Do you ever question the nature of your reality? Are you real? Or are you a product of some complex computer simulation?
What I’m about to tell you might change the way you perceive the world. And it all starts with a cosmic megastructure the size of our Solar System.
We’ve talked about cosmic megastructures before, but this one isn’t like any other. To understand what a Matrioshka Brain is, and how it could change your outlook on life, we need to start from the beginning. A Dyson Sphere.
In 1960, a physicist and a seeker for alien life, Freeman Dyson, came up with the idea that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations would build space megastructures around their host star. They’d do it to collect all of their star’s energy to fuel their travels across the Universe. Or they’d simply use the structure as real estate.
Then, almost 50 years later, an inventor by the name of Robert Bradbury gave new meaning to Dyson Spheres. According to his calculations, by the year 2250, humanity would become advanced enough to start building a megastructure similar to the one proposed by Dyson. But instead of having just one sphere around the Sun, we’d stack them around one another, just like the Russian matrioshka dolls.
What materials would we need to build a structure like that? How far into the Solar System would our construction stretch? And, most importantly, what would we be using this Matrioshka Brain for?
We’d start with a single Dyson Sphere. We’d use this first shell to draw energy from the Sun. A Dyson Sphere would give us so much of this solar energy, that it’d be enough to power the most advanced computer in the Universe.
I told you, a Matrioshka Brain isn’t just any megastructure we could live on. It’s a giant supercomputer the size of the Solar System.
The shells of the Matrioshka Brain would expand from the orbit of Mercury beyond the orbit of Neptune. They’d be passing the energy from the Sun down to the last outer shell.
We’d have robots mine Venus for its rocky silicate mantle, until there’s nothing left of it. But silicon isn’t all we’d need for this construction. The shells of the Matrioshka Brain would be made of a material called computronium.
It’s a hypothetical material we have yet to invent. But the idea behind it is that every particle would be a tiny computer capable of passing computer codes to other particles.
The Matrioshka Brain would start writing its own code, building itself, and expanding far into the Solar System. It would be capable of calculating and predicting every event from human interactions to cosmic occurrences. It’s processing power would have no limits at all.
What would it mean for us to have unlimited computing power? How would we use it? Building a megastructure like that would make us a Type II civilization on the Kardashev Scale. It’s a scale that characterizes civilizations by their energy disposal level.
A Type I civilization is the one that’s tamed all of its planet’s resources and can control the weather, earthquakes, even volcanoes. A Type II civilization can harvest all the energy of its host star.
With all the energy of the Sun at our disposal, we could become intergalactic travelers. We could leave our Solar System, and go explore what’s out there. We could relocate to other planets if we wanted. But most likely, that’s not where we’d end up.
With the computational power of the Matrioshka Brain, we could simulate an alternate, digital reality. We could leave our physical bodies behind, and upload our brains into that virtual world. We’d become a new species, immortal entities with unlimited computing abilities.
We’d create our own universes with our own rules. Or, maybe we’d recreate our world and control every aspect of it.
That said, how can you tell if you aren’t already inside a Matrioshka Brain?
Doesn’t this make you question your entire reality? This world might already be a computer simulation, in which we’re nothing more than computer code.
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- “The Kardashev Scale – Can We Advance Beyond A Type 3 Civilization?”. Creighton, Jolene. 2014. Futurism.
- “Could We Build A Dyson Sphere?”. DAM HADHAZY, 2020. Popular Mechanics.
- “How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps”. Io9.
- “Why “Computronium” Is Really “Unobtanium””. Cake, Suzanne. 2020. Io9.