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I’m writing a short story where a species of aliens wipe out all life they encounter because they see life as a threat since it accelerates entropy. However, many of the methods used for destruction, like atom bombs, lasers, etc, are horribly inefficient entropy wise. What would be the best way to wipe out all life on earth in an entropy friendly way?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Nov 26 '21 at 20:49
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Turn down the sun

Your aliens add material to the sun intended to quench fusion. Less fusion slows down entropy. It has the added benefit of chilling the planets and stopping life processes.


Shade

If the aliens do not have the tech to quench a star, they could just insert an object to shade the earth, perhaps at the L1 Lagrange point or in a tight interior orbit around the star. Large flat sheets would work. Shade will cool the earth down. Possibly deep Earth life might still persist, warmed by the Earths inner heat. Surface life will freeze.

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/162093/… $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Nov 26 '21 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with inhibiting fusion in a star is that it would cause the star to collapse, generating a level 12 shockwave which destroys all planets in the system. $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Nov 26 '21 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Qami - the problem with putting on the brakes is that you stop. Unless you don't put them on so much. Then you slow down. The starquenchers go that second route. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Nov 26 '21 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Willk: Most assuredly! I was just taking the opportunity to reference the major plot point in Star Trek: Generations, for any who might appreciate it :) $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Nov 26 '21 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Do you know of any fusion quenching materials? $\endgroup$
    – user31646
    Nov 26 '21 at 19:18
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Make a virus that kills all living organisms.

An advanced, interstellar civilization probably has powerful enough computers to quickly build a virus that can kill everyone they want dead.

Have it lie dormant for a few months of years while it spreads, and then trigger at a particular time.

Just drop it down, and a few kilos of package can quickly spread to kill everyone.

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    $\begingroup$ Killing all living things is actually a pretty big ask for a virus, or even a panoply of viruses. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Nov 26 '21 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Engineered viruses can be pretty dangerous, and as I noted, the aliens probably have a lot of big super computers. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Nov 26 '21 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ What if it was a kind of bacteria that broke down living matter, tailored to the planet’s life? Kinda like that proposed bacteria that would break down plastic, but with tissue, membranes etc instead $\endgroup$
    – user31646
    Nov 26 '21 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @user31646 - which tissues, which membranes? Insects' circulatory systems, optical systems, gas transfer systems, are nothing like mine. Even less like mine - a mushroom. Or a lichen. The issue here is "all living things". And to Nep - super computers don't make viruses magically able to cross families of life. Nothing you could do to a tobacco virus could make it kill me while retaining its ability to kill a tobacco plant. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Nov 26 '21 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @jdunlop You raise an excellent point. I like your sun idea, but just to explore some different options, is there some way to engineer an organism disrupt the basic building blocks of life as we know it? Disrupting DNA/rNA to the point where life becomes sterile? $\endgroup$
    – user31646
    Nov 26 '21 at 20:23
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Runaway greenhouse effect

Simply add more CO², methane and other greenhouse gasses. In the worst case scenario it'll be a self strengthening effect, causing the planet to increasingly heat up. This method will kill nearly all multicellular and a big chunk of unicellular life on the whole planet. It doesn't increase entropy, it actually slows it down. Less heat and energy is lost to space after is bounces off the Earth.

The remainder can be killed by specialised virusses or bacteria, that will starve themselves the moment they have consumed their intended targets.

Extreme cooling

Cooling might actually be more effective. Nearly all energy is derived from the sun. If you block this with ash clouds and the like, the planet can cool down to such an extent that even more life is lost. If not all, then nearly all. The remaining will be either at the few hot spots or living so slowly it hardly matters.

Radiation

UV lamps are dangerous to all life in enough quantities. It is but one of many radiations that can be harmful. Remove the ozone layer and possibly some more and the sun will shine the world sterile. Again it might not kill all and a fraction of life will survive but that might not matter.

Store entropy in life

Instead of killing life to preserve entropy, you slow down entropy with it. Life can slow down some processes as well. Life not only uses energy, it can store it. Look at plants. They just sit in the sun and store the light. If it's stored it's use can in part be determined by the life form, increasing or decreasing consumption. With the right type of life spread around you might actually retard entropy processes, as well as store valued energy. Together with cold to slow down the processes you can get life to aid you.

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