will strike.

In the Efficient Berserker Hypothesis there is no need for multiple species to build the probes.  And there is no need for that species to survive the billions of years that their probes scour the Milky Way looking for targets.  Each probe can build a few more, enough to replace the aging and failing systems, but not enough to create a runaway growth scenario which so frightened Carl Sagan.

The Berserker Hypothesis explains one of the key problems with the Great Silence.  Why is it that not one single species has built Bracewell Probes to fill the Milky Way?  The answer is that they did, perhaps as many as 1000 different species.  Then the Efficient Berserkers hunted them down, destroyed the probes, and then sterilized the system to prevent construction of any more probes.

Every critical question of the Fermi Paradox can be resolved by assuming an Efficient Berserker in the Milky Way.  Whether it is radio or optical communication arrays, panspermia craft seeding the galaxy with life, Kardashev II civilizations, Matrioshka Brains, this theory can explain why we humans see no evidence of intelligent life.

If this theory is correct then the human race is on the verge of extinction.  One key event such as a neutrino communications array, dark matter energy beams, or maybe just colonization of an asteroid, any of these could lead to our extermination.

This theory can smoothly merge into the Quarantine Scenario, or the Prime Directive.  In either of these the Berserker is non-violent, but powerful.  It actively prevents species from moving out into the galaxy until we have reached a required level of maturity.  It may even intervene in an emergency to prevent us from exterminating ourselves.


Where are the aliens?

"Peering far beyond our solar system, NASA researchers have detected the basic chemistry for life in a second hot gas planet, advancing astronomers toward the goal of being able to characterize planets where life could exist. The planet is not habitable but it has the same chemistry that, if found around a rocky planet in the future, could indicate the presence of life."

If organic molecules are so prevalent where are all the intelligent space-faring aliens ?  The lack of evidence for aliens is strong evidence that we are alone, the random evolution of intelligent life is so rare that we are the only ones in the entire galaxy.  Note that this is not the same as saying "the random evolution of life is rare".  There probably are bacteria in most solar systems.

Atheists and the Fermi Paradox

The basic argument of an atheist is "If there is a God then prove it, where is the evidence?  I can't see him, I've never seen a miracle, there is no evidence of supernatural powers or beings."  Replace those words with aliens and you get the exact same argument.  Anyone who argues against the existence of God has to give the exact same arguments against the existence of aliens. I'm in the opposite category, despite my faith I say "There are no aliens in this galaxy, prove me wrong."   It's unreasonable to say that even one other intelligent species evolved in our galaxy because that requires wild coincidences about why they aren't here.  Some of those coincidences say:

1 They evolved at almost exactly the same time as we did (beating the odds of 13 billion to one)

2  they aren't explorers, they just stayed home, and they never sent out robotic exploration ships

3  they killed themselves (war, suicide, plague) before launching robotic exploration machines

4  they all died because of natural events (asteroids, supernovae, plague) before launching robotic exploration machines

5  their robots came and left before we noticed and left no evidence of their visit, and are probably secretly watching us

6  they have a Prime Directive and they won't visit us until x happens .... and maybe never

Many people confuse the evolution of life with the evolution of intelligent life.  They say life evolves easily and that life is everywhere in our galaxy, but they are not talking about intelligent life, they are talking about bacteria.   The Rare Earth explanation for the Fermi Paradox is not about planets, it's not about atmospheres, and it's not about bacteria.  It's about space faring sentient life.  I could not care less if there are bacteria in every stellar system in this galaxy.  That is boring and has nothing at all to do with the Fermi Paradox.

The evolution of intelligent life is rare, extremely rare.  So rare that the rate per galaxy is well below 1.0 per 13 billion years.  If FTL is possible then the Fermi Paradox requires that the rate of evolution of intelligent life is about once in 13 billion years per universe.  That means we are alone in the entire universe.

Prove me wrong with evidence, not conjecture.  Don't tell me what "we all know to be true" especially all you atheists, because you won't accept that argument for the existence of God.

Darwinism and the Fermi Paradox

For those who might misinterpret my prior comments on Darwinism here's a clarification. The philosophy of Darwinism leads many people to use the word "paradox" to describe the lack of alien visitors. They all "know" that the evolution of sentient life is easy, so facile, that the Milky Way "must be" teaming with intelligent life. Therefore the lack of alien visitors to Earth is a paradox.

