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科技发展的尽头在哪 – 译学馆
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科技发展的尽头在哪

Is there a limit to technological progress? - Clément Vidal

有好几代人觉得
Many generations have felt they’ve reached the pinnacle
人类的科技进步已到顶了
of technological advancement,
然而 往回看一百年
yet look back 100 years,
很多我们今天看来是理所当然的技术
and the technologies we take for granted today
曾经却觉得是天方夜谭
would seem like impossible magic.
那么对科技的进步来说
So will there be a point
是否存在一个极限点呢
where we reach an actual limit of technological progress?
如果存在的话 我们是否已经接近极限了呢
And if so, are we anywhere near that limit now?
半个世纪之前
Half a century ago,
俄罗斯天文学家尼古拉卡尔达舍夫也发出了相同的疑问
Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev was asking similar questions
这时他找到了一种测量技术进步的方法
when he came up with a way to measure technological progress,
尽管我们并不不知道未来的技术会是什么样子的
even when we have no idea exactly what it might look like.
但是未来我们做的任何事情都需要能源
Anything we do in the future will require energy,
所以卡尔达舍夫等级将潜在文明包括外星文明和我们的文明
so Kardashev’s scale classifies potential civilizations,
根据能量消耗
whether alien civilizations out there in the universe or our own,
分为了三个级别
into three levels based on energy consumption.
我们现在所消耗的少量能量
The tiny amount of energy we currently consume
和我们未开发的能量相比微乎其微
pales next to what we leave untapped.
类型Ⅰ 或者称作行星系文明
A Type I, or planetary civilization,
可以利用所在行星的所有能量和资源
can access all the energy resources of its home planet.
对于我们来说 可利用的资源是地球从太阳接收到的174000兆兆瓦太阳能
In our case, this is the 174,000 terawatts Earth receives from the Sun.
目前我们大约只利用了其中的15兆兆瓦能量
We currently only harness about 15 terawatts of it,
主要是通过燃烧储存有太阳能的化石燃料
mostly by burning solar energy stored in fossil fuels.
为了逐步成为和Ⅰ型文明
To approach becoming a Type I civilization,
需要通过在星球上安装太阳能板
we would need to capture solar energy more directly and efficiently
来更加直接和有效地吸收太阳能
by covering the planet with solar panels.
从最乐观的角度来说
Based on the most optimistic models,
我们可能用四个世纪就能实现
we might get there within just four centuries.
可是然后呢
What would be next?
地球只接收了太阳能的一小部分
Well, the Earth only gets a sliver of the Sun’s energy,
400兆兆瓦中剩余的能量都浪费在了无尽的太空中
while the rest of its 400 yottawatts is wasted in dead space.
但是类型Ⅱ 或者说行星系文明
But a Type II, or stellar civilization,
将会最大程度利用其恒星的能量
would make the most of its home star’s energy.
这类星球没有给任何一个星球安装太阳能板
Instead of installing solar panels around a planet,
而是直接安装在了它的恒星周围
a Type II civilization would install them directly orbiting its star,
形成了一个叫做戴森球的理论结构
forming a theoretical structure called a Dyson sphere.
那么第三类呢
And the third step?
第三类文明会全面利用自身所在星系的能量
A Type III civilization would harness all the energy of its home galaxy.
可是我们也可以从相反的角度去思考人类的进步
But we can also think of progress in the opposite way.
我们可以观察到多么细微的层次呢
How small can we go?
最后 英国的宇宙学家约翰巴罗
To that end, British cosmologist John Barrow
依据人类所能控制物体的尺寸对文明进行了分类
classified civilizations by the size of objects they control.
从人类尺度的机械结构
That ranges from mechanical structures at our own scale,
再到人体生物结构
to the building blocks of our own biology,
小到自由分子
down to unlocking atoms themselves.
虽然我们的控制能力是有限的 但是目前我们已经达到了分子级别
We’ve currently touched the atomic level, though our control remains limited.
而且将来我们有潜力发展到更加细微的层次
But we potentially could go much smaller in the future.
这种程度的真实感觉是这样的
To get a sense of the extent to which that’s true,
可观察到的宇宙要比人体大二十六个数量级
the observable universe is 26 orders of magnitude larger than a human body.
那意味着如果增大十的二十六次方
That means if you zoomed out by a factor of ten 26 times,
将会大到宇宙的尺度
you’d be at the scale of the universe.
但是要达到最小尺寸 即普朗克长度
But to reach the minimum length scale, known as the Planck length,
需要缩小十的三十五次方
you would need to zoom in 35 times.
就像哲学家理查德费曼曾经说过的那样 在瓶底有丰富的空间
As physicist Richard Feynman once said, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom.”
不是二者选其一
Instead of one or the other,
而是我们的文明可能将会
it’s likely that our civilization will continue to develop
同时沿着卡尔达舍夫和巴罗两个维度发展
along both Kardashev and Barrow scales.
更小尺度的精度使我们可以更高效地利用能源
Precision on a smaller scale lets us use energy more efficiently
并且开发出新的能源 例如核聚变
and unlocks new energy sources, like nuclear fusion,
甚至是反物质
or even antimatter.
这种增强的能量可以使我们在更大的范围里建造
And this increased energy lets us expand and build on a larger scale.
这种真正的高级文明
A truly advanced civilization, then,
会统治星球能量和亚分子技术
would harness both stellar energy and subatomic technologies.
这种预测并不只适用于人类本身
But these predictions weren’t made just for us humans.
同时也是
They double as a possible means
探索宇宙智慧生命的一种方式
of detecting intelligent life in the universe.
如果我们发现了一个遥远的围绕星球的戴森球体
If we find a Dyson sphere around a distant star,
这是一个很强烈的生命信号
that’s a pretty compelling sign of life.
可能不是一种被动吸收其它星球能量的结构
Or, what if, instead of a structure that passively soaked up all the star’s energy,
比如说植物
like a plant,
而是一种外星文明建立的结构会主动吸收恒星的能量
an alien civilization built one that actively sucked the energy out of the star
比如蜂鸟
like a hummingbird.
可怕的是 我们已经发现有超高密度的星球存在
Frighteningly enough, we’ve observed super dense celestial bodies
尺寸大概跟行星差不多
about the size of a planet
它可以从更大的星球上吸收能量
that drain energy out of a much bigger star.
如果说这就是宇宙中有生命存在的证据的话
It would be much too premature to conclude
还为时过早
that this is evidence of life in the universe.
对这些发现还有其它的解释
There are also explanations for these observations
认为跟外星生命并没有关系
that don’t involve alien life forms.
但是不能阻止我们的疑问 万一跟外星生命有关呢
But that doesn’t stop us from asking, “What if?”

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视频概述

科技会一直进步,沿着宏观和微观两个维度不断发展,尚未到尽头!

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVsHzS70krg

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