Tabby's Star: Sometimes, It Might Actually Be Aliens

Tabby's Star: Sometimes, It Might Actually Be Aliens

The galaxy's most mysterious star only becomes stranger, as the more typical explanations for its dimming light are disproved, one by one.

It is important to remember that astronomers are people - they are subject to fancies and hopes, and are prone to see what they want to see, every now and then. Any given astronomer wants, deep down, to say, "it's aliens!" as much as any of us do (or more so). They can't, though; they have to assume all the likelier possibilities first. That UFO you saw? Probably a plane. Your government? Probably not reptiles from Neptune.

It's with that being said that we come to KIC-8462852, also known as Tabby's star, after its discoverer, Tabetha Boyajian. Tabby's star is an F-type - just a little more massive, a little hotter than our friendly G-type sun. It's not even a speck to the naked eye, existing about 1500 light years distant.

Tabby's star is weird. The light we receive from it fluctuates; fades and surges, like some massive thing is dancing across its surface. Space is full of massive things, true - but none of the usual suspects match the shadows passing over KIC.

In the past we've eliminated a particularly robust asteroid belt, even a massive planet eclipsing its star. KIC's light dims by as much as 22%, occasionally; even Jupiter, our solar system's go-to "pretty big planet," would hardly occlude 1% of the light from our smaller star at that distance. It isn't a trick of perspective, where one object is racing towards us from the star, growing larger in our eyes, since the light changes as if something were moving laterally. Whatever this is, it has to be local to Tabby's.

The most recent hypothesis was comets; some time ago, a rogue star might have visited Chez Tabby, trailing a cloud of rock-ice that got caught up in our friend's gravity well. As it turns out, no dice: it ain't comets.

See, without realizing it, we've been photographing KIC-8462852 for over a century. Before 1989, we'd accumulated 1200 photos featuring the mysterious gas-ball. Accounting for the changing technology over the years, we've learned that the star's light's been fading very gradually, in such a way that comets can't account for.

This is where aliens come in. The list of possible objects that could cause the light fluctuations we've been seeing is growing quite small, and features a few artificial objects, not least of which is a Dyson sphere.

That is, in short, a structure built around a star in order to maximally harvest the star's energy. It's a heck of an undertaking, and one that can't happen naturally - some sentient force has to make it happen. It might account for the star's gradual fading (it is being slowly bricked over), and for the occasional massive changes (a large, flat piece of sphere moving very close to the surface of the sun).

"Aliens" is by no means the sure answer. The dimming we've seen over the past century has by no means been consistent, which doesn't gel with our ideas about building a Dyson sphere, for one.

The lesson to take from Tabby's star is this: you shouldn't expect any astronomers to declare about your favorite astral phenomenon, "it must be aliens." Sometimes, though, even the most scientifically-minded of us are happy to say it might be.

Source: News.com.au, Orbital Path

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The real quetion is: when we'll get there, because we will at one point, will we find a fatty russian stuck into a teleporter loop? Or just a bunch of dumpsters on wheels, strangely eager to exterminate us?

Or maybe it's just Cthulhu taking a verrryyyyy lllooonnngggggggggg sunbath... No immortal being jokes with vitamin D daily supply.

*Checks wikipedia*
It's 1,480 light years away. Our information on what's going on is very out of date, and we have no means of contacting them within our lifetimes.
Doesn't matter if it's aliens, we'll never interact.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIC_8462852

mtarzaim02:
The real question is: when we'll get there, because we will at one point, will we find a fatty russian stuck into a teleporter loop? Or just a bunch of dumpsters on wheels, strangely eager to exterminate us?

Or maybe it's just Cthulhu taking a verrryyyyy lllooonnngggggggggg sunbath... No immortal being jokes with vitamin D daily supply.

Shows what you know about The Elder Ones, freaking cult newb! Its obviously Shub-Niggurath slowly devouring the Galaxy.

And Scotty...really?! Russian?! Scotty from Star Trek. A Russian...
See, this is why the other generations hate us! This right here! Scotty is a Russian and Babyboomers think us Millenials are stupid.

Well that star is kind of on my way anyway so I'll stop by next time I'm running errands in space.

Adam Jensen:
Well that star is kind of on my way anyway so I'll stop by next time I'm running errands in space.

I'm out of Thanagarian Snare Beast cheese. Can you pick me up a few hundred pounds if you're flying by the HorseHead Nebula?

mtarzaim02:
The real quetion is: when we'll get there, because we will at one point, will we find a fatty russian stuck into a teleporter loop? Or just a bunch of dumpsters on wheels, strangely eager to exterminate us?

Montgomery "Scotty" Scott was the one got was in a transporter loop, he put himself there to save himself along with the rest of the crew of the ship, USS Apollo I think it was, but I'm too lazy to go back and re-watch the episode, or even check Memory Alpha. Still that's all beside the point: Scotty is a Scotsman, not a Russian. Pavel Checkov was the Russian, and as we all know his career, just like the career of the actor who played him, never really amounted to anything.

Also Daleks are too small to be dumpsters, they might barely qualify as household trashcans suitable for road side trash collection.

OT: Last time this came up I basically said why a Dyson Sphere wouldn't be a great explanation, even the simple disconnected station type takes up too much resources for a single star system to provide. So I'll stick to my original theory, the dimming is coming from a ringworld around the star, something virtually any star system should have the local mass to construct. The dimming comes probably from a wobble in the ring, most likely due to it's need to readjust itself to prevent it from destabilizing and beginning a long process of falling into the star. Also any ringworld would be so vastly huge that it'd solve all energy and population problems the species that built it has.