So here's the real science. There is no evidence that any aliens have ever visited our solar system. There is no evidence of artificial constructions in any solar system, star cluster, or interstellar location in the Milky Way. There is no evidence of any artificial construction in any galaxy we can see.  There is no SETI signal, there is nothing.

The overall statistics of these observations lead to the following conclusion: the evolution of sentient space faring species is so rare that we might be the only one in the entire universe. The implications for Darwinism are devastating. While the evolution of bacteria might be trivial, and every solar system in the entire universe might contain primitive life, the evolution of intelligent life appears to be nearly impossible.

For over 10 billion years our Milky Way has been easily capable of supporting space faring explorers. Robotic spacecraft could explore the entire galaxy in about 100 million years. If they aren't here yet this means they waited at least 99% of the life of the galaxy before starting. Why did they wait? Statistically it's possible that we are the first, or one of the first, and nobody has been around long enough to explore the entire galaxy: statistically possible, and highly improbable. Either every single species has an impediment to building robotic exploration craft (remember it only takes one) or there aren't any.

For 10 billion years no extra-galactic species has constructed an object visible from Earth. Perhaps such structures are impossible. I doubt it. This is evidence that there are no aliens in other galaxies.

I claim there aren't any aliens anywhere in the entire universe, we are alone, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Many people have speculations, deeply held beliefs about Darwinism, Drake equations, planetary search data, ... but in the end these speculations are irrelevant. Visual observation is all that counts.

So the implications for Darwinism are this, the rate of evolution of intelligent space faring species is about once per universe per 13 billion years. It appears there are millions or billions of planets/galaxy capable of supporting an evolving ecosystem. So for any given planet in the entire universe the chance of evolution of intelligent life is about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1.

We didn't beat the odds, we just had the winning lottery ticket. If you bought 100 million lottery tickets you would not be surprised to find that one of them had the winning numbers. Out of billions of planets ours held the winning ticket in the Darwinian lottery.

More ideas on the Fermi Paradox

Many recent blog posts continue to try to explain the Fermi Paradox.  I'll try to explain why these writers just don't get it.

Many people still are confused on several points about the Fermi Paradox.  Let's start with the name.

The word paradox is used because everyone "knows" it's a "fact" that there are countless intelligent aliens in our galaxy, despite the fact that none of them have made any obvious contact with humans or visits to Earth.  The use of the word "paradox" is sloppy pseudoscience.  We don't know, in fact pure empiricism suggests we know the opposite.  The complete lack of evidence of aliens in our galaxy is overwhelming evidence that we are alone.  The phrase "Fermi Paradox" has become so ingrained that it is almost a single word, and it will be difficult to eliminate it.  So I'll keep using it even though I'm convinced there is no paradox.

The reason so many people believe in this "fact" is pure and simple.  Darwinism has blinded us to objective science.  We all "know" Darwinism is true, and we "know" that it's "easy" for intelligent life to evolve.  Therefore we cannot possibly be alone.  Let's try to be scientists on this topic.  Regardless of your opinion on Darwinism, the obvious evidence is that we are alone.

There is no evidence of intelligent alien life anywhere within or without our galaxy.  Look around, and specifically look at other galaxies.  We have excellent images of roughly 10,000 galaxies.  Not one of them shows an artificial construction.  Assuming each galaxy is 10 billion years old, that means that not once in 1e14 galaxy-years has an alien race built a galactic superstructure, visible from our galaxy.  Not once.  How can any scientist look at this evidence and claim anything other than "humans are alone" ?

And let's be clear, the existence of alien bacteria on a rock orbiting Alpha Centauri has nothing to do with this discussion.  I could not care less if every star in this galaxy has primordial life, or even highly evolved tool makers.  This is only about intelligent, sentient, technologically advanced space-faring civilizations.  Bacteria are irrelevant.

Another point of confusion is the difference between "manned" exploration of the galaxy versus robotic exploration.  Frequently bloggers cannot distinguish between these.  They say that there are not enough aliens to staff the exploration ships, therefore the exploration of the galaxy will be a lot slower than "commonly" accepted.  Again they "know" that aliens would probably not send out self-replicating robots to explore the galaxy.

