Why Biological Aliens Likely Won’t Travel Throughout The Universe

The dangers of Interstellar travel make interstellar travel forces biological life to evolve into technological life; or stay home.

The hypothesis is based on simple physics. The limitations and fragility of biological life when considered relative to the universe and the many dangers to biological life the universe presents causes biological life to evolve into technological life so that they may travel to other star systems. 

Sure, carbon based biological life forms can in fact travel to other star systems, but it would take generations. It could not be done in one lifetime. Hence the need for a Generation Ship, a spacecraft that travels as fast as their current technology can go (which is likely nowhere near the speed of light). 

Voyager I and II spacecraft have just left our solar system after 40 years. It took 40 years just to leave our system. Granted we have better propulsion technology now and it wouldn’t take as long to travel that distance with current technology, but that’s kinda the point here. Another advanced alien civilization out there in space would have the same limitations we do now. Even if they are more advanced than we are, they would have gone through that stage in their technological advancement that they would realize that to get from one star system to another requires a long period of travel time. So they (and we) have to figure out how to get there faster, within a lifetime, preferably much faster. This causes us to develop better and faster technology. The same would happen with any advanced civilization that wants to travel to another star system. We of course assume they would want to because we want to. It’s human nature. But they’re not human…right? That’s a whole other topic.

The point is the amount of time it takes to travel from one system to another even at the speed of light (which is not possible with our current technology) would take a long time. Then you have the problem of time-dilation (special relativity) where the traveler may travel 10 years, but 100 years will pass on their homeworld. This is a HUGE problem! What would be the point?

That’s the first problem, time.

The second problem is the physical limitations of biological life and the many dangers in space. Biological life is not very durable. In fact, it’s very fragile. Biological life evolved to survive on a planet with gravity,

  • Gravity – It effects time and it can pose massive problems while traveling through space at high speed. Pass to close to a star and it could perturb the path of the spacecraft into a planet or if you get too close to a star or black hole it could just swallow the spacecraft altogether.
  • Radiation – Radiation is extremely dangerous to biological life. Even with shielding, over time even low levels of radiation has a detrimental effect on biological life. This doesn’t include gamma ray bursts and other deadly concentrations of radiation that could effectively end a generation ship’s journey by killing all crew and passengers and frying all electronics. Imagine the generation ship passing through a gamma ray burst while traveling at nearly the speed of light. How would that affect the ship? I imagine it could do a lot of damage. Perhaps there are many ghost ships out there in space, just floating around carrying their dead around inside. It’s not a great thought. 
  • Vacuum – Biological life cannot survive for long in the vacuum of space. Sure, some microbes can, but generally speaking, complex intelligent life forms like humans (and advanced biological aliens) cannot survive in a vacuum without a protective suit or inside a spacecraft.
  • Cold – Space is extremely cold. A biological carbon based life form cannot survive without some kind of protection from the cold which can be hundreds of degrees below zero.
  • Collisions – with meteoroids/micro particles of debris that could puncture the spacecraft’s hull or the body of the astronaut
  • Energy – The ship and computers and all machines on the ship need energy to operate. Nuclear power makes the most sense but brings with it dangers. Solar power is good too and would provide supplemental and backup power for the main energy storage system Battery technology would have to develop exponentially to reduce volume and weight. Oh, and the batteries would eventually wear out, so you’d have to have mining equipment to mine the natural resources (probably from asteroids) to build new battery systems.
  • Oxygen (or whatever gas aliens breathe) – Carbon based intelligent technologically advanced alien life forms most likely breathe oxygen or some mixture of the common gases available on planets with liquid water where biological life develops. We have to assume that where there’s water, and since physics is physics and chemistry follows the laws of physics, that there would be plant life on these planets with liquid water, that converts carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. (yes it could happen another way; but that’s irrelevant to this train of thought). Therefore, aliens with the technological capability for interstellar travel would likely also have to carry their own oxygen with them. Maybe carry a large garden, or more efficiently, develop some kind of artificial photosynthesis technology that produces oxygen from exhaled carbon dioxide. 
  • Water – Carbon based life need water to survive. Without it it dies within days. Where do they get the water from? How much does all that water weigh? How much space does their water supply take up on their ship? These are all considerations that must be addressed. It’s very inefficient to carry that much water onboard the spacecraft. Just launching it into space is expensive economically (assuming aliens have money; which is a whole other topic). 
  • Food – The weight and volume of food needed to feed a crew and passengers on the ship is great. Likely the crew would have to grow their food onboard in special garden areas. One mishap though, and it could wipe out entire crops.
  • Disease – Which brings us to disease. Biological life forms are fragile and disease prone. There are many diseases that can decimate a biological crew onboard an interstellar generation ship. Strict quarantine protocols would have to be setup and followed exactly or the entire crew and all passengers could perish.
  • Mental Health – Being in a confined space (spacecraft) for more than a year is hard enough. Imagine being trapped inside for 5 years, 10, 20 years, a whole generation, a lifetime. Many generations. You see where this would become a bigger and bigger problem over time.
  • Conflict and Violence – 
  • Politics –
  • Manufacturing – This is a generation ship. It never returns to the homeworld. It’s a one way trip. So it would obviously need manufacturing facilities to build the machines you’ll need along the way
  • Science Labs – You’ll need all sorts of labs, separated in special are on the ship.
  • Life Support Systems (LS) – The LS systems would have to be numerous and well maintained. Crew would have to be cross-trained in all manner of maintenance and repair of all life support systems. 
  • Redundant systems – 

