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100,000 Nearby Galaxies Reveal No Signs of Advanced Technological Civilizations --"One May Have Existed Right Here in Our Neighborhood"




After examining some 100,000 nearby large galaxies in 2015 a team of researchers lead by The Pennsylvania State University astronomer Jason Wright concluded that none of them contain any obvious signs of highly advanced technological civilizations. Turning his focus closer to home this past spring of 2017, Wright proposed that an advanced civilization—an indigenous technological species could have arisen in the solar system before Erath-bound life did. Wright suggests that traces of its technology—"technosignatures"—may have survived, provided they were made of material not easily degraded by erosion or time and may remain hidden awaiting discovery under the surface of Venus and Mars.

“As we improve our understanding of ancient Earth and the history of our solar system, perhaps we may someday uncover evidence that suggests the activity of another technological civilization right here in our neighborhood,” said Andrew Siemion, the director of Berkeley’s SETI Research Center.

Wright suggests there could have been an explosion in life around the time of or after the Cambrian period, when complex animals first appeared, according to fossil records. A cosmic catastrophe may have destroyed this early species, Wright suggests, erasing signs that it ever existed and “forcing the biosphere to ‘start over’ with the few single-celled species that survived." We may have already seen technosignatures in geological record, but mistaken them for natural phenomena, Wright said. Or, the evidence may be long gone, erased from the surface by shifting tectonic plates. “The Earth is quite efficient, on cosmic timescales, at destroying evidence of technology on its surface,” he concludes in the paper.

Wright's 2015 study --by far the largest of study of its kind to date—earlier research had only cursorily investigated about a hundred galaxies-- looked for the thermodynamic consequences of galactic-scale colonization, based on an idea put forth in 1960 by the physicist Freeman Dyson who postulated that a growing technological culture would ultimately be limited by access to energy, and that advanced, energy-hungry civilizations would be driven to harvest all the available light from their stars.

Wright's team searched for type 3 civilizations in an all-sky catalogue from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). They looked for objects that were optically dim but bright in the mid-infrared—the expected signature of a galaxy filled with starlight-absorbing, heat-emitting Dyson spheres. After using software to automatically sift through some 100 million objects in the WISE catalogue, Wright’s student Roger Griffith examined the remaining candidates by hand, culling those that weren’t galaxies or that were obvious instrumental artifacts without success.


“Looking for the absence of light as well as the waste heat like Wright and his colleagues have done is really cool,” says James Annis, an astrophysicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory who in the late 1990s used different methods to survey more than a hundred nearby galaxies for type 3s. “In some sense it doesn’t matter how a galactic civilization gets or uses its power because the second law of thermodynamics makes energy use hard to hide. They could construct Dyson spheres, they could get power from rotating black holes, they could build giant computer networks in the cold outskirts of galaxies, and all of that would produce waste heat. Wright’s team went right to the peak of the curve for where you’d expect to see any sort of waste heat, and they’re just not seeing anything obvious.”

“Life, once it becomes spacefaring, looks like it could cross a galaxy in as little as 50 million years,” Annis says. “And 50 million years is a very short time compared to the billion-year timescales of planets and galaxies. You would expect life to crisscross a galaxy many times in the nearly 14 billion years the universe has been around. Maybe spacefaring civilizations are rare and isolated, but it only takes just one to want and be able to modify its galaxy for you to be able to see it. If you look at enough galaxies, you should eventually see something obviously artificial. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable that the more we look, the more natural everything appears.”

Annis suspects that fast-gamma-ray bursts which were more frequent in the cosmic past, until recently suppressed the rise of advanced civilizations and that we inhabit “the beginning of history.”

“If there are any real aliens, they are likely to behave in ways that we never imagined," said Freeman Dyson. "The WISE result shows that the aliens did not follow one particular path. That is good to know. But it still leaves a huge variety of other paths open. The failure of one guess does not mean that we should stop looking for aliens.”

The Daily Galaxy via Scientific American and  The Atlantic 


I'm sorry... this is incredibly stupid. Even if a civilization was a couple of magnitudes greater than what is seen in modern Science Fiction which is generally the most advanced we can generally conceive of - Warp Drive, Hyper Drive, mile-long starships, even Dyson sphere or multi-dimensional traval and stargates... you are NEVER going to see the ramifications of this kind of technology from observations on Earth from millions of light years away. Also, ANY light you see from these galaxies are at least 1.3 million years old, which means any civilization could have had a million years to thrive in the time we grew opposable thumbs, and we still would not know about it.

Not sure how stupid this is, as it follows a pretty specific path of technological development (and energy consumption) that we could possibly detect with our limited means. I don't see anywhere in there where Wright is claiming it be an all inclusive search for advanced life forms, only those that might follow the path of energy consumption put forth by Dyson a half century ago. This specific path of development also happens to be condusive to some of our methods of observation.

Look at it this way, if you only had a single fishing rod and 1 hour off of a pier on the east coast and your task was to find out if there was life in the atlantic ocean, you might come up empty handed with your own constraints (time and equipment). That doesn't mean for 1 second there is no life in the atlantic ocean.

Maybe, just maybe, the "global warming" liberal/progressive aliens won out and shut down their high tech. Now they sit around smoking legal alien weed and singing kum-baya,

What if we are the only technology producing life-form in the universe. And that has taken 5 billion years to appear on Earth.

Look how fragile our survival is with all our nukes ready to wipe the planet clean of all life forms.

Maybe that pattern has repeated endlessly in other star systems.

There was an article that postulated a 200 year lifespan of a technology producing species before it destroyed itself. We have about 100 years to go.

There is no serious reason to think that the nuclear weapons that currently exist could "wipe the planet clean of all life forms". this is pure hype.

Michael Maller - Relax. It was merely an Apocalyptic idea to make a point and not meant to hype.

In order to survive, we must leave this planet and become the aliens we seek...

"In order to survive, we must leave this planet and become the aliens we seek..."

If that were possible you would think that civilizations a billion years older than ours would have been doing this all over the universe. Where are they?

"It was merely an Apocalyptic idea to make a point"

Pretty much the definition of hyperbole.

Go back a couple hundred years and a remote control was essentially sorcery. Is it so hard to imagine that 1000 years into the future that we may have power sources that we'd be completely unable to comprehend today?

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