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Spatial dispersion of interstellar civilizations: a probabilistic site percolation model in three dimensions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2012

Thomas W. Hair*
College of Arts and Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd, South, Fort Myers, FL 33965, USA
Andrew D. Hedman
College of Arts and Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd, South, Fort Myers, FL 33965, USA


A model of the spatial emergence of an interstellar civilization into a uniform distribution of habitable systems is presented. The process of emigration is modelled as a three-dimensional probabilistic cellular automaton. An algorithm is presented which defines both the daughter colonies of the original seed vertex and all subsequent connected vertices, and the probability of a connection between any two vertices. The automaton is analysed over a wide set of parameters for iterations that represent up to 250 000 years within the model's assumptions. Emigration patterns are characterized and used to evaluate two hypotheses that aim to explain the Fermi Paradox. The first hypothesis states that interstellar emigration takes too long for any civilization to have yet come within a detectable distance, and the second states that large volumes of habitable space may be left uninhabited by an interstellar civilization and Earth is located in one of these voids.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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