I bet Larry Niven is cackling like a demon and waiting for first contact with the puppeteers, so he can get his hands on some booster spice and live forever.

Souplex:
*Checks wikipedia*
It's 1,480 light years away. Our information on what's going on is very out of date, and we have no means of contacting them within our lifetimes.
Doesn't matter if it's aliens, we'll never interact.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIC_8462852

It's still interesting though. Best case, it's aliens. Worst case, it's some sort of weird stellar phenomena that we haven't encountered before. Either way, there'll be science to be done :D

I know they're supposed to point a bunch of radio telescopes at it, but that's not a given either. Even further assuming they ever used radios, it really comes down to when they invented them due to the time-lag involved. If they didn't have radios before 1480 years ago, there won't be any transmissions out this far for us to hear.

I'm just going to go ahead and be unhappy with the idea that there's ET's out there fucking with stars and shit.

The dimming we've seen over the past century has by no means been consistent, which doesn't jive with our ideas about building a Dyson sphere, for one.

Sorry to be the grammar police, but the word you're looking for is jibe. Stars can't perform jazz or swing music.

rcs619:
Best case, it's aliens. Worst case, it's some sort of weird stellar phenomena that we haven't encountered before.

You have those reversed, best case scenario is that it's a stellar phenomena we've never seen, with it being aliens being the absolute worst case scenario imaginable.

Zontar:

rcs619:
Best case, it's aliens. Worst case, it's some sort of weird stellar phenomena that we haven't encountered before.

You have those reversed, best case scenario is that it's a stellar phenomena we've never seen, with it being aliens being the absolute worst case scenario imaginable.

The star is the better part 1,500 light years away, how is it the worst case scenario? After approximately 1,500 years since what we are observing now has happened, there is a fair chance that if it is extraterrestrials they either extinct, or have since fallen back into barbarism. At any rate we're too far from each other to really have an effect on one another. It'll be another 1,300 some odd years before our radio signals even reach them. In which case if they're FTL capable then we're way to primitive to deal with, unless we've caught up respectably. On the other hand, if they're not FTL capable then they'll never, ever reach us, or effect us in any meaningful way. To do so they would have had to start coming this way tens of thousands of years ago.

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:

Zontar:

rcs619:
Best case, it's aliens. Worst case, it's some sort of weird stellar phenomena that we haven't encountered before.

You have those reversed, best case scenario is that it's a stellar phenomena we've never seen, with it being aliens being the absolute worst case scenario imaginable.

The star is the better part 1,500 light years away, how is it the worst case scenario? After approximately 1,500 years since what we are observing now has happened, there is a fair chance that if it is extraterrestrials they either extinct, or have since fallen back into barbarism. At any rate we're too far from each other to really have an effect on one another. It'll be another 1,300 some odd years before our radio signals even reach them. In which case if they're FTL capable then we're way to primitive to deal with, unless we've caught up respectably. On the other hand, if they're not FTL capable then they'll never, ever reach us, or effect us in any meaningful way. To do so they would have had to start coming this way tens of thousands of years ago.

While their realizing we exist will likely not happen for another 1300 years (unless they have outposts in other systems that have FTL communication) once they do realize we exist for all we know they could very well throw a rock our way to take us out due to the very logical assumption that we are a danger (as all intelligent species inherently are to other intelligent species).

While we have plenty of time to do it, we have to get the hell out of here and spread out to all corners of the system and to systems beyond if we want to even hope to survive in the long run. Their existing only makes this more clear and pressing.

Couple typos in there, my friend. Forgive me, but I've gotta use this English degree for something. :P

PatrickJS:
also known as Tabby's star, after its discovery discoverer, Tabetha Boyajian.

...

The light we receive from it fluctuates; fades and surges, likes like some massive thing is dancing...

OT: It's obviously The Reapers. :3

Zontar:
While their realizing we exist will likely not happen for another 1300 years (unless they have outposts in other systems that have FTL communication) once they do realize we exist for all we know they could very well throw a rock our way to take us out due to the very logical assumption that we are a danger (as all intelligent species inherently are to other intelligent species).

While we have plenty of time to do it, we have to get the hell out of here and spread out to all corners of the system and to systems beyond if we want to even hope to survive in the long run. Their existing only makes this more clear and pressing.

Eh, I wouldn't worry too much about pissed off aliens coming and going all Independence Day on us. I'm one who applies to the Great Filter theory. The reason we haven't seen any evidence of alien life is due to a natural part of the evolutionary process in terms of a species' advancement becomes improbable and as such the species stagnates. It advances up to a certain point and then stops and is either destroyed by some astronomical event (i.e. a comet impact) or lives long enough to utterly deplete its planet's resources.

Considering the age of our galaxy - and how many much older stars there are than our own - there should be life all over the galaxy. The fact that we've seen no signs of any other life than us seems to imply that there's some "gate" in a species' natural progression that prevents it from expanding out and colonizing other worlds.

......or maybe Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes was right: "I think the surest sign of extraterrestrial life out there is the fact that it hasn't tried to contact us yet." :P

And on a side note.......I just saw an ad get interrupted by an ad, before resuming the previous ad. o.o

"Yo, dawg! I heard you like ads! So we put some ads in yo ads!"

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:

Zontar:

You have those reversed, best case scenario is that it's a stellar phenomena we've never seen, with it being aliens being the absolute worst case scenario imaginable.

