von neumann
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SCP-1941 phenomenon over the period 2001-2012 (photos provided by LRO). The high albedo plumes are ejecta from the surface and the result of active excavation. The black area resembling a network is the result of ongoing construction.
Detail of an individual node and the mine it has excavated. The network is self-similar: individual nodes resemble the network at large. Depicted here is the equivalent of a single node in the time-lapse recording shown above.

Item #: SCP-1941

Object Class: Euclid

Special Containment Procedures: Due to its location, SCP-1941 is uncontainable for the time being. Of highest priority is the development of more advanced lunar reconnaissance orbiters to continue to track its progress, as well as a lunar retrieval mission to procure a sample for study. For the moment, the phenomenon is not visible from the Earth, making a cover story unnecessary.

Description: SCP-1941 is a manifestation on the far side of the Moon that was first discovered on May 28, 2000 when attention was drawn to what was assumed to be a small comet impacting 500km south-east of Jackson crater in the Northern hemisphere of the far-side of the moon. Since then, evidence of industrial activity has been discovered, activity which is growing at an astonishing rate.

The currently deployed Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's (LRO) resolving power is insufficient to determine what exactly is responsible. However, anomalously high temperatures and spectroscopy results indicate that strip-mining, refining, smelting and fabrication are taking place. In addition, neutrino activity consistent with finely-controlled nuclear fusion has been detected.

It has been conjectured that a technologically sophisticated alien probe is responsible. Such a probe (known as a Von Neumann probe) would be able to make use of available raw materials in its environment in order to replicate itself. When enough copies had been produced, it could then turn its attention to some longer term goal.

In the decade since it was discovered, the area the phenomenon encompasses has grown by a factor of 12.5, giving it an estimated doubling rate of 3 years. It currently occupies an area of 25,000 km2. If it continues to spread at the same rate, it will begin to be visible from Earth in August of 2022.

Addendum Beginning in June of 2002, transmissions from the site were detected, making use of a simple encoding scheme based on universal physical constants, and proving to be an intentional communication directed at humanity. The message were instructions on how to render SCP-XXX's activities inert, apparently in an attempt to placate any neighboring civilization were they to find its activities undesirable.

The instructions call for transmitting at a given frequency and using a given protocol the prime factors of a given number. Unfortunately, the number in question is intractably large and not factorable in a reasonable amount of time.

It is not known if the difficulty posed by such a mathematical problem is meant as an intelligence test, or if the aliens have drastically over-estimated other civilization's abilities. The possibility exists that this is meant to measure a civilization's sophistication and to judge the level of resistance they could bring to bare if SCP-XXX intentions turn out to be hostile.

What follows is the equation for the number:

\begin{equation} 2^{2^{79}} + 3^{2^{83}} + 5^{2^{89}} + 7^{2^{97}} \end{equation}
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