As if we don’t have enough things to worry about … a group of philosophers, astrobiologists and techies has proposed that there could exist a life form that can eat stars and we need to start looking for it before it gets a case of Sun munchies.
Before you say “That’s the most far-fetched idea I’ve ever heard,” consider a binary star system where two stars appear to orbit around a common center. Could one actually be a life form feeding on the other in a solar parasitic way? Philosopher Dr. Clement Vidal thinks so.
Vidal coined the phrase “starivore” in a 2013 paper to describe such a star-eating life form. He has joined forces with astrobiologist Stephen Dick, futurist John Smart and nanotech entrepreneur Robert Freitas on a quest to prove or disprove the starivore hypothesis, calling it a search for extraterrestrial life in high energy phenomena.
This will require looking at the definition of life forms in totally different ways. Vidal knows this sounds like science fiction. In fact, the novel Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon contains a civilization that feeds off the energy of an artificial star. The concept of starivores requires getting away from the idea of life living on a celestial body to life being the celestial body. If you accept that all forms of life have a metabolism that converts matter to energy and eliminates waste, then some binary star systems could be considered a life form, according to Vidal.
Energy flow, a maintenance of an internal organization and an exportation of entropy, all appear to be present in some binary systems.
If one of the stars in a binary system is a life form, how can you tell if it’s intelligent? That’s the question the competition seeks to answer. Anyone with ideas can check out the rules on the contest web site, enter a paper and compete for a monetary prize.
What do you think about the idea of starivores? Any ideas on how to tell if they’re intelligent? I promise I’ll share the prize.