I plan to write a story about a large number of space probes that are equipped with artificial intelligence and told to explore star systems and travel between them. These probes are not equipped with warp drives or any other superluminal technology. They have only one sun sail. I am looking for a material that can be used for the wiring and circuits of these probes that can withstand hundreds of thousands of years of exposure to no air and star radiation without breaking.

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    $\begingroup$ The absence of air is a straight up benefit when it comes to preserving circuitry, so of the factors you mention, I think only radiation really matters. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Radiation also isn't too much of a problem as long as you put enough material between the outside and the circuitry itself. Lead shielding, perhaps? $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ Without having done the math, I suspect that the amount of stellar radiation you will see in interstellar space is sufficiently low to not be a major consideration. To a first order approximation, I would expect stellar radiation in interstellar space to be a problem similar in magnitude to collision with interstellar matter. Compare What is the possibility of Voyager 1/2 colliding with matter (Asteroids or planetoids) present in space? on Space Exploration to get an idea of how much of a problem that is. (Hint: Not very.) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain what is wrong with the computers in the Pioneer, Voyager, and New Horizons and others that made it for 10+ years without too much trouble? $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 23:39

1 Answer 1



Fired pottery is one of the few signs we have of early humanity. Most metals corrode or naturally weld too fast to be useful in the time intervals you describe.

We've invented ceramic batteries, capacitors, semiconductors, superconductors, transistors... everything you'd need for a durable supercomputer, given some advances in fabricating the stuff.

Some ceramics have interesting optic properties too, so you might not be limited to electronic computing.

  • $\begingroup$ Corrosion won't be a problem in interstellar space, though natural welds in metal might be, however, your suggestion about ceramic circuitry is nifty. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 4:07

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