All these things pose many many existential, logistical, political, and social problems for passengers and crew. Could they be overcome? Sure. Absolutely. But is it worth it in the long term? Given the amount of time that passes back on their home world caused by special relativity and the time-dilation effect, what would be the point of interstellar travel if those left behind would advance further and faster than those that travel to the next star system? Other than protecting the species and scientific study, what is the point of interstellar travel? Especially given all the challenges biological life has to overcome.

I think this pushes biological life to evolve itself into technological life if it wants to travel to another star system efficiently.

Some aliens might decide to stay home because of this, others will likely want to explore the universe. The point being, interstellar travel requires aliens to evolve into technological life forms.

They will realize that efficiency matters and that the limitations of their biological bodies prevents them from efficiently and safely traveling to another start system. They will realize that instead of developing technology to protect their biological bodies, that it makes more logical and long term economic sense to develop technology that changes their bodies so that they no longer need protective gear except for some kind of shielding from radiation and physical objects. Cold won’t matter.

A technological life form would simply not need to worry about most of the problems biological life forms do.

Time would become irrelevant. As would temperature (to a point), oxygen, food, water, disease, mental health, conflict and violence, and politics. All would be nullified or reduced to almost null. Radiation and temperature would still have an effect but it would be minor.

A machine can live in the cold vacuum of space essentially forever. Time would not matter because these technological life forms would essentially be immortal. We call it technological immortality; but we tend to anthropomorphize technological life and envision cyborgs of some kind and though that might be the beginning stages of their evolution into technolife, it would likely evolve into something more efficient and that can adapt better to its new environment. 

Biological life is very fragile. It did not evolve to be in space. It’s that simple. Technology would have to be developed to protect biological life from radiation, and eventually, over time, I think  alien civilizations likely realize and conclude that it makes much more logical sense and is much more efficient to simply evolve themselves with technology rather than try to preserve such a fragile biological machine.

Look at life as technology. Humans are biological machines which evolved from matter and energy over billions of years. We’re not the pinnacle of life in the universe. Biological life is not the pinnacle of life in the universe. It can’t be. That’s not how evolution works.

Evolution is adaptation and natural selection. Biological life evolves to self replicate and advance technology, eventually it becomes technology by modifying (adapting to the environment). It makes logical sense. We might not like the idea of becoming machines, but our opinions don’t matter to physics and the environment of the universe. Evolution happens regardless of our opinions about it.

Yet, there is a point in biological evolution where biological life advances technology to the point where it can and does control evolution and evolves itself into better machines.

This line of logic is based in part on my Quantum Life Hypothesis which posits that evolution of life in the universe goes through 3 stages.

3 Cosmic Stages of Evolution of Life in the Universe:

  • Stage 1 = Biological life – Carbon based
  • Stage 2 = Technological life – Silicon based
  • Stage 3 = Quantum life – Energy based

When you look at biological life as biomachines then you realize in a sense, that it is technology of a kind. It makes logical sense that life that is intelligent and has the ability to develop technology would advance that technology and further, that it would then evolve into technological life forms. From there intelligence would merge with AI which would enhance and increase the intelligence and as a result the ability to adapt to the environment to continue this infinite evolution. (Infinite evolution is the assumption here; but there is a limit to how advanced something can get; right? Perhaps the universe develops and expands through all these stages of life and then evolves into a new universe once it uses up all the matter and energy in the current universe. A new Big Bang. Infinite cyclical universes. Ad infinitum. 

This builds on the hypothesis that information is another form of matter, that matter is a form of energy, and this is where everything leads. I guess one could argue that the universe could be technology using that logic. But that’s a whole other topic, one that intrigues me greatly. Scientists have posited that the universe might be conscious. Yeah, seriously, it might be possible. If correct, that changes everything. Or rather, it changes nothing because we’re still pondering these things.

The idea that biological life evolves into technological life and then into energy based life is not as absurd or crazy as it first sounds.

And, this also does not exclude the possibility that the universe could be a simulation. The two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive.

To be continued…