Ben Zuckerman, a professor of physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, has published research suggesting that to find an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, we’ll need to be able to find the Dyson sphere that it built around its star, a white dwarf.
The logic is: an alien civilization becomes very technologically advanced if it lives long enough, and in order to live long enough, it must solve problems with its energy resources.
These two aspects can go hand in hand in the sense that the civilization in question could go so far as to build a Dyson sphere around its star. This object was theorized by an English physicist and refers to a structure capable of collecting all the energy released by the star.
Despite the enormous complexity of such a project, it is also true that it cannot last forever, since at some point in its life the star will become a red giant and then a white dwarf.
If we could find traces of Dyson spheres around white dwarfs, we would find ourselves facing a civilization so long-lived and advanced that it would have solved all of these problems, getting all the energy it needs without extracting it from its home planet by destroying it (just like we do now).
“Some astronomers, including myself, believe that technological life may be a very rare event,” Zuckerman said. “In fact, we may even have the most advanced technology in our galaxy. But nobody knows, so it’s worth looking for evidence.”
Current surveys of white dwarfs have found no evidence of Dyson balls. However, there are so many planets around Sun-like stars that these calculations tell us that there may be at least 9 million potential civilizations capable of developing this project, in the Milky Way alone.
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