The fact is that even one self-replicating robotic exploration craft would find every solar system in our galaxy in a matter of 100 million years.  That means that for the first few billion years of the existence of the Milky Way no sentient race has built automated exploration craft.  Or does it?

A statistical analysis of the evolution of humans from self-replicating RNA demonstrates that evolution is wrong.  There are too many permutations available which lead to dead ends.  Two billion years on a single planet is not enough time for all the dead ends to be explored.  The current theory of Darwinism requires that life "randomly" chose a viable path 99% of the time, instead of a dead end.  Most mutations don't work, they result in dead babies, or sterility, or severe biochemical imbalances.  Yet evolution on Earth has mysteriously chosen a viable living mutant baby most of the time.  What an amazing coincidence !

But what if we combine statistics with the Fermi Paradox?  Suppose our galaxy has seen the existence of 1-2 intelligent species that built self-replicating robots.  And instead of hardware, the primary substance of those self-replicating robots is biological?  Suppose that instead of 2 billion years on one planet, evolution has really had 10 billion years on a million planets.  Now the statistics make sense, now we no longer need a miracle of statistics to explain our own biology.

So here's the resolution of the Fermi "Paradox".  In the Milky Way (a few million planets over the past few billion years) intelligent life evolved once (or maybe 2-3 times).  That species built self-replicating biological explorers which seeded the galaxy.  We are the result.  Humans are either direct products of alien robotic exploration craft, or we are the first and only intelligent species to evolve in the entire universe.

I prefer the second, I say that the rate of evolution of intelligent life in the Milky Way is about once per 13 billion years.  So prove me wrong, with evidence.  Real evidence.  And don't waste my time talking about what we "know to be true".

Yet another answer to the Fermi Paradox

Reginald Smith from the Bouchet-Franklin Institute in Rochester, New York has written a paper which claims that every civilization in the Milky Way stops broadcasting EM after 1000 years.  Based on this assumption he shows that it is reasonable that our galaxy has multiple sentient species who never interact with each other. This assumption seems very weak to me.  Why would every single species stop communicating by radio?  He also has an implicit assumption that colonization is rare or non-existent.

The real answer to the Fermi Paradox is much simpler:  the rate of evolution of sentient species is less than 1.0 per galaxy per 13 billion years.  We are the first and only intelligent species in the Milky Way, the odds that another will evolve before we have colonized the galaxy is nearly zero.  This theory perfectly fits the observed facts.

Fermi Paradox - All the aliens went dark !

Suppose the cosmologists have it wrong and dark matter really is composed of baryons.  It's not like cosmologists have a great track record.  Most of their theories have been proven wrong over the past few centuries.  Comparing the track record of mathematicians with cosmologists is pretty much night and day.  When a mathematician says they have a new discovery it's right, they have cred.  A new cosmology theory and $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  So why should a computation on the density of baryonic matter in the universe be one of the precious few ideas they actually got right? If dark matter is baryonic then why is it dark?  Could it be that it's dark because it's actually dominated by Matrioshka brains?  Matrioshka brains are shells which absorb all the light from a star, and all the light which radiates from that shell, and so on until the outer shell is ice cold, let's say for the sake of argument that a typical Matrioshka brain radiates at 2.73 Kelvin so it's in equilibrium with the cosmic background (or maybe the only relevant source of the cosmic background !!)

What if virtually all sentient life evolves in the far outer reaches of a galaxy and galaxies start out as 100% visible matter.  As a few Matrioshka brains are born they begin to send out ships and to convert neighboring stars.  Within a few hundred million years all stars outside of the core of a galaxy are dark.  As galaxies age they "shrink" because the number of visible stars drops, they are being absorbed by the Matrioshka civilizations.  This offers an intriguing observational program, watch for vanishing stars at the very edges of the Milky Way.

The interesting implications of this theory are:  there is no such thing as time travel, and there is no such thing as FTL travel (faster than light).   Either (or both) would mean much faster (essentially instantaneous) conversion of the entire galaxy.

Would there be any hope for us if the first survey ship arrived tomorrow to begin "Matriforming" our solar system?  It would certainly take centuries to convert our solar system, but it might only be a few decades before Earth became uninhabitable.  Could we fight back, would they absorb us into the collective before we had a chance to fight back?  Makes for an intriguing plot.