The star is the better part 1,500 light years away, how is it the worst case scenario? After approximately 1,500 years since what we are observing now has happened, there is a fair chance that if it is extraterrestrials they either extinct, or have since fallen back into barbarism. At any rate we're too far from each other to really have an effect on one another. It'll be another 1,300 some odd years before our radio signals even reach them. In which case if they're FTL capable then we're way to primitive to deal with, unless we've caught up respectably. On the other hand, if they're not FTL capable then they'll never, ever reach us, or effect us in any meaningful way. To do so they would have had to start coming this way tens of thousands of years ago.

While their realizing we exist will likely not happen for another 1300 years (unless they have outposts in other systems that have FTL communication) once they do realize we exist for all we know they could very well throw a rock our way to take us out due to the very logical assumption that we are a danger (as all intelligent species inherently are to other intelligent species).

While we have plenty of time to do it, we have to get the hell out of here and spread out to all corners of the system and to systems beyond if we want to even hope to survive in the long run. Their existing only makes this more clear and pressing.

If they have FTL communications, then it's safe to say they have FTL drives too, in which case their drives don't have the range and speed to reach us, or they decided we don't pose a realistic threat. Because if they had FTL they'd probably have wiped us out already. If they have FTL it's equally possible they seeded life on this, or engineered the human species, as it is they'd see us as a threat.

Still all indicators are that they never developed FTL travel, or even left their home system. Because the only reason to build either a basic Dyson Sphere, or a ringworld, is because they have to work with the materials they have to hand in their home system. In which case once they discover our existence, it'd be likely that they assume we also never developed an FTL drive, along with their being able to assume their superiority to us. The reason being, if we were competitive with them, logically we'd be doing the same thing as them, building a simple Dyson Sphere, or ringworld ourselves. When they discover we haven't caught up to them, they'll be assured their superiority.

Also it's very possible that a natural event will have wiped us out by the time our radio transmissions reach them, something they'll probably take into account. Just like by the time we realize that they're out there, it's possible they've gone extinct.

The reality is, even with the most realistic projections of faster than light drives, 1480 light years distance is a long damn distance, it'd take magnitudes the speed of light to cross that in a reasonable time frame. That means in all likelihood they either know about us, and how advanced they are compared to us, or they don't have FTL. If the former, then no matter what happens, they'll always have their millennium and a half, plus how ever long it took them to get as advanced as they are, advantage over us. That means they can reasonably assume that if we try to threaten them, they can stand us down with their huge technological advantage. If they don't have FTL then there is literally no point in them worrying about us, which also means there's no point in us worrying about them.

Most of that works under the assumption that FTL travel is even possible too, which at this point there is equal money on it being not possible as there is to it being possible.

Still to dim a star by 22% means that they built something on a scale we can't even attempt yet, something that we'll likely never be able to match, because we'll probably go extinct first. We're so far away from each other that there is literally no reason to worry about each other, especially with such a massive tech advantage on their side. If they do know about us, they must view us the same way we view ants, we could potentially pose a hazard to them, but nothing they couldn't exterminate pretty fast if we ever do manage to run afoul of them.

RJ 17:
Couple typos in there, my friend. Forgive me, but I've gotta use this English degree for something. :P

Eep! Thanks for catching those!

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
If they have FTL communications, then it's safe to say they have FTL drives too

That isn't an assumption that should be made. The requirements technologically incomparable, let alone the energy needed orders of magnitude different. With how we understand the laws of physics it's theoretically possible we will develop FTL communication before we ever send a man to Mars. In fact if this really is a case of aliens building a Dyson Swarm they have, if it is physically possible to do so, likely already developed such even if they are trapped within their solar system.

Still all indicators are that they never developed FTL travel, or even left their home system.

Again one of these being apperently true does not mean the other is. While it's quite evident they likely do not have FTL, if they're building a Dyson Swarm they definitely have the capabilities to reach other systems through means we do understand such as ion engines. It's not something that would take too long either, at 1G constant acceleration and deceleration it would take only 30 years to reach a solar system that's 20 light years away (and feel like 5 years for those on the ship in question).

When they discover we haven't caught up to them, they'll be assured their superiority.

And what's to stop them from flinging a small object at a high proportion of the speed of light our way just to make sure we don't accidentally catch up to them in terms of development and throw our own rock at their very large, very stationary object?

The reality is, even with the most realistic projections of faster than light drives, 1480 light years distance is a long damn distance, it'd take magnitudes the speed of light to cross that in a reasonable time frame.

This is only true when speaking in terms of the perspective of those stationary in regards to an object travelling, however one must remember that the object traveling itself does not have this apply. Due to time dilation anywhere in the galaxy is only 80 years away at a 1G constant acceleration/deceleration.

That means they can reasonably assume that if we try to threaten them, they can stand us down with their huge technological advantage.

Here's the problem, it's not about trying to threaten them, it's our inherent existence being the threat. From our understanding of the laws of physics, it seems that it may be physically impossible to detect an object travelling at 0.3c with advanced warning unless seen visually. If there is no trick around this, then that means any species capable of achieving that speed is a danger due to the ability to fling objects at that speed at a stationary target. If there's one thing a Dyson Swarm is, it's a stationary target.

we could potentially pose a hazard to them, but nothing they couldn't exterminate pretty fast if we ever do manage to run afoul of them.

