Spatio-temporal Constraints on the Zoo Hypothesis, and the Breakdown of Total Hegemony

Research paper by Duncan H Forgan

Indexed on: 12 May '11Published on: 12 May '11Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics


The Zoo Hypothesis posits that we have not detected extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs) because they deliberately prevent us from detecting them. While a valid solution to Fermi's Paradox, it is not particularly amenable to rigorous scientific analysis, as it implicitly assumes a great deal about the sociological structure of a plurality of civilisations. Any attempt to assess its worth must begin with its most basic assumption - that ETIs share a uniformity of motive in shielding Earth from extraterrestrial contact. This motive is often presumed to be generated by the influence of the first civilisation to arrive in the Galaxy. I show that recent work on inter-arrival time analysis, while necessary, is insufficient to assess the validity of the Zoo Hypothesis (and its related variants). The finite speed of light prevents an early civilisation from exerting immediate cultural influence over a later civilisation if they are sufficiently distant. I show that if civilisation arrival times and spatial locations are completely uncorrelated, this strictly prevents the establishment of total hegemony throughout the Galaxy. I finish by presenting similar results derived from more realistic Monte Carlo Realisation simulations (where arrival time and spatial locations are partially correlated). These also show that total hegemony is typically broken, even when the total population of civilisations remains low. In the terminology of previous studies of solutions to Fermi's Paradox, this confirms the Zoo Hypothesis as a "soft" solution. However, an important question to be resolved by future work is the extent to which many separate hegemonies are established, and to what extent this affects the Zoo Hypothesis.