The von Neumann probe is a hypothetical space object based on the theories of the genius Hungarian physicist and computer scientist. In the 1940s he had made very advanced studies on self-replicating machines, that is artificial constructs capable of creating copies of themselves using only materials taken from the surrounding environment.
According to these principles, many scientists and especially science fiction novelists have hypothesized that the same idea could be used to colonize the galaxy and the entire universe. Sending probes that could replicate using materials scattered around the cosmos and even carrying human embryos around: in short, spreading our species without necessarily embarking on impossible journeys that last thousands if not millions of years.
At the same time, someone wondered: if this technology is possible, why has some advanced alien civilization failed to use it already arriving here? If even one civilization released them onto the galaxy, the self-replicators would likely begin expanding with every available resource, focusing solely on their own reproduction.
Now according to some theories, the new Chinese telescope FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) would be able to observe a possible swarm of von Neumann probes. This is because it would be able to perceive such a particular, subtle and distant radiation that such technologies could emit.
If such an attack was indeed taking place then it is best to know immediately. If, on the other hand, neither humans nor aliens have ever been able to build such a thing then maybe that’s for the best. Our first meeting will take place with more traditional methods.
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