The problem is given what we know about the laws of physics it seems that the technology to attack is inherently superior to that to defend with, and the level of technology needed to attack a Dyson Swarm is much, much, much lower on the scale of development then that needed to defend it.

You're right about one thing: if they're real we are like ants to them, ones they could exterminate without a second thought. And what do you do when you see an ant colony that could easily destroy your house and if they where to attack there's nothing you could possibly do to save it? The answer if you use some poison on the colony not because it WILL do that, but because it COULD do that.

This is the reason why US government policy regarding alien contact if a probe where to enter orbit and start transmitting is to not only avoid contact, but actively prevent transmission by third parties, and this is done not only with the support but at the behest of he scientific community.

The Fermi Paradox has many potential answers to it, my personal take is that the likely reason is due to fear. An extract from "The Killing Star":

When we put our heads together and tried to list everything we could say with certainty about other civilizations, without having actually met them, all that we knew boiled down to three simple laws of alien behavior:

THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won't choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don't survive by being self-sacrificing.

WIMPS DON'T BECOME TOP DOGS.No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

You should give this a read, it's quite interesting.

RJ 17:
-snip-

I don't buy the great filter theory, the galaxy is too huge, and new evidence about the universe is contradicting it's possibility. I'm of the mind that FTL travel if possible is a lot more limited than we imagine, also the universe is expanding fourth dimensionally, that probably makes FTL travel harder. Especially considering that the fourth dimensional expansion is speeding up, not slowing down.

Now if human development is any clue, we're already quite capable of wiping ourselves out, since we haven't and since we're developing more rapidly as we make more breakthroughs... That tells me that technological development expands and an exponential rate that's only limited by the new fields we breakthrough to. Especially because one part of technological development is expansion of efficiency, which we're constantly doing.

A final factor is birth rates. We've demonstrated that as infant mortality rates fall, as more children survive to adult hood, as we improve quality life, and extend life spans for the general population, birth rates fall. If we project this out, as we become an interplanetary species, our expansion in raw numbers is likely to slow down, if not level, or potentially fall into the negative. This can seriously inhibit the expansion of a species in terms of interplanetary and interstellar expansion. Also due to these factors, it's also possible that reproduction becomes more of a liability than an asset on a personal level. The reason first world birth rates have fallen is because it's less convenient and necessary to reproduce, when compared to personal goals and quality of life considerations. A large part of reproductive drive was short life span and having more labor resources on hand for families, when that stopped birthrates fell.

Taking all that into consideration it's very possible that it's extremely difficult to forge large interstellar nations, if not impossible. It's possible that when you hit a certain level of advancement, reproduction is so much of a disadvantage, that a species naturally goes extinct, from lack of reproductive drive.

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:

RJ 17:
-snip-

Snap.

Can't say I really buy into your theory, either.

I highly doubt that technology will ever reach a point in which it utterly stamps out one of the most basic and primal instincts - mating - that a species (that we know of) has. One of the entire points of getting off our little rock in the first place is to prevent overpopulation. Any colony founded by us - or aliens - wouldn't just be seven families plopping down onto a planet and setting up some houses. In order for it to even be reasonable it would have to start with a sustainable population in the first place. At that point - more than ever - there would be a need to reproduce. Assuming that we're going with your scenario of people apparently just not wanting to have children anymore is true, then I can only imagine that incentives would be provided to encourage people to mate.

This is all ignoring the fact that I still refuse to believe a species would ever get so advanced that it would go extinct due to a desiccated sex drive. That's why I still say it's the Great Filter.

But you wanna know something neat? The Great Filter theory assumes that there is a step - either one we've passed or some unknown step in our future advancement - in the evolution of a species that makes expansion beyond the home planet improbable. Even if you are correct, who's to say "a species surpassing the crash of its sex drive" isn't that future step that serves as the Filter? :P

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
If they have FTL communications, then it's safe to say they have FTL drives too

That isn't an assumption that should be made. The requirements technologically incomparable, let alone the energy needed orders of magnitude different. With how we understand the laws of physics it's theoretically possible we will develop FTL communication before we ever send a man to Mars. In fact if this really is a case of aliens building a Dyson Swarm they have, if it is physically possible to do so, likely already developed such even if they are trapped within their solar system.

It's possible but unlikely, it's more attractive and imperative to tap into the physics possibilities of traveling faster than the speed of light if we discover FTL is possible. The reason being that it makes it easier to gather necessary resources and expand on interplanetary and inter stellar scales. That's both on an economic and social level. Communication really is a secondary concern because it's not as profitable. We also are making assumptions about how much energy FTL travel takes, while it may take a lot less energy than we assume to achieve warp speeds, or move ships into subspace, or hyperspace. Expansion and profitability of extraterrestrial exploitation far outweigh the imperatives of FTL communication.

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
Still all indicators are that they never developed FTL travel, or even left their home system.

Again one of these being apperently true does not mean the other is. While it's quite evident they likely do not have FTL, if they're building a Dyson Swarm they definitely have the capabilities to reach other systems through means we do understand such as ion engines. It's not something that would take too long either, at 1G constant acceleration and deceleration it would take only 30 years to reach a solar system that's 20 light years away (and feel like 5 years for those on the ship in question).

