How to Search for Dead Cosmic Civilizations If they’re short-lived, we might be able to detect the relics and artifacts they left behind

October 1, 2018
Black and white photo of an asteroid ‘Oumuamua, rock floating in space
Artist's impression of ‘Oumuamua. Credit: Goddard Space Flight Center Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

"The rate of growth of new technologies is often proportional to past knowledge, leading to an exponential advance over time. This explosive process implies that very quickly after a civilization reaches technological maturity, it will develop the means for its own destruction through climate change, for example, or nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Developments of this type, over mere hundreds of years, would appear abrupt in the cosmic perspective of billions of years. If such self-destruction is common, this could explain Fermi’s paradox, which asks “where is everybody?”—and could imply that relics of dead civilizations should be abundant in space."

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