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假如我们不是地球上的第一个高等文明 – 译学馆
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假如我们不是地球上的第一个高等文明

What If We Are Not the First Advanced Civilization on Earth?

人类之前有高等文明吗?
It’s no secret that humans are the Earth’s most dominant species.
众所周知 人类是地球上居统治地位的物种
And, without proof of life anywhere else in the universe,
如果宇宙其他地方没有生命存在的证据
we can probably consider ourselves
人类很可能会认为
the most dominant species in space too.
自己在宇宙中也占据主导地位
MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO
如果几百万年前曾存在像人类一样的生命呢?
HOW DO WE EVEN KNOW THAT
我们怎么知道
we’re the first advanced civilization to call this planet home?
人类文明就是地球上第一个高等文明呢?
AND IF THERE HAVE BEEN OTHERS
如果还曾存在其它文明
WHAT TRACES HAVE THEY LEFT FOR US
他们留下了什么痕迹?
This is WHAT IF,
这里是《自然无常》
and here is what would happen if an advanced civilization have already existed on earth.
本期主题:如果地球上曾存在史前高等文明会怎样?
We know that complex life has existed on Earth for about 400 million years.
我们知道 复杂生命已在地球上存在了约4亿年
But how could we look that far back?
但我们如何回顾那么久远的年代?
Ancient ruins and artefacts only take us back a few thousand years,
古代遗迹和手工制品只能带我们回到几千年前
geologic records only about 2 million,
地质记录也只能到约200万年前
So, if we can’t rely on direct evidence,
所以 如果我们无法依靠直接证据
then where else could we find traces
我们还能从哪里找到
of a potentially extinct civilization?
可能已灭绝的文明的踪迹呢?
And what can we learn
还有 我们要从中学些什么
to make sure we avoid the same fate?
才能确保自己不会遭受同样的命运?
Here are some numbers to make your brain hurt for a second.
这些数字是会让你脑壳疼的:
the universe is about thirteen point eight bilions years old
宇宙约有138亿年的历史
the earth is four and half billions years old.
地球有45亿年的历史
and human only developed industrial civilization in the last three hundreds years
人类只不过是在最近300年才发展出工业文明
With all that in mind,
考虑到这一切
it seems like there was ample opportunity for another advanced civilization
在人类出现之前 史前文明似乎极有可能
to emerge, flourish, and die, all before we even showed up.
已经存在过 发展过 并消亡了
But finding any proof of a past civilized species
但是 找到史前文明存在的证据
seems like it could be harder than even starting the civilization itself.
似乎比开始创造一个文明还困难
Physical artefacts would be the most concrete evidence of past intelligent life,
实体手工制品是过去智慧生命存在的最有力证据
but it’s not very likely that we will ever find any.
但我们不太可能找到这些证据
Over time, even our tallest buildings will crumble,
久而久之 即使是我们的最高建筑也会倒塌
and our strongest materials will disintegrate.
我们最坚固的材料也会瓦解
Our cities cover less than one percent of the Earth’s surface,
人类城市仅占据不到1%的地球表面积
so any comparable cities from past civilizations
因此 史前文明的类似城市
would be easy for paleontologists to miss.
很容易被古生物学家忽略
Even if we knew where to look,
即便人类知道去哪里寻找
it’s unlikely that these artefacts would last
这些人工制品的存在时间
any longer than a few million years
也不大可能会超过几百万年
Sure, there’s always fossilization,
当然 化石总是有的
but it only provides a limited record of the past.
但是化石只能提供有限的历史记录
Due to variables like when they lived and where,
由于他们生活的年代和地点不同
an industrial civilization that lasted 100,000 years
持续10万年的工业文明
-that’s over three hundreds times longer than us
(人类工业文明的300多倍)
they might leave no fossil trace at all.
有可能根本不留下任何化石踪迹
So maybe we’re better off looking for more indirect evidence.
所以 我们还是多找点间接证据为好
The best way to find that would be to look at
寻找间接证据的最好方法是
what traces our own civilization would leave behind
看看我们的文明在目前状态下崩溃时
if it collapsed in its current state.
会留下什么痕迹
One place we’re leaving a clear trail