The problem with that is that 1G of acceleration and deceleration over even a light year requires more energy than it's worth to move a given object. Especially if we're talking about ion engines, which while very energy efficient, don't impart a lot of acceleration relative to their size, meaning they're not power efficient. In this case think the power efficiency versus fuel efficiency when comparing internal combustion engines to rotary and gas turbine engines, the former has far better fuel efficiency, but both of the latter are far more efficient at producing power. Also time dilation is a hindrance, not an asset, in the case of these potential aliens, we're too far away to bother with if they don't have FTL speed. Besides that if they could do it that way, it'd be far more cost effective to terraform and colonize extra-stellar worlds than to build a Dyson Swarm, or ringworld. Building such a mega structure means it's more economical to remain in one's own home system, than it is to leave the system.

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
When they discover we haven't caught up to them, they'll be assured their superiority.

And what's to stop them from flinging a small object at a high proportion of the speed of light our way just to make sure we don't accidentally catch up to them in terms of development and throw our own rock at their very large, very stationary object?

The possibility that they might just have very similar concepts of life to us. They might consider us too valuable from a scientific standpoint to destroy. On the other hand the energy to wipe us out in a timely fashion might be too large an expense to justify doing it. The project has to be economical for it to be an option, it's very likely that on a time and energy scale it's not. Also if they're building a Dyson Swarm or ringworld, they probably need every bit of mass they can get their hands on. The necessity of resources would potentially dissuade them.

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
The reality is, even with the most realistic projections of faster than light drives, 1480 light years distance is a long damn distance, it'd take magnitudes the speed of light to cross that in a reasonable time frame.

This is only true when speaking in terms of the perspective of those stationary in regards to an object travelling, however one must remember that the object traveling itself does not have this apply. Due to time dilation anywhere in the galaxy is only 80 years away at a 1G constant acceleration/deceleration.

The amount of energy required to keep a constant 1G acceleration/deceleration on any sizable object is absolutely phenomenal. Also time dilation is a hindrance because of the amount time slows down the closer to light speed you get. While it might be 80 years aboard ship it'd be thousands in real space, by which point we could easily already be extinct. That would mean the resources used on such an endeavor would be absolutely wasted, especially in terms of energy, not a cost easy to justify.

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
That means they can reasonably assume that if we try to threaten them, they can stand us down with their huge technological advantage.

Here's the problem, it's not about trying to threaten them, it's our inherent existence being the threat. From our understanding of the laws of physics, it seems that it may be physically impossible to detect an object travelling at 0.3c with advanced warning unless seen visually. If there is no trick around this, then that means any species capable of achieving that speed is a danger due to the ability to fling objects at that speed at a stationary target. If there's one thing a Dyson Swarm is, it's a stationary target.

Well if they're building a Dyson Swarm, or a Ringworld then it's possible they do know a trick around it, it's possible they've already prepared for the possibility of something coming in at 30% of the light speed.

It's equally possible that it's more like they'd never be able to detect a species not building on their scale before it detected them. Which means they have to prepare for potential hostilities with extreme caution, or wipe life off every potentially life bearing planet in the galaxy.

Also there are no guarantees that if they move to wipe out an alien species, that said alien species is already trying to wipe them out much the same way. That means they're already doomed because of the scale of construction they've committed themselves to.

Zontar:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
we could potentially pose a hazard to them, but nothing they couldn't exterminate pretty fast if we ever do manage to run afoul of them.

The problem is given what we know about the laws of physics it seems that the technology to attack is inherently superior to that to defend with, and the level of technology needed to attack a Dyson Swarm is much, much, much lower on the scale of development then that needed to defend it.

In which case building what they've decided to has doomed from the start, if the assumptions you're making on threat level are accurate. As I just stated above.

One big thing is that it maybe impossible to detect radio emissions of other civilizations due to signal dispersal, degradation , and background noise from every star in the galaxy and universe, and the background noise of the big-bang

Zontar:
You're right about one thing: if they're real we are like ants to them, ones they could exterminate without a second thought. And what do you do when you see an ant colony that could easily destroy your house and if they where to attack there's nothing you could possibly do to save it? The answer if you use some poison on the colony not because it WILL do that, but because it COULD do that.

It would first require them being aware of us. By building a Dyson Swarm, or Ringworld, they've basically lit a beacon that will allow other civilizations to launch attacks they can't stop, before they can discover those civilizations. Which means it's imminently possible that prior experience with other civilizations has convinced them they're safe. Because otherwise building a Dyson Swarm or a ringworld is far too risky a thing to ever justify.

Zontar:
This is the reason why US government policy regarding alien contact if a probe where to enter orbit and start transmitting is to not only avoid contact, but actively prevent transmission by third parties, and this is done not only with the support but at the behest of he scientific community.

The problem is that any probe, or probes will already be alerted to our presence before we ever become aware of theirs, if we even do. Which means they'd be able to retreat faster than they're currently approaching, or have FTL communications. This is so they can get the warning back before the potential target can discover them. So we're already totally screwed on that front in all likelihood. Still the scale means they'd have to probe every star that could possibly have life bearing worlds, and assault those worlds even if they only have primitive life.

Zontar:
The Fermi Paradox has many potential answers to it, my personal take is that the likely reason is due to fear. An extract from "The Killing Star":

When we put our heads together and tried to list everything we could say with certainty about other civilizations, without having actually met them, all that we knew boiled down to three simple laws of alien behavior:

THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won?t choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don?t survive by being self-sacrificing.

WIMPS DON?T BECOME TOP DOGS.No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

You should give this a read, it's quite interesting.

I'm aware, but it's making a huge assumption based on how we act, extraterrestrials may have evolved in an environment where they were herbivore herd animals with no natural predators. Which means their thought process is far different from our own. The assumptions we make in this regard means that every life bearing world has to be destroyed preemptively. The scale of such an operation is unrealistic at best.

