A team of researchers has proposed that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations could be using black holes as quantum computers.
As Universe Today reports, it's both a wild hypothesis and a potential solution to the Fermi paradox, which questions why we haven't found life in other parts of the universe yet.
As detailed in a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed paper, a team of German and Georgian researchers suggests we're looking at the wrong signals in our search for extraterrestrial life (SETI).
"Currently, we are mainly looking for radio messages, and there have been several attempts to study the sky for finding the so-called Dyson sphere candidates — megastructures built around stars," Gia Dvali, a theoretical physicist with the Max Planck Institute for Physics, and Zaza Osmanov, a professor of physics at the Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia, told Universe Today. "On the other hand, the problem of SETI is so complex that one should test all possible channels."
The researchers suggest we should instead be looking for technosignatures emanating from potential megastructures built around other celestial objects, including pulsars, white dwarf stars, and black holes.
To hone in on a new place to look for extraterrestrial life, the researchers suggest looking for large-scale quantum computing, which would allow aliens to process data at an astonishing pace — running games at the highest settings, perhaps, or maybe just mining crypto.
And, as it turns out, black holes might be a great place to do just that.
"No matter how advanced is a civilization or how different is their particle composition and chemistry from ours, we are unified by laws of quantum physics and gravity," Dvali and Osmanov told Universe Today. "These laws tell us that the most efficient storers of quantum information are black holes."
The idea builds on a concept furthered by astrophysicist Roger Penrose, who suggested in the 1980s that black holes could be a practically limitless source of energy.
According to the researchers, small, artificially created black holes could act as capacitors for quantum information.
Better yet, the researchers propose the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the Antarctic could technically detect technosignatures from such black hole quantum computers thanks to the special kind of radiation they'd release.
"However, this is just one potential example of a very exciting new direction for SETI," the researchers told Universe Today.
In short, it's a tantalizing new theory: have we been looking for the wrong type of technosignatures all this time? Could a new search for radiation being emitted by artificial black holes lead us to a solution to the Fermi paradox?
While there are no guarantees the researchers' proposal will lead to any more answers, it's certainly worth a look.
READ MORE: Physicists Say Aliens May Be Using Black Holes as Quantum Computers [Universe Today]
More on black holes: Objects We Thought Were Black Holes May Actually Be Wormholes, Scientists Say
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