After reviewing several suspiciously abrupt geologic events of the past million years, the researchers conclude that none of them clearly fit a technological profile.
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Frank calls for more research, such as studying how modern industrial chemicals persist in ocean sediments and then seeing if we can find traces of similar chemicals in the geologic record. He argues that a deeper understanding of the human environmental footprint will also have practical consequences, helping us recognize better ways to achieve a long-term balance with the planet so we don't end up as tomorrow's forgotten species.
The moon is a favored target of Penn State University astronomer Jason Wright, one of a handful of other researchers now applying serious scientific thinking to the possibility of pre-human technological civilizations.
If so, artifacts of their technology, or technosignatures, might be found elsewhere in the solar system. Wright suggests looking for such artifacts not just on the lunar surface, but also on asteroids or buried on Mars — places where such objects could theoretically survive for hundreds of millions or even billions of years.
Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?
Finding technosignatures in space is an extreme long shot, but Wright argues that the effort is worthwhile. Such studies might reveal new details about the history and evolution of the solar system, for instance, or about resources that might be useful to future spacefarers.
Follow mach. Get the Mach newsletter. The scientists concluded that there is no evidence of an earlier civilisation on our planet — but the idea throws up possibilities about how the cycle of life might operate on other planets. Frank says that civilisations might — through their collapse — trigger the conditions to create more fossil fuels, for future civilisations to use.
Civilization and Its Consequences
If a civilization uses fossil fuels, the climate change they trigger can lead to a large decrease in ocean oxygen levels. In this way, a civilization and its demise might sow the seed for new civilizations in the future.
Related Civilization Earth the Synthesis of Man
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