Essentially the thought process at work here requires far too much assumption about both civilization in the galaxy at large, as well as the lifeforms that may dominate various worlds. Also because of the resources required to ensure absolute safety from other extraterrestrial species, a species could doom it self trying to protect itself. That's a very real consideration to take into account, especially when a species is building stellar mega structures. When it comes to risk/reward in this case, the risk has too much potential to outweigh the reward. The reason not to preemptively attack life bearing worlds is the same as why we don't preemptively nuke everyone else, mutually assured destruction. Any species willing to take the risk of building such an obvious mega structure is likely very confident they're not going to be attacked. At least not in any way that they already can't prevent. Which in turn means expending resources to eliminate other life forms, to lay waste to worlds that bare life, is a waste of resources both in the short and long term.

Any species building a Dyson Swarm, or Ringworld can transmute elements, because otherwise there isn't enough in terms of resources in their own star system and probably neighboring star systems, to complete such a project. That means they know a fair bit more about physics than we can currently comprehend. Which also still means we can't possibly be pose any actual danger to them. Just because if the opposite were true, then they wouldn't undertaken the sort of project they have, because if every civilization that can spot that project throws a space rock at them, by sheer number, they're doomed. There is no way any species that can pose a threat would miss the existence of such a project and take action, so they have to already be able to defeat such attacks, before starting such a project.

rcs619:

I know they're supposed to point a bunch of radio telescopes at it, but that's not a given either. Even further assuming they ever used radios, it really comes down to when they invented them due to the time-lag involved. If they didn't have radios before 1480 years ago, there won't be any transmissions out this far for us to hear.

They already did last I heard, nothing.

Besides that, the exact opposite of what you're saying could also be true.

We're talking about hypothetical aliens advanced to the point that they're building stellar scale super stuff

For what you're saying, they'd have to have moved from a radio using civilization no later than 1480 years prior to having this super advanced project progressed to the point we're speculating on now. That could be possible, we don't really have a frame of reference on how long it should take to get to that point for even ourselves, let alone another species that could advance at an entirely different rate.

I'd think it just as likely to be the other way around. That such a species could have progressed to something else well before starting their project and we'll have missed the opportunity to detect such things by centuries or millenia (if they ever used it at all)

RJ 17:

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:

RJ 17:
-snip-

Snap.

Can't say I really buy into your theory, either.

I highly doubt that technology will ever reach a point in which it utterly stamps out one of the most basic and primal instincts - mating - that a species (that we know of) has. One of the entire points of getting off our little rock in the first place is to prevent overpopulation. Any colony founded by us - or aliens - wouldn't just be seven families plopping down onto a planet and setting up some houses. In order for it to even be reasonable it would have to start with a sustainable population in the first place. At that point - more than ever - there would be a need to reproduce. Assuming that we're going with your scenario of people apparently just not wanting to have children anymore is true, then I can only imagine that incentives would be provided to encourage people to mate.

This is all ignoring the fact that I still refuse to believe a species would ever get so advanced that it would go extinct due to a desiccated sex drive. That's why I still say it's the Great Filter.

But you wanna know something neat? The Great Filter theory assumes that there is a step - either one we've passed or some unknown step in our future advancement - in the evolution of a species that makes expansion beyond the home planet improbable. Even if you are correct, who's to say "a species surpassing the crash of its sex drive" isn't that future step that serves as the Filter? :P

No, but at current we can't move humans off Earth faster than we populate the planet. Any off world colonies, including space colonies, are going to have thousands to millions of people to start.

Also it's not about a loss of sex drive, but improvement in birth control. When you look at our species, especially when it comes to equalizing the sexes, that means women have less of a incentive to reproduce, not more, because becoming pregnant is seen as the "end" of a woman's career in the work place.

Now it's possible the inconvenience of having children might be our filter, but it might just be what slows our growth enough for us not to need to expand as much. Again improved quality of life, longer lifespans, and career options for women remove a lot of incentive to reproduce, as in to get pregnant and carry a child to term. That doesn't mean that sex stops, it won't even stop reproduction, just slow it down. So my thought is that advancement slows growth. It may come to the point where most children come from artificial wombs. Still that makes me think that's why we haven't made contact, interstellar expansion is a pretty slow process, so most species never even meet.

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
It's possible but unlikely, it's more attractive and imperative to tap into the physics possibilities of traveling faster than the speed of light if we discover FTL is possible. The reason being that it makes it easier to gather necessary resources and expand on interplanetary and inter stellar scales. That's both on an economic and social level. Communication really is a secondary concern because it's not as profitable. We also are making assumptions about how much energy FTL travel takes, while it may take a lot less energy than we assume to achieve warp speeds, or move ships into subspace, or hyperspace. Expansion and profitability of extraterrestrial exploitation far outweigh the imperatives of FTL communication.

While developing FTL communication is less profitable then developing FTL travel, it's also much, much less costly. In fact just for a structure like a Dyson Swarm or a Ringworld FTL communication would be massively useful within the confines of a single solar system given that it reduces the delay of signals from anywhere from minutes to hours depending on where the two points communicating are within a system.

Being able to send a telegraphic message over the course of a few minutes across an ocean isn't as profitable as being able to travel across the ocean in a few minutes, but it is much easier to achieve and is still very much worth the cost.

