From the intersection of computational science and technological speculation,
with boundaries limited only by our ability to imagine what could be.
Geoffrey A. Landis
Fermi’s Paradox and
the End of the universe
How to colonize the galaxy, one electron spin state at a time.
tHe ferMi pArAdOX is a question that
has bedeviled scientists for a long
time. The galaxy, it is believed, should
be home to myriad alien species, some
millions or even billions of years older
than humanity. So, Fermi asks, why
aren’t they here?
Take, for example, the gwyrxia.
Their name is not gwyrxia, of
course. They do not communicate
with sound waves, and, in fact, any
sound waves humans can hear are of
such low frequency the gwyrxia would
not have considered even the possibility they might be a means of communication. They communicate with
a spread-spectrum electromagnetic
radiation, so efficiently encoded that,
if we humans even detected it, we
would think of it as indistinguishable
from thermal noise. Gwyrxia is what
it would sound like—sort of—if you
could decipher their name for themselves out of that pink noise.
In order to live forever, the gwyrxia
knew they would have to abandon organic bodies. They needed a more durable form. This they did many billions
of years ago. The most efficient encoding of a mind is to imprint the patterns
of their consciousness into electron
spin states, using a quantum computation as a form of thinking. They implemented this quantum computation
in the spin states of the valence-band
electrons of silicon-oxygen bonds in
silicate rock. Silicate rock seemed a
reasonable matrix, since there is plenty
of it in the universe.
About 1015 electron spins are re-
quired to hold a gwyrxia mind. The in-
teraction between electron spins, each
interaction either flipping or not flip-
ping a spin, provides the qbit computa-
tions that correspond to “thinking” for
Geoffrey A. Landis ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
scientist at the nasa John glenn research Center,
Cleveland, oh, working on Mars missions and advanced
concepts and technology for future space missions, and
author of science fiction novels and short stories, most
notably Mars Crossing (tor books, 2000) about an ill-fated
expedition to the red planet.
© 2012 aCM 0001-0782/12/10 $15.00