If life is common in our universe, and we have every reason to suspect that it is, then why don’t we see evidence of this? Or are we doing something wrong?
In a new study, a German-Georgian research team has suggested that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations could use black holes as quantum computers. Perhaps this could explain the lack of activity in space.
The study was carried out by theoretical physicist Gia Dvali from the Max Planck Institute of Physics and Department of Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich and physics professor Zaza Osmanov from the Free University of Tbilisi.
The paper that describes their findings recently appeared online and is being reviewed for publication in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
Currently, scientists are looking for radio signals in different frequency bands, and efforts have already been made to search for so-called Dyson sphere candidates – megastructures built around stars.
Dvali and Osmanov suggest looking for something completely different: evidence for large-scale quantum computing. The benefits of quantum computing are well documented, including the ability to process information exponentially faster than digital computing and immunity to decryption. Given the speed at which quantum computing is advancing today, it is only logical to assume that an advanced civilization could adapt this technology to a much larger scale.
Dvali and Osmanov said: “No matter how advanced is a civilization or how different is their particle composition and chemistry from ours, we are unified by laws of quantum physics and gravity. These laws tell us that the most efficient storers of quantum information are black holes.”
This idea is based on the work of Nobel Prize winner Roger Penrose, who suggested that limitless energy could be extracted from a black hole by connecting to the ergosphere. This space is just beyond the event horizon, where the infalling matter forms a disk that accelerates to almost the speed of light and emits a huge amount of radiation.
In their later paper, Dvali and Osmanov suggest that black holes may be the main source of computation. This is based on the notion that:
The development of a civilization is directly related to its level of computational performance,
There are certain universal markers of computational progress that can be used as potential technosignals for SETI.
Using the principles of quantum mechanics, Dvali and Osmanov explained what would be the most efficient capacitors for quantum information. These black holes are likely to be artificial in nature and micro-sized rather than large and natural (to improve computational efficiency). As a result, they argue, these black holes will be more energetic than natural ones.
The Hawking radiation, named after the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, is thought to be released just outside the black hole’s event horizon. This radiation reduces the mass and rotational energy of black holes, theoretically leading to their possible evaporation.
The resulting Hawking radiation, according to Dvali and Osomanov, will be “democratic” in nature, meaning it will produce many different kinds of subatomic particles that can be detected by modern instruments.
“The great thing about Hawking radiation is that it is universal in all the existing particle species. Thereby, ETI quantum computers must radiate “ordinary” particles such as neutrinos and photons. Neutrinos, in particular, are excellent messengers due to their extraordinary penetration ability, which avoids the possibility of screening.”
In general, perhaps we do not see anything when we look into space, because we were looking for the wrong techno signals.
After all, if extraterrestrial life has overtaken humanity, it goes without saying that they have long since outgrown radio communications and digital computing. Another advantage of this theory is that it does not need to be applied to all aliens to explain why we still have not heard from any civilization.
In the meantime, this study offers another potential technosignature for SETI surveys to look for in the coming years. The Paradox persists, but we need only find one indication of advanced life to resolve it.