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Alien civilizations could be doomed to stagnate or collapse

May 13, 2022 | Comment icon 63 comments

Is a galactic civilization ultimately unsustainable ? Image Credit: NASA / Rick Guidice
Two researchers have come up with a possible answer as to why we have yet to encounter intelligent aliens.
As the late Douglas Adams wrote - "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is." - and while this would certainly explain why we have yet to run into any other advanced civilizations, there could be an even more fundamental reason why, despite our best efforts, we have so far failed to find any evidence of intelligent extraterrestrials.

In a new study, researchers argue that space-faring civilizations may be ultimately doomed to either wipe themselves out or to stagnate, thus preventing their expansion across the stars.

The argument is based on the idea that as a space-faring civilization expands both in scale and in technological advancement, it reaches the point where its growth outstrips its demand for energy.
"Civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely," the study authors wrote.

"Either outcome - homeostatic awakening or civilization collapse - would be consistent with the observed absence of [galactic-wide] civilizations."

The study was based on an analysis of the growth of cities here on Earth.

"We hypothesize that once a planetary civilization transitions into a state that can be described as one virtually connected global city, it will face an 'asymptotic burnout,' an ultimate crisis where the singularity-interval time scale becomes smaller than the time scale of innovation," the authors wrote.

Source: Live Science | Comments (63)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #54 Posted by Hyperionxvii 2 days ago
Not known. Because the highest point civilization can advance to is getting to the point where we start needless wars all over the planet and throw people into cages for possession of a plant.†
Comment icon #55 Posted by astrobeing 2 days ago
That's not true. You're ignoring that the likelihood of a series of events is the product of their likelihoods. When you work with series of probabilities in the real world, you quickly find yourself working with very very large numbers showing nearly impossible likelihoods. That explains why most things that have happened will never happen again and why most possible things will never happen. These probabilities make the universe quite small. You really really need to read that paper you linked to, and I mean from beginning to end. It showed how scientists have struggled to create the basic p... [More]
Comment icon #56 Posted by Manwon Lender 2 days ago
Then please post some links to information that supports your comments from peer reviewed scientific journals Iam will to learn! I have read the paper and I undesratnd the math. Here is a better paper that discusses theoretically how the first nucleotides first appeared on Earth, and mentions the Pamsperima theory which I certainly endorse. Supporting this hypothesis, model prebiotic reactions and analyses of carbonaceous meteorites provide evidence that the canonical nucleobases of RNA (adenine, guanine, cytosine, uracil) were likely present on the prebiotic Earth Spontaneous formation and ba... [More]
Comment icon #57 Posted by Golden Duck 2 days ago
That's what is actually in OP. Transitioning from one tier in the Kardashev scale to the next is the the type of innovation that would reset the superlineal demand for resources.
Comment icon #58 Posted by astrobeing 1 day ago
This is basic stuff you learn in statistics classes at a university, not in scientific journals. OK, that gives a possible explanation for nucleotides: those meteorites just happened to have the building blocks of RNA... somehow! How did the meteorites just happen to have them? Hey, not our problem so don't bother asking! Also there is still debate on whether contamination from Earth put those nucleobases in the meteorites since they are present in soil. What about the dozen or so other compounds in the paper that require long series of fortuitous and contradictory conditions? More meteorites ... [More]
Comment icon #59 Posted by Manwon Lender 1 day ago
I must honestly ask you, what level of schooling do you have and what do you do for a living? This should be an easy question for you to answer!†
Comment icon #60 Posted by astrobeing 1 day ago
I must honestly tell you that's personal and none of your business.
Comment icon #61 Posted by Manwon Lender 1 day ago
Yes thatís what I expected you to say so please carry on, †this conversation is going no where because simply put your unable to back up your comments which is fine. However I will not be involved in any discussion based upon opinion itís like peeling in the wind. But personally †I disagree, I did not ask where you worked or even the University you attended I was willing to take your word at face value!† Be well.† †
Comment icon #62 Posted by astrobeing 1 day ago
Actually I've been quoting from the papers that you've been linking too and I'm beginning to question whether or not you understand anything in these papers. Your inappropriate desire to question my personal credentials and educational history supports that. I have a unusual master's degree in a very specific skill and unfortunately I've discovered that has made it not difficult to figure out who I am with a few Internet searches. About fifteen years ago a lunatic on another board figured out who I was and where I worked. He not only harassed me with constant phone calls and emails at work and... [More]
Comment icon #63 Posted by Black Red Devil 3 hours ago
How about the CHNOPS elements that make up 97% of the building blocks of life on Earth?† Astronomers have discovered over 150,000 stars in the Milky Way with the spectographic analysis method where they found all these 6 elements were contained.† Obviously this still doesn't guarantee life on adjacent planets but if you consider the staggering number of galaxies in the universe each of which contains millions upon millions of stars each and millions upon millions of planets each it's easier to believe life is abundant even if it takes events to happen in a perfect order.

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