The biggest machine we can make

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#1
I remembered one of the mechas from Gurren Lagann being 10 million light-years tall, and that led me to wonder about something.

What is the biggest machine that a sentient civilization (most likely a type 3 civilization) could build in space?
 

Venusian Broon

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#2
10 million light years seems a bit extravagant, that's about 70-80 milky way galaxy's end-to-end.

Depends what you mean by machine. A continuous piece of machinery may, I guess struggle if different parts of it, because of the speed of light, are so far apart that any response to external stresses would be difficult to handle.

However, giving a bash, a Dyson sphere to soak up the energy of a star could be pretty large, although it need not be a continuous piece of material (in fact there are reasons why you wouldn't want it continuous).

I'd guess we'd like to make a Dyson sphere with a radius of about 1 AU (or about 150 million kilometres if you're not up with your astronomical units) to get radiation levels we're used to.
 

chrispenycate

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#4
I suspect that, if you have a nice smooth bit of spacetime with no nasty planets, nebulae or galaxies to deform your structure the limit is going to be time - after all, even if you go with an instantaneous fabricator it's going to take several million years to build something a mere million light years across, and delivery delays are going to increase with every increase in size (should it be a solid structure, you're going to have to dissemble a faif number of galaxies just for enough matter. Civilisations are unlikely to maintain the effort this long, so it would have to be programmed machines doing the building, and there probably wouldn't be anyone left to show it off to if ever it was finished. In the case of a Dyson swarm, with the individual elements merely planetary sized and the whole enclosing a galaxy you could probably build it a lot faster, but, one suspects, not within the projected lifetime of the human race. Radio telescopes can be built of many identical bits intercommunicating, 'twould be fun building a BIG!! one, even if you might not have any descendents to look through the eyepiece (or whatever) a project which can be useful from its inception, but gets better as the centuries roll on.
 

Venusian Broon

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#5
Nah, a Dyson Sphere is only a Type II civilisation. Type III is on the galactic scale. Maybe something related to dimensional stepping via the hole in the middle.
Depends whether you want something that might be possible with our knowledge, or just make up something with Space Unicorns. With Space Unicorns who can dimensionally step (whatever that means) why not something the entire size of a universe?
 

Venusian Broon

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#7
I suspect that, if you have a nice smooth bit of spacetime with no nasty planets, nebulae or galaxies to deform your structure the limit is going to be time - after all, even if you go with an instantaneous fabricator it's going to take several million years to build something a mere million light years across, and delivery delays are going to increase with every increase in size (should it be a solid structure, you're going to have to dissemble a faif number of galaxies just for enough matter. Civilisations are unlikely to maintain the effort this long, so it would have to be programmed machines doing the building, and there probably wouldn't be anyone left to show it off to if ever it was finished. In the case of a Dyson swarm, with the individual elements merely planetary sized and the whole enclosing a galaxy you could probably build it a lot faster, but, one suspects, not within the projected lifetime of the human race. Radio telescopes can be built of many identical bits intercommunicating, 'twould be fun building a BIG!! one, even if you might not have any descendents to look through the eyepiece (or whatever) a project which can be useful from its inception, but gets better as the centuries roll on.
A fair analysis - has to be on a very nice bit of flat space time (so far away from all your building materials!)

The point I was labouring with, was why you'd want to build something so big, why build something the length of a galaxy, say? Just because we could? I was trying to think of something useful ;). A Dyson swarm around a quasar seems a step up with energy collection...but that's not a Civ 3 level, that's surely the next level up (?), you'd have to cross unfathomable distances of the universe just to get to one.

So would a civilisation that can flit about a galaxy, in some manner, (I/we don't know how such civilisations could, but that's the definition), really require a machine the length of a galaxy? I'd suggest we don't really have any idea if such a machine might be useful, because we really have no idea what sort of technology is required to be a galaxy-wide civilisation.

Radio telescopes yes, good call...but as you're already able to go all over the galaxy anyways, so connecting up an array of radio/light telescopes wherever you go should be childs play - that works for me. Not really a big continuous bit of material, like a spaceship, but it does require those distances.
 

SilentRoamer

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#8
Depends whether you want something that might be possible with our knowledge, or just make up something with Space Unicorns. With Space Unicorns who can dimensionally step (whatever that means) why not something the entire size of a universe?
Space Unicorns! I still think you are thinking small VB, which is surprising given the size of the average Venusians head. Your point is valid though - how can a Civilisation which is type I estimate the potentiality of tech for a type III Civilisation. It's like asking an Ancient Sumerian how fast they think the processing limits will be for a Quantum Computer - it's so far outside of our realm of known or even speculative science that it can be pretty meaningless speculation.

In David Zindells Neverness there are "Gods" that are essentially self forming intelligence's that use globular clusters and their intellect is spread across numerous star systems, with every planet and star converted into some type of node and GRB being a long distance form of communication. The "Gods" are no more aware of sentient creatures living on their planets than human beings are aware of the bacteria living in their guts. A very interesting concept.
 

Venusian Broon

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#10
In David Zindells Neverness there are "Gods" that are essentially self forming intelligence's that use globular clusters and their intellect is spread across numerous star systems, with every planet and star converted into some type of node. The "Gods" are no more aware of sentient creatures living on their planets than human beings are aware of the bacteria living in their guts. A very interesting concept.
I was just being practical and thinking with actual science. :)

Sure if you want to use fiction, I did love Neverness but I think Zindell ruined it with The Broken God trilogy, I feel your suggestion is a bit lame. Why not have a mind/machine that utilises an infinite level multiverse which has infinite numbers of all sorts of universe, of which we are sat in a infinitesimal part of just one? ;)

Do I win? :D
 

SilentRoamer

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#11
I was just being practical and thinking with actual science. :)

Sure if you want to use fiction, I did love Neverness but I think Zindell ruined it with The Broken God trilogy, I feel your suggestion is a bit lame. Why not have a mind/machine that utilises an infinite level multiverse which has infinite numbers of all sorts of universe, of which we are sat in a infinitesimal part of just one? ;)

Do I win? :D
Only if said muliverses are carried on the back of four elephants whilst riding a Turtle in an even greater 'verse. :)

I haven't read the Follow Up trilogy although I do have the first in that series so I might give it a shot at some point. I really enjoyed Neverness because of its originality, the Pilots and the Manifold were all very interesting.
 

Venusian Broon

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#12
Only if said muliverses are carried on the back of four elephants whilst riding a Turtle in an even greater 'verse. :)

I haven't read the Follow Up trilogy although I do have the first in that series so I might give it a shot at some point. I really enjoyed Neverness because of its originality, the Pilots and the Manifold were all very interesting.
Really it became a bit too YAish for me from an almost "mathematical SF"'-ish brilliant standalone Neverness.

I think it was a character thing mainly. Danlo ? was the protagonists name in the trilogy and he just wound me up the wrong way.
 

Joshua Jones

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#15
Only if said muliverses are carried on the back of four elephants whilst riding a Turtle in an even greater 'verse. :)

I haven't read the Follow Up trilogy although I do have the first in that series so I might give it a shot at some point. I really enjoyed Neverness because of its originality, the Pilots and the Manifold were all very interesting.
Just as long as it is all flat...
 

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