- The Silurian hypothesis He asks if evidence of a pre-human industrial civilization can be found in the Earth’s geological record – even one that may have existed millions of years ago.
- The astrobiologists who developed the thought experiment concluded that there was no solid evidence in the Earth’s geological record to support such a claim.
- However, we still lack scientific methods that would allow us to delve deeper into the behaviors of the Earth over a long period of time, so we may want to be open-minded.
Complex life on our planet has been around for at least a long time 400 million years. However, as a species, we only managed to create industrial civilization About 300 years ago. But, what if a previous artificial civilization existed on Earth millions of years ago? If so, how will we be able to prove it – or disprove it? This is the crux of the Silurian Hypothesis, a fascinating thought experiment in which it appeared study Posted in 2018 in International Journal of Astrobiology.
Possibility of life elsewhere in the universe and similar to the Anthropocene –The current geological age, in which humans have been affected Earth to the point of no return – long at a loss Adam FrankD., professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester in New York, and one of the study’s authors.
“Is it common for any civilization that reaches our level of energy use to release their own version of climate change? I was wondering. If there are alien civilizations, will they also lead to climate change?” Frank wonders. With this whirlwind of ideas in mind, Frank visited NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS), a high-end climate science facility at Columbia University, New York. He wanted to share his thoughts with climate researchers, and he certainly expected a lot of raised eyebrows and skeptical looks in the process.
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“I went to the meeting with Gavin A Schmidt [a climatologist and the director of NASA GISS]And he started talking about aliens. Then Gavin stopped me and said, ‘Wait a minute. How do you know that we are the only time there has been a civilization on our planet? ‘Frank says’ popular mechanics. The question was “Aha!” A moment for Frank, as it allowed him to reflect on the reconsideration of facts he had taken for granted.
Evidence in the Earth’s geological record
sane man It first appeared on Earth around 300,000 years ago. In the unlikely event that such an ancient industrial civilization existed, it would precede the kind to which we all belong. At the time, Schmidt called the idea the Silurian hypothesis, in honor of what is evolving creepy Humans woke up from nuclear tests after 400 million years of hibernation in a 1970s episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor who. The study authors decided to use the laser in the time period from four million years ago to 400 million years ago.
Going back hundreds of millions of years to find traces of pre-possiblesane man Civilization is not a piece of cake. “After a few million years, the Earth is pretty much back to the surface. You won’t have any statues or buildings or anything left left,” Frank says. Fossil records will be almost nonexistent because everything will collapse to dust. The only evidence comes in the form of Chemical fingerprints.” You’d have to look at every layer of rock, and then try to spot trends — look for changes in things like carbon or oxygen isotopes, which are tracers of things like carbon dioxide. “Industrial civilization would dump a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, just as we do,” Frank says. Plastic or nanoparticles may also be good indicators of an industrial civilization that occurred in time immemorial.
Schmidt and Frank were fascinated by the period of geological history known as The Paleocene and Eocene (PETM) maximum temperature, Because something strange happened on our planet during that, 56 million years ago: Earth’s average temperature rose to 15 degrees Fahrenheit higher than we have today, and the world became a temperate, ice-free place. They’ve investigated carbon and oxygen isotope ratios from the PETEM period and have already seen rises, but they’ve also seen declines, all over a span of a few hundred thousand years, which is nowhere near as fast as carbon is currently suffocating the atmosphere. Frank says the chemical differences in PETM indicate long-term climate change.
They also reviewed other “sudden events” through time that appear in the geological record, including hypoxic events in the oceans – when the ocean is depleted of oxygen – and extinction events. Unsurprisingly, and perhaps a little disappointing, it was not indicative of an industrial civilization either.
Occam’s blade mode
“The hypothesis that the Earth may have harbored long-extinct industrial civilizations and that such existence may be recorded in the geological record associated with climate change signatures is remarkable, however, and even the authors are not sold on the possibility that it is correct,” Stephen Holler, Associate Professor of Physics at Fordham University in New York City says: popular mechanics.
There is a great general rule in science, and it is called the name Occam’s razor. In the 14th century, the English Franciscan philosopher and theologian William of Ockham suggested that the best solution to a problem is the simplest. “That’s probably the case here,” Holler says. “We can largely explain the geological record in terms of natural phenomena, so there is no need to recall lost civilizations.”
However, if it was a previous industrial civilization she did Exist and extinct I was As a result of catastrophic climate change due to industrial activities, then we must heed the warnings because, as a civilization, we are standing on the edge of a precipice. “It’s going to be a hard landing when we get past the edge, and we may not survive,” Holler says.
More sustainability leads to fewer marks
There is a contradiction in the Silurian hypothesis: the more sustainable a society is in the way it generates energy and manufactures resources – arguably, the more advanced a society is – the less impact it has on the planet. However, this smaller footprint would translate into few marks in the geological record for that period. For example, the more plastic or persistent synthetic molecules produced, the higher the chances of future civilizations finding traces of us. (Our society produces 300 million tons of plastic every year around the world – equivalent to the weight of almost all humans!). Even if we wipe ourselves off the face of the earth with a nuclear catastrophe, Long-lived radioactive particles They will last in the soil eons later, indicating that we were around.
“Using the Silurian hypothesis, we explained the kinds of signals our civilization would leave if we disappeared and someone searched for our civilization 10 or 20 million years from now,” Frank says.
But most of all, the experiment showed some of the shortcomings of our current scientific equipment. “If the industrial activity of an earlier species was particularly short-lived, we wouldn’t be able to detect it in ancient sediments using the tools and methods we have now,” Frank explains. “If you want to look for evidence of an earlier civilization, you will have to do studies that no one has done and develop new methods — for example, you will have to find ways to look at the rock record at a finer time scale.”
Remember, we’re talking about millions of years of complex life’s evolution and the harsh Earth crunching everything in its wake. And while both Frank and Schmidt don’t really believe in an industrial civilization before ours, the main idea of the Silurian hypothesis, says Frank, is that if you’re not explicitly looking for something, you might not see it.
Stav Dimitropoulos’ scientific writing has appeared online or in print for BBC, Discover, Scientific American, Nature, Science, Runner’s World, The Daily Beast, and others. Stave put his sports and academic career on hold to become a journalist and get to know the world.
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