Besides that if they could do it that way, it'd be far more cost effective to terraform and colonize extra-stellar worlds than to build a Dyson Swarm, or ringworld. Building such a mega structure means it's more economical to remain in one's own home system, than it is to leave the system.

We don't know that that is the only thing they are doing. It's quite possible they are doing both at once and that due to development their species' sphere of influence has simply not reached us yet. Staying within a single system is an assured means of extinction as one way or another the time will come when something wipes out all life within it.

The possibility that they might just have very similar concepts of life to us. They might consider us too valuable from a scientific standpoint to destroy. On the other hand the energy to wipe us out in a timely fashion might be too large an expense to justify doing it. The project has to be economical for it to be an option, it's very likely that on a time and energy scale it's not. Also if they're building a Dyson Swarm or ringworld, they probably need every bit of mass they can get their hands on. The necessity of resources would potentially dissuade them.

The mass and energy necessary to eliminate us wouldn't actually be even a millionth of a percentage rounded up for what would need to be the daily production for something like a Dyson Swarm to be viable. Take a piece of refined metal the size of a space shuttle and shoot it out of a canon towards Earth at 0.3c or above (something that isn't very energy intensive when it's just shooting a slug when compared to the energy they'd have) and do it a few more times in case calculations where off by a millionth of a degree. There, in two thousand years the problem will solve itself and continued survival is assured.

Also time dilation is a hindrance because of the amount time slows down the closer to light speed you get. While it might be 80 years aboard ship it'd be thousands in real space, by which point we could easily already be extinct. That would mean the resources used on such an endeavor would be absolutely wasted, especially in terms of energy, not a cost easy to justify.

Actually it's a win-win scenario as in situation 1 where we are still alive when they get here they can eliminate us due to being technologically ahead of us, and in situation 2 where we are dead they can use it as an opportunity to continue their species by having a part of it come to another system and colonize the location, increasing their odds of survival in the long run. In fact, for all we know this situation is exactly that: a colony building a Dyson Swarm around another world, not their home system.

Well if they're building a Dyson Swarm, or a Ringworld then it's possible they do know a trick around it, it's possible they've already prepared for the possibility of something coming in at 30% of the light speed.

It's equally possible that it's more like they'd never be able to detect a species not building on their scale before it detected them. Which means they have to prepare for potential hostilities with extreme caution, or wipe life off every potentially life bearing planet in the galaxy.

Also there are no guarantees that if they move to wipe out an alien species, that said alien species is already trying to wipe them out much the same way. That means they're already doomed because of the scale of construction they've committed themselves to.

It's also incredibly unlikely that the project would be what the entirety of their civilization is dedicating itself to. All successful species, when making massive plans for the future, would logically have a backup plan in case things fail. Not only is it possible this is one of countless projects being done, it's far more likely that that is the case then that it is the only project they as a civilization are working on.

It would first require them being aware of us. By building a Dyson Swarm, or Ringworld, they've basically lit a beacon that will allow other civilizations to launch attacks they can't stop, before they can discover those civilizations. Which means it's imminently possible that prior experience with other civilizations has convinced them they're safe. Because otherwise building a Dyson Swarm or a ringworld is far too risky a thing to ever justify.

This is making the assumption they have any other experience with alien life forms, or that they simply did not believe the project to be one where that was too much of a risk. We don't know what, if this is a Dyson Swarm, the level of dedication for the civilization in question this actually amounts to. For all we know this could be one of thousands of already completed Swarms where its destruction would, while leading to material loose, not actually spell an end to their species.

I'm aware, but it's making a huge assumption based on how we act, extraterrestrials may have evolved in an environment where they were herbivore herd animals with no natural predators.

While that is always possible, it's incredibly unlikely. I don't remember who said it, but one person whose quote I came across put it like this: you don't need intelligence to hunt down a blade of grass. Intelligence as we have seen it in species is directly proportional to their predatory nature. Intelligence is very energy intensive (to the point where one of the answers to the Fermi Paradox is that intelligence simply isn't common enough as an evolutionary advantage) taking up a massive part of our daily energy intake (often around 40%) for something that, for a herbivore, would simply offer no evolutionary advantage. Intelligence required a cycle of energy intake needing to be higher, so more meat was needed, thus more intelligence was needed, thus more meat for that energy, and so on until we became who we are. Vegans may hate it, but we simply never would have reached where we are without eating meat as a significant (and at the end of the day most important) part of our daily diet.

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:
Also it's not about a loss of sex drive, but improvement in birth control. When you look at our species, especially when it comes to equalizing the sexes, that means women have less of a incentive to reproduce, not more, because becoming pregnant is seen as the "end" of a woman's career in the work place.

If that's the case, then I'd imagine governments would begin issuing incentives to reproduce if low birthrates become a problem.

Beyond that: we're talking about "why we haven't seen any aliens out there yet", not "why hasn't/won't mankind expand." You're viewing alien societies through the lens of human culture in making the assumption that alien societies would function as ours do. Their females - assuming they have them - could be utterly subservient to the males. The males could be utterly subservient to the females.

Now it's possible the inconvenience of having children might be our filter, but it might just be what slows our growth enough for us not to need to expand as much. Again improved quality of life, longer lifespans, and career options for women remove a lot of incentive to reproduce, as in to get pregnant and carry a child to term. That doesn't mean that sex stops, it won't even stop reproduction, just slow it down. So my thought is that advancement slows growth. It may come to the point where most children come from artificial wombs. Still that makes me think that's why we haven't made contact, interstellar expansion is a pretty slow process, so most species never even meet.

