I checked out the first episode of the Discovery Channel series ‘Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking’ concerning aliens the other day. I had been avoiding watching it (it’s a couple years old) because the trailers made me feel like it was going to be cheesy. It turned out to be lacking at best and a bit stale at worst. Think yesteryears sci-fi (I’m channeling TNG here*). Not to sound too negative, it’s probably a good intro for kids and I love me some HAWK, but the thing that made me roll my eyes was the hypothetical scenario in which a race of aliens, having depleted the resources in their own planetary system, roam around like nomads while simultaneously having the capability to harness the power of an entire star using a Dyson sphere, and use this energy to open up a worm hole to travel anywhere they want, like, oh I dunno, let’s say Earth! The implication is they might end up exploiting us for our resources similar to how the New World and Native Americans were when discovered.
If aliens want raw materials they can find everything the Earth has to offer (and then a lot more) on a billion other dead space-rocks without going through the trouble of messing around with the smelly human race and their itchy trigger fingers. Sure, we’re made of star-stuff, but so is everything else. I heard someone in the back say ‘b-but liquid water’. No. Shut up. No. They have a Dyson sphere, they aren’t hard up for our contaminated water. They can get it or make it anywhere. Hydrogen, oxygen, c’mon, get it together, you have a Dyson sphere!
A Dyson Sphere, for anyone wondering, is any (as yet hypothetical) structure built around a star designed to maximally harness its energy output. It was originally proposed by theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson in 1959 as a potential way for advanced civilizations to harness solar power. Many variations exist, but in sci-fi it usually takes the form of an an entire solid shell surrounding the star. That’s the one we like. But a structure like that around the Sun, at 1AU would have to be at least 600 million times the surface area of the Earth. That’s a lot of real estate! And it would take the entire solar system to build.
So as you can imagine, if a civilization got to a point where they were able to build and harness such power (type 2 civilization), there would be little to no reason to visit Earth. Curiosity wouldn’t even cut it. There is nothing that humanity is, or is capable of, that we haven’t expressed in a form accessible from afar (art, science and history has every nuance of humanity covered). So instead of worrying about what non-existent type 2 civilizations may or may not do, let’s try to focus on the dangers we face presently.
I’m talking about space pirates. Those guys are insane… and they don’t have Dyson spheres.
This post was brought to you by the planet made out of Diamond. If we inhabited it instead of Earth, we could be reasonably sure wealthy type 2 civilizations would be interested in visiting. I bet they have a ton of glass to cut.
*Don’t get me wrong, I have Hot Earl Grey running through my veins, but that stuff has been done. Over 20 years ago.