July 14, 2024

The mountain of shit theory

Uriel Fanelli's blog in English

Fediverse

Because I think the Kardeshev scale is a laughable idea.

This is more of a post for SF enthusiasts, but also for others. I learned about the Kardeshev ladder in my youth, reading Larry Niven, Puppeteers of the Cosmos. I know well that there are also other SF authors who talk about it, but in those days books were a precious commodity, and everyone followed their own "cognitive path", arriving at things through different paths. There was no google.

In the book (a must read) a species built a gigantic ring around a star, in the goldilock zone, and therefore obtained a habitable space that was millions and millions of times that of the Earth's surface. If we assume a sun-type star, it would be a ring with an average radius of 150 million km, which means a circumference of almost a billion km, and if you consider that the equator is ~40,000 km, you understand that It's a fucking big space. The fucking big ones you get when you try to work with astronomical dimensions. I wonder why the Gozzillione, or the Fottilione, with its multiple, the Strafottilione, was not used instead of the Parsec.

Amenity aside, this idea descends from the so-called Kardeshev Scale, which aimed to classify advanced civilizations, including the future of the earth. Kardeshev used to be level III, although as far as I know the levels have now been extended to level eight.

First of all, it must be understood that Kardeshev, like all Russian physicists, was influenced by a philosophical current within positivism, which was called "Cosmism".

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmismo

and consequently his vision was that of “the race becomes more powerful = it has greater control and dominion over the material world”, with an undercurrent of cosmists sure that the power of dominion over material nature had religious implications.

It is therefore quite clear that his idea of ​​civilization was based on the concept of energy, without which things cannot be done. Which may be reasonable, but it is extremely reductive. But where to find the energy? Based on this question, his classification was:

  • Type 1. Civilization can completely use all the energy present on the planet, and when I say all I also mean internal activity, internal heat, the geomagnetic field, in short, absolutely everything ends up in the stove.

  • Type II. Civilization manages to completely use all the energy of the star of origin, that is, all the heat, (all the neutrinos: best wishes!), all the light (ok, but it's still heat, except that we see it), all radiation across the spectrum (which is always heat), and presumably, gravitational distortion too.

  • Type III. Civilization manages to completely use all the energy of the home galaxy, whatever that means. I say this because on this scale, “all energy” becomes a fairly random term.

But that sounds like bullshit.


On a physical level, it would seem that the method always consists in closing the star inside a Dyson sphere, the evolution of the ring I mentioned above, to make sure that all the energy remains inside.

Because, precisely, it is necessary to build a sphere to keep the energy inside, when the energy emitted by the sun becomes laughable in a cosmically "small" radius. Sirius, which is a beautiful big star bursting with energy, provides us with radiation around -120Dbm. The Sun is at about +60Dbm. The rest ends up near the star. In what sense? In the sense that energy can be used depending on a delta, that is, if you have a liter of water at zero degrees and a liter at 100 degrees, it's easy to make a Sterling engine with it. If you have a thousand tons of them at 0.00001 degrees centigrade and a thousand tons at 0 degrees centigrade, you'll wank us. Yet, you have a lot of “energy”.

In this sense, the energy of a star is already closed in a sphere. What need there is to build an artificial one is beyond me. Unless we start from the idea that nothing except the machinery of this sphere can take energy. But it's not like that, rather the opposite: at the end of the day, if you absorb all the energy of a star, you BECOME a star. So I don't understand the point of building a sphere. At the slightest inefficiency in dealing with this energy, the sphere would heat up, until it itself became the surface of a star. (provided the materials hold up).

On the other problems (it is enough to calculate the Hamiltonian of that system to notice that it is only locally stable, that is, if the sun moves by a minimum, the center of the sphere and that of the sun become misaligned), and other amenities.


But in general, this technique for obtaining energy is simply inefficient. Because the sun is inefficient. It transforms an amount of mass equivalent to a small mountain range into energy. That's four million tons per second, or 1.3E+17 kg each year.

If we managed to convert mass into energy with a ratio of 1:1, and burned an asteroid like Hygiea, (mass: (8.74±0.69)×10^19 kg) we would have energy for ~500 years of "solar energy" produced with a hypothetical dyson sphere. It is clear that if we want to indicate a leap in productivity capable of changing the face of a civilization, we must leave the sun alone and focus on the material:energy conversion, at a ratio of 1:1.

So, if I can accept that Type 1 exists, limited to the planet, I would put Type II when the technology arrives that transforms matter into energy with a ratio of 1:1.

You will say that it is not that simple, but ultimately it is a star-trek like technique. It means that it involves making matter and antimatter collide, that is, knowing how to produce antimatter. Which is not impossible in large accelerators, but "just uneconomical". So it would be "only" a matter of improving a technology we already have, by a few billion times (but the improvement would be measured in economic terms: the process is already feasible, as at CERN, on nanograms of antimatter).