And what happens when technology reaches the point where having a child is no longer an inconvenience to some who's career oriented? As technology improves, it'll undoubtedly become easier for one to carry out the duties of their job. Furthermore, as technology improves, it will undoubtedly become easier to care for and raise a child. Finally, while more and more women are becoming career oriented and that's great, there's still plenty of women out there who consider "being a mom" as being the only "job" they want and are perfectly happy with that. I doubt that mentality will ever fade out.

No matter how you cut it, I still don't see a decline in birthrate ever becoming such a detrimental issue as to prevent a species from expanding and colonizing other planets...let alone being a primary factor in said species' extinction. No...if we're going out, my money says it's going to be with some sort of bang as opposed to some sort of whimper.

I always say that the surest sign that intelligent life exists beyond earth is that none of it has tried to contact us. Besides which, even if aliens are responsible, they would be seeing us at the year 968 AD - almost a millenium before the Industrial revolution. As such they would assume that even if they did see us and send a message, we would be unable to hear it

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime:

mtarzaim02:
The real quetion is: when we'll get there, because we will at one point, will we find a fatty russian stuck into a teleporter loop? Or just a bunch of dumpsters on wheels, strangely eager to exterminate us?

Montgomery "Scotty" Scott was the one got was in a transporter loop, he put himself there to save himself along with the rest of the crew of the ship, USS Apollo I think it was, but I'm too lazy to go back and re-watch the episode, or even check Memory Alpha. Still that's all beside the point: Scotty is a Scotsman, not a Russian. Pavel Checkov was the Russian, and as we all know his career, just like the career of the actor who played him, never really amounted to anything.

Hey, he had a great run on Babylon 5 as the creepy Psi Corp Telepath Bester. If you missed his performance in that, I'd suggest checking it out. He's delightfully evil in that role.

I can't help but wish it is aliens. In a moment I'm going to read the comments, and then, if those aren't enough to dissuade me, do a Google search. But for one glorious, glorious minute, I'm going to sit here and think that the answer's aliens.

silverhawk100:

The dimming we've seen over the past century has by no means been consistent, which doesn't jive with our ideas about building a Dyson sphere, for one.

Sorry to be the grammar police, but the word you're looking for is jibe. Stars can't perform jazz or swing music.

Well, technically they can't come about by steering away from the wind, either. Nor do they have a boom to snap around suddenly. Yes, I know there is more than one meaning, this one was amusing to me.

The_Great_Galendo:
I can't help but wish it is aliens. In a moment I'm going to read the comments, and then, if those aren't enough to dissuade me, do a Google search. But for one glorious, glorious minute, I'm going to sit here and think that the answer's aliens.

Aliens who may or may not want to murder us for existing, apparently.

And that's before they watch our TV(at which point they'd have a valid cassus belli).

Ladies and Gentlemen.

We've found our first alien civilization. And they are much, much more advanced than us.

At least that's my hope. Aliens is the least creepy theory for a star to be dimming over time.

Well let's hope it's aliens since all the other wibbly wobbly meteor stuff is just plain boring.
And the thing that would be really cool if it was aliens is that we are observing their undertakings from 1500 years ago, we are literally tuning into their history.

Was not expecting so many strongly believed assumptions based purely on paranoid human ideals here in the comments. Entertaining somewhat though. I hope they aren't watching too closely over here, they might start to think we're a lost cause. Though they would only see us 1500 years ago. Baby, we've different now, we can prove it to you...just don't judge us by our political structures! Ok, they may have a method of faster observation, if they have a dyson sphere. That is a fair amount of progress that we can only dream of. They may have survived tenfold our existence with almost garunteed security for their future survival. We are not so secure, stupid humans. Oops, rambled again.

Xsjadoblayde:
Was not expecting so many strongly believed assumptions based purely on paranoid human ideals here in the comments. Entertaining somewhat though. I hope they aren't watching too closely over here, they might start to think we're a lost cause. Though they would only see us 1500 years ago. Baby, we've different now, we can prove it to you...just don't judge us by our political structures! Ok, they may have a method of faster observation, if they have a dyson sphere. That is a fair amount of progress that we can only dream of. They may have survived tenfold our existence with almost garunteed security for their future survival. We are not so secure, stupid humans. Oops, rambled again.

Really, even if they wanted to come murder us specifically, because of seeing us 1500 years ago(let alone right now), it would likely take them at least 1500 years to do it.

A lot can happen in 1500 years. Hell, they'll probably show up, find a bunch of medieval assholes poking each other with sticks in the glowing ruins of a radioactive wasteland and realize they'd made the trip for nothing. And then won't they feel stupid?

Dalisclock:
Really, even if they wanted to come murder us specifically, because of seeing us 1500 years ago(let alone right now), it would likely take them at least 1500 years to do it.

A lot can happen in 1500 years. Hell, they'll probably show up, find a bunch of medieval assholes poking each other with sticks in the glowing ruins of a radioactive wasteland and realize they'd made the trip for nothing. And then won't they feel stupid?

They may also be in communication with further out civilizations that we have no way of observing. Or they may be part of a larger civilization temporarily setting up on a suitable planet for more energy harvesting while we are merely some indigenous cave species they are hoping not to disturb either through an ethical code or plain orders. It would make sense that they could factor in light travel speed and a planet's species evolution rate to see that we are far from any capable threat to anything other than ourselves. *Hangs head in shame*

 

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