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Is intelligent life doomed to self-destruct ?

Posted on Tuesday, 7 July, 2020 | Comment icon 13 comments

Will intelligent life inevitably self-destruct ? Image Credit: Henrique Alvim Correa
Scientists argue that if a civilization is advanced enough to communicate with us, it can also destroy itself.
The question of whether we are alone in the universe remains one of the biggest philosophical conundrums of our time. While it seems almost inconceivable that our civilization is alone in the cosmos, the fact still remains that we have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.

One recent study calculated that there could be as few as 30 intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy, which might seem like a lot until you realize that in our galaxy alone there are hundreds of billions of stars and potentially many more planets than that in orbit around them.

Finding aliens, therefore, is like finding a needle in a haystack the size of the Sun.

But there is another problem that could confound such efforts even further - there is no guarantee that an alien civilization will actually persist for any great length of time.

The Roman Empire, for instance, lasted only 1,000 years - a relatively minor blip of time in the grand scheme of things. The window of opportunity during which an advanced civilization has the potential to communicate with us could be equally small.
It could certainly be assumed that any civilization with sophisticated space-faring technology would also be capable of annihilating itself - just as we could with nuclear weapons, for instance.

"Perhaps the key aspect of intelligent life, at least as we know it, is the ability to self-destroy," astrophysicists Tom Westby and Christopher Conselice recently wrote in Astrophysical Journal.

"As far as we can tell, when a civilization develops the technology to communicate over large distances it also has the technology to destroy itself and this is unfortunately likely universal."

Finding an advanced alien civilization that has either endured long-term or that still exists within that small window of opportunity, therefore, is likely to be very challenging indeed.

Source: Science News | Comments (13)

Tags: Alien, Extraterrestrial

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by DanL on 8 July, 2020, 1:07
We had better hope that if there are other intelligent species out there that they are either not psychotic killers like us or if they are that they destroy themselves as we seem so determined to do. We are either going to eventually destroy our environment to the point that this planet will no longer support our life forms, develop a weapon that wipes us out, or sit here stupidly waiting until the next extinction event wipes us out. The good news is that even on our own planet only mankind evolved into this sort of insane mass killer. No other animal will leave their home and go thousands of ... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum on 8 July, 2020, 3:48
Certaintly capitalism is causing the collapse. Its greed, lobyistic hunger for economic and military domination, hegemony wars, dirty politics, unions, militarizaton of police to protect a dirty government, have killed the north american dream.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Myles on 8 July, 2020, 12:34
I agree.   Resources will become scarce for any species that develops technology.  
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog on 8 July, 2020, 13:20
If we were ''inteligent'' destroying ourself would be a paradox... We are technologically advanced life, but intelligent ?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Myles on 8 July, 2020, 14:15
Ethics also play a factor in this.    Perhaps the "intelligent thing for humans to do is to kill off 99% of the human population to allow the Earth health itself a bit.     
Comment icon #9 Posted by woopypooky on 11 July, 2020, 13:42
Advanced beings might not be using radio signal,..telepath maybe.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Trelane on 21 July, 2020, 23:52
Doomed? I don't thinks so. I don't think it's an inescapable future or just our fate as a species. Yes, the human species has a lot of things it needs to fix in order to survive.  
Comment icon #11 Posted by Hazzard on 22 July, 2020, 13:07
Even smoke signals are more likely than telepathy!
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats on 25 July, 2020, 7:20
Humanity will be fine then!
Comment icon #13 Posted by third_eye on 25 July, 2020, 13:15
You sir, is too intelligent for our own good...  ~

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