We have therefore defined the second type of civilization, the one that converts mass into energy with a 1:1 ratio. And the step is an improvement in the technology that exists, an improvement that is mainly economic, that is, relating to the costs of antimatter. Which means, at least on a logical level, that if it isn't done by improving technology, we might decide to change the economy to achieve it.

Utopian, but it's not that Cosmism wasn't. Cosmists dreamed of building a GOD, you see. Might as well do it well. I book Aphrodite and Ishtar, all for myself. In thongs. Juno isn't too bad either.


Having said this, let's try to see what Type III would be, because we need to imagine crossing another limit, capable of transforming civilization into something else, another civilization that makes it unrecognizable compared to the previous one. But we already have all the energy we can have. We can therefore “do everything”. But all what? What are the limits? Apparently no one, at least if all we want is to “enjoy”, “build”, “manufacture”, etc.

But there is a phenomenon that we are already witnessing, namely the fact that the human brain has limits. Sure, some have higher limits and Turok is definitely higher than Gasparri, but Turok is also having some trouble with his theory.

We built the Internet with the intention of making all human knowledge available to anyone, we allowed anyone to get rich by talking to anyone else, and all we had was Onlyfans. Which used to be your dirty little cousin. Was it worth replacing the dirty cousin with a global computer network, since we can't go any further?

Today we could be truly rational, because we don't lack any explanation. Of course, AI allows us to interrogate knowledge much better (I'm referring to things like Perplexity) but even having all the knowledge, the majority of the population doesn't use it, doesn't know how to use it, can't use it because 'He doesn't get there.

If this premise seems too pessimistic to you, let's make a hypothesis: tomorrow we take a gigantic AI, (not a chatbot, I mean a generic AI) and make it brush through all the immense quantity of data coming out of the LHC, and from all the others accelerators, in crude form.

And then we ask him: "What did you understand?".

And the machine replies: “Too boring. What a pain in the ass. You could have written down the Kaluza-Klein equations, which were already almost complete, and thought about them for two minutes. Then, given a space of dimensions 4.5, we have that…”

Here half of the brains in the world freeze, with that typical noise that the Hello made when you had screwed the cylinder. “What do you mean 4.5 dimensions”? Mathematicians, geometrists, topologists and others would be able to understand this: spaces of fractal dimensions already exist.

The dimension of a fractal is typically a non-integer rational number, called the fractal dimension or Hausdorff-Besicovitch dimension.

Classic examples of fractals with non-integer dimension include the Sierpinski triangle (fractal dim. ≈ 1.585), the Koch curve (dim. ≈ 1.262), and the Julia set (dim. can vary).

A space with dimension 9/2 would therefore be a fractal space, exhibiting self-similarity properties and having a non-integer topological dimension of 9/2.

Easy, right?

We just kicked out any chance, even microscopic, of understanding particle physics… all of humanity MINUS about six sigma.

And it's a problem: if we give the average homo sapiens unlimited energy, that is, anything, what will he do with us? He will go around skidding in the car invented by Homer Simpson , driving in the car shower together with two sex robots, one identical to Valentina Nappi and one identical to Gianna Michaels. He'll come home and have a robot in the shape of Cannavacciuolo that cooked him a steak in spades, and then an idiot arrives and puts salt on it with a pederastic gesture in the most Hollywood sense, and everything, and a robot in the shape of Cuccarini who cleans the floors, strictly topless and wearing thongs. All right. And then?

It's the same thing that happened with the Internet: theoretically we should have found the answer to ALL our questions, while in practice all we find is the influencer who explains to us how to dress, or the one who explains to us how to do the Carbonara, or Argendana which explains how much space there is inside a woman. But maybe it wasn't worth building something like that when you had a cousin who was a shampoo maker who could help you in all three fields. And it would have cost less.

If we want to move forward beyond this point, either we do as Douglas Adams said and put everyone on a spaceship (starting with hairdressers and project managers), to exile them elsewhere, or we have to find a way to expand the cognitive capabilities of the human being .

I very well see Type III civilization starting from the moment in which everyone is allowed, in any way (by adding a chip in the skull, or whatever) to arbitrarily increase their cognitive abilities.

Now that's a nice transition. Because at this point we can't even IMAGINE what the hell would happen. If with Type II we know that anything would be possible, with Type III we at least know that it would make sense, except that we Type I wouldn't understand WHY it's rational. Maybe we would still have the guy who skids and lives with two sex robots, but at least he would know WHY he does it, which we miserable Type Is can't imagine.


So my ranking of civilizations, called “Fanelli's Spiral Staircase” is like this:

  • Type I: Takes control of every resource on the planet and uses it without becoming extinct because of it.

  • Type II: is capable of converting matter into energy at will with a 1:1 ratio

  • Type III: Its members can arbitrarily expand their cognitive abilities.

In my opinion this lineup makes MUCH more sense than Russian cosmism.

Uriel Fanelli


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@ uriel @keinpfusch.net

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