水体底部的沉积物
is in the sediment at the bottom of our bodies of water.
是人类能留下清晰痕迹的一个地方
One look at this stuff,
观察这些物质时
and you would immediately see the wacky chemical balances
你可以立即看到某种怪异的化学平衡
that would imply some sort of outside influence.
这意味着某种外来的影响
For instance, the nitrogen fertilizers that we use to grow food
例如 人类用来种植作物的氮肥
are running off into our bodies of water,
正在流入我们的水体
and producing low oxygen “dead zones”
并产生一些低氧“死亡区”
that would be visible in sedimentary layers.
它们在沉积层是可见的
On top of that,
除此之外
we’ll be leaving long-lasting synthetic molecules
我们将会留下长期留存的合成分子
from radioactive fallout,
它们源自放射性尘埃
steroids, and all the plastic we dump in the ocean.
类固醇以及我们扔进海洋里的所有塑料
So yeah, future species are going to have a great impression of us.
所以 人类会给未来物种留下深刻的印象
In case we’re not embarrassed enough,
如果这还不够丢人的话
our technological advances are rapidly changing the environment,
看看科技进步带来的环境迅速变化
which has brought on widespread extinctions that would be visible in fossil records.
其导致的大范围物种灭绝将被记录在化石中
Ironically, perhaps the most promising marker of an advanced civilization
讽刺的是 高等文明最有前途的标志
could be one of the very things that brought on its downfall.
可能正是导致其衰落的原因之一
When we burn fossil fuels, we are releasing carbon back into the air.
化石燃料燃烧时 碳会被排放回空气中
Fossil fuels ultimately derive from decayed plants and animals,
化石燃料的最终来源是腐烂的动植物
which contain a variety of carbon
化石燃料中含有多种碳
that has a different atomic mass than most carbon in our atmosphere.
它们的原子质量与大气中多数碳的原子质量不同
When this kind is released,
这种物质被释放时
it changes the molecular make up of the atmosphere,
它会改变组成大气的分子
and leaves a clear signal to future scientists.
并给未来的科学家留下了清楚的信号
In a 2018 study, scientists hypothesized that
在2018年的一项研究中 科学家们假设道
civilizations could even have fossil fuel driven life cycles.
文明甚至能以化石燃料来驱动生命周期
When fossil fuel use leads to climate change,
当化石燃料导致气候变化时
the oxygen levels decrease in the ocean
海洋中的氧气水平会下降
and help create a breeding ground for new fuels like oil and coal.
从而创造了石油和煤炭等新燃料的孕育地
In this way, a civilization and its demise
这样一来 一个文明以及它的灭绝
might sow the seed for new civilizations in the future.
可能会播下未来新文明的种子
In our search for intelligent neighbors from the past,
人类在寻找史前智慧生命的历程中
we may never actually find any evidence,
可能永远也找不到任何踪迹
but we can learn a lot about ourselves.
但我们能够更多地了解自己
Analyzing our own long-term ecological footprint can have practical benefits.
分析人类长期的生态足迹有许多实际益处
It helps us recognize where we can do better,
这让我们认识到 在哪方面做得更好
to achieve a balance with our planet
才能实现人类与地球的和谐
so that we don’t become the forgotten civilization of tomorrow.
这样 人类文明在未来便不会被遗忘
While it doesn’t seem likely that intelligent life was here before us,
没有史前智慧生命存在的明显证据
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any.
不意味着它们不存在
For all we know, they were so advanced
据我们所知 它们非常先进
they were able to clean up their mess as they went.
能在离开地球时将产生的垃圾除尽
The only verifiable way to check if someone was here before us
检验史前文明是否存在的唯一可靠办法
may be to rev up a time machine to go see for yourself.
就是进入旋转的时光机 亲自去看看
But that’s a story for another What IF.
那就是《自然无常》另一期视频的内容了

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视频概述

假如地球上曾存在过史前高等文明会怎样?人类一直认为自己是这个地球的主宰。但在人类出现之前,可能曾存在过另一个高等文明。他们有没有留下存在过的痕迹?还有,我们该如何验证呢?

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

Clio

审核员

审核员LJ

视频来源

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

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