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Are we the First Intelligent Life on Earth?

Human+intelligence.
Human intelligence.

Human intelligence.

via Pixabay

via Pixabay

Human intelligence.

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For a long time, scientists have believed that humans were the first intelligent life on Earth. However, scientists are beginning to wonder if they were wrong. If there was a previous civilization on Earth, then any evidence of it would surely have been destroyed over the millions of years. So how can they be sure? Two professors from different universities named Adam Frank and Gavin Schmidt got together to try and solve this mystery. They agreed that there is almost no way to detect the presence of another civilization after it has disappeared. But they continued to ponder the question since there has to be some way to find out. Their answer came from geologic footprints.

Humanity is entering a stage called Anthropocene, which means they are drastically altering the climate and environment. Fossils fuels are being used faster than normal. Long after humanity is gone, they will have left a permanent mark on the environment. So if there was a previous civilization before us, then they too should have left a mark on the Earth. By studying the footprints our civilization has left behind, Adam and Gavin were able to determine what clues they would need to find proof of a previous civilization did exist.

Since humanity first began, they have changed the Earth around us in many ways. If there was a previous civilization, it too would have altered the Earth. The first of these ways is Global Warming. If the civilization reached an industrial stage, then the release of carbon dioxide and the use fossils fuels would be a major factor that scientists should look for. In the case that there was a previous civilization, they too would have also relied on agriculture just like humans, which would affect erosion rates, which is another clue scientists could look for. If they made use of plastics or steroids, the evidence of such would detectable for millions or even billions of years, making this easy for scientists to check for. The final clue, and perhaps the biggest one, is a nuclear war. If this civilization ever reached the stage of developing nuclear weapons, and they used them, then scientists would for certain be able to detect unusual amounts of radioactive isotopes. These clues are also being studied by scientists to detect if life ever existed, or even still exists, on Mars or Venus, but not until now have scientists began looking for these things on Earth as well.

Overall, this has become a large question in the science community. The discovery of an early industrial civilization before ours would have been shocking, if not redirect science completely. It would mean that there is even a chance that long after humanity, sentient life could still exist on Earth, as well as other possibly habitable planets as well.

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Are we the First Intelligent Life on Earth?