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4,569,810 Views β€’ Nov 15, 2023 β€’ Click to toggle off description
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Could aliens destroy us from light years away? Another day at Kurzgesagt Labs, where we answer the most important questions with science.
Today: how might civilizations wage war across light years? What kind of devastating weapons could they use and what would they look like?


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Comments - 11K

Top Comments of this video!! :3


2 weeks ago

✨ Join the Galactic Club: your cozy corner in the vast universe ✨
Get everything you need to fit right in with our brand new Limited Drop – available worldwide, and ONLY on the kurzgesagt shop! Stocks are highly limited, so don’t delay!

1.6K |


2 weeks ago

Thank you Kurzgesagt, I was planning to wage an interstellar war soon, this will surely be helpful

32K |


2 weeks ago

I love how instead of deciding to help humanity build the weapon, kurzgesagt instead decided to help the aliens

4.5K |


2 weeks ago

The book "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman is an allegory for the Vietnam War but set in the distant future. The theme of "future shock" is a big part of the story. Humanity encounters an alien species who are basically in the "Old West" phase of weaponry and wipe the floor with them. A few hundred years later, relativistically only a couple years for the protagonist, the alien race has advanced way beyond humanity's capabilities and humans resort to a trench style warfare where they shelter under an energy shield and fight hand to hand.

960 |


2 weeks ago

Liu Cixin has a great book/audiobook series about this, I highly reccomendations it. Spoilers: a major theme of the books is the "dark forest" concept, where all you have to do is broadcast the coordinates of a star out into space, and it will be destroyed. This is because his solution to the fermi paradox: as soon as life in the universe reveals itself, the most powerful and reclusive aliens will destroy it as soon as possible in order to survive. Since there is always going to be a social and technological barrier between any 2 alien worlds, the only way a species can thrive is to eliminate any other form of life before it surpasses them in technology. Perfectly transparent communication of intention is always impossible, so each species must assume the worst and take steps to eradicate each other.

Like another comment said, the ultimate moral is that each party must take a leap of faith (against all logic and reason) to trust each other. Otherwise the universe continues to be an endless arms race untill its complete and total collapse.

440 |


2 weeks ago

An ''invasion'' or ''war'' probably only works if the two civilizations have roughly the same kind of technology. In all other cases, one will simply take over or destroy the other before they are aware of it.

127 |


2 weeks ago

As a smorpian, I can confirm that Kurzgesagt knows all of our plans

12K |


2 weeks ago

I love the subtle references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s one of my favorite books, and it works really well with the subject.

For instance, the distance from Earth to Smorp is 42 light years - 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything - and they’re planning a hyperspace bypass through the solar system meaning they have to destroy the earth/humanity - probably the main conflict in Hitchhiker’s Guide.

354 |


2 weeks ago

One thing that I've always figured is that if there were interstellar civilizations, space would be peaceful for the simple reason that warlikeness isn't sustainable for a nascient spacefaring civilization. In order to be warlike, you need to have enemies you can fight, which works fine if you're using pointed sticks, lead projectiles and maybe the occasional nuclear warhead as a treat, but offense outpaces defense so eventually you reach a point where warlikeness has to trail off because you either chill out, run out of enemies, or get wiped out. And war is super expensive, so a society which is kept in a warlike state needs to be exposed to a warlike foreign society close enough in tech level that they can fight back with effort in order to be made warlike. Until they get up to the point of proficient interstellar travel, a spacefaring society will have no access to anyone they could pick a fight with and stand the slightest chance of winning, because the peaceful tools of a proficient interstellar society outmatch the WMDs of a developing one.
Granted, this only prevents being willing to expend serious resources towards war, so there's no guarantee that a godlike alien culture wouldn't still use weapons like these to keep competing civilizations from arising even if they wouldn't dare pick a fight with an equal.

34 |


1 week ago

Excellent video as always, but I would love to see a part 2 where the scenario required the weapon to be used against a civilization already spread across multiple planets or even solar systems, and/or actively spreading, colonizing new planets, making a lot more uncertain if the weapons first strike would hit all targets it would need, in case the target civilization colonized a new planet while the weapon was in-flight.

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2 weeks ago

The ultra relativistic electron beam is a very interesting concept too for a interstellar civilization to be used for warfare.
And the insane 99.9999999999999999998% of the speed of light is very interesting and informative.

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1 week ago

Probably inspired by the "Three body problem" of Liu Cixin, and the "dark forest" theory from this book. By the way, highly recommended to read - in my opinion, the best fantastic novel of our time.

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1 week ago

I read a Star Trek book (think it was in the Belle Terre series) that showcased a star laser and it was really cool. It took a whole fleet of starships to block it with their shields.

8 |


2 weeks ago

I wonder if an early type two civilization that 'only' utilizes 1% of their son actually has enough energy, especially for creating the amount of antimatter in scenario 2.

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23 hours ago

A follow up on how a civilization could build defenses in advance would be neat! Giant mirrors or something ?

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2 weeks ago

Interesting video! Now, it would be also interesting to see what megastructures could we build to defense ourselves against that kind of weapons...

10 |


4 days ago

Are we not gonna talk about how hard this scene actually hits? My favorite in the whole video.

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2 weeks ago

Thank you for giving me 3 new completely irrational fears to think about for the rest of my life πŸ™‚

382 |


2 weeks ago

Kurzgesagt, I absolutely LOVE your videos and I learn A LOT from them. I truly appreciate all the effort you put in in making this masterpieces and making them free for everyone to enjoy and learn.

I would love to buy merch from your shop but the thing is that everything there seems very expensive. I am inclined to buy a poster and a t shirt from the shop but they are priced really high! I know that the posters are made with high quality material and take time to make.

Is there any way I could get the information from the poster without having to spend so much money on the material itself? It would be great if you did so because I would be ecstatic to have a kurzgesagt poster! Thanks again for all the hard work you put in! 😊

5 |


2 weeks ago

The math on the star laser and electron beam would have to be insanely accurate, because you need to shoot it exactly where the Earth will be in the galaxy when it arrives, not to mention however the laser will bend if it goes near any intense spacetime curvature like black holes and neutron stars. Even the smallest bit off course, especially in the the first half of its trip, and it’ll totally miss us by the time it arrives. I’m not sure it’s actually feasible, even for an advanced civilization. The relativistic rocket, which could constantly be recalculating and making extremely slight adjustments, would probably be the only way to have a chance at hitting the target.

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