alien machine

What are von Neumann machines?

Decades ago, scholars found that it’s theoretically possible to not just spread human civilization across the galaxy, but to do so quite quickly, without breaking any known laws of physics. Their idea is based on the work of a mathematician named John von Neumann, who designed on paper machines that could self-replicate and create new generations of themselves. These would later come to be known as von Neumann machines.

In the context of space exploration, von Neumann machines could be built on Earth and launched into space. There, the self-sufficient machines would land on distant planets. They would then mine the available resources and harvest energy, build replicas of themselves, launch those to the nearest planets, and continue the cycle. The result is the creation of millions of probes spreading outwards into the universe like a drop of ink in a fishbowl.

Scholars crunched the numbers and found that a single von Neumann machine traveling at 5% of the speed of light should be able to replicate throughout our galaxy in 4 million years or less. That may sound like a long time, but when you consider that our universe is 14 billion years old, on a cosmic scale, it’s incredibly fast - the equivalent of about 2.5 hours in an entire year.

Creating von Neumann machines would require a few technologies we don’t have yet, including advanced artificial intelligence, miniaturization, and better propulsion systems. If we wanted to use them to spread actual humans throughout the galaxy, we would need yet another technological leap - the ability to artificially grow biological organisms and bodies using raw elements and genetic information.

Regardless, if in the last billion years an alien civilization created such a machine and set it multiplying its way toward us, our galaxy would be swarming with them by now. So then where are all these machines? Some astronomers, like Carl Sagan, say that intelligent aliens wouldn’t build self-replicating machines at all. They might hurtle out of control, scavenging planets to their cores in order to keep replicating. Others take the machines absence as proof that intelligent alien civilizations don’t exist, or that they go extinct before they can develop the necessary technologies.

But all this hasn’t stopped people from imagining what it would be like if they were out there. Science fiction author David Brin writes about a universe in which many different von Neumann machines exist and proliferate simultaneously. Some are designed to greet young civilizations, others to locate and destroy them before they become a threat. For now, all we have is curiosity and theory. But the next time you look at the night sky, consider that billions of self-replicating machines could be advancing between stars in our galaxy right now. If they exist, one of them will eventually land on Earth, or maybe, just maybe, they’re already here.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Could human civilization spread across the whole galaxy? - Roey Tzezana

Animation by Eion Duffy

but is kix doing okay though

is he happy

can he sleep without nightmares

is he eating enough

are the other pirates nice to him

do i need to go pick him up


“The market was flooded with millions of cheap new songs by machine or alien artists, but only the richest could get "real music,” by humans.

Alien music was a memetic toxin, sowing seeds of unnatural philosophy. Aficionados were known by their mirthful pessimism and hungry smiles.

Machine music was worse. Momentum without direction, it had never so much as touched a soul. It polluted other senses with pure confusion.“

598: Flatwoods Monster (Maid)

She doesn’t take well to cleaning critique…

Requested by: skeleton-bakers-fright-lines

Just A Mean Green Mother From Outer Space!

Finally working on my turian costume again! I just sewed up the basic cloth covering for the chest-piece. (You can still see a pin, ha ha.) Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finish this this year!

The mask is paperclay painted with acrylic; the chest-piece framework is cardboard/cardstock and duct-tape. I didn’t make the jacket underneath. That’s from the Bioware store.

Image: Courtesy of The Strand Magazine

H.G. Wells’ eerie writing brought us time machines, aliens and a submarine, but one of his short stories spent decades unseen by his avid readers. Until now.

His long-unpublished “The Haunted Ceiling” is making its way into print for the first time. The story follows a man who is driven mad by the image of a dead woman, with her throat slit, appearing on his ceiling. 

Long Unseen By Readers, H.G. Wells Ghost Story Finally Debuts In Print

DMT has shown me the reality that there is infinite variation on reality. There is the real possibility of [independent, constant and] adjacent dimensions. It may not be so simple that there’s alien planets with their own societies. This is too proximal. It’s not like it’s some kind of drug, it’s more like an experience of a new [organic] technology than a drug. You can choose to attend to this or not. [The adjacent realities DMT brings you to] will continue to progress without you paying attention. You return not to where you left off, but to where things have gone since you left. It’s not a hallucination, but an observation. When I’m there I’m not intoxicated, I’m lucid and sober.
—  Excerpt from ‘DMT: The Spirit Molecule’ by Dr. Rick Strassman

8 US Soldiers Disappear removing 5000 yr old Flying Machine from Afghan Cave

“A vimana has been discovered in a cave in Afghanistan. It has attracted the attention of world leaders including U.S. president Obama. A group of soldiers made the discovery on a scout mission in the desert of Afghanistan. Eight U.S. troops are missing after making the discovery. ”