Archive for May, 2011

Alien Civilizations VII: Black Hole Power

Some of you might remember my posts about the possible existence of alien intelligence. Executive summary:

Alien civilizations will tend to expand rapidly over intergalactic distances, eventually sweeping over our solar system. Such intelligence will harvest any and all resources it can for its own use, and thus be harvesting the solar system. Thus, alien civilization, if it existed, would be blatantly obvious. It is not, therefore, alien civilizations are unlikely to exist.

Now with my recent realization about black hole power, I have come to refine my arguments about alien intelligence. 1) Since a black hole power plant would be, in theory, a 100% efficient matter-to-energy converter, it will be the preferred method for alien intelligences to use. 2) Obviously, matter to fuel the black holes will still be necessary, thus alien intelligence will likely still harvest as much matter as they can. 3) Black holes are much more ideal for energy storage than antimatter, since literally nothing can escape them (except for Hawking Radiation as described earlier).

So, my former conclusion still holds.

But I did realize something interesting. Let’s say there was an alien intelligence doing this. They are expanding at slower-than-light speeds across intergalactic space, basically making them look like an expanding sphere of darkness where they have enclosed stars with Dyson Swarms (or perhaps collapsed them into black holes). This is basically what we see in the universe today. Huge intergalactic voids with “nothing” in them. And between these voids are thin streams of galaxies.

I made this argument before, but discounted it because Dyson Swarms would still allow waste heat to escape and thus be detectable over intergalactic distances (or, at least, a whole galaxy of infrared sources would be detectable).

The thing is, black hole power plants wouldn’t give off this waste heat. At least in theory. A whole galaxy of black holes would radiate almost no power, and thus be undetectable across the universe, except for their gravity.

Which would be even closer to what we see today: Dark Matter, Intergalactic Voids.

Basically, my idea is, we happened to evolve at a point in history where a number of civilizations have arisen in the universe and are just starting to bump into each other in intergalactic space. Our galaxy hasn’t been reached yet, but it will soon.

We can even apply the Anthropic Argument here. Basically, why are there no alien civilizations apparently around? Because they haven’t reached us yet. If they did, we wouldn’t have evolved to ask the question.

Anyway, despite all this rampant speculation, it is important to review Sagan’s quote at the top of the page: “We should not be afraid to speculate. But we should be careful to distinguish speculation from fact.” No matter what I may type here, it is ONLY empirical evidence that will decide on way or another. Speculation may have its place, but speculation must always give way to scientific evidence.

I don’t know if I’m right, but it is interesting to think about. It’s a jumping off point, not an end in itself.

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And The Winner Is…

A) He will say his mathematics were in error. Thank you for playing…erm…this game that I just made up.

So yeah, as I already noted, and as you may already be aware, the Rapture did not happen. However, Camping has announced that, going through his “math”, he now predicts the whole thing will happen on October 21st.

Ok, the thing is, all this does is cause people who don’t know better to get panicky and so dumb things like sell their possessions. Yeah maybe it’s their own fault for not being critical enough in their beliefs but it still causes real harm to real people who might otherwise not have done anything.

Another thing that surprised me is how a lot of attention is still on Camping about his failed prediction. Usually when someone gives a date for the end of the world (or Rapture, whatever) when the day actually passes, people just tend to forget about it and the person who made the claim is basically let off the hook. But this time it seems to be different.

Anyway, my estimation of the odds of this happening on 10/21 are about the same as the last time:

No Rapture

I would say that I’m surprised…but that would be an utter lie.

The End Is Nigh (Impossible)!

So apparently there’s been this idea around that the Rapture is going to happen this Saturday, May 21. (See here)

There’s no point really going through Harold Camping’s arguments, since they’re all based on numerology and superstition, but needless to say I take a pretty dim view of them.

I predict that on May 22nd (or anytime thereafter), Camping will likely state either A) his mathematics were in error (as he did after a similar 1994 “prediction”), B) We’ll have to wait and see still, or C) the “Rapture” actually happened in some way (i.e. “So and so in Town X, Arkansas went missing that day and therefore was raptured!”). If he chooses “C” he’ll probably add that apparently very, very few people actually found favor with God and so the Rapture was microscopically small.

I will also state, for the record, if such a Rapture does indeed occur, whether it’s through hundreds of millions of people literally vanishing, or perhaps them apparently just dropping dead for no reason (i.e. just their “soul” was taken), I will immediately convert to his version of Christianity. That would be sufficient evidence to believe in God, in my view.

Anyway, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I’ll lose sleep over working overnight the next couple of days, but not this.