Matrioshka Brain Home Page
A Matrioshka Brain is a megascale structure constructed at
atomic scale limits. It is essentially a
Shell supercomputer, that uses all of the energy a star produces and
all of the material in a solar system for "computronium".
Because of their size, immense observational and computational abilities,
Matrioshka Brains should have longevities at least as long as those of
stars (~1014 years for smaller stars).
Whether or not Matrioshka Brains or similar structures exist in our
galaxy currently is presently unknown. As discussed in the papers
below, the astronomical evidence lies someplace between provocative and
suggestive. Even should they not currently exist, they are worthy
of further study because it is likely that humans will possess the technological
capability of building one in our solar system or around nearby stars within
the next century.
Some may ask how does a Matrioshka Brain differ from a Dyson Shell?
The answer is that the original
concept, as envisioned by Freeman
Dyson, was a single layer of habitats for human beings orbiting the
Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Given the material requirements
of "habitats" it is possible that a civilization may be required to construct
them in such a way that the star they surround would remain visible.
(This may be why anthropocentric
SETI searches for Dyson Shells point their telescopes and radio receivers
at visible stars. Alternatively this may just be a problem that insufficient
thought has been devoted to the evolution of technological civilizations.)
A Matrioshka Brain, in contrast to a Dyson Shell, is a set of nested shells
(like the nested Russian
Matryoshka Dolls) that surrounds a star most likely from orbits that
would range from inside Mercury's to outside Neptune's in our solar system.
The material requirements of its computronium are sufficiently low that
there is nothing to prevent the civilization from completely harvesting
all of the more useful energy produced by the star resulting in
it being essentially
invisible at visible wavelengths. The
computronium would support advanced technological civilizations whose thought
architectures and capabilities go far [really far(!)] beyond those found
in human brains and humanity as they currently exist.
One way to think about Matrioshka Brains is to ask the question, "What
is the highest capacity thought machine (computer) that can be constructed
using the smallest scale technology (e.g. molecular
nanotechnology) within a solar system?" The basis for discussing
Matrioshka Brains is to adhere to generally accepted laws of physics and
forego the invention of new laws (something that is required for some lines
of thought in Science Fiction).
Papers & Posters
Bradbury, R. J., "When Stars Go Dark" (2000).
Bradbury, R. J., "Dyson Shell Supercomputers
As The Dominant `Life Form' in Galaxies", poster presented at
99: A New Era in Bioastronomy, 2-6 August 1999. (Abstract)
Bradbury, R. J., "Microlensing Meets SETI: Observations of Evolutionary
Endpoints?", poster presented at Microlensing
2000: A New Era of Microlensing Astrophysics, 21-25 February 2000,
Cape Town South Africa. (Abstract)
Bradbury, R. J., "Life at the Limits of
Physical Laws", presentation at "Frontiers
of Life" (XIIth Rencontres de Blois) 25 June - 1st July, 2000. (Abstract)
Bradbury, R. J., "Life at the Limits of Physical
Laws", SPIE 4273-32 OSETI
III (Jan 2001). [Abstract,
Bradbury, R. J., "Dyson Shells: A Retrospective",
SPIE 4273-27 OSETI III
(Jan 2001). [Abstract,
Amato, I., "Speculating
in Precious Computronium", Science 253:856-857 (21 Aug
1991); See also: Sandberg, A., "Transhuman
Technology Sub-Page" under COMPUTRONIUM
and Yudkowsky, E., "Creating
a Friendly AI" glossary term: "computronium".
Lloyd, S., "Computational
capacity of the Universe" (24 Oct 2001); [quant-ph/0110141]
Ultimate Limits of Computers", Ars
Techica (June, 2001).
Lloyd, S., "Ultimate
physical limits to computation", Nature 406(6799):1047-1054
(August 31, 2000) [quant-ph/9908043].
See also: "The
Last Computer", New Scientist September 2, 2000. Slashdot Discussion
and Brockman, J., "Rebooting
Civilization", The Edge (23 Jul 2001).
Johansen, A. & Sornette, D., "Finite-time
singularity in the dynamics of the world population, economic and financial
indicies", LANL Preprint: [cond-mat/0002075]
(7 Aug 2000).
Frank, M. P., Knight,
T., Margolus, N.,
in optimal scalable computer architectures", in the proceedings of
Models of Computing '98 (Jan. 5, 1998) Published as part of DMTCS
Models of Computing C. S. Calude, J. Casti, M. J. Dinneen (eds.),
Springer-Verlag, Singapore (1998).
Sandberg, Anders, "The
Physics of Information Processing Superobjects: Daily Life Among the Jupiter
Brains", Journal of
Transhumanism 5 (1999). Preprint
was available in 1997.
Bostrom, N., "Is the idea of
a Jupiter Brain Naive" (1997?). [currently unavailable]
"The Coming Technological
Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era",
Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, NASA-CP-10129,
pp. 11-22, Conference held March 21-23 at NASA
Tudosa, I., Stamm, C., Kashuba, A. B., King, F., Siegmann, H.C., Stohr,
J., Ju, G., Lu, B., Weller, D., "The ultimate speed of magnetic switching
in granular recording media", Nature 428:831–833 (22 Apr
Krauss, L. M., Starkman, G. D., "Universal
Limits on Computation", Phys. Rev. Lett. (submitted 2004).
Mone, G., "Is
Science Fiction About to Go Blind?", Popular Science (August
2004) [see pg 2 of article and also slashdot
Created: Circa 1998
Last Modified: August 16, 2004
Author: Robert J. Bradbury