Destructive civilizations can ruin our search for extraterrestrial intelligence

A lack of signals from space can also be bad news for sobbing

The civilizations of the world have an eternal destiny.

Roman civilization, for example, lasted less than a thousand years from the founding of their republic until the fall of their empire (after a long decline). In the New World, the Mayan civilization lasted almost two millennia (maybe a bit depending on when you started it). At the end of the Bronze Age, the Greco-Mycenaean civilization lasted only about five centuries. As for American civilization (as in the United States of America), at the rate of events, it will not last long.

For some reason, civilization is not an autonomous state in this world. And probably not on other planets. In fact, the limitations of lifelong civilization may explain why extraterrestrial aliens have yet to speak to Earthlings. A new review suggests that the entire Milky Way is currently home to several dozen worlds equipped with sophisticated technology to send us a message. They have probably spread so widely that the signals sent to us did not have time to get here. And when a signal comes, no one can hear it.

“We can imagine a galaxy where life is vast but communication is unlikely,” Tom Westby and Christopher Conselice wrote in the Astrophysical Journal on June 10.
Westby and Conselice at the University of Nottingham in England based their analysis on a modified version of the Drake equation proposed by astronomer Frank Drake nearly 60 years ago. At a time when most scientists are unfamiliar with E.T. Seriously, Drake identified factors that, in principle, would estimate the number of conversations with civilizations in galaxies. His equation provided the framework for all subsequent scientific assessments of the prospects for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Westby and Conselice accept Drake’s equation as “a tool to estimate the number of planets in our galaxy that can cope with intelligent life and emit visible signals from Earth”. (Such communication with intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations is sometimes referred to by the acronym CETI.) However, because some of their terms are no longer measurable today (e.g. how many star planets and how many planets can they take life), Westby and Conselice pursue a novel of a strategy by making assumptions that could avoid the lack of data needed to fill in the gaps in the Drake equation.

They estimate that Westby and Conselice will take 5 billion years for intelligent, technologically advanced life to develop – because that’s the time it will (almost) take the world. In some situations, they assume that any habitual planet that lasts for a long time will in fact form a life. Given these data points, the task of counting civilizations from civilizations is how many stars are mature and how many planets orbit the stars at certain distances to give Goldilocks temperatures, as well as water and other raw materials necessary for biological creation and maintenance. beings are necessary.

On the one hand, this means that the star system must have a sufficient amount of metals – in the opinion of astronomers, the elements are heavier than hydrogen or helium. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other complex substances must be used throughout life to form and build radio transmitters or lasers that transmit signals through space.

In their new CETI equation, Westby and Conselice show how the number of intelligent and communicative civilizations today depends on the number of stars in the galaxy, how many are over 5 billion years old, and how many habitable planets. and the average lifespan of an advanced civilization. The results of planetary explorations and other astronomical studies provide estimates for each term in the CETI equation when all possible numbers of star rates and ages are found. It turns out that some of these factors do not limit the prospects of living abroad. For example, almost all of the stars in the galaxy are over 5 billion years old (and their average age is around 10 billion years).

Some of these stars will be called E.T. Habits due to a lack of raw materials. It is assumed that the most pessimistic scenario – where life requires stars to have at least as much metal as the sun – removes nearly two-thirds of the stars in space. For the rest, the planets will probably be used to hovering around 20%.

Because the galaxy is home to over 200 billion stars, age, metal content, and usage limits still leave billions of possible CETIs everywhere. But this is before considering the life of civilization. It is safe to say that a civilizing relationship could last 100 years because the technology on the ground has been transmitting radio waves for a long time. But if no high-tech company survives for more than a century, then in no time at all, few people will tell us. Under the strict assumption, assuming the average lifespan of CETI is 100 years, only 36 conversations with civilizations in space are now calculated. As a result, more movies have been made about extraterrestrial civilizations on Earth than actual extraterrestrial civilizations.

Of the 36, the nearest neighbors are probably about 17,000 light-years away, “making these systems almost impossible to communicate or even see current technology,” Westby and Conselice wrote. For an ambitious 2000-year-old civilization, CETI’s closest neighbor could be thousands of light-years away. In a very optimistic case, with an average high-tech lifespan of a million years, the nearest civilization would be within 300 light-years and possibly as much as 20.

“The longevity of civilizations in our galaxy is a great unknown … and by far the most important factor in the CETI equation,” note Westby and Conselice. “Obviously … very long hours of life are required for … the galaxy to contain at least one possible contemporary active civilization.”

If you’re wondering how different assumptions can affect the chances of receiving emails from strangers, there’s a tool you can try on the Alien Civilization Calculator website, created by physicist Steve Wooding and Dominik Czerniak. Their tool allows you to plug values ​​into the new CETI equation or the original Drake equation to see how different assumptions affect the population of alien civilizations in the galaxy.

All of these calculations are relatively inaccurate. For example, the uncertainty for Westby and Conselice estimates that 36 civilizations are between four and 211. However, the lack of precision is not as revealing as the message underlined – the importance of the longevity of civilization in the possibility. to receive a message. And this post suggests, as Westby and Conselice point out, that there is no news from E.T. is a bad sign for the life of civilization in the world.

Since most of the stars in the galaxy are older than the Sun, the lack of signals suggests that most interactions with civilizations, such as the Mayans and Mycenae, have occurred in succession. If so, a communication skill can signify a self-destruct ability.

“Maybe the key aspect of intelligent life, even as we know it, is the ability to destroy itself,” Westby and Conselice commented. “As we can see, when a civilization develops technology to communicate over long distances, it has the technology to harm itself, and unfortunately, it is likely to be universal.”

In other words, all civilizations in the world will sooner or later follow the path of the Roman Empire. There are many possible roads that will be destroyed. The nuclear Holocaust has always been a possibility, although for now, it is more likely that a pandemic virus will start again in the planet’s biosphere. Or climate change can change. When all else fails, there is always social media.

However, there is still hope that high-tech companies can live longer. Maybe long-standing alien civilizations aren’t far off at all, they just choose not to speak in use because we don’t seem civilized enough.

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