Sunday, July 12, 2015

So Many Places to Go, So Much to Do

Consider three categories of alien civilizations, divided according to their meme components relating to colonization of exo-planets outside their own solar system. Recall that memes are the fundamental credos of their civilization, which all the members ascribe to, and which young ones are trained in. Memes range over many parts of the civilization’s customs, and need to be thought of in components. We assume we can neatly dice out the component relating to external colonization.

One category of alien civilizations doesn’t believe in it. There is no component relating to it, or for some reason they have a belief that they should definitely not do it, never, and no way. This might have arisen from some prior experience the civilization had, maybe a million years before, which caused them to change from a star-faring civilization to a stay-at-home one. Perhaps they found out about a predator civilization, and decided to concentrate on defenses rather than undefendable colonies. Perhaps their huge astronomical observatories determined that these predators had already colonized every habitable planet within any reasonable traveling distance. Perhaps their huge astronomical observatories determined that there were no reasonable planets anywhere close. Perhaps, before they had gotten close enough to Asymptotic Technology to know exactly how to form a colony, they tried to anyway, and it was a disaster. Everybody died. Perhaps they just decided they would rather enjoy the Happy Life at home, or they didn’t have the resources to do it because their solar system suffered from Scarcity, or some other reason. You could say they ran into a Great Filter, but that wouldn’t be quite right as it just affected their planet, not the majority of the planets in the galaxy. They are just sitting on their planet, maybe enjoying other planets in their solar system, but not attempting to go anywhere outside of it. They made a choice.

The second category doesn’t believe in it, but they still do it. Their memes tell them that they strongly want the civilization to survive and their technology tells them that there are galactic perils that might strike too quickly to do anything about it, or they just want to be covered no matter what happens. They have done a couple of colonies or a few, and those worlds have been turned into clones of the home world. Perhaps it is true, and we don’t know it, that it takes an inordinate amount of time to get a second world started and going. They know it, and they started as soon as they could get the funds together to build a starship. They did it, and there is some transport between their small collection of worlds, but not too much. Their understanding of the likelihood of their planet or solar system going haywire and becoming unusable, or any one of the colonies, is that it would be an unusual event and not likely enough so all the colonies would have bad luck in the same era. One might suffer, but the rest would be fine. It it happened, they would find another colony and turn it into a clone of the home world. They also know that there are no galactic events with large enough scope so all of the worlds would be hit by the same phenomena. This will be true for at least a billion years, and there is no need to hurry up and move out of the arm of the galaxy they reside in. In a half-billion more or so, they will start thinking about the big move. But for now, they reside on a few worlds, send ships between them once and a while, share their history if they choose although they would be pretty much the same and pretty boring, and live out their lives in peace and serenity.

The third category believes in colonization. They have a meme which says that their destiny is to spread all over the galaxy, and after they do that, to do the globular clusters, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the local group dwarf galaxies and then take on Andromeda, which exceeds the Milky Way in size. They have ambition. They have determination. Citizens on their planets know what they want to do, and Happy Life be damned. They are going to Andromeda. Not time, not distance, not energy, not resources, not other life-forms, not inhospitable planets, not galactic perils, not anything is going to stop them.

They could be anywhere in the course of their mission. They could be building their first starship, or they could be figuring out how to hustle their colonization over to where a globular cluster is going to penetrate the great disk of the Milky Way by the time it passes through so they can jump aboard. They could be busy setting up terraforming on dozens of planets at a time, or decide just to skip the really bad ones and go only to the best of the lot. Farther to go per step, but you push the envelope out faster. They could be avoiding planets with alien civilizations in category one, because it’s easier to just go around them than it is to get into a war with them and waste resources on fighting that could otherwise be used in expanding. They could decide they need to have an interrupted expansion, while they convert new worlds into clones of the old world, so they will have the resources needed to make the next leap outwards. Alternatively, they could decide only to put small colonies on each world and let them expand at their own pace to cover the planet and build it up into something like the home world. This decision might be made on the basis of what is the most efficient way to get the most ships into intergalactic space at any one time. Take the time to build up the new home world and then build a fleet to go out, or snap the whip and get the first ship out as fast as possible, even though it taxes the new home world so harshly that they cannot expand on the world at the same time.

In other words, they have decided upon a strategy for moving outward, and it depends on a wide variety of factors, such as how long does it take after a colonizing ship arrives at a new habitable world to get it built up enough to replicate a starship. Would it be a lot faster if they sent many starships to each new world? This would mean that a faster start would make up for the more resources needed. Do they need a large fleet for any successful colonization attempt? This would slow them down, and they would figure out how many are needed, and how to efficiently load them and operate them.

To be concise, they have a lot of places to go, a lot to do, and not much time, in their own minds.

Now that we have formed a picture of the tremendous difference that might occur between the three categories of alien civilizations (and a civilization is not what lives on a planet but what lives on all the planets that a single planet has colonized), which one should we concentrate on? If we are planning on looking for starships which category is going to provide the most candidates? Pretty obvious. If we are going to be scanning habitable planets for signs of life, signs of which category should we be looking for? Pretty obvious as well. Thus, to find out if there are aliens out in the galaxy, near enough to be seen either while traveling or while sitting at home, we should try and figure out as much as can be reasonably deduced about category three. How does their colonization meme affect what we would see? Do the newly discovered worlds have minimal populations, just enough to man a starship factory, or would they be fully populated to the limits of their capacity? The signatures might be quite different. If we can deduce any of these strategic choices, even to the level of a reasonably good guess, it might guide our search for aliens and an answer to why nobody has come calling here on Earth. This assumes that it is possible for there to be a category three alien civilization, and all of them do not run into a Great Filter that blocks them from their outward expansion plans.

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