The Silurian Precursor World

❝ If an industrial civilization had existed on Earth many millions of years prior to our own era, what traces would it have left and would they be detectable today? The authors summarize the likely geological fingerprint of the Anthropocene, and demonstrate that while clear, it will not differ greatly in many respects from other known events in the geological record. They propose tests that could plausibly distinguish an industrial cause from an otherwise naturally occurring climate event…

❝ One of the key questions in assessing the likelihood of finding such a civilization is an understanding of how often, given that life has arisen and that some species are intelligent, does an industrial civilization develop? Humans are the only example we know of, and our industrial civilization has lasted (so far) roughly 300 years (since, for example, the beginning of mass production methods). This is a small fraction of the time we have existed as a species, and a tiny fraction of the time that complex life has existed on the Earth’s land surface (∼400 million years ago, Ma). This short time period raises the obvious question as to whether this could have happened before. We term this the “Silurian Hypothesis”.

I love this stuff. The dialectic between science fiction and scientific inspiration is healthy and well.