Solution We Are Solar Chauvinists

Rupert Brooke, The Soldier

We have implicitly assumed the important objects out in space are stable, middle-aged, G2-type stars like the Sun and watery planets like Earth. But who knows where a civilization much older than ours would choose to live? Earth-like conditions may be required for the genesis and early evolution of life, but once a civilization is technologically advanced and can construct a habitat for itself, it may not want to remain on the surface of a planet orbiting a commonplace star like the Sun. We tend to think ETCs would love to get their hands (or tentacles, or whatever) on the prime piece of real estate that is our Solar System, but that may simply be a reflection of our solar chauvinism. In which case the various Galactic colonization models may not be wrong; they may simply be inapplicable.100

For example, Dyson has suggested that a K2 civilization might choose to tear apart some of the planets in its system and use the material to create a sphere that encloses the star.101 By doing this, all the star's energy output could be utilized; compare that with the situation on Earth, which intercepts only a billionth of the energy emitted by the Sun. If that civilization was also capable of interstellar travel, then presumably it could construct a Dyson sphere around any star that it visited. If so, why would it bother with our Sun, when so much more energy is available from stars of spectral class O? A star of spectral class O5, for example, pumps out

800,000 times more energy than the Sun. Perhaps, then, advanced ETCs are nomads, traveling from O-type star to O-type star in generation ships. They could arrive, enjoy a copious energy supply for the few million years of the star's life, then leave before the star goes supernova. The brilliant O-type stars provide unsuitable environments for life to evolve, because they die so quickly, but they might be the star of choice for K2 civilizations.

Alternatively, maybe advanced ETCs mine energy from the quantum vacuum or extract energy from black holes. In this case, would they require stars at all? They might live in their generation ships, never feeling the need to set foot (or alien pedal equivalent) on a planetary surface.

In short, perhaps the reason they have not been here is that there are many more attractive places to visit than we think. If this is the case, then the assumptions made in the various models of Galactic colonization are incomplete, and the conclusions